When you first started your band, I bet you didn’t think it would involve 90% managing a business and 10% actually playing music. 20% if you’re really lucky.
And maybe that wasn’t always the case. Maybe for the first year or two you went along blissfully just practicing in your basement, playing out a few times a month, and hanging out with your band members. And that was good. That worked.
But then you start to grow a bit of a following, and you get a taste for what you could have if only you put in a little more effort. So you start planning out your social media posts a little better, you play a couple more shows than you used to, and you start to pay attention. You’re definitely gaining more fans, but something is missing—something isn’t quite right, and you soon realize you’re putting in a lot of hours and only gaining a few fans.
So what do you do?
You re-evaluate your techniques. You start to get creative about how you can get the most bang for your buck when it comes to marketing (without actually spending any bucks—did I mention all of the ideas on this list don’t require spending any money at all?)
Find a buddy, and do an IG swap. What I mean by this is to find another band or brand that you feel close enough to that this won’t feel weird to ask, and do a swap so that you’re taking over each other’s stories for a couple hours. Blogs do this with bands all the time (and companies do this as well) to share a behind the scenes of their big tour, or show, or company event to a different audience—there’s no reason this method can’t work for you. In fact, if you do it right, it will work for you.
Simply start with a band you know well (and later you can reach out to those you don’t) and see if they’d be into having you takeover their IG stories for a day. I’d time this around a big show or event (like album release day) but truthfully it can be any time. Then, you take to their story to share all the going ons of the day, record some videos or lives talking about how you’re feeling about the big day, asking fans questions, asking them to participate in polls, sharing bits of your song or video—just a fun mix of the music and content with a strong dose of your personalities, will mean your getting in front of a totally new audience without ever deviating from your routine—plus, odds are if they’re fans of the band you chose, they’ll be fans of you. Don’t forget to tag your own account in the stories so they can follow you!
Throw a party
My favorite shows are those with a strong theme—and shows like that don’t happen nearly enough! If you’re looking for a creative way to get in front of new fans and show your current ones how much they mean to you, there’s no better way than going all out with a party .
Now when I say party what I really mean is a show that’s based around a theme—Halloween (think—the audience and bands dress up, you have free candy around the venue, fog machines, etc) but it can also just be a house party where you and a few of your favorite local bands perform, and mingle with the guests. Either way, it’s going to be a night to remember. (and the proof will be all over social media)
Get that mailing list together
I know, I know, this one is not nearly as exciting as the rest. In fact, you probably read this and immediately felt your stomach drop because it sounds so arduous and dry. But it really doesn’t have to be! Creating a mailing list might take a few hours to set up, but once it’s up and running it can be a really simple and effective way to market to your fans, by giving them exclusive first listens of new songs and videos, and making sure they feel like true insiders.
Plus, the reality is you can’t count on social media for true growth or visibility anymore, so no matter how you slice it, a mailing list is going to be a must have for growing your fanbase.
Create a FB Group
This is a fun one I haven’t seen many bands do, but if you’re looking for a creative way to cultivate fans and attract new ones, consider creating a Facebook group. Now, it could be as simple as being a group for your fans to get to know each other and interact, but if you’re still a growing band, it might make more sense to make it around a broader topic that will attract more people, including future fans of the band who don’t even know you exist yet (but will as soon as they get to know the group)
For instance, if you’re a pop punk group and you do, in fact love pizza, maybe you create a group called Pop Punk Pizza Party, and start inviting people in and asking people to invite others, and then keep the group active with daily or weekly posts that range from discussion starters (“If you could be eating any kind of pizza and listening to your favorite song right now, what would that combination be?”) or weekly promotion threads where bands can share links to their upcoming shows in the designated thread, or a #WeeklyPieChallenge where you ask everyone in the group to share what they’re eating that night or what their ideal pizza toppings are or the best pizza they’ve ever had or maybe you make a playlist of pop punk songs that mention pizza and share it…
I’m just spitballing here—it doesn’t have to be some big serious thing, it should just be a place you can easily build a community of people who naturally love the same thing you do. Remember, connection happens outside of your music and inside of common interests.
Tap into your other passions
When you can tap into your other passions, it gives you a whole new audience to reach. For instance, following the above example let’s say you don’t just love pizza, you have your own pizza oven and make your own pies every Friday night, experimenting with tons of different toppings and combinations. That’s amazing. Now you can pitch blogs that have a focus on pizza or cooking and send them recipes or takeover IG pages that solely focus on home cooks or pizza lovers, or do a guest FB live on a pizza lovers pages.
What this does is gets you in front of a totally different audience who will find interest in you based off the fact that you have shared interests. I know it sounds weird, but the more you can relate to someone about something other than their music, the higher chance they’ll be a loyal fan.
Think of it this way—when you’re in the waiting room at the dentist and you read an article about an actor you don’t care about, but suddenly discover they too have terrible anxiety or wanted to be a marine biologist when they grew up, now all of a sudden you’re paying attention, you’re interested, you want to read more. That’s not because you suddenly decided you love their acting, it’s because you’ve realized there’s something for you to connect to. This is exactly that—but with music!
No matter what you decide to do, know that your marketing efforts are not going unnoticed. It can take a little time to figure out what works for you and your audience, but as long as you’re trying new things, listening to your audience’s response, and continuing to put out great content, your fan base will be right there waiting for you.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more, as well as the Co-Founder of Music Launch Co. Her free training ‘Reaching a Wider Audience Without Spending A Dime’ helps emerging artists cut through the noise and get in front of fans and industry influencers in just a few steps. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.