Music Guru: Being heard requires self-promotion

With so many resources available today, it seems easier than ever for bands to get out of the proverbial garage. Bands have access to social media sites such as MySpace and Facebook to promote themselves, and thanks to the advance of technology, home recording is no longer a challenge. So why, with all of these resources, is it still incredibly difficult for a band to get heard?

Full disclosure: I am in a band (called Crash the Bear) with two of my good friends and for the past year we’ve been looking to make a name for ourselves, or at the very least get a couple of people interested. So far, it’s been a difficult process. Despite the fact that several technologies that didn’t exist in previous years exist today, it’s still just as hard getting out of that garage. One reason that it’s so difficult is just pure oversaturation — it’s easier for bands to get fans and get their names out there. But the number of bands trying to do exactly what you’re doing is staggering. Setting up a Facebook page and taking a couple pictures against a brick wall aren’t enough; you need to have something that the people want, and that is music people want to hear.

There are a number of things you can do in order to put your band out in front of the rest of the bands that “are just a group of dudes who just love to play music.” First, you can promote your band like it’s your full-time job. This includes: fliers everywhere, posting “Like my band! [insert link]” as your status on Facebook, etc., every day until people actually check you out, bringing it up in every day conversation. You get the picture.

Second, play as many shows as humanly possible. There are so many booking agencies out there that want your band to play for them, if only for the cash you will bring them. Unfortunately, shows need fans. Most venues and booking agencies require a certain number of tickets for you to go and perform your music. That part can be easy (just guilt your friends into buying them) or difficult, depending on how nice and not-broke your friends are and how serious about this you are. I’ve seen bands who, due to their incredible laziness, have sometimes had to drop out of shows.

The last point I’m going to make was actually brought up earlier: get serious. If you want your band to go anywhere, take it as seriously as you would a job. Arrive to shows on time. Play amazingly. Practice weekly. Talk to people. Network. Make T-shirts. Make professional recordings. Create and post stickers. Hound your friends and fans to buy your concert tickets. Heck, even going to the mall and trying to sell them is effective. It just takes a certain amount of charisma. It’s not as hard as you make it out to be.

Keep in mind that this is all supposed to be a fun experience. If you’re not having fun performing on stage or even just playing in the drummer’s basement, maybe you should consider spending your time somewhere else. Otherwise, get your nose to the grindstone. Nothing but hard work will get your band above the heap of other bands trying to do what you’re trying to do.

– Eric Hinrichsen

Freshman business administration major

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