Happy New Year from Prescription PR! It being our first post of the year, we thought we’d suggest a few new year’s resolutions for bands and musicians.
1. Build a marvellous website
Keen readers of The Prescription will note that this was our first piece of advice to you at the start of 2014, but it’s as relevant as ever in 2015. It amazes me how many bands (including some rather well-established ones) think that whacking a few tunes up on Bandcamp and setting up a Twitter profile constitutes a decent digital presence, when a good music website allows you to do so much more (and says much more about you too). A strong website...
- marks you out as a professional act that takes its career seriously
- if SEO’d well, it allows you to be discovered by new listeners more easily
- allows you to fully control your band’s online image and identity
- facilitates blogging
- allows you to incorporate more advanced functionality than you generally get on third party platforms like Facebook or Twitter onto your site.
If you don’t have a website, get one; and if you do, review it to make sure it’s looking as good and working as well as it possibly can for the year ahead.
2. Get your computer’s sh*t together
If you’re anything like me, you have a folder on your PC dedicated to your band…and it’s a mess. It contains a bunch of files that are strewn all over the place – you have band images in the audio folder; audio files in the gigs folder and so on. This situation is going to slow you down – so sort it out (I certainly intend to). Although file management is probably about as far away from rock and roll as you can imagine, if you do a bit of it at the start of the year, you will 1) feel smug and clean inside and 2) be able to lay your hands on that fantastic shot of your band standing against the wall looking miserable quickly when an A&R guy asks to see some photos of your act immediately.
3. Get tooled up
Make 2015 the year that you start using the right online tools to manage your band’s career. You can save a truckload of time by picking the right application for the job – here’s a few of our favourites to get you started:
- Email and calendar management: Google Apps
- File sharing: Dropbox (note: Google Apps allows you to do this too – not as well in my view but if you are paying for Google Apps, it’s probably worth using the file storage that comes with it)
- E-newsletters: Mad Mimi or Getresponse
- Ticket sales: Mitingu
- Websites: Squarespace or Wordpress (or us!)
- Social media management: Hootsuite
These are just a few examples: the point is that it is worth investing in some kit that reduces – as much as possible – the amount of admin associated with running a band. Don't work off a bunch of Excel spreadsheets to send e-newsletters, or an email system that clogs up your inbox with spam: get proper systems in place to make communicating with fans and music industry contacts as straightforward as possible.
4. Revisit your image
Given that the music industry often cares more about how its artists look than the actual music they produce, it’s remarkable that a lot of bands pay scant attention to image. Now I’m not suggesting that you devote 2015 to making yourself look more beautiful but it is definitely worth taking a moment to review how your band wants to present itself to the world this year – not just in terms of physical appearance (although sadly that is important) but in terms of the visual ‘assets’ your band produces – i.e., photos, websites, artwork and so on. What do they say about you? What do they say about your music? In an era where bands are increasingly doing everything themselves, from music production to website build right down to artwork design, it’s easy to lose an objective approach to image and imagery. So perhaps a good start to 2015 would be to do a review of all this, perhaps involving a third party who is not in the band (and ideally experienced in the field of fashion and design), with a view to defining your band's image strongly (and in a way that won't send potential fans and labels running for the hills).
5. Capture data – religiously
I can be pretty confident in saying that music sales are going to decline in 2015, with streaming becoming an ever more popular way to consume music. As musicians are making diddly-squat from streaming, this is going to make touring an even more important source of income for bands – and a huge component of a successful tour is a well-stocked database of email addresses. So don’t let any opportunity to capture data pass: be it on your website, at a gig or in a Facebook update, always ensure that you are encouraging people to sign up for your mailing list. And, with touring in mind, be smart about data capture too: make sure you’re capturing not just an email address but a postcode / location too.
6. Stay on top of the latest developments within the music industry
The music industry is now umbilically linked to the internet, and as such it is subject to a hell of a lot of technology-driven change; so much so that it is getting bloody difficult to stay on top of the latest developments in music promotion techniques (and the industry in general). There are several online publications however that you can follow to stay up to date on things – obviously we’d recommend that you subscribe to The Prescription (sign up form below), but there are some other great blogs which are regularly updated with very informative posts about the current and future state of the industry – some Prescription favourites include Make it in Music, the CD Baby blog, Music Week and CMU. Subscribe to or bookmark sites / blogs like these, because the more information that you have at your disposal about music promotion, and the more research you do on it, the better you're going to get at it.
7. Make a plan for the year
The start of the year is a great time to think about what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Get the band together, and rather than going down the boozer, sit down with a coffee and try to map out a roadmap for the year. Maybe February could be the month you build a new site; March the month you plan a tour; April the month you start working on new material and so on. It’s easy to amble along and never achieve anything – this year, give yourself some clearly defined goals, and try to meet them.
8. And finally…do less
Yes, yes, I’ve just given you 7 extra things to do in 2015. But in general, try to do less. I’m not suggesting that you lounge about the house in your pyjamas all day (which admittedly is a jolly good lark) but that you look at all the efforts you put into your music (be that making or marketing it) and identify any areas where you’re wasting time. Are you agonising too long over mixes? Are you maintaining 10 presences on social media when perhaps focusing on 3 will do? Are you posting too many updates to your band’s Facebook page rather than spending time on the studio? In 2015, cut out or cut down on any activities that are getting in the way of making and sharing great music.