Content. The cornerstone of your marketing. Your All-Access Pass to an easy life if you have a knack for it straight off the bat - however, it’s rare. It takes some serious reevaluation, testing, A/B tests; hell, usually a business will have an entire team dedicated to creating content (what do you think an AR department is for..?)
With a band, it’s similar of course, but in a lot of ways, it’s easier. There’s not nearly as much red tape, and to be honest, the main thing you need to be mindful of (aside from it being original!) is copyright issues. Let’s take a deeper dive into some of the best forms of content, the ways to go about releasing them, and why it’s important to be patient when releasing.
Photo & Video
Photographic content is by far and away the easiest form of content to build in today’s market. With the latest phones, you can create some insane DSLR Camera quality photos - and in all reality, it doesn't matter if they are 4k quality because your social media platforms are going to squash the living hell out of them and lower the quality all the way down. Providing you have a decent camera, test it out on your personal social media, if it works, do it. Here’s some from a couple of different sessions I've had in the studio recently, shot on my iPhone X to give you an idea of what you can do with a little bit of practice (see below).
The point is, that while you’re making music at home, document it, take some everyday shots and treat certain social media like a blog for your fan to relate to. Now, it’s important to mention that this is really limited to Instagram (depending on the vibe of the band) and mainly twitter which is largely informal. Facebook is a different kettle of fish.
Wait till you book a 7-14 day tour, or a decent festival date (by that I mean somewhat high profile) take a photographer with you and get some HQ video/photo content of you breaking your necks from how insane your stage presence is (this does take practice, from experience, the best way to coordinate and choreography to an extent is a dance hall for a practice room!)
Facebook is going to be about 80% of your market, so you need to make sure everything that goes out on there is the pinnacle of ‘freshness’
Now, when I say photos, I also mean your digital content. Take my band for example; we have a logo and emblem, and we use it as our main source of branding and marketing. It’s at the end of the teaser videos, tour videos, etc. plus, it’s our header photo and our main profile photo on ALL social media. Make it consistent. Make it memorable. Make it mean something to your fans.
Now, this is important - DO NOT BECOME IMPATIENT AND DO NOT RELEASE YOUR CONTENT WITHOUT SERIOUS THOUGHT AND OUTSIDE OF THE MARKETING STRATEGY.
‘But why’s that Harri?’ - I’ll tell you why don’t worry! Because those bands that you see doing well have a clear game plan. And it goes something like this as an initial release plan:
- Create ALL the content for the release of an Album (for example)
- When ready - The teaser video goes up (with or without music) - out of nowhere, literally, the social media has been so quiet in the recent weeks that you’d think they’d broken up. This is backed by a decent budget on ALL social media platforms and they have a clear idea of who they want to reach with their marketing.
- A week later, the day before the video drops, you post time with a photo. Think onset, behind the scenes shot for example.
- Day after, the video drops at said time, and if they’re not on a label, then it’s been negotiated onto a decent channel like Beheading The Traitor, Dreambound, or BlankTV. The deal is they pay to have it hosted exclusively for said amount of time, and it goes out to their subs, and they have a small budget for AdWords through Youtube.
- In turn, the band is now planning the release of their tour in 5-7 days time, followed by the same steps above for the second single a week after that (aim for a 3-month plan, a video each month to keep the hype and in the meantime, it's just hyping up the hype).
You get the picture. Now, imagine the work you would have to undertake in order to create that within the small amount of time between each piece being released? Imagine the manpower and how much money it would cost to do it in the short turn arounds you’re asking for? It’s just insane. It’s not smart. It’s not logical - and strategy is all logic.
Opt-in marketing is fast becoming the mainstay of marketing. It’s always had its place, but with the PR or the GDPR legislation from the EU; the entire world's group of businesses now have to abide for rights pertaining to users' data and digital storage.
I mention this because the keyword here is Opt-In. In the sense that, when a user opts-in to receive marketing from a brand in the real world, we can take that as they’re interested in our product(s) and would like to see and hear more from us. It’s the same with bands, but more important arguably because you can sell EVERYTHING through this. New T-Shirt? Tour? Last Chance to Buy? 10% off or free shipping? Album reviews, press packs, EPK (for labels, etc.) - you name it, it can go in there.
And everything can then link to your website. From the website, it links to your social media or visa versa. It’s the holy grail of blasting your content and I’ve got the simplest solution possible regarding how to get a list of emails together. PLAY SHOWS > SELL MERCH > ASK THEM TO SIGN UP.
Literally, buy a clipboard, get some lined paper and you simply need a name, and an email address and you’re there. On the website for first-time viewers, just have an email sign up at the bottom, or better yet, in the middle below the main content of the landing page. It really will reformat your entire strategy once you get rolling with this and I promise, you’ll never look back.
Note; this takes time to build a solid list, so don’t become impatient and give up. Nothing worth having is easily obtained. Bands that do well are the ones that work their ass’ off - full-time musicianship is a luxury, so you should have to work hard to get somewhere.
To my chagrin, there are very few bands in the lower or mid-level rungs that have capitalized upon these simple ideals within the content strategy and those that have; it hasn’t come from them a lot of the time either. Invariably, it’s a management or worse, a label that tries and instills these values well after the band has searched high and low, struggling to catch anyone's eye (and in the end, finally acquired a terrible 360 deal that ends up leaving them no better off - actually, worse off in the end).
If you’re not utilizing these core aspects of content marketing already, then focus on that first. Afterward, you’ll find the other topics within this blog will fall into place much easier than if you chance not having nailed this part down.
Content and Product (see part 2) are your lifeblood, so treat them with the respect they deserve and only ever put out something you're proud of and want to show the world. Nothing by half measures from here on.