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You could be the next Best Band in the World, but if you Can't Sell it, You'll Never get Anywhere

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Helix, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. Helix

    Helix California U.S.A.

    May 29, 2015
    "Sadly most musicians are not sales people, and if you can't sell your product you're more than likely doomed to small venues / clubs until you burn out and quit"

    How true of a statement is this?

    What alternatives are there when bigger venues want to see 100K likes and 100K views on your videos and you'll probably never see it?

    "The music industry has changed so much over the last 20 years, it seems social media is the leading factor to success"

    Is this a true statement?
    mikewalker likes this.
  2. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    It depends on the client. Some have a budget and want the band as a feature -- they have their audience and clients so they don't need the band to draw a crowd. For these clients, the OP isn't an accurate description.

    For clients who see the band as a way of attracting people and making sales, what you write is absolutely critical. I have found, however, there are ways of getting those people to hire you without massive social media. Some strategies involve partnering with someone who has invested the time in social media. Another strategy is to create an accompanying event that draws people, but hiring the band is a requirement for that event to happen -- like a piano recital held by one of your band members.
    DJ Bebop, Mr_Moo, Oddly and 1 other person like this.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It doesn't matter if you are playing your songs in stadiums or covers at Joe's Bar and Grill. Your music is a commodity. People don't want to hear it, but it's true.
  4. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    The first statement, about sales, is utterly true. The second is one factor in many.
    filmtex and Helix like this.
  5. This is only true if the commodification is how you measure your success. You don’t need to sell your music (record or perform) for it be a success, but as soon as you expect someone to pay, or even fight for their attention, then Art becomes Product.

    For the record I play covers and measure my success on how many gigs we get, where the gigs are, how much they pay, how many people are there and how attractive they are, how many new “likes” we get, how many comments on our Instagram etc . 100% a commodity.
    sears, DJ Bebop, wilberthenry and 5 others like this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    sounds like sour grapes to me... :D

    i think it's always word-of-mouth. friends tell/influence friends. i'm sure FB and smartphones help that process in 2018.
    Helix likes this.
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Unless your goal is to play to an audience of no one, you have to create a market. That is marketing - i.e. sales.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    It really depends on two things.

    What are your goals?

    How do you define success?

    But those statements are mostly true if you define success as "becoming rich and famous".

    You have to sell yourself until you are big enough that you have "people for that".

    These days, social media is a big part of that.
    Mili, Element Zero and Helix like this.
  9. Helix

    Helix California U.S.A.

    May 29, 2015
    A couple things I found that help

    Create a Web Site, add band bio, video's, music, contact info......all that stuff

    Make your Web Site searchable by Google and other search engines

    This will help national booking agents find you, and contact you when trying to fill a bill

    It can't hurt
    Oddly likes this.
  10. AlexBassMP


    Feb 5, 2014
    I've been playing in bands since I was 16 or 17 y.o. and I've been in lots of situations .. so here's my opinion

    First of all : Music is an art AND a product. Bach got paid for most of his compositions (Cantatas,the Goldberg's variations..) and nobody calls Bach a sellout. You don't have to starve until death to be considered an artist.

    From the "product" perspective.. there are sooooo many bands in the world and being a good player/songwriter is not enough to rise above the rest of the bands.. So yes , you must have some basic marketing and sales skills... I compare it to being a freelance worker.. Being good at what you do (painting, plumbing,gardening..whatever..) is half of the equation , the other half is sales skills...Maybe you don't paint the customer's house, but you're providing a service which the customer wants..

    When I talk about marketing with my bandmates I don't always mean "exposure" ..playing for free at an event where the band won't sell a t/shirt, cd or got any valuable contact is a waiste of time and effort...and sometimes , money. Playing for free opening for a similar style stablished band exposes you to potential fans/clients...

