How to Get Press and Popularity: Seven Pieces of Advice for Budding Local Bands

Know it. Use it.
Know it. Use it.

You know, Up on the Sun has a lot of faith in local music, but we don't have much faith in the marketing abilities of young musicians.

Yeah, I understand that you're busy with your craft, but you can't just sit around hoping the press will recognize your genius as you belt out ballads in your bedroom. That's not going to happen (unless of course you become a YouTube sensation...but let's not start banking on that).

In n the age of the internet, there's really no excuse to not promote your music. Yet, time and time again, bands with talent fall to the wayside because they don't have the basics of marketing down. I've often thought about becoming a band consultant. I'd charge $200 a session to rain down my knowledge how to gain publicity and popularity. But screw it -- I'm a writer, so obviously the last thing I care about is money.

So here you go, Talented Young Band languishing in obscurity. These seven tips won't guarantee anything, but they certainly will help a band with great songs get noticed faster than whining in bars about how no one recognizes your jams. Free free to toss that cash my way (since we know that struggling musicians often have a surplus of cash).

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Tell us how to contact you

I can't tell you how many times I've thought a band was worthy of press, but they give me no means to contact them. No e-mail, no phone number. It seems simple, but seriously, it's an epidemic. I'm not going to ask you on your Facebook wall for an interview.

Have a dedicated press e-mail

Root it to your phone. If you want to check your fan mail once a day, that's fine, but if a journalist e-mails you, you'll want to respond as quickly as possible. Often we have deadlines within hours of when we contact you. I know, the world doesn't revolve around journalists, but your coverage does.

Participate in social media

  • And do it actively. It doesn't always have to be about you either. Start discussions on your page about current music events or ask people questions. Soon, you're building a personality for your band instead of just a page. Peachcake does a pretty good job of this.
  • Keep in communication with anyone who posts on your wall. It makes them feel special. Don't worry about maintaining your "mystique." You're not Radiohead yet.
  • Offer a free track or giveaway for people who "like" your page. People love free shit.
  • Don't get on any social networks you're going to neglect. You don't want information to become stale.

You can connect with people other than fans, too. Promoters and other musicians often use Facebook and other social media to find bands to play shows.

Make use of local message boards.

Make your name known. Local message boards like TheShizz.org allow local musicians and fans to connect with each other. You can talk shop, meet up with other musicians or start a band, all on one humble, ancient website.

So, can we hear some of your music?

Please, for the love of god, don't bother with trying to establish a "web presence" if you have no intention of posting your music. People need to know what you sound like and you want people to listen.

Play shows with some frequency

Oftentimes, the first exposure with a fan will be live. If they like you, they'll want to tell their friends. How often you play out depends on what you're trying to do, but no one is going to book you unless they know you can down a stage.

Don't be afraid to reach out

If you have something cool going on with your band, Up On the Sun wants to hear about it. Don't hesitate to get a discussion going with journalists. You don't look desperate. We totally understand that you want press. We'll determine if it's press worthy, but even if it's not, still be in touch in the future. If it makes you feel more professional, write a press release, but we don't always need those kind of frills.

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