I literally can’t believe that I haven’t written an article about this before, so here we go. So let’s say you’ve got a new band and you’re trying to get launched. I wanted to look at some of the key things that you need to be doing if you’re trying to grow your band from the first and kick off with a professional presentation that will get you taken seriously. While this isn’t as complicated as some people make it out to be, I still think it’s important to look at it in a meaningful way and think about how you can show, from the first that you are bringing value to the promoters, bands and most importantly fans in your scene. You don’t want to be seen as another pretender, but rather a potent new player in the community. What you need to be looking at is how you are going to be giving back, because only then will people get realistically interested in what you are doing.
First and foremost, have a decent sounding EP or at least a demo. I think that kicking off with a full length is in many respects a mistake. You want to have an initial set of songs that you can use in order to get shows, but you want time to tighten them up. No one cares if your full length has a few songs from the EP, in fact tightened up versions might be cool. Just have something people can hear so that when they see there’s a new band they immediately have something to listen too. It has to be a good first impression though so make sure that whatever you are releasing isn’t a super rough demo. So many bands blow opportunities by trying to debut with tracks that were recorded on their smartphones. That isn’t an effective way forward. Still, if you’re at least moderately connected you can get a decent sounding EP or demo recorded for under a grand which isn’t a ton of money for five people to spend. It will ensure you get better shows and help drive towards more opportunities.
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Before you launch, get a good photoshoot done and a professional logo made. Have four horizontal and four vertical pictures. This is going to be key for establishing the visual aesthetic. Try to get a little more creative than ‘we are standing in front of a wall’ though that’s fine too. Point being, try to get some images where you look good and cool and immediately have a look where it’s like “Oh wow these guys clearly are serious”. A blurry band picture or worse no band picture with a shitty logo isn’t going to get people interested. Remember that people aren’t interested in you, they only care about themselves. So figure out how to make them care. If you have the same dull song and dance that so many other bands have with a crappily drawn logo from a band member who ‘totally wants to be a graphic designer bro’ then you’re not exactly setting yourself up for success. First impressions are everything, and your first impression is going to come via how you look. If you want bonus points get a nice header video done so that people can see all you’re about.
Tied into both previous points is to try to have at least two or three cool pieces of art when you launch and be sure they all tie in to each other. If you’re having issues with this then remember that rule from a few articles ago, choose three symbols you like and five bands you want to emulate, then boom you’ve got your aesthetic. As per what the art should be one design should be the album art, ideally it includes all of the symbols and core ideas of your band. Then you should have a t shirt design or two, and one of those designs should also be applicable to a third piece of merch like a koozie, patch or whatever. If you have those three pieces of art you will already be in a position to create some solid content and start to make sales and garner interest from your first show. Having a few solid items available at your merch stand will make people see you are a more pro act and not one just draining the scenes limited resources.”
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When it comes to launching then there should be a fairly straightforward approach. Have your EP and art ready to go and launch your social media pages with your band photos. Use any one of various tools on the internet to invite all your friends to like your page. Tied into your launch kick off a PR campaign to debut promote your EP. Be aware that you should launch the social media pages and invite friends to like your page before you launch music. You want people to see that there is some interest just because of who you guys are. If you feel it necessary, toss a song up on Bandcamp, but I would recommend holding on to them for the PR campaign because you can get a cool placement once you’re working with a PR person. After you launch and shit looks good, hit up a PR person and get moving on that front, get a release plan put together with the goal of getting at least one song out within a month. Afterwards, ping a local promoter who you are friends with and send them your unreleased EP, ask them for a show and go from there. Simultaneously list your band on your personal profiles and start commenting on EVERYTHING on Instagram (From the band page) and Facebook (From your personal page) so people start to check you out.
This is a very rough outline of how to launch a band, there are obviously a lot of other steps in there that I kind of brushed over but these are the basic steps I take when launching a band. Remember that it’s all about relationships, connecting and working to develop a greater whole. This isn’t an easy thing to do and it’s not going to come naturally to a lot of you. However if you write out a plan with a bunch of incremental and achievable goals then it is going to happen. You need to be very patient and take your time. It is much more worth it to come out with a pro look than it is to roll out looking like every other shitty band and getting ignored. Save yourself a lot of aggravation and do it right the first time.