We all know that basically everyone has been affected negatively in some way by the recent “pandemic”, unfortunately the music industry is one of the industries that took massive hits. We all know that touring is generally the main income source for working bands, especially in the more underground music scenes/genres. Ticket and merch sales whilst on tour are generally the bread and butter of most bands, so with no live shows or touring to speak of, we decided to put together this ‘Survival Guide’ to help you out! So without further to do, here are some tips and pointers to help get your own creative juices flowing!
- Social Media
Direct interaction with fans is an incredibly important part of building and maintaining a strong following for your band. Usually this would be done in person after or before shows and is an invaluable resource in getting those life-long fans that buy all your merch and go to all your shows. With the lack of real-life contact right now, social media is going to be your best friend in doing this! The key here will be interaction, you want to get a dialogue started with your followers that makes them feel connected. You can do this in so many ways that I’m not going to list them all (I couldn’t if I tried), but here’s a couple of ideas:
- Set a certain day, or time of day, that anyone can chat with the band. Whether that’s through DM’s, Whatsapp, or in a massive zoom meeting, it really doesn’t matter! As long as you set out a specific time to just talk to your followers casually. This can go a long way towards building a good relationship with your fanbase as well as generating good content for your social media!
- Do livestreams! Doesn’t have to be fancy or massive, but it’s the closest thing to seeing a live performance most of us can get right now. This also gives you a great chance to interact with your fanbase directly.
- Get your followers involved in the band’s future! This can be as much or as little as you want, but sometimes even just asking your Facebook or Instagram followers to vote between two t-shirt designs can really do wonders!
- Just stay active! Make whatever you can, whether that’s acoustic versions of your metal songs or a rendition of ‘Kiss from a Rose’ in your bathroom it really doesn’t matter. Just make whatever you can/want to, your followers will appreciate it.
Merchandise is always an incredibly important aspect of a band. Not only does it provide income, but it’s also absolutely vital in creating brand recognition. We’ve all had an experience where we met someone simply through them wearing a shirt from a band you love. It brings your fanbase together and builds your image, and none of that has changed. The main change is that usually, you’ll make the most of your sales at a merch table at a show. This means that if you haven’t already, setting up a good place online where people can buy your merch is absolutely vital.
There are so many ways of doing this that I’d rather write a whole blog about just that than try and list everything out here, so I’ll keep it simple for now. The important thing is to make sure that people can find it if they want it, so taking good photos of your merch and putting that up on social media is vital. How you make them available is completely up to you. If you’re a smaller band with a localized following you could simply ask people to DM you if they want one and deliver it yourself! If your following is a bit too large or spread out between countries setting up an online store will be the best bet, setting up a shop on Facebook is a great place to start, otherwise you can look at places like BigCartel or BandCamp to get started. Look at what your favorite bands are doing for inspiration and make use of YouTube tutorials to figure out the technical aspects and you’ll have a killer merch store up in no time!
Now might also be a good chance to expand on your merchandise offerings, going the extra mile to have more than just a t-shirt available can do so much! Consider getting some hats, pants, patches or pins going for the first time, and don’t be afraid to ask your followers what they would want to see, this can be a very powerful resource when deciding what merch to make next.
- Keep making music
This one might sound obvious, but it’s so easy to think “I’ll just wait until this is over” and stagnate creatively. This obviously depends on so many factors, not everyone can go into a studio and release a Quarantine album next week, but that doesn’t stop you from writing! The main goal is to not try and simply wait out the quarantine, but to use it as an opportunity to come up with new plans, make videos, make new music, make new merch and connect with your fans in an all-new way! Try and look at this as an opportunity to innovate and come up with new and different ways of doing things, your fans will certainly appreciate it.