Updated: Aug 16
In today's fast-paced world, where social media reigns supreme, the beginning stages of a band is filled with challenges and paradoxes. A new band must create content to be noticed, yet needs shows to generate that content. What seems like a catch-22 situation is, in fact, a complex journey that requires a unique blend of talent, marketing, and awareness of the digital landscape.
The Social Media Paradox: Content Creation and the Vicious Cycle
Content creation has become the heartbeat of your presence in the music scene. You need content to make waves, to be seen, to be considered to play, yet you need shows to get that content. It's a dizzying cycle.
You gotta be good enough to put on an awesome show, but even if you are, that might not even matter. People in the audience posting stories, even other bands, may inadvertently capture moments when the crowd is thin or before the sound guy figured out the microphone was turned off. It's not their fault; they might not realize how these videos paint your band. But that's not the image you want to broadcast.
The digital era has made promoting music both a blessing and a curse. While we can reach more people than ever before, the pressure to present the 'perfect image' can be overwhelming.
Audience presence is about perception and human psychology. It's a bummer, but it makes sense: people gauge your worth by the crowd at your show. We're pack animals; we lean on others to define what's good, especially in the music scene. A video with a sparse crowd and poor sound can send you in the wrong direction, and for the most part, you can't control it.
Anyone checking the socials for what's going on that night typically have too many options to even deal with. That combined with the comforts of home entertainment, it's hard to get anyone out and about these days anyways. But if they ARE going to choose who to go see, if they scroll across a subpar post of you playing to an empty venue, they might choose elsewhere. When you can, you have to be selective. If there's a picture radiating fun, energy, and excitement – POST THAT FRONT AND CENTER.
The Importance of Presence: Speak Up
Its been commonplace for the other bands you're sharing a bill with to take a quick video and post it on Instagram and tag everyone involved. This is great. It shows support and let's people know those two or three bands partnered up for a show. That way, their followers will see you and visa versa. Unfortunately, often they capture those moments that misrepresent your band.
But this is your stage, your opportunity. Be vocal about this. No one will be upset if you let them know what you want. This can start your deliberate strategy with what you post and curate. Showcase the real essence of your shows. Show the world that your band is a tune worth listening to, a rhythm worth dancing to. But then when they're on stage, make sure to do the same!
So, to fellow bands, this is for you: We appreciate your support and your posts, but let's be mindful of what we share. Let's lift each other up with quality content that truly reflects who we are on stage. It's not about blame; it's about awareness, creativity, and collaboration. By paying attention to the details, we represent each other in the best light, and we all win.
Attention All Aspiring Photographers!!!
To all of you aspiring photographers eager to break into the music scene, here's some real talk: THE CROWD IS THE IMPORTANT PART IN A BAND PHOTO! You heard it right. It's not about the band, it's about the people, the fans, the real live energy of the show. Bands can take controlled, polished shots of themselves anytime. But what they need, and what they'll PAY FOR, are the photos that grab the attention of those who weren't there, showing them where they should've been that night, so next time they won't miss out.
So if you're serious about this, if you want to be more than just someone who looks cool with a nice camera, then understand what's truly vital. Focus on the crowd first. Capture the energy and the chaos; it's the essence of a live performance. It's where you'll find the raw, real connection that sets your work apart. Of course, if you find yourself in the perfect moment with the singer swinging her arms through the air, bathed in stunning lighting effects, don't hesitate to capture that too. Those shots are amazing and can come from both seasoned professionals and those with a keen eye for the unexpected. But remember, what the bands really need, what they'll PAY FOR, are the photos that convey the heart and soul of the show. Let the band be a side note in the image; let the fans tell the story.
You have the power to create something extraordinary, but it requires a clear understanding of what matters most in music photography. Don't just point and shoot; capture the heart and soul of the music scene. Prove that you're not just another photographer, but a vital part of capturing the musical moment. Because that's what bands are looking for, and that's what makes all the difference.
Strategies for Success
Playing for Exposure
Every new band and musician is faced with the offer of "playing for exposure." While building a name is crucial, and non-paying gigs can offer opportunities to be seen and practice performing live, there's a catch.
The real cost of being a musician extends beyond the show. Years of lessons, practice, gear, writing, rehearsal, packing, driving, setup, and soundcheck culminate in just an hour or two of performance. Yet, venues sometimes expect exposure to cover these costs.
