Anna Pullman is a freelance writer & guest blogger for Mojito.

Pens dash against the proverbial dotted line. Hands shake. The job is done. As a band, you have a recording contract with a big or small company and now you can sit back, record some albums, do some intense touring and let the record company do the marketing.

However, as many contemporary writers are also finding out, as well as being creative people, bands have to become marketing people too. The biggest bands will get official campaigns, the rest will have to do it themselves.

As many writers are beginning to find out through self-publishing, one of the best ways to control not just your creativity, but also your music, is to go independent.

 

Ginger Wildheart - Mojito Mastering, Toronto, Canada

Traditional Marketing

Modern bands are more aware at the beginning of their careers about marketing than many older ones when they started out. Bands know how to make use of social media to build a brand, get fans and to distribute free music. Many bands want to be seen as the new Arctic Monkeys. Maybe not the same music per se, but the same something-from-nothing via social mediums.

Yes, social media has become traditional. It is tried and tested, and while so-called marketing experts understand social media just about as much as they understand why TV spots and billboards work, it does work.

By doing it, however, a modern band is sticking to the norm. It is almost going through the motions because the fact remains that even if the music is good (and no doubt it is) then it is just as hard to get your head above the parapet as usual.

 

Ginger Wildheart

With ten fans it is easy to interact with them. You can reply to questions and have a bit of banter on Facebook or Twitter. With thousands it is a little harder, yet it can work.

Fans want to be close to their icons and this has never more been the case. They want their bands to be real people because it makes the music feel more real.

ginger wildheart - Mojito Mastering, Toronto, Canada

Ginger Wildheart

More established bands like Status Quo have rebuilt their fanbase by conducting intimate pub gigs. They could sell out bigger arenas, but the pub gig gives them more access to their dedicated fans.

Someone who has perhaps redefined not just how music is produced and financed, but also how it is promoted is Ginger Wildheart of Wildheart fame. Best known for songs like “Caffeine Bomb” “Greetings from Shitsville” and “My Baby is a Headfuck,” and also the “Grievous Acoustic Behaviour” live album.

Ginger fell on hard times, but wanted to continue with his music. Unable to fund studio time let alone marketing, he decided to make use of a new social platform called crowdfunding.

The plan was simple. Ginger asked his fans to buy copies of the album prior to actually recording it. The genius was that the pledging fans were given two powers ordinary music buyers would not get:

First, they would be given a copy of the ‘555%’ album that contained all 30 tracks recorded during the session. They were then able to vote 10 of these tracks into the official ‘100%’ album for general release. Ginger raised more than he was expecting when pledges rose to £200,000 ($300,000) and the album beat Rihanna to the number one spot in the UK charts upon release.

 

Crowdfunding and Crowdinvestment

For writers there are sites like Goodreads, for hotel marketing there sites like Tripadvisor, Foursquare, Groupon and Google Places. For musicians there is PledgeMusic. PledgeMusic is a crowdfunding website that works on a simple premise. As seen with the Ginger Wildheart album ‘100%’, a musician or band set out a series of promises of what they will do if they raise a certain amount of money. Fans will pick up rewards depending on how much money they pledge to the project.

Status Quo Pup Gig - Mojito Mastering, Toronto, Canada

Status Quo

Most crowdfunding sites set specific targets and if this target is not reached then the money is returned to the investors. Because of this many bands will have a purposefully low target to ensure they get some money. Once the target is fulfilled bands usually have about six months to make good on their promises.

Ginger was able to raise so much money because he has a wide range of existing fans due to his time in the Wildhearts and as a solo artist. This meant he was able to garner over 6,000 pledges. For new bands to make use of this medium, they will have to pull all the strings they can.

This means tying in other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Myspace by getting friends to pledge and then to spread the word. When combined with promotions at gigs and the release of previews to whet appetites, a good project can soon begin rolling like a snowball down a mountainside.

The difference between crowdfunding, which is an established money raising concept in America, and Crowdinvesting, which was only just made legal there by President Obama, is that crowdfunding is buying a product in advance, whereas crowdinvesting is akin to buying shares in the expectation of making money later.

It is possible that the crowdinvesting model will become more popular in the music industry as it has in the movie business thanks to “Iron Sky.” Only time will tell, but it is worth considering as a means of raising money for a project and for getting fans involved in making the actual album.

 

Anna Pullman is a freelance writer & guest blogger for Mojito.