How bands can stay productive during COVID-19

As of yesterday those working in the Australian music industry have lost around $25 million dollars as a result of cancelled events. 84,000 jobs have been impacted and over 10,000 events have been cancelled. These stats come from ilostmygig.net.au and you can also notify them if you have been impacted by these latest world events. If you are struggling please contact Support Act or Lifeline.

Working in the music industry myself, I am starting to see these impacts too. On Friday we had to stay back to send out messaging to patrons that our concert scheduled for tomorrow would be postponed, as it will be a gathering of over 500 people. 

Currently, my job is not on the line and being an established Australian organisation I hope we survive this daunting and uncertain period, but I know the same cannot be said for those who work at smaller organisations, freelance and contract workers or those who are touring musicians and crew.

I grew up seeing how hard it can be to make a living in the Australian music industry and the stresses it can cause in a family and that’s when there are no added impacts beyond our control such as COVID-19 affecting your ability to earn an income from what you do best.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I try my best to look at the positive in every situation, and that’s what I’m here to do for you too.

I have put together a list of productive ideas for you to consider during this down time some of you may be faced with. These are just some conversation starters for you and your band, and hopefully some of these will give you a light bulb moment of things you can do until touring can safely resume.

Write a plan
Use this time to sit down and write a plan. Whether it’s a business plan for your small business, a marketing plan, a content schedule, touring strategy or a budget. Sit down and write out how you’re going to spend this time to keep things productive and what you’ll do need to do and organise when it’s safe to tour again. 

Research
Been looking at new gear, need a new merchandise supplier or maybe you want to learn the business side of music? The internet is full of free resources, blogs and courses online to help you if you don’t know where to start. 

I’ve got a lot of older blogs on here about marketing, writing content and how to best use Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for bands. While some of the info might be slightly outdated the principles still apply, so check them out and drop me a line with any questions!

Produce content
This one’s obvious, you’re a creative bunch! Write new music, finish that album, post content and interact with your fans on social media. Record some new behind the scenes videos, play acoustic versions of your songs or work on an awesome cover and post it on YouTube. 

Got a Patreon page that needs some love? Give your fans some exclusive content, you just need your phone. Show them your gear, break down your music into sections so fans can learn how to play it, have a live Q&A session, tell them the story of how you met or toured with your idols!

Sit down and archive some of your tour or recording memories and share any unreleased footage, photos or demos online with your fans.

Live stream a concert! Code Orange recently did that and you can read about it here.

Sell, sell, sell!
Now is a good time to look at your web store or set one up if you don’t have one! Big Cartel offers affordable packages for those in creative industries and their website is pretty easy to use. There’s plenty of other options out there too, so do your research and see what’s best for you.

Design and produce some exclusive new merchandise and sell them as pre-orders so you know quantities, sizes and can pay for printing so you’re not out of pocket.

Get into the garage and find any old tour merchandise that didn’t sell and list it online. Got any old CDs or tour posters? Sign them and sell them online.

Promote yourself online! Encourage fans to watch and share your YouTube content, sign up to your Patreon page or listen to you on Spotify to increase revenue streams. I know some (ok, most) of these services severely under pay musicians, but try to look at it as a way of engaging with new and potential fans who will come out and support you when touring resumes.

Do some Q&A’s or interviews with online magazines to build your profile. These are the guys who support you the most with album and concert reviews and sharing it to their networks – so give back with some exclusives!

Offer lessons via skype or mentor bands who are looking for guidance. 

Learn something new
Facebook blueprint offers free courses to teach you marketing skills and how to advertise with them effectively.

Google Ads Academy also offers free online training for analytics, adwords, YouTube and more.

Start a podcast or blog. Andy Dowling of the band Lord has created an 11 part series on the basics of podcasting.

Learn a new instrument or how to sing! Again, plenty of free resources online.

Get tour fit
There’s lots of research out there suggesting that exercise can help with depression and anxiety. So staying both physically and mentally fit can help in these stressful times. For me personally it helps with creativity too. I came up with all of these ideas while I was at the gym. 

Got an old exercise bike or weight set rusting in the garage? Get it out and start using it!

This also applies to practicing too, keep up your daily habits of practicing your music, even if you’re stressed and not feeling up to it, your future self will thank you.

Final notes…
I know that staying creative, productive and positive can be hard to do when you’re worried about money or are feeling depressed, but trust me on this one, DON’T STOP!

Kindly force yourself if necessary and set achievable daily and weekly goals to try and stay positive. Check in with your band members, fellow musicians, friends, family and fans to make sure they’re doing OK too.

I am here to help where I can. If you’ve got an idea that you need to bounce off someone drop me an email at metalmarketingmanager@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

I’ll do my best where possible to make myself available in the evenings to respond to any messages. 

