As great as your demo or mixtape may be, you're going need to work hard to create a fanbase. Building a buzz around you locally can really help open a few doors. You may find gigging regularly and being seen by as many people as possible helps more than just sending your demo or mixtape around. If you're creating a buzz, someone will come and find you. How you do it is up to you, but rest assured that if someone has tracked you down and asked for your demo, they a far more likely to listen to it than if it arrived on their desk unannounced.
Pete Turner - Bassist, Elbow
I think sending demos out, if they get heard, is great. But a lot of the time they don't, which is why we didn't. I know it probably seems a bit insane not to send it out because it's like 'who's going to hear us?' But I love the way we did it. I love the fact that we didn't pander to companies. We'd done that so much in the past that it was really nice just letting them find out about it, letting them come to us.
More than ever it's important to be creative to get yourself noticed. Every act has a Myspace profile, anyone can create a Facebook fan page but what makes you stand out from the crowd? What are you going to do that will get people talking about you and make them remember your name?
Pulled Apart By Horses created a buzz around one of their early gigs by inviting a select number of people by text to a secret set. For Little Comets it was playing impromptu gigs around Newcastle on trams and in university lecture theatres. The idea enough got the band attention - people started talking about them, bloggers and people on messageboards wrote them, but they did the basics too, getting friends to hand out flyers with their myspace on them to passers by.
If you look after your fans they'll look after you too. Nothing builds excitement around a new act like a legion of enthusiastic and passionate fans. Keep in touch with your followers online. If they contact you reply to their messages, give them free music and exclusives that will keep them coming back for more. Every person you build a good relationship with is another person who can tell their friends about you.
When it comes to building a buzz don't underestimate the importance of your local scene. Aim to be the best known band in your area before anything else - it worked for bands like The Horrors and The Ting Tings who had press and industry bigwigs coming to their hometowns just to see them play at nights they put on.
Don't be afraid to stamp your own personality on what you do. From handmade artwork to creating your own merchandise it's all an extension of your identity and part of the package that will get people interested in you. For example, Florence of Florence And The Machine fame designs her own clothes as does Tinchy Stryder. Not only is it a way of bringing in a little extra income but means that they reach a whole new audience via fashion and style writers and blogs.
Building a buzz is as much about making a good impression on people as it is about your music. If you're known as being interesting, approachable and professional you'll have a good reputation to go along with your talent which will only enhance your impact. The more people you can get talking about you in a favourable light the further your name will go.
The more people involved in music you know the more opportunities will come to you. Get to know people in your area - promoters, DJs, venue owners, writers, people who work in music shops - they all know and talk to people in the industry who can spread the word about you. Get to know some of the so-called tastemakers in the industry too. There are thousands of bloggers writing about the music they love online, often with a focus on less exposed or local artists. It's not uncommon for them to host an mp3 of one of your tracks too, so don't be shy - get in touch with them. The Hype Machine offers a list of the biggest, but make sure to target ones who focus on the sort of music you make. Music forums like UK Music, Indie Rock Talk or TrueGroovez are also great places to introduce yourself to potential new fans and meet other musicians.
By connecting with people in as many different ways as possible, you should start building an army of fans in no time.
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