Ten things your indie band needs to stop doing NOW!!
November 20, 2013
By Rob Watts
1- Stop using promo shots of your band on a railroad track!
If I had a nickel for every press photo I’ve seen of a dark and troubled band standing cold and frigid on a railroad track, well, you get the idea. Stop this. Stop distributing these press photos. Tear them up and hire a photographer who knows how to scout a unique backdrop that truly represents your band. Unless you are the next version of the Traveling Wilburys, get off the tracks!
2- Don’t name every band you’ve shared a stage with.
I don’t care if over the tenure of your career, you’ve shared a stage with the likes of Filter, Disturbed, Black Veil Brides, Korn, etc..
Being the first band to go on at a festival that hosts 20 bands doesn’t count as “opening” for 30 Seconds to Mars. If you’ve won a spot where your band opens up for Staind at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom in New Hampshire, that show only, you are not officially on tour with the band. Therefore, stop claiming that you shared the stage with national headlining acts. If you tour with a headlining act, on a bus, where there are multiple dates involved, then you can claim to be an opening act for a major headlining band. If a band specifically hand-picked you to open for them, then you can claim to be an official opener. If you’ve never even met the band that you are warming up for, I wouldn’t brag about opening up for them. They aren’t bragging about sharing the stage with you.
3- Enough with the lame band or musician bio!
I can’t tell you how disinterested I become when I read the first sentence of a bio where it begins with “such and such was born with a guitar in their hand” or “Jane Smith eats, sleeps and breathes music.” Zzzzzzz! We get it. You love music and have a passion for playing it. Give your potential new fans something that they’ve never read before. Something unique. Something that is going to hook them and keep them around as loyal fans.
4- Stop asking your fans to vote for them in yet, another worthless online contest.
This was something that started getting popular in the early 2000s but unfortunately, it’s still lingering around. Those stupid and pointless online voting contests sponsored by AT&T, a local radio station or some online music magazine. For a while, it seemed like every week I’d get a request to vote for a band so they could win “band of the month” or a chance to win an opening slot in Los Vegas for a band that is completely out of their genre. All that was needed to vote was for me to sign up on the contests website with my email….stop right there! I have enough spam, thank you. I don’t need to be on yet, one more list so your band can win $100.00 worth of Starbucks coffee. By the way, every band that comes to mind right now that’s taken part in these contests are broken up and long gone.
5- Have a competent person working at your merch table!
I can count numerous times where I’ve been out to a live venue, enjoyed a band enough to wander over to their merch table afterwards, only to regret the urge of spending money almost instantly. First off, there have been many occasions where their table is unmanned because they are off by the bar chatting away. Sorry, but I’m not going to interrupt your conversation so I can hand over cash for a CD or T-shirt. Unless you’re in front of me at YOUR table, you’ll get nothing from me, thus losing a sale.
Another thing, have change ready and available. If you are selling a CD for 10-15 bucks and I hand you a 20, and you make me feel like an asshole because I expect change back, I’ll make it easy for you. I’ll just take my 20 bucks back and you can keep your CD. That means you Winterpills!
6- Avoid cliche words and statements in your band bio.
STOP using self-praising words in your bio such as buzzworthy, must-hear, must-see, unique blend, fusing together, world changing, etc..
Stop overselling yourself. Remove descriptors in your bio and use facts. Don’t say that your guitar playing sounds like Jimmy Paige. Instead, say that you are heavily influenced by Jimmy Paige. Overselling yourself makes you sound phony and desperate.
7- Critically acclaimed means, actual critics have reviewed your album.
When I visit your band’s page and I read about your new album where it states it’s “critically acclaimed”, it had better be reviewed and praised by actual critics (Rolling Stone, Revolver, Pitchfork, a major newspaper) and not just by a handful of unknown bloggers. Reviews posted about your album on Amazon.com don’t qualify, sorry.
8- Update your actual website.
This sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but I can’t stand it when a band directs me to their website and it is as outdated as a Zune player. If it’s November of 2013 and the last update was posted in June of 2011, it’s time to get on there and update your site. You can’t just rely on your social media pages. First of all, an actual website tells me that you are a serious player. It’s professional and you won’t come off as lazy. Simply relying on your Facebook and YouTube page is lazy. Because if I land on your website first, without knowing who you are from Facebook, etc.., and I see outdated material, I’m clicking off, plain and simple. I’m not going to spent additional time seeking you out. On to the next band.
9- 2005 called. It wants its MySpace page back!
Once again, I know some might think I’m preaching to the choir, but in today’s day and age of Bandcamp, Facebook and Reverb Nation, there are still some bands who solely rely on MySpace. Not only does this make you look totally uncool, but you are limiting yourselves by not using resources that can actually attract potential fans. I know that Justin Timberlake swooshed in recently and revamped it as the coolest social media site on Earth, but it’s not, nor will it ever be, ever again. Go where the masses are. YouTube, Vevo, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp. And remember, it’s not always about solely using a site that hosts your music. You need to develop some social media skills on networking sites like Twitter and Facebook in order to engage with potential fans of your music. Reel them in using various social media platforms and convince them to take a few moments to give your music a listen. Laziness gets you nowhere.
10- Stop offering everything under the sun to your fans on your merch page!
It’s great that we have companies like Cafepress and Zazzle to create personal products with zero start-up costs, but for God’s sake, don’t offer every item available on those sites to your fans. You’re a band. Therefore, you should be selling shirts with your name or logo on it. Maybe iPhone cases, posters, hats, etc..
You shouldn’t be selling coffee mugs, pet toys, flip flops, yoga mats and so on and so forth. You’re not a graduate of the Gene Simmons school of merchandising. It comes off looking rather sad and pathetic.
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