Stay safe out there and support each other! Music has saved so many lives and together we can get through this. mm

 

Should I ask fans for their email address?

There are a number of reasons why having your fans email addresses can be really useful, and there’s a few different way to collect email addresses. 

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Having your fans email addresses is a crucial way to contact them about important information like new albums and large-scale upcoming tours. More and more people are becoming overwhelmed by and disillusioned with Facebook and I’ve noticed that people are starting to ignore Facebook events because they are just getting too many invitations.

So it’s time to look at a few more traditional methods to promote your music, starting with emails.

I’m going to talk about a few different ways that you can ask fans for their email address. I’m sure you’ve been to a website before and have seen a pop up box asking for your email. These are called lightbox pop-ups and are a simple and effective way to ask for an email address. If people are genuinely interested in your music, they should be happy to give you their email if you have a clear and simple sign-up form.

If you have tried this and aren’t getting the kind of results you were hoping for you can always offer people a reason to sign up. Including an incentive such as a 10% discount or free shipping on their first order of your web store should help convince someone to give you their email address. Otherwise you could look at other incentives such as offering fans a free download of one of your songs.

Another way you can collect emails is if you run a web store selling your merchandise products. In your checkout cart add in an opt-out tick box for people to sign up for e-news. You are more likely to receive more emails if people have to opt-out of something rather than having to tick a box to opt-in.

If your website doesn’t allow you to do this affordably, you still have a few options. Facebook gives you the option to run a lead-generation ad, which you could trial by targeting the ad to your existing fans asking them to sign up & give you their email address for your newsletter or special offers.

Once you have collected enough emails to send your first newsletter or welcome email don’t spam your fans, otherwise you could lose them through unsubscribes. Think about sending a monthly or quarterly email with latest news, updates or offers and only send emails when you have important news to share.

These kinds of emails should contain information about a new album coming out with where and when they can order it, a new range of merchandise, special discounts or a national tour.

You can also offer something unique to this group of fans, such as exclusive pre-order items, access to listen to a new song before anyone on Facebook, sales on excess stock or free shipping with purchases over $50 or run fan competitions to create content online.

These are really great incentives for any fan to sign up to your email database!

Stay tuned for my next blog where i’ll explain how to create a lead generation ad.

Use Facebook Ads to target new fans after a tour

Have you ever wondered how to contact potential fans after a show?

Supporting an international or well-known local band is one of the main ways to get new like-minded people into your band’s music. applications-2344383_640

In the day of social media it’s easy enough for fans who enjoyed your show to jump online and check out your music, but this doesn’t always mean that they will.

So how can you go out and find them after the show to remind them to check out your music?

Back in December 2016 I saw Deftones, Karnivool and Voyager on tour in Sydney and a few days later I saw one of these bands using Facebook ads to target me and remind me to check them out.

Perth band, Voyager had created a targeted advertisement on Facebook with a call to action to download their latest album via Bandcamp.

So how can you do this for your band?

When logged into your band’s Facebook page, click on the main drop down arrow (where you switch accounts to your page) and click on create an ad.

Creating your ad

Click on ‘increase brand awareness’, give your campaign a name and click next.

Creating your audience

Custom audiences is an advanced feature for targeting existing customers – if you have a subscriber list or your fans emails feel free to contact me about using this feature.

In this instance we want to contact new fans, whose details we don’t have – so right now we don’t need to create a custom audience.

Choose your location, the country where your tour took place, choose an age group and gender for your targeted audience.

Detailed targeting is where you can choose the interests of the people you want to advertise to. Here you can type in the names of the bands you played with on tour, select their pages to target your ad to their fans. You can also choose to exclude audiences on your sponsored post.

Connections

Hover over events, here you can choose ‘people who responded to your event’ and add in your event name. If you don’t have access to the event page (if you didn’t set it up) you have two options.

If your promoter set up the event you can ask them if they can create the ad for you or you can skip this step and advertise to the headlining band’s fans as mentioned above.

Save your audience. It’s easy enough for beginners to stick with automatic placements.

Set your budget, schedule and click next.

What will your ad look like?
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Here you can choose what your ad will look like, add in your text, website and call to action. Use the previews to see how your ad will look.

When you’re happy you can place your order.

You can also read my previous article – How to boost a post on Facebook, which delves into targeting audiences.

Where are your fans from?

Have you ever wondered where your Facebook fans are from and how it can help your online marketing?

Aside from being generally curious, there are added benefits to knowing where your fans are from if you plan to advertise online.

Switch accounts to your band page and click on ‘Insights’, on the left hand menu click ‘People’.

Here you can learn how many of your fans are male vs. female and what age brackets they are in.

