Some bands just have it. These bands understand their market and strategically find ways to expand their brands. I believe we are seeing an unbelievable movement occur within the independent music scene. The bands that thrive and escape the one-and-done album lifecycle are those that truly own every element of their band. The good ones are true entrepreneurs and continue to find ways to make themselves interesting to us. They collaborate with their audiences and gather feedback to improve. We are experiencing the engagement era of the independent music scene. They are marketers and their product is the sound that transmits from a myriad of both traditional and unconventional instruments (i.e. guitar, bass guitar, drums, horns, synths, maracas, turntables, violins, cellos, beat box, harmonica, jazz flute, loop machine, and recorder). They provide the beat and then take the time to ask us how it felt.
We have seen bands build their brands out by using easily accessible free tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Wavves, Best Coast , Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tyler the Creator have grown in popularity by communicating with their audiences. They understand the power that social media can provide and they are capitalizing on all of its projecting strengths.
Case in point:
This was a RT (retweet for non-social media users) by Wavves this week promoting their CMJ Showcase. The RT of the venue / promoter is a common move by engagement driven bands. A simple click of a button can drive more people to the door. I will bet my bottom dollar that this got the attention of a few Hipsters in NYC that saw this and said to themselves “Oh shit, Wavves is in town. I have something to do tonight”. I am thrilled writing this and finally sharing some of my observations with the readers of this blog. My other favorite part about Wavves front man, Nathan Williams, and his use of social media is that he builds off of the engagement. Another tweet he sent was so easy, but so thoughtful.
“Who’s coming to fader fort tonight?”
Williams not only chooses to promote his show, but opts to engage with his audience. This is so awesome and is a perfect display of someone who just gets it. Williams also lets his fans into his life of drug use, partying, and random whacky thoughts. I have never met Williams, but I know exactly who he is and this man is a character that I find interesting. He likes to party, write radical music, and eat at Applebees. I will always pay attention to him and always buy his records because he has earned this loyalty. An owner who is himself…and he creates pretty kick ass music.
These bands are allowing all of us to understand who they truly are and what they do when they are not behind the microphone. It is amazing that 146 characters can project as much power as a live show these days. An @ mention from a band you love truly makes a fan feel special. They are really out there, they are real people, they care enough to thank me for promoting their show. This is cool and causes me to build a special allegiance with these engagement-driven bands. It does not matter what musical direction they decide to turn to with their next album because I will automatically accept it. I trust them because they allow me to engage and connect with their vision. This is tremendously exciting not only for me, but it is also thrilling to these bands who are on a tight budget searching for easy promotional resources.
Here is my story:
One of my favorite independent band’s Hooray for Earth came through Indianapolis this Saturday night as the supporting act for Cymbals Eat Guitars. I was an early adopter of Hooray for Earth as they caught my attention when they released their six-song EP Momo in 2009. This band did a fantastic job of using social media to keep their audience engaged and after releasing their full-length True Loves, in June of this year, I was hooked. They are such a cool band and are a prime example of a band that finds as much value in their instruments as they do with social media. Noel Heroux is an incredibly fascinating visionary that displays his inner creative genius with his fans through many channels of communication. Heroux & Co. did an absolutely amazing job during their stop in Indianapolis. They verified everything that I thought about them because they had already built that impression with me via their Twitter account.
I left the White Rabbit Cabaret convinced on two fronts. This band rules as much as I thought because they sound incredible live and they are authentic. They truly care about building a relationship with their fan base.I was truly humbled after their set. I was sitting at the bar enjoying a Kentucky Lexington Bourbon Ale (which is perhaps the most fantastic brew I have had in ages – I am serious, if you are a beer drinker you MUST try this) when Heroux stepped off of the stage and approached me. He thanked me for using social media to pump them up and drive traffic to the show. He went on to tell me that he truly appreciated Indianapolis’ scene and fans. He felt a special energy in the room that night, people were connected with his vision. He gave me one of the best compliments I have received since I started promoting the music I love. Heroux told me that bands like Hooray for Earth could use another couple thousand people like me. This was an absolute honor for me. He gave me the opening to stay in touch and it is my greatest hope that I can continue to engage with amazing people like the guys from Hooray for Earth.
I tried to remain cool during this chat, but found myself playing the role of fan by the end of the conversation. I told Heroux that “No Love” was in contention for song of the year for me because it had an outstanding energy. I asked him what it was about and his response was fantastic. He attempted to piece together different reasons and themes for why the song was written and what it meant, but at the end of the day the song was just instinct. This song now has become not only my favorite song of the year, but an “indiegnma” (word I just created: noun, An authentic, good song in the independent scene that leaves you a bit puzzled). I left knowing less of what I thought the song was about, but I feel like I have gained so much more. This was truly a compelling dynamic.
I am so passionate about creating more stories like this that I have been working on a start-up company called IndiEngage (follow us on twitter @IndiEngage). This is a start-up company for start up fans and bands. My vision is to create an online interactive community for like-minded individuals to collaborate, influence, and be scene! I am spending a tremendous amount of work connecting with fans, bands, and promoters to help bring my vision to life.Saturday night was not just a routine night of attending a concert. Saturday night was an experience. I am hoping to build a unique unity during this new engagement era. I want more people to experience these experiences. Who knows how long it is gong to last and where it is going to go? What I do know is that I want it to blindly take me for a ride and then strategically build engagement with this time. I am happy that I have a good band to reach out to when this thing goes live. Hooray for Music, Hooray for Engagement, Hooray for Earth.
Written by Brett McGrath