Welcome to my first column with the Denton Record-Chronicle. On a regular basis I will be answering marketing questions from artists. I am a radio producer, talent buyer and author, and I hope my career in music marketing has given me insights that can help you take that next step in your career.
Over the past weeks, things have been bad for the artistic community. Our gigs are all canceled, and it’s a scary time for our friends and colleagues. Before I go into the marketing stuff, I want to take a moment to say that I hope you are giving yourself permission in this time to grieve and to heal.
I have been consuming a lot of marketing materials that say things like “Take advantage of this time,” “Make this time awesome,” “Work harder than ever before,” “Let’s all be creative!” While these materials have great, optimistic messages, some of us just don’t want to hear that right now. My heart goes out to all the artists and venues that are deeply hurting.
The reality is that while this time does offer some opportunity, some of us might be hurting too much to even think about it. If that is you, please know that our hearts and thoughts are focused on you. Your efforts over the years, creating the amazing music that has colored our community, has not been in vain. You have touched more lives than you know. I want to say thank you for everything you have done for Denton, and if you need time to heal, please don’t read this column as another “rah-rah” marketing piece.
If you would like to hear my thoughts on some digital opportunities out there right now, please read on, but if not, I hope you hear a sincere “thank you” from all of us who truly love your music in Denton. Please take time to focus on you, and when you are ready, we will all be patiently waiting with eager ears.
During this time, there may be some opportunities that, in a few years, we will be thankful for. Most of us have more days than not where we say, “I will finally do (fill in the blank) when I have the time.”
Well, I guess now we have it.
At DentonRadio.com, we are seeing record-high numbers on our video content. The internet has a more “captive” audience right now. Perhaps this is the time to develop social media and digital presence? Perhaps this is the time that we have been waiting for. In a few years, we may look back at this as the time that propelled us to the next level.
I honestly hadn’t planned on my first column being about developing digital presence — I was going to write about establishing relationships with the venues where you most want to play, but it seemed like a good time to pivot.
Here are a few practical steps you can take:
Want to make a website?
I suggest a site called SquareSpace.com. It’s very affordable, super user-friendly, and the end result is very slick. A lot of artists think they need something fancy or unique, so they develop their site from the ground up. But the cost of a website keeps going up — development, URL security, hosting — the list goes on and on. Services like SquareSpace and Wix handle all the headaches and let you focus on the fun part of designing the site.
What social media platform matters the most?
Right now, I strongly believe Facebook is still by far your best bet. Facebook “likes” are what venues are looking at when they decide whether or not to book an artist. Special note: You need to have a Facebook page, not just a profile. Additionally, Facebook is still the best advertising purchase in the market. You would be surprised how much of a huge difference $20 can make when promoting your events.
What do I need to livestream?
Hundreds of artists across Denton have started livestreaming to raise money and build following (let us know in advance at DentonRadio.com that you are going to livestream and we will share it on our Facebook page).
Several artists have reached out to me with questions on the equipment needed to do it well. Without breaking the bank, I would suggest connecting your PA to your laptop with the Shure X2U, or connecting your PA to your smartphone with the JK Audio Daptor Two. Both options can help you up your audio quality, but don’t overthink it. Just using your phone by itself can work just fine.
In my book, Get the Gig: A Musician’s Guide to Booking More Live Shows, I mention that the most beneficial step in getting yourself booked at a new venue can simply be spending time in that venue. When the staff and decision makers of a venue get to know an artist on a personal level, it is far easier for that artist to book that venue. I suggest every artist pick one night per week, or month, and spend time socializing at a venue they want to play.
Just because we are stuck inside, doesn’t mean we can’t continue to make ourselves known. Venues are spending more time than ever right now engaging on their social media. They are working hard to develop relationships So when we can all go out again, they can release the battle cry that the doors are finally open once again. Use this time to comment on and engage with social media of the venues you want to work it. Don’t go to all of them and say, “I want to play here.” Just engage. You have no idea how helpful that will be once these venues can start booking again.
Lastly, use this time to engage with fans. You will be surprised how much return you receive on your social media right now. The internet is the one event we can all go to right now. We have a limited opportunity right now to engage with people we may never get the chance to connect with again. There are endless fans out there looking for content to enjoy.
To recap: I suggest setting up a website with SquareSpace, establish or beef up your Facebook page, start hosting livestreams, engage on social media with the venues you want to work with, and engage more than ever before with fans and potential fans. If you use this time to do those five things, this time might even look like a good thing … when you look back on it.
I wanted to take this opportunity to let every know that Stoke Denton has moved FlintConf 2020 (a conference for hipsters, hackers and hustlers) online, this Wednesday through Friday. I am on the speaker lineup for “hustlers day” on Wednesday. I will be giving a talk called the “Successful Event Formula,” a guide to increasing attendance at both in-person and digital events. You can register at flint.stokedenton.com.
In each column, I want to highlight a Denton musician or band. This month I want to highlight The Shortlist. The Shortlist is an alt-rock band from Denton, oh yeah, and they are amazing! The first time I saw the band was in-studio at DentonRadio.com. They were playing an acoustic set and I was extremely impressed by their four-part harmonies. Everyone on staff started crowding around the studio to see who was making this incredible music. We were all instantly hooked.
A couple of weeks later, a group of friends and I met up at LSA Burger to watch them play. I was expecting to see the same four-part harmonies and acoustic guitars but was blown away when they instead rocked everyone’s faces off. This group can do it all! They are very talented musicians, performers and writers whom I couldn’t recommend more.
The Shortlist recently dropped a new single called “I Want More.” Check it out. Oh, also, their guitarist Aron Hawkins just got married. Congratulations, Aron!