Top 10 tips to market your metal band

Jonny By Jonny, 14th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Music>Promoting Music

Want to know why your hard rock or heavy metal band isn't getting the exposure you want? Here's some tips to help you get started

Marketing your metal by Jonathan Traynor

WHEN you've practised and practised your heavy metal tunes, played your first ever gig, and even released your first few tracks into the wild wilderness of public gaze you can sit back and enjoy your burgeoning success. Or maybe not...

You see it's called show business for a reason - enjoy the show, but get down to business!

And the most important part of that business is marketing your music. Fail to do that and you'll fail. Sorry, but you may have recorded the best ever hard rocking and heaviest ever groove, it may have killer riffs, grooves to die for, solos that blister paint, but nobody will ever hear them.

If you want to rise above the mundane and recruit legions of fans then you have got to market yourselves.

Now we can't tell you how to do that in a few short paragraphs - that's what managers and public relations people are for, which leads to the first top tip...

Tip Number One:

Get good management... Okay Rod Smallwood and Peter Mensch are sort of busy at the minute with Iron Maiden and Metallica - but one day you may come across their radar if you get the right local management to give you a kickstart. Don't just sign up to any chancer who comes up with a wild proposition. Ask the right questions, ask others who have worked with them, check out their connections, and see what PR and marketing skills they have. And never sign anything unless you are totally confident...

Tip Number Two:

Join a union... Consider joining the Musician's Union (or your local equivalent). You may think you can protect yourselves legally etc etc, but the Musician's Union can help you, and with the support of your manager this is the wisest move you can make. And, when it comes to marketing, being signed up members of the Musician's Union gives you credibility - even if the promoters etc don't always recognise that, taking the step will give you the confidence (not to mention all the advice you'll get) that you are serious about taking the next step to success.

Tip Number Three:

Be nice... You may have produced the heaviest ever song, or the darkest black metal, or the doom-laden masterpiece, but off-stage you must be nice to everyone, even the total prats that piss you off. Let's put it this way - act the aloof, arrogant musician and it will be death by social media suicide. You don't have to spend hours with them quaffing ale, or exchange love letters, just be nice, thank them for coming along. And, you will know the fans that keep coming along and are ever-present at the right time - they can help you market yourselves by that simplest old-fashioned endorsement - word of mouth.

Tip Number Four:
Be social... The wonderful world of the internet has opened up the possibilities of promoting your band to a global audience. But that audience is also busy playing Call of Duty, watching illegally downloaded movies and the clutter of mundance inaccuracies that descend over every inch of optic cable spanning the world. You need to find your 'voice' in the clutter. Yes, you will have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Bandcamp site and a Reverbenation presence. So what! Every sodding band on the planet has those! Use your social network presence to connect with fans. If a fan praises your gig, just say thanks and do it publicly, no private messages. If a journalist or blogger gives your album a good review, re-post that review, and send them a private message thanking them and asking is there anything else you can do to help them. AND, use that review on your website, attritbuting the source. You do have a website?

Tip Number Five:

Don't give your music away... You might think it is a good promotional idea to give tracks away to promote your band, but you might as well throw all your hard work down the tubes. Yes, you want journalists and bloggers to listen to your tracks, but you want other people to make a purchase. Yes, it may only be a couple of pounds or dollars for a CD or pennies for an MP3 file, but if you give it away free then people will not attribute a value to it. And, if your music is halfway good then it does have a value.

Tip Number Six:

Keep good records... Two reasons for this: the boring one is the taxman. Any earnings you make at all will be subject to tax. You can write off a lot of your expenses (travel, instruments, out-of-pocket expenses, Musician's Union fees) against any earnings, but fail to do this and at some time the taxman will come calling. The second reason is to maintain a good database of fans, journalists and bloggers. Using this database you can list all the review copies you have sent out, and all the fans who have contacted you in person or on social media. The journalists and bloggers you will need to keep up-to-date with developments. The database of fans is one of the most important. By contacting them through email (use an account you don't use for day-to-day activity) social media and even in rare instances through phone calls. Let them know about upcoming gigs and releases, about band events; and be creative. Give out stagetimes, let fans know about setlists, ask fans for suggestions about song order, fun cover versions even merchandise...which leads on to the next tip...

Tip Number Seven:

Get decent merchandise... T-shirt and hoodies are your key pieces of merchandise. One, if someone buys your t-shirt you get revenue - that means money for your next set of guitar strings or drum sticks. The t-shirt and hoodie is also, when worn, a walking advertisement. But you can also be creative. You may have a great designer in your band, or have a mate who is a graphpic designer, but why not get the wider metal and hard rock community involved. There are a lot of creative people out there in that community. Run a competition for your next t-shirt design or album cover design. The technical term is crowd-sourcing. You may find that there is some real talent out there. And, make sure the winner is rewarded - a mention on the liner notes and, for example, £1 or £2 for every t-shirt sold.

Tip Number Eight:

Gig, gig and gig some more... Yes - it may be in front of five people or 500, but the more times you gig the better you become. The best marketing you can do is to make sure that you play in front of people. And, it will help you network. Networking is vitally important. Other bands, promoters, journalists, bloggers, fans - you need to network with them all. Think about getting some cheap business cards printed up - with your band's name, logo, social network address, website, and email contacts. Hand them out before and after every gig and when you meet people who you think may be able to help.

Tip Number Nine:

Stagecraft... Yep - this may not seem like a marketing tactic, but when you step on to the stage you are your biggest asset. Stand like frightened rabbits, gazing down at your instruments and not engaging with the audience is a recipe for disaster. Eye contact with the audience, pull the poses when delivering your solo, rage down the mic, stand up from the drum stool at the end of each song, and move around. You are not nailed to the spot! To do that needs rehearsal. Ask Maiden, Machine Head, etc etc etc - they rehearse what they are going to do during each song - and we pretty much enjoy all those gigs - don't you?

Tip Number 10:

Fun... The best thing you can do to promote yourself is to have fun - it communicates to the audience. Whether you are a hardcore band, death metal act, hard rockin' party animals , you are allowed to have fun. This is what you have worked for, this is what you want to do. Never mind whether you are having a rubbish day or week, have fallen out with bandmates when you get on stage or into the recording studio have fun!

There you are - your top 10 tips in abbreviated form. Obviously there is a lot more to marketing your metal. You need to spend a lot more time and effort than possibly can be covered here, but take the time and effort to make sure you market each and every part of your band well.

With almost 15 years public relations experience, five years as a full-time journalist before that and 20 years writing about music the author of this article hopes that he has provided some insight into helping market your metal...


Marketing Metal, Marketing Music Tips, Marketing Strategies, Marketing Your Music

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author avatar Jonny
Leading commentator on Northern Ireland hard rock and heavy metal, professional journalist and full-time PR professional with award-winning in-house team. Author of several short stories

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