Also you can see what countries your fans are from, which cities they live in and what language they speak.

How can you use this information?

Age groups

If you plan to advertise online, this can give you an indication of which age bracket you should target to, if most of your fans fit in a certain range, you may want to exclude younger/older audiences to get the most out of your money.

Gender

Which gender should you advertise to, the one you have the most or least of? It depends really, if you want more similar fans to what you currently have it would be safe to advertise to the higher gender split. But if you think the opposite gender would really like your music, you could create a specific campaign to target them online.

Location

Also when it comes to planning gigs, you can see which cities your fans live in, you might have a huge following in a city you’ve never considered touring to, or no fans in a city you’re thinking about playing at.

Have a look at your data and see what you can learn about your fans.

Here’s the demographics for Metal Marketing on Facebook.

As you can see, most of my fans are Male, aged 25-34, living in NSW Australia.

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Best dressed in Metal

While we’re on the topic of merch, I thought it might be a good time to keep talking about clothing.

More specifically what bands wear when they perform live.

I was at a gig on Friday, and the guitarist was wearing shorts with ankle socks on stage… no shoes to be seen and I couldn’t help but shake my head.

Your brand image is what defines your band, you spend hours writing and perfecting your music to create an album that you’re proud of.

Then you spend countless hours and dollars in the studio to perfect your songs and choose the order of your tracks. Time and effort is then spent choosing an artist for your artwork.

Then the band writes carefully constructed thank you’s and choose fonts for the album track listings.

Once your album is complete you find some nice jeans and a clean shirt out of your closet for promotional photos and video clips.

When it comes to live shows you choose your best guitars and gear, hire a sound and lighting engineer to ensure you sound good and a lot of bands these days are displaying elaborate banners with their album artwork.

As an artist you spend so much time perfecting your craft, so why not spend a little extra time in presenting yourself, to match your sound and the image you want to portray to your fans?

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The Seer

These days many bands are taking that extra step, to coordinate their on stage clothing before the show.

Whether it be deciding if the band wears shorts or jeans, and if so what colour?

Should band members wear plain unison coloured shirts, button up shirts or band shirts?

Will you all wear matching uniforms or have your logo embroidered on a piece of clothing?

Or even if your corpse paint or makeup will compliment each other.

corpse-paint
Carach Angren

There will be photographers at your gig, so make sure you look sharp.

These photos will be all over the internet for not only your fans to see, but also for people who have not listened to your yet, or even promoters who may be looking for support acts for their shows.

 

Whether it’s your first or 100th gig, take some time to think about your image and what you want the world to see when you’re on stage.

What women want

No, I don’t have any answers for your love life. Instead I’m going to be talking about women’s merchandise.

So how do you choose and design your merchandise for women if you’re a band full of men? Hopefully I will be able to give you some advice about the merchandise options available for ladies.

So what do we want?behemoth shirt

Some women want baby doll shirts (tight fitted women’s shirts) or singlet tops, some want baggy mens shirts and some women will buy larger men’s t shirts and make them into dresses or custom designed shirts (as you can see to the right).

What style should you buy?

My personal favourite are the Gildan soft style shirts, they’re comfortable and durable. The quality of these shirts are so good that I won’t buy a shirt these days unless it’s a Gildan. When I’m not at work, I’m always in a band shirt so I need something that fits well and looks good.

So should you stick with the ladies fits or try singlet tops or other ladies designs?

If you don’t know what your lady fans want, ask them on Facebook! Get them involved in the design process, show them two different design options and ask for them to vote for their favourite.

Let’s talk about design

cc shirt
Just because we’re women doesn’t always mean we want something pretty, or pink! Of course all women are different, and we all like different things.

The style of your music will generally determine your artwork, so if you’re a death metal band and we like your music we want our shirts just as gruesome as you’d make them for the boys. We’ll still make it look feminine if we want to.

babydoll

 

If you’re more progressive or rock you could probably be a bit more feminine in design, just like this Alice Cooper shirt (right).

When designing your shirts, be mindful that ladies tees will stretch, this is the main reason to choose quality shirts and printers. Cheap ink will stretch, crack and tear in the chest area after a few wears.

Have you thought about women’s underwear or g-strings? Keep in mind that not all of the ladies will be up for these, or they may prefer to purchase them online. If you do want to sell them, make sure they are always 100% cotton. Nylon may be cheaper, but they are not pleasant to wear.

sp bagIf your band is only starting out and it’s too expensive to do a run of women’s tees you could always consider tote bags or other accessory items. Just make sure the bags have long straps so that they can be carried on the shoulder and not like a shopping bag.

And one last personal request – if your band is on a large scale tour, we want tour dates on the back of our shirts too!