The Top 4 Digital Media Strategies for Indie Bands
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Okay, here’s the bad news. According to The Next Big Sound 90.7% of all artists are undiscovered, 6.8% are developing, 1.4% are mid-sized, 0.9% are mainstream, and only 0.2% are considered megastars. With those stats and the concentrated nature of the music industry, it can seem daunting to be in an indie band or just starting out. The good news is for the last two years, as a whole, independent labels are now bigger and surpassing revenue of any major label, which inherently opens up the playing field. With this being said, to make it as an indie band it’s about more than just your music. It’s about how you present yourself as a brand and the intentional moves you make online.
Here are the top 4 strategies to maintain and grow your digital presence in the indie music scene and beyond.
Build a Website
This doesn’t have to be fancy (but if you have the skills or can easily get someone to help then do it!). There are many resources you can use to build a website and many have of them are specifically designed with elements for musicians. I recommend starting with Bandcamp, Wix, or even Squarespace. Even if you don’t have much going on, having a website will really help build your online presence and make you seem legit. Your website should be used for sharing video content, music (obviously), upcoming shows, merch, and press. Use the website to show off your best attributes as a band, its okay to boast a little.
Social Media & Content
It should go without saying that your band needs social media accounts, I would say mainly Facebook and Instagram. There is a definitely a lot of leeway when it comes to what is acceptable for a band to post on social media. The standard is pretty low. Though I think it’s great to be authentic and personable on socials, if you are really serious about having a career in music then keep a certain level of professionalism in mind. The second part to social media is the need to constantly be creating content. If you let your presence go dry, then your followers will easily have found another indie band that is more engaging. Have fun but take social media seriously.
If you are just starting out, I would say be reasonable with your merchandise purchases. You don’t want to put yourself in a hole because of band branding, I would suggest starting small - have at least one item to sell! If you have been around for a while then I would suggest you have a variety of items. Not only should you be selling this in real life at local shows or on the road, you need to be selling this online as well. What I often see is bands only focusing on merch sales at shows, but choosing to market online would create another drive in revenue especially during times that you are not playing as much. Just by doing so, you are getting your name and brand online more frequently and you are creating another source of content. Though you’d love for people wearing your merchandise to also love your music, keep in mind during the production process a design or logo that would be universally “cool” that would anyone would want to wear regardless.
For a while Spotify playlists were an enigma, and they still are to a degree. What is clear though is that no name acts have seen major growth and sometime overnight success after being placed on Spotify playlist. Now a lot of this has to do with the Spotify algorithm, but on the other side of things there are real people behind these playlists. There are Spotify curators and tastemaker and just regular people who have become influencers by the playlists they create. To start, I would focus on those influencers. Reach out to these people for placement in their playlists, often they will ask for a small fee but it is worth it. Once you are on one playlist if Spotify analytics show major engagement you are more likely to then placed on official playlists.