My name is Matt Bacon and I've worked with everyone from bands like Enslaved and Alcest and labels like Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music. In an effort to bring some of these ideas together, I put jotted the following list of 10 mistakes I see bands still making in 2019.
Hopefully you find this helpful as a growing band. Here are ten things you definitely should not be don't
This one really irks me. Look, label people and booking agents talk to each other and we all pretty much agree, we would rather see that you can draw 50-100 people in a two hundred mile radius of your hometown than that you've been on five national tours playing to fifteen people a night. If you really want a high ROI experience playing out, then identify 12 cities within a 6 hour drive of you that you want to target and go out and do weekenders every other weekend and not repeating a market more than once every three months. It's not hard.
Another one that drives me crazy. A lot of bands will just plug in the their genre into the 'Audience' section of a Facebook ad and then get flooded with spam. Or, they will only target their ad to huge bands. This isn't going to work out for you. You need to target your ads much more specifically. Choose a few bigger bands in your genre whose fans would like you and who moreover, are the type of fans looking for new underground bands, and target that way. So for instance, if you are a thrash band, don't target the Metallica's and Slayer's of the world, target Warbringer and Havok fans, since those fans are MUCH more likely to care about finding underground bands.
This is a simple one. Inviting all your friends to like your page is okay once or twice, but immediately DMing people after they add you isn't cool, and neither is posting about your band in bigger event pages for shows you're not on. Also, don't get your friends to spam for you, it just makes you all look like idiots and will make people less likely to come to your shows.
Seriously – how do you find out about new bands? A lot of the time it's social media right? So why should people find out about your band if you're not posting a lot to social media? Yes it's a grind and yes it can be no fun, but you have to do it if you want to have traction. Get into a good habit of it and it won't take more than five minutes a day, I promise.
Another big one, aside from the fact that there are countless bands out there who don't even use Instagram (Uggh!) bands not using stories are only hurting themselves. People pay a TON of attention to stories, and by updating yours regularly you are going to be more able to get eyeballs on what you are doing. If you want a few examples of bands who are GREAT at stories check out the following: @highreeper, @heavytemple and @forming_the_void. For bonus points use hashtags in your stories to grow visibility and then convert some stories into highlight reels to keep them sitting neatly above your posts on your profile forever.
Live content is huge in 2019 but so many bands don't actually use it and it's aggravating. People want to watch your live content so give it to them. I know it feels a bit Truman Show-esque but that's life now. Put up or shut up. The folks who are great at this include Matt Heafy from Trivium and Herman Li from Dragonforce, both are extreme Twitch users getting some pretty serious monetization out of it.
This isn't a 'beware of sensitive snowflakes' type of point, this is a 'Don't be an asshole' type of point. So many people are just straight up assholes and its dumb. You have to be very aware of what you post online because that shit is permanent and may come back to haunt you. Just think stuff through before you post on line and don't get snippy with fans, it just is going to make you look bad. If someone is trolling just ignore them, trust me it will save your image in the long run.
Do you know how many submissions even fairly small labels get in a day? Dozens if not hundreds. And most of the bands pitching are really really terrible. It's horrifying to have to dig through a ton of shitty demos for one that is hopefully okay. In my experience, I'd rather sign someone who makes a point of building a relationship with me and showing me the value they will bring a label. There are a ton of people asking for my time every day, why would I want a leech when I could have something that makes me look cool instead?
This is a big one. Ripple is pretty obviously a stoner rock label. Do you HONESTLY think we are going to sign your slam band? This is just a waste of time. It leaves me even less likely to check out cold submissions. So you're basically making the scene worse for everybody by spamming people. Don't be that guy. Build a relationship and then pitch to a label, don't expect them to have you be their first act in a genre that is totally new for them.
This is the big one, the key. You need to understand what your differentiating factors and unique selling points are. So many people have no clue what differentiates them form the pack or what makes them special. Oftentimes that's because there is nothing that makes them special. You need to know precisely what differentiates you and then push it to the limit, that's the only way to stand out!
If you'd like more tips for your band, check out my band advice feature, Bacon's Bits, via my Instagram page, @MattBacon666.