    Being in social media, having a website and all of this helps... Someone said me once "Most of the times we listen with our eyes" .. I've seen mediocre bands with good image and show getting great reponse and good bands with an amateur look or static shows getting unnoticed except for his girlfriends/friends/family.. Image counts.. as a band and as a "bussines" : a good graphic designs , quality band photos, good sounding live videos...are essential.

    Networking : Talk with people, promoters, other bands.. this helps to get gigs and helps the band's name to be "on the air"..

    If you want to gig regulary and stand out from other bands , being the best player in town isn't enough.
    BazzaBass, ERIC31, EdO. and 3 others like this.
  11. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    the beatles were only able to "sell their product" because the product was exceptional for the mass-market. It was a perfect storm for them to have the impact they did, but nonetheless they had what the audiences wanted, and so it sold. still does to this day.

    you need to define what "good" is before entering into this conversation. I saw an act opening for someone about 10 years ago in a 100 seat jazz club that was so killer it still gives me chills to think about - some of the best music i've ever heard. the highest artistry. but they were not even headlining a 100 seat room.

    you must separate high artistry, mastery, or whatever you call it - musicianship - from a mass market product. if you define "best band" as selling the most, thats fine. but be aware that you can define "Best" in so many ways.
  12. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    The first statement is true and false
    • Sadly most musicians are not sales people - VERY true; the vast majority of musicians I know don't know how to sell and don't want to know how to sell.
    • if you can't sell your product you're more than likely doomed to small venues / clubs until you burn out and quit - NOT True; I know lots of people, myself included, that are perfectly happy playing small venues and clubs.
    Partially true

    • "The music industry has changed so much over the last 20 years, it seems social media is the leading factor to success" I don't know if social media is the leading factor to success, but I can't imagine a path to success that doesn't include it.
  13. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    I doubt you'll get any national booking agents that way. The only thing you'll get is battle of the bands or showcase types of events where you have to pay or sell X number of tickets. Build a polished product and hire a booking agent / promotion agent that will find gigs for you. They get a cut of your take, but they have connections and you will likely not build those connections easily. If their rates are reasonable, you'll make more money with them than without them. If.
    Mr_Moo, B-line and Helix like this.
  14. BlueShox

    BlueShox Registered Turtle Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2007
    West Columbia, SC
    If you are an original band and want to go places, get a manager. If you can't find a manager willing to work with you, get better until one does.
  15. More generically, most people are not sales people and if they can't sell their most important product (themselves) they are doomed to middling success until retirement.
    mikewalker likes this.
  16. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I should find a way to make this a sticky, because I have the same reaction to posts like this every time: Lucky me, I play for a BL who does know how to sell. No press kits, no pro audio or video, just hitting the clubs and open mics and building personal relationships with clubowners. Redhead is a stinky little bar band with no ambitions beyond making money and having as much fun as we possibly can. If this constitutes "doom" then I'm good with it.
    Mr_Moo, juancaminos, EdO. and 2 others like this.
  17. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    If you have a good, tight band, find a management company and/or booking agent. A good one will get you the good gigs, but will also tell the slightly overweight chick singer to lose the tight red dress, and tell the bass player to lose the chewing gum, and, no, the singer isn't better when he's slightly buzzed. It's a tough business.
  18. You can have the best salesman/marketing guy in the world and he will not make a crappy band the next great band.
    Great music, great stage presence, and great songs make great bands, period.
    Sure, there is a bit of luck, chance, and timing that can contribute to success but for the most part it is all about quality of product.
    Audiences (consumers) are not stupid.
    juancaminos and EdO. like this.
  19. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Right, but I think this thread is looking at it from the other view. You can have a great band, but if nobody knows, do you still have a great band? Putting together a solid product is step one, but learning how to market yourself is probably more important. There are a lot of good bands out there.
    wmmj, buldog5151bass and Helix like this.
  20. I agree with everything that you say, but the OP was talking about the "next best band in the world" which is quite different from marketing a work-a-day band.
    Bunk McNulty likes this.

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