Benefits of playing for exposure include building your portfolio, getting content, and networking. The downsides include lowering standards in the industry and financial struggles. There are different deals like "door deals" or a "cut of the bar," but these can come with challenges too.
The journey of a gigging musician can be a rough balancing act. It's about learning, growing, compromising, and sometimes fighting for your worth. While playing for exposure might make sense sometimes, it's vital to be aware of the realities of the industry.
For a more in-depth look into this topic, including a detailed discussion on the pros and cons of playing for exposure, door deals, the cut of the bar, and more, CLICK HERE to read the full version of "The Real Cost of Playing for Exposure."
Electronic Press Kits (EPKs)
An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) isn't just advisable; it's essential. This all-in-one digital portfolio needs to be easily accessible and available at a single click. Within its pages, it should immediately present the best of what your band has to offer.
If, through the mountains of emails, yours happens to be read, you'll want to make an instant impression. Venues and bookers have limited time to sift through countless submissions, so don't overcomplicate your EPK with lengthy bios that mirror everyone else's. Instead, highlight your band's unique strengths and appeal. What sets you apart? Why do people want to see you perform live? Capture those selling points quickly.
Include high-quality photographs, perhaps retouched by a friend skilled in Photoshop to really make them shine. Accompany these images with brief yet powerful video snippets of your songs, showcasing the most engaging parts. Assume you have only 3 to 6 seconds to hook a viewer's attention. If they're interested, you might have an additional 1 to 2 minutes to really sell your band to them. CLICK HERE to see an example of what a newer band's EPK can look like.
Remember, this is more than just a digital resume. It's a vibrant snapshot of your band's energy, creativity, and potential. Make those few seconds count because in the fast-paced world of entertainment, that might be all the time you have to land that critical gig.
And if you don't hear back, don't be discouraged. They might not have seen your submission. Try again after a while, maybe tighten up your EPK, gather better content, and take another shot. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but if it's too squeaky, it gets thrown away. Persistence matters, but patience and continual improvement are key. It can get discouraging and frustrating, but with the right balance of tenacity and finesse, your time will come.
The Attention Span Game
Understanding and mastering the attention span game is no small feat, especially on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where you're battling against a constant torrent of visual and auditory stimulation. It's not the viewer's fault; we're all surrounded by an overwhelming white noise that's blasting into our eyes and ears at all times.
In this wild landscape, you have just 3 seconds to hook a viewer's attention. Yes, only 3 seconds. In that fleeting moment, they'll decide whether what they're watching is worth more of their precious time. If you succeed, you might have up to a minute to prove yourself, to make them feel something, and to earn that coveted like, save, or follow.
But don't be disheartened if that all amounts to nothing at first. It's a tricky game to play, and even seasoned players face challenges. If people see you have only 34 followers, they might automatically assume you're new, inexperienced, or lacking in social media savvy. That's why every single post needs to stand out, to resonate, to be something more than just another post in a feed full of them.
You have to play this game, knowing the stakes and understanding the rules. You have to craft content that doesn't just blend into the background but jumps out and demands attention. You must be strategic, thoughtful, and a bit bold too, all while staying true to who you are as a band.
Remember, these platforms can be both a path to success and a slippery slope to obscurity. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make those 3 seconds count, to rise above the white noise, and to show the world exactly why your band is worth their time.
In a bustling musical landscape where social media commands attention and every night is a symphony of bands vying for recognition, the journey of a new band is undoubtedly an uphill battle. But it's a battle laced with creativity, collaboration, and determination. From the intricate paradox of content creation, where talent must navigate a maze of misconceptions, to the intricate dance with photographers capturing the pulsating life of a concert, each step is a delicate and thoughtful maneuver. The importance of presence, strategies for success such as weighing the pros and cons of playing for exposure, curating an effective Electronic Press Kit, and mastering the attention span game on platforms like TikTok and Instagram add to the complex puzzle. But with clarity of vision and an understanding of what truly matters, this maze can become a rewarding playground. It's about showcasing the real essence of your shows, elevating fellow musicians, engaging the crowd, understanding the rules, and playing the game with both heart and strategy. Yes, the road may be filled with twists, turns, and hurdles, but when approached with awareness, creativity, and collaboration, it can be not just a path to success but an exhilarating adventure, a rhythm worth dancing to, and a tune worth playing. It's tough, it's intense, but it's also fun, exciting, and infinitely rewarding if you're ready to embrace it all.
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