What's the difference between an amateur band and a professional one? Well, a lot of it comes down to effort and time investment. If you think you're ready to really take your band to the next level but don't know how to get started, there are a few key things to have in place before you can really start making serious progress and come across as legitimate in the eyes of music consumers. Here is a checklist of seven items you've got to have if you're ready to get serious about your music career.
In today's web-based world, you simply can't get away with not having a website anymore. A well-designed website serves as a hub that branches off onto all of your social media and hosts all of your best content. A website is a firm indicator of your band's level of professionalism and dedication to the business end of things.
- 4 Things That Every Great Band Website Has in Common
- Easy, 5-Minute Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Band's Website
- 6 Crucial Website Tips for Freelance Musicians
2. High quality recordings
You need to have music available for people to listen to and purchase. This needs to be high quality, both in terms of composition and recording quality. These days, any band can put together a budget, bedroom recording, but if you want to separate yourself from the bulk, you need great recordings. Without them, you're not going to be able to compete well with the bands that have taken this step, which means less attention from press and radio, and fewer new fans.
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3. High quality videos
This is something that's difficult for a lot of bands to acquire but really makes a big difference. Making an official, high-quality music video is usually something that's outside the budget of a lot of independent groups, but getting solid live video is much more accessible (and typically much more useful for promoters to see anyway). Many clubs will give you the option to purchase a recording of your set that's taken right from the board. Doing so will often yield pretty clean-sounding results. Then it's just the video that needs to be taken care of, which could potentially be done by hiring friends or film students if you're short on funds. The better the quality of the audio and video, the easier it will be to stand out.
- How to Release a Quality Music Video as an Independent Artist
- 4 Creative, Unique Music Videos to Inspire Your Own
- 4 Tips for Creating Shareable, Watchable Video Content
4. Social media engagement
Most bands are pretty good about getting on the social media wagon, but putting out consistent, quality content that keeps fans engaged is an art form in itself. Take some time and do the research, and even pay for some ads if you need to. The more your social media fans engage with your content, the more people will see it, and the more interesting you'll seem to promoters and other industry folk. It doesn't matter if your Facebook page has 10,000 likes if you only have two likes on each post. Put in the effort and push for engagement.
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- 5 Ways to Promote Your Music on Social Media Without Annoying People
Getting the first bits of press is often the hardest, but keep pushing for it. The more press you have, the more interesting you'll seem to other press outlets, and the easier it will be to aggregate more. Having some decent press quotes is a great way to demonstrate that you're staying busy, working hard, and you've been around for a while as a band.
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With all of those things in place and hopefully aggregated on your website, you also need to compile them into an electronic press kit (EPK). Having a professional EPK with high-quality content really makes a positive impression on venues and other professionals you'll send it to. Be sure to include other necessary information in this as well, such as a bio, high-quality press shots, and a stage plot/input list. (Psst, don't forget, Sonicbids EPKs are the #1 most preferred by promoters and booking agents worldwide! Learn more about it here.)
- 5 Ways to Make Your EPK Stand Out From the Crowd
- Here's What Sonicbids Promoters Actually Care About in Your EPK
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Merch is incredibly necessary for so many reasons. Not only does it have the potential to dramatically increase your band's income, but it's a huge part of promotion and retaining new fans. No matter how many times you say your band name during your set, it can be very hard to pick out speech clearly over club PA systems in that kind of noisy environment. Somebody might really like your set, but if there isn't something that they can take home with them, they'll likely forget your name by the next morning. Don't let that happen! Make the investment in some good merch, stuff that people actually want to wear or use. Do so, and they'll promote your band proudly.
- 5 Out-of-the-Box Band Merch Ideas Your Fans Will Love
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Dylan Welsh is a freelance musician and music journalist, based in Seattle, WA. He currently plays in multiple Seattle bands, interns at Mirror Sound Studio, and writes for the Sonicbids blog. Visit his website for more information.