Crafting an US vs THEM Mentality For Your Band

Prepare yourself for a big one kiddos. I’ve been watching videos and reading books about this, so hopefully this article is at least halfway coherent. This is one of the most important marketing secrets for your band. This is something that I have been planning to implement more directly in my own marketing in the next few weeks. It is the importance of creating an Us against Them mentality and then using it to elaborate and further establish what you are doing with your band. Look at the biggest movements in music history, be it Glam vs Thrash, Hardcore vs Pop or just the KISS Army against the world. These things are huge if you want to develop a fanbase who are developed and who stay with you forever rather than moving on to the next cool band that comes their way. This is where you start to speak for your fans and leverage the power to turn into something of a rock star. It’s a tricky thing to handle, but when done right can impact the world.

Now this can be super hard to do initially, largely because it can be hard to create a sound and look that connects with the audience in a meaningful way. I recommend you look at some examples from the last decade or so though. While Slipknot may be the greatest twenty first century example of this with their army of maggots, bands that are less than legendary have found success by creating an us against them mentality too. Look at groups like Five Finger Death Punch. Their whole thing is appealing to that working class military guy who feels disenfranchised and is dealing with some heavy shit. Sure that might not be a band you like, I certainly don’t like them, but I can see that they do a great job of catering to that guy and creating music that is meaningful to them. I think this is a big part of why the deeply emotional doom metal bands have success too, they feel your sorrow. I feel like there’s a place for a band like that to really bring it to the next level in terms of connecting with fans.

If you want to actualize this, then you’re going to need to think about what traits define your key fans. Actually, better, ask your biggest fans about their defining traits, stalk their social media profiles and go from there. Find the archetypes of people who need your music and the community you are seeking to create. Hardcore is great at this. It is basically designed to give frustrated young people a sense of community and family with a clear ancestry of elders who direct shit and younger guys who are bringing in fresh blood and new ideas. Figure out how you can implement this in your band and what you will call your fans. Make a shirt with it, refer them by the name at shows, create a sense of ownership around it. This can happen a lot more easily than you think, we as humans are defined by out social groups. Instead of being a weirdo about it then, form a social group that remains meaningful for these people throughout their lives.

When you are trying to create an us against them mentality frequently the first step is to come up with a name for your fanbase that is cool and indicative of what they are and who they represent. If you have a label that you can tag on them then they are going to be a lot more likely to want to become a part of it. Again, look at the KISS Army. I know dudes who ‘enlisted’ forty years ago and are still proud card carrying members because KISS is forever and there will always be that sensibility. It’s the same with hardcore if you want to go to the other end of the spectrum. Hardcore is big on history and having ‘scene cred,’ which I always thought was really cool. Yet even a genre so steeped in history refers to its fans as ‘hardcore kids.’ This is a pretty goddamn clever thing to do in my eyes, it reflects the perpetual youth of the genre and constantly rekindles the old magic from when you went to your first show when you were 15.

Creating this mentality is going to be a lot of work I’m not going to lie. This is not an easy way to grow your band nor is it obvious, in your face or quick to put together. In fact this can be quite the opposite of all of those things. However you want your band to have a sense of longevity that comes beyond just buying a shirt but instead realizing that you are a part of something greater. You need to craft music that speaks to people on a level such that they want to keep coming back and be a part of the movement. This is why the best bands always hang out with their fans, because they realize they are leaders of a movement. If you aren’t the leader of a movement then why should people reward you with long term loyalty? When putting this together don’t just look at other bands who have rabid fanbases either. Spend time looking into key political movements and how they have been held together. Look at how you can become the attractive character at the center of a larger narrative and give the fans the love they deserve.

So many bands don’t know what ideals they are trying to embody or what makes them different from the legions of other acts. They don’t have anything that should inspire a listener to really want to spend time, dig in and fall truly in love. I know that sucks because you just want to play, but if you want to get big you need to give people a way to feel like they are a part of the band. Fuck man if Def Leppard literally have a bit in their show where they make you an honorary member of Def Leppard then I’m sure you can find something that makes you stand apart and look cool to the masses. Unity is important, you need to be there to help make it happen.

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