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New Year's Resolutions

10 New Year’s resolutions to kickstart your music career

2019 - New Year's Resolutions for Bands

The first couple of weeks of a new year are generally the time when you start to think about how to do things differently (and more effectively) so in this post I thought I’d share some resolutions to help you kick-start your music career in 2019.

1. Put the music first

Being a musician these days seems to involve dividing your time between making music and nattering about it with your fan(s) on Facebook and other social networks.

This year, maybe consider putting Facebook and Twitter aside, and putting the music first. By all means keep your social media profiles relatively up to date – but not at the expense of producing great music.

Lock yourself in a room with a musical instrument (but not your smartphone) until you are 100% satisfied that you have some great songs really worth talking about.

Then, and only then, go out and talk about them. 

2. Improve your website

Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on are all helpful in spreading the word about your music, but nothing beats a good website.

By having a strong site, you’ll ensure that

  • you get a truly professional and distinct online presence

  • your act is easier to find when people search for your act (a website gives you much more control over search engine optimisation than a social media profile)

  • you obtain ultimate flexibility and control over how you present your band to the world.

To really understand why a band website is so important, I recommend reading this great article by Make it in Music on why music sites matter, as well as Prescription’s key tips for building a great band website.

3. Capture more email addresses

Capturing email addresses — using dedicated tools like Getresponse*, Mailchimp or similar — is absolutely essential for any artist (regardless of the level of their success), because

  • it allows you to communicate direct to fans

  • you, not a social networking company, own the data.

Having this direct link to your fans allows you to maximise music sales and gig attendance.

Whilst it’s nice to have large Facebook fan / Twitter follower counts, don’t forget that people will only see your messages if an algorithm lets them and, crucially, if the social network continues to be successful.

You only have to think of how much effort bands put into adding Myspace friends in the mid-naughties, and how useless that effort all seems now, to understand why having a large database of email addresses is important.

Get clued up about the importance of building an email database here.

4. improve your online reputation

The internet is rightly seen as the key place where artists forge relationships with fans – but it’s also a place where it’s easy to come across as a highly annoying individual or act.

It’s just too tempting to regularly spout inanities or post ‘buy me’ links every five minutes on Facebook and Twitter.

This year, make a resolution to stop bludgeoning your friends, family members and fans with too many messages about your music (or what the band had for lunch) and only post content about your music that matters.

5. Take your image seriously

Too many artists obsess over whether their album sounds like it was recorded on a big reel of tape in the 1970s and mixed on a consule packed full of valves – only to forget that sadly, in addition to sounding cool, you’ve got to look cool too…

So don’t forget to spend some time getting your image right, and ensuring your band photography is up to scratch.

6. Blog (And not just about your band)

One of the best ways to generate traffic to a website is to ensure it is packed full of content that people want to read.

And the easiest way to arrive at that happy situation is by blogging about interesting stuff – according to research by inbound marketing agency Hubspot, site owners that blog regularly receive around 55% more hits to their site than those that don't.

Every hit to your site is a chance for you to expose somebody to your music, or capture their email address. The key thing is this: don’t make your blog all about you – write about stuff that people are already searching about. For a band website, you might consider writing about acts that influenced you; recording equipment; a particular gig and so on.

You can find out more about blogging and how to increase blog traffic here.

7. Manage your time wisely

If you’re anything like me, you’re juggling a job, a music career, a baby and a cat.

And it’s tough, with music-making and music promo often taking a back seat. But there are strategies that can help you make the most of your time to make the most of your music – find out about time-saving tips for musicians here.

8. Think creatively about music promotion

There are many ways to skin a cat, as a record store owner I once worked for said about a very unfortunate cat.

So instead of taking the bog-standard approach of putting your album up on iTunes and hoping against hope that somebody actually buys it, why not take some time to dream up some interesting ways to fund and release it?

Sometimes creative ideas regarding both can actually land you a great PR angle too. You might find our ideas on funding the making of your album and interesting formats to release it on helpful

9. Manage that project!

You have a home studio. You have 10 songs. You are making an album. You are going to upload it somewhere. People will buy or stream it in droves. Simple, yes?

Well actually, no. Despite a plethora of self-promotion and self-distribution options now being available, releasing an album is actually a deceptively difficult business, and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

As such, we suggest that you make this the year that you take a bit of notice of project planning. Recently we put a guide together on how to create a really great project plan for an album release using post-it notes — it’s well worth a read.

We’d also suggest that if you’re going to self-release an album this year that you check out our checklist of the key things you must do when releasing an album independently.

10. Don’t forget the professionals…

In a music industry where DIY production and promotion is increasingly the norm, it’s easy to think that you can do everything yourself, from music photography, to band website design to music PR. But sometimes it really helps to get somebody experienced on board. An outside eye can deliver objectivity, free up time and ultimately deliver more professional results.

So if you’re planning on releasing something this year, do get in touch for a conversation about how we can help.


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In a band? Here's some new year's resolutions for you

2015

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.

Good luck!

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