August 4, 2015 by DJ Elroy
WHY? Why will these people tell their friends?
And by “product”, I don’t just mean your singles or your mixes or your shows. If you’ve been paying attention to my other posts in the series you’ll know I’m a big proponent of artist accessibility. Sure, the bigger you get, the harder it is to make time for everyone (and the more impossible it gets to please everyone). But when you’re just starting out, while you’re trying to build your brand, you need to interact with people if you expect to get any traction.
For the sake of this writing I’ll assume you’ve got a decent product which people are excited about experiencing. If you can’t mix, keep practicing. If you’re not already making your own tracks, get in the studio. And if you’re not out there hustling for gigs, why not? Don’t worry about marketing and branding until you’ve got something people want. It (should) go without saying.
And because it goes without saying, your competition doesn’t need to be too intelligent to figure it out. So what can you do to set yourself apart? Why should these people tell their friends about you? What will they say?
If your show sucks, they’ll say so. If you couldn’t hold the crowd, they’ll remember the next time they have the option between you and somebody else. If you ignore them online, they’ll remember.
But if you put on a killer show, or acknowledge them in some way, they’ll remember that, too.
Word of mouth is essential for any artist (or business, or anything, really). Without it you’re just spinning your wheels. If you want to go places you need to make sure you’re giving people a reason to go with you. Your career will stops as soon as the fans stop caring.
There isn’t one right answer as to what will get you noticed. Some people wear costumes. Some do stage shows. Some use technology in new and innovative ways. Some have commercial-pop success. And some have just spent decades doing what they love with a lot of hard work and no gimmicks.
But there are a few general guidelines that will help you get where you want to go:
goodgreat music. Used to be you could get by with good. Now you need to be great.
- Make your own tunes. Remixes will get you noticed, but originals will get you credibility.
- Be consistent. Do regular podcasts or online mixes. Play out often. But find the line between enough to stay relevant and so much you’re burning yourself (or the fans) out.
- Give back. Unless you’re already a pro, you probably don’t need the few bucks selling your tracks will get you each month. It might be worth considering just giving your music away while you’re trying to establish yourself. You’ll reach a lot more people, and they’ll appreciate you more for it. This goes for singles and your mixes.
- Be a mentor. You’ll make new friends and teaching helps you see things for a new (or forgotten) point of view.
- Hustle. A lot. If you’re not gigging, you’re out talking to people and making friends. Networking isn’t always about business; have fun.
- Learn about business. If you want to make music your career, you’ll need to know about budgeting, how to plan, how to network, how to manage your time, how to do your taxes, etc.
- Be active on social media. Don’t be a whore, but don’t be too good to interact with people, either.
I could go on, but there are just so many different approaches. You’ll need to try a few to see what works best for you and your situation.