…for fans and bands

Here’s a couple of terms bands need to learn like a new riff:
“Web presence” – not a downloadable Zeppelin album.
“Digital footprint” – not what happens when you throw a computer out the window.

We now live in the facebook era and like the iron age, a mace could do a lot of damage but a samurai sword was more effective. The analogy here is in terms of how you reach your audience. Everyone wants more friends; more fans; more views; more shares; more plays; more downloads. The bottom line here is sales of tickets and recordings. The ways to do this currently incorporate mass media. Using mass media can affect your bottom line. Every musician knows that when mom is no longer buying your gear and driving you to gigs, it becomes an expensive hobby. It may also cost friendships, relationships, neighbours, jobs and maybe even pets.

If you’re old school, you know that pressing vinyl isn’t cheap. Staples, tape and xerox’ on lampposts was the only way to hype your gig. Now, some are out there offering free downloads; others go out and play free shows. These strategies have been known to help get to the next level, but they aren’t sustainable. The exceptions are in acquiring a sponsor who is okay with low to zero ROI (return on investment) or being discovered/represented.

So let’s talk about your web presence and digital footprint. It’s important to be accessible but not “in your face”. To do this successfully, your band needs a dot com. It doesn’t have to be the best dot com but you have to solidify your band’s name as a domain. If you can’t get “bandname”.com try “bandnamehometown” or “bandnametheband”. This strategy gives your band credibilty, longevity, and a possible end-game. You may be able to sell your dot com when you’re done with it.

Some say that a facebook bandpage is enough. If you have no objection to playing in the same sandbox as kids that play basement parties, then that might work for you. Even the facebook bandpage needs to be done professionally. Administration duties such as updating and editing or restricting comments require diligence. The bandpage is still superior to facebook’s other options. There are bands that exist on facebook as a “person” so fans have to “friend” them. The obvious downside to this is that there is the five thousand and some-odd limit. Some bands exist as a “group” which was intended for book clubs and such, where everyone in the group is considered equal. When your bandpage is up and running there are still pitfalls that cause you to lose your support group. Over-posting, over-inviting, allowing anyone to tag you in any quality photo or video to name a few. Keep your involvement professional and timely. Also, keep in mind your rights and privacy.

Get a twitter account for your band as well. Twitter is becoming the communication standard for mass updating and many sites like have twitter feeds which means your tweets get shared across multiple sites and platforms. Secure your “@bandname” now because they are going faster than the dot coms.

Youtube may be an asset. Psychologically there is motivation to put on a better show when you’re on camera. Once again, discretion and diligence are required to ensure your image is presented favourably. In Zeppelin’s “Celebration Day” many amateur shots were briefly included in the final edit. In some cases poor recordings or unfavourable comments may have a negative impact on your fan base. On the other hand, with superior quality equipment, recordings may replace the need to go see the band. Whatever your choices are, try to keep some control of your stage presence and your bootleggers. If you see torontorox shooting at your gig, remember that we will always ask your permission before making your video public.

Myspace is generally less used as it was prior to the facebook era but based on its functionality, your band can’t afford to ignore it. If you aren’t fond of it, keep it minimalistic but remain diligent. Accept your fans wherever they are.

Reverbnation has functionality that some of its competitors ignore, including a store where you can sample and sell your tunes. There’s a lot of proprietary email offering services and opportunities so if you don’t check it, you may miss a good message.

Now that you have all the tech going for you, what do you say? Some might just keep it simple and post their show details as soon as they confirm. Certain announcements might be warranted regarding sponsors or friends’ bands. Some would treat their fanpage as themselves assuming they are the leader or spokesperson for the band. They might even post pet pix. This is charming…sometimes.
Some might use their bandpage to rant or vent about the competition or the music business. Keep that to a minimum and from your personal page. Too much negative attention hurts small business (ie: bands and bars). There is no real celebrity in the music community – just friends. So lose the ego and stay positive. Take the high road because there’s less traffic.

Professionalism is important in this area. Good graphics and good photos go a long way. Proper English warrants respect. Give credit to your writers and artists. Get their permission if necessary. Get your close friends to help you market your show. You don’t want to look desperate for fans to attend. Consider a media date with lots of notice and a reminder or two a week to a few days prior. Also, of course one on the day of. Post your promo in primetime not Monday at 9am. Post a promo on torontorox and other groups or pages but not all on the same day. A simple online strategy can help.

torontorox can help your band go forward with all of this. If you’re interested in a free consultation, send a message including whatever links you currently employ. Thanks for your attention!