A friend of mine and I were having a conversation about the cost of creating a music video here in Helsinki versus the United States. For the record, they are way cheaper here, almost to the tune of it being worth it for you to fly here to make one. But a far more interesting subject matter came to light when he asked, “Is a music video good for promotion these days?” My immediate answer was that I feel small bands need to be everywhere, starting with everywhere on the internet.
I went on to explain more in casual conversation. Once I realized I wanted to write something a little more legit, I reached out to a couple industry professionals with expertise in marketing to make sure my answers weren’t crazy. It turns out that I was spot on. I wanted to make this post because I think it’s really important to empower underground artists with as much knowledge as can be shared. Hopefully some of you will find this helpful.
“You need to maximize your visibility and discover what networks you have the most traction in.”
– Jason Lekberg, Lekberg Enterprises
My friend’s music video should come to fruition due to his need to have a presence on all the video streaming websites from YouTube, to Vimeo, and even The MNO Community. Hell, if you have a 15 second song, you should put that fucker on Instagram too. (Never mind the fact that videos are an awesome visualization of your music and another way for you to express your art creatively!) Yes, you could also start a video blog, interviews with your fans, post videos of unboxings, videos of random BS you think friends and fans might find interesting, but you never know how many fans you might get only because of an actual music video.
This philosophy of creating content and putting it everywhere you can shouldn’t just be applied to music videos. Take this idea and run with it. You need to have a presence everywhere you possibly can, in every format you possibly can, from writing guest articles on websites, to communicating in forums, and even commenting on posts as the band.
“If people can’t find you, you’ll never sell any albums.” – Jason Lekberg, Lekberg Enterprises
The best way I can explain the point would be to think of your own favorite band and what you might expect. I’ll use Slayer as an example since I assume it’s a lot of people’s favorite. Say Slayer is coming out with a new record. You know nothing other than what someone told you on the street. So with this information you take to the inter-webs on your iPhone and start searching, most likely on Google. What do you type in? “New Slayer album” or “is there a new Slayer album” or “Slayer 2014.” Now imagine doing the same for a music video, a tour, a photo gallery or anything else you might be interested in seeing for Slayer.
Take all these things, and now swap the name “Slayer” for your band. What comes up? What would you have hoped would come up? Make a list of these things and figure out how to make it happen. When someone finds out about your band on the street, the first thing they’re going to do is look it up on Google- and you’re going to want 20 pages of Google entries all about your band.
“Without a marketing plan (or publicity plan, radio plan, etc.), it’s hard for the campaign to be a team effort—which is necessary for the release to be a success.” -Nikki Law, Century Media Records
The conversation with my friend continued and in order to drive the point home, I started talking about the marketing plan I’m currently working on for my new Sam Ruin project. I said something to him that I think a lot of people reading this can relate with, “I have no money, like most bands,” but then to the important part, “so I’m trying to figure out the best ways to utilize the manpower of motivated band members to accomplish a massive spread of marketing techniques that any unskilled people could accomplish, while creating a massive amount of content so that every possible touch point is covered.” It’s a simple summary (and the simplified version) of how I plan to attack exactly what I just described above.
To have a successful album release (with my definition of success) it’s going to take planning, teamwork and a significant effort on the part of all the people involved with the group, both musicians and 3rd parties. It all begins with making sure you know what you want to do, and planning to accomplish that goal.
“Not planning your marketing in advance is like showing up to a photo shoot without figuring out who’s bringing the camera” – Jason Lekberg, Lekberg Enterprises
You don’t really know where the people who are going to be into your music will be or how they like to interact with bands they like. Some people will be on Facebook, participating in metal groups and love to look at memes that feature the most interesting man in the world with someone else’s face Photoshopped on top. Some people are living their lives 140 characters or less on Twitter. Some people are totally visual with Instagram. Some are video fanatics and watch, listen and communicate only inside the walls of YouTube. Some people have an individual presence on LinkedIn and have it connected with all their other accounts. The list goes on and on but the point stays the same; you should have a presence on all of them.
“It depends on how you measure success.” -Nikki Law, Century Media Records
I think it’s also important to know what your immediate goals are and how you measure success. Ultimately, the type of marketing you should do is all about what you hope to accomplish. I think it’s really important to take some time to focus on the digital marketing aspect of your project if any kind of general exposure fits into your goals. By applying the simple way of looking at marketing I’ve outlined here, my personal marketing plans will get me enough exposure to accomplish the short-term goals I’ve set as the definition for success.
Simple planning and execution can go a long way to getting you the level of exposure you want. The fact that my friend asked me about the worthiness of a music video in the first place shows he is interested in focusing his efforts. My recommendation is, in order: Write good songs, set your goals, learn what it takes to accomplish those goals, and execute.
Now go forth and promote your bands the best way you know how!
Special thanks to Nikki Law & Jason Lekberg for taking the time to chime in. The metal world appreciates it!