Sometimes, when it feels like you’re doing everything right and you know you’re churning out great music, it can be difficult to understand what’s holding you back from the superstar success you know you’re bound for. But great music is never quite enough, as we’ve seen time and time again.
If you're still waiting for the pivotal moment your band starts gaining momentum, the root cause could be one of the five reasons below..
1. Your brand is confusing
Understanding and clearly conveying your brand is one of the first (and most difficult) exercises you’ll have to do. It can be uncomfortable and even confusing to identify what it is you’re all about and learn how to share that with the world, but it’s one of the most important things you’ll do.
Plus, once you have a grasp on your brand, it will give you a clear template for what kind of social media content to share, opportunities to go after, and live show to put on. Your brand is your base.
2. Your social media isn’t engaging
Yes, social media might feel like a heavy, unnecessary burden, or an act of narcissism that you can’t quite get over, but getting a handle on it and learning to use it as a tool to build your brand and connect with fans is one of the key differences between a band that just does sort of okay and a band that begins to skyrocket.
Having a healthy social media presence and strengthening your connection with fans will only serve to help you when it comes to not only gaining press, shows, and industry attention but also boosting every area of your career. Your fans are your everything — learn to cater to and nurture that, and there’s nothing you can’t do. That connection starts with social media.
3. Your live show isn’t attracting an audience (or a buzz)
You know how people always say to focus on building up your hometown presence and then worry about expanding? There’s some truth to that.
While touring is always beneficial, and your ideal market might live somewhere else, there’s a lot of value in learning to conquer your hometown and perfect your live show. If you’re not bringing out at least a semi-decent crowd, odds are it’s not because you’re in the wrong place.
Take an honest look at your performance. Is it engaging? Are you boring? Invite friends and ask for their honest feedback. Look at how you're marketing the show. What are you doing to promote it? Slapping a couple “come see us play!” posts on Facebook isn’t going to do it. Can you be more engaging in your promotion? Can you get more personal? Experiment with new techniques both on and off the stage until you find what works.
4. You don’t have goals
Getting really clear on specific, achievable goals will help you to move forward in your day to day as a band. When I say goals, I don’t mean things like “be famous” or “make a living from my music.” Those are things you might want, but they’re not goals.
A goal might be, “Play X music festival in 2019” or, “Release an album in March 2019.” Once you set one lofty goal, you can begin working backwards to create achievable, mini goals to help you get to that larger goal.
Keep it realistic though. You might really want to sell out a 5,000-person venue and get a write-up from Pitchfork within the next year, but if you’ve only been a band a few years and have less than a few thousand followers on social media, you might be getting ahead of yourself.
Set realistic goals, keep the timeline relatively small (six months ahead with one yearly goal is a good start), and don’t forget about those mini goals. They’ll make all the difference.
5. You don’t have a clear plan
Okay, so none of us really knows what we’re doing, but this goes along with having solid goals. If you have something you’re working towards, plus a solid brand and an in-depth knowledge of your audience, then what you do and when you do it makes a lot more sense. If you’re just haphazardly getting through each day, unsure of what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, however, then you’re going to have trouble gaining traction.
Once you’ve identified and worked on the above obstacles, clear direction should begin to flow a little more naturally. You should be able to sit down and outline a schedule that gets you closer to your goals. For instance:
- On Sunday nights you schedule out social media for the week
- On Mondays and Wednesdays, you write new material for three hours
- On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you practice
- On Friday, you check in on your monthly goals
If you’re still having trouble, go back and see where you might be able to improve. It’s possible in your excitement to move forward you didn’t spend quite as much time on one of the above steps as needed. Take your time, understand your direction, and then tackle those goals. You’ll be seeing growth in no time.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placement on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more. She’s also the owner of music blog Infectious Magazine. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.