Friday, February 4, 2011

Does your band have culture?

I know because I teach it that there is a lot of clutter on the Internet and in the world around us. Breaking through this clutter is awfully tough. The single greatest way to break through the clutter is to create a culture. What I mean by culture is a movement behind your music. This can come in many forms.
Seth Godin, the legendary marketing pro and author dedicated an entire book to discussing tribes and their impact on society. To him, and others like Kevin Kelly, building a tribe is nothing more than leading a group of people. In your music, you can be a leader, whether for a movement of political scale, humanitarianism or just for a certain scene that you partake in. The goal with the tribes is to create a culture and have a dedicated number of fans that are willing to do anything, pay anything or go anywhere to experience what you have to offer.
Story Tellers

(Greatful Dead concert)

The best stories of all time in the music business go back to amazing story telling. From the Greatful Dead fans telling stories of legendary shows to stories of seeing the Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show, stories helped create a culture around those bands. Modern day stories may include 50 Cent and his shot 9 times into riches story or even (as lame as it is) the Britney comeback story. If you can create a story, one that will be retold and retold for the hands of time, you will have a culture that will grow as quickly and passionately as any advertising campaign.
Youth Movement

photo by Conor Keller |
Young people love joining cultures outside the norm. Most of these cultures are a result of music or art that populate locally, grow regionally and are eaten alive by companies and corporations all over the world. If you can connect with youth culture you have the ability to connect with movers and shakers that are responsible for over $200 million in recreational spending every year in the U.S. alone. The new youth generation, Gen-Y or the Millennials, are the largest generation in the world, and in some countries like Iran, make up 60% or more of the country’s population. Targeting them based on their wants and mental assessment can play a huge part in your growth and development as a band, or in the music industry.

How to Market to These Groups

Marketing your music to these groups can be tricky. There are many downfalls to doing it wrong. Creating a bad first impression is a hard thing to overcome especially in youth culture. Keys to developing a culture through your music can be created both organically and through brainstorming and great planning.

Organic Culture Creation

Live Shows - Playing out live and making an impression on your audience is the biggest way to spread your message and build a culture. Solillaquists of Sound from Orlando have toured the country and built a large independent following almost solely through live performance. Crowds leave the room talking about Divinci on the MPC or Swamberger’s passion in every lyric that comes out of his mouth. They never go through the motions and just play songs to fill a time slot. Think of your live show as a performance and create a culture around the songs and the people enjoying your songs.
Your Online Attention - I called this online attention because it boiled down to two attention spans. One is getting the attention of your fans online. This is no easy feat. The second part is after you have their attention, following up and talking to these fans so that a culture is created with you leading this culture. As a leader you need to share information (in this case it could be songs, lyrics, video, live appearances or some type of education) and you also need to communicate this information. Think of a CEO or a boss. While they have the big office and the big paycheck, if the information that leaves his office never gets relayed to his team, the company will fail. Same for your music. The Internet makes it very easy to close that communication gap and lead your tribe.

Planned Culture Creation

In this aspect, you would be spending marketing dollars towards getting fans involved in your culture. This can range from widgets that showcase your music and interactive media or media buys on influential sites that your fans visit frequently. The key with planning a culture is to take aspects that make your music special and see how they fit into the culture around your music. It can never be forced or it will not work. Talk to your fans, talk to your friends, producers or other artists and see how they view you and your music. This will help you in the planning stages.
So, does your music have culture?
What is your band’s story?
What do you want your fans to say about you?

A La

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