Building a buzz
Find out the best ways to get your tracks and profile to stand out from the crowd
Sending your demos and mixtapes by post
Keep in mind that sending out demos is not the only way to get discovered. The music industry, like any other business is about relationships. Remaining approachable, sociable, working hard at improving your music and playing gigs can also get you the attention you need.
If you are going to post demos and mixtapes to journalists, promoters or management make sure you put a name, phone number, email address and website on every CD you send out, not just the case. That way, someone who likes your music can get in touch even if they’ve lost your packaging.
How you package your demo is up to you – but don’t go overboard a simple, explanatory note and biography, including any gigs you have coming up, will suffice.
Get in touch with labels and managers who already deal with acts similar to you. A quick look through the album sleeves of bands you sound like should give you a list of companies – now it’s time to find a contact there. If you don’t get the right name, your carefully-put-together package could well be opened by that week’s work experience person, not the high-powered exec you were aiming for - so it's worth doing your research. Sites like Showcase, The Unsigned Guide or the CMU Directory can also help you track down that elusive name and address. After a while it’s worth following up with a call or email to see whether they’ve had a listen and what they thought, but be careful not to hassle them or appear desperate.
Creating a fanbase
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. 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.
"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." - Pete Turner - Bassist, Elbow
Stand out from the crowd
More than ever it's important to be creative to get yourself noticed. Every artist can have a Soundcloud, Myspace or Bandcamp, anyone can create a Facebook fan page but what makes you stand out from the crowd? You need to get people talking about you. For example 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.
Maximise exposure - your fans are your best friends
Keep your fans interested - upload videos to YouTube, give away free downloads of gigs or new songs, blog about other music that is inspiring you, use tools like Storify and Vimeo to make the most of your online content.
Nothing builds excitement around a new act like a legion of enthusiastic and passionate fans. Keep in touch with your followers online and respond to them. Every person you build a good relationship with is another person who can tell their friends about you.
Does image matter?
Yes, however if you’re not comfortable with how you look because you’re only wearing something for a gig or photo shoot it’ll be obvious to everyone. There’s a happy medium here. Your style is part of your act whether it be an Ed Sheeran style hoody or a Lady Gaga meat dress.
The way you look can help develop your identity within a scene or genre. If you share a common style and attitude with your audience it can help them buy into you as an act and gives them a strong idea of what you're about from the start. For example, from just looking at them there's no doubting that Gallows are a hard rock band, or that La Roux will do the trick if you're into shiny, electro-pop, however Radiohead are a thrilling live act in nothing but a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
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. 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.
All this said, if you haven't got the songs to back it up no amount of PVC, glitter or eyeshadow will get you very far. Try not to get too bogged down with what people may expect you to look or dress like - just do what comes naturally. The way you dress should be an extension of your character and your music, not the other way round.