How to Grow a Band

by | Oct 12, 2020 | Uncategorized

It’s time to talk about how to grow a band.

This process can basically be broken down into seven simple steps.

Here’s what you need to do to take your band wherever you want to take it!

Step #1 – Clarify Your Goals

If you don’t know where you’re going, then it’s not even worth taking the first step.

So, it’s important to recognize that growing a band means different things to different people.

Maybe you want to play more and better shows.

Maybe you’d like to grow your fan base.

Perhaps you’d like to be able to make a living as a musician.

And it could even be you’re after the holy grail – a record deal!

I’m not smart enough to tell you what your goals should be, and frankly, I don’t think any expert is qualified to decide for you.

Every artist has their own desires. Guaranteed yours are different from mine.

So, get crystal clear on your goals, chart a course for their achievement, and begin working towards them daily.

Step # 2 – Develop Your Strategy

Every expert out there is telling you to make money, promote your music on Instagram, build a business…

I’m not here to tell you there’s no value in that.

But there’s one thing they continually miss. Namely that you’re in music because you love music.

Given half a chance, you would willingly spend all your time and energy on your passion.

So, let’s develop a strategy around creating more, not on trying to become an internet marketer, hustling machine, entrepreneurial genius or otherwise.

Let’s develop a strategy around creating more, not on trying to become an internet marketer, hustling machine, entrepreneurial genius or otherwise. Share on X

Your strategy should revolve around your music. And your music should be driven by your brand.

Your brand is the difference you want to make in the world, and it need not be anything complicated.

The difference you want to make in the world could literally be to “help people party.”

But once you know your brand you can align every decision with it. And that makes every decision easy!

From the type of music you make, to the merch you create, you can align tactical choices to your brand with ease.

If any part of this confuses you, then I invite you to have a read through The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship, which covers ALL the essentials of branding for musicians.

The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship: Making and Selling Your Neon Yellow Tiger

Either way, be sure to join the email list for more tips on how to grow a band.

Step #3 – Divvy Up Responsibilities

I have always felt one of the best things about being in a band is that each member is skilled and talented in their own ways.

When talking about how to grow a band, this is critical.

One person might be skilled and experienced in outreach. Another might be great at social media.

By identifying each of your strengths and divvying up responsibilities, you can be immeasurably more effective than any of you would ever be on your own.

Many years ago, I was in a band called Angels Breaking Silence.

Angels Breaking Silence

The singer was young and well-connected. He was great at outreach, promotion, and helping us find leads for gigs.

In addition to writing songs, I was great at building websites, blogging, and growing an online presence.

The bass player was good at thinking about matters from a financial perspective, writing the occasional song, and finding the occasional gig.

The drummer managed the finances, wrote songs, and generally helped us keep goofing off to a minimum.

Later, we sort of had an honorary “manager” who believed in us and helped us sell merch, organize the cashbox, and be a source of encouragement in general.

You’re going to get more out of each member by letting them shine in their strengths. So, instead of allowing those differences to become the source of conflict, make it crystal clear who is responsible for what in your group. And when it doubt, refer to your written plan!

Step #4 – Make Music; Lots of Music

This is where most of your time should be spent. Remember – you’re a musician, not a digital marketer!

“Alright, I want to be HUGE in music, so I’m going to spend all day reading about digital marketing” said no successful musician ever.

You’re to write, and demo, and record, and rehearse, and release as much music as you can. Because fundamentally, the scene is just that competitive.

But if you’re the one publishing new music while your peers are busy interacting in Facebook groups, who wins?

Assuming you’ve got the other pieces in place (see steps #5 and #6 below), you’re the one that’s going to come out on top.

Have a read through this post featuring Jack Conte. He talks about how he had to learn how to publish things he didn’t think were “perfect.”

If you aren’t a little uncomfortable at the speed and rapidity at which you’re publishing music, you’re probably doing it wrong.

We need to build assets, and every new song represents an opportunity.

A song can turn into a music video, which is a great promotional tool.

A song gives you a reason to reach out to bloggers and publications for reviews. The right PR can be leveraged for months and years to come.

A song can be licensed in a commercial, TV show, or film. And that can give you huge exposure and a lucrative payday to boot.

You need more music. More. Always more.

Step #5 – Grow Your Email List

Although I harp on it endlessly, the main thing musicians should be focused on is NOT Spotify or Instagram.

Again, I’m not saying there’s no value in either. What I’m saying is that there is something of disproportionate importance compared to anything else you could name.

And that’s your email list. Because your email list is your ticket to whatever destination you’ve chosen.

Whatever it is you’re looking to do in growing your band, your email list will get you there.

People do get a lot of emails these days. And that can make it tough on you.

But if your emails are opened by 20% of your subscribers, you’ll be able to do immeasurably more with than that any other marketing channel or social media platform, where 20% engagement would be a unicorn of an outcome!

Selling tickets? Use your email list. Got a new release? Send an email. Generating interest in a new T-shirt design? Hook up your subscribers.

Again, no matter how you’re planning to grow your band, your email list will prove an invaluable asset.

Step #6 – Establish Industry Connections

Networking and collaboration are the superhighway to your dreams.

And I’m not saying you’ve got to build a Dream 100 or cold-call Jay-Z this very moment.

On Google, you can dig for new music review blogs that would be happy to talk about your latest release.

On YouTube, you can look up your subscribers and personally reach out to them to see if they’d be interested in collaborating on a video.

And on Facebook, you can begin interacting in fan groups that follow a specific artist or band you sound like!

It’s easy to forget that most of what we want is on the other side of a conversation or resource.

Said another way, you’re just one conversation or one tool away from a breakthrough.

You’re just one conversation or one tool away from a breakthrough. Share on X

But there’s one thing we must keep in mind as we look to network and collaborate.

We want to create win-win propositions. Most people focus on “me, me, me” and end up with win-lose situations. That gives the losing person no incentive to help you or promote you.

And the worst is lose-lose situations, which some of my prospects have attempted to rope me into. Helping them would be a loss for them, and a loss for me, even though they fundamentally see it as a win for themselves. They’re not even seeing both sides!

Please, for the love of god, pursue and create win-win propositions only.

Pursue and create win-win propositions only. Share on X

Step #7 – Keep Going!

The process is so simple, it might just make your head spin!

But that’s because we tend to overcomplicate what is fundamentally a simple thing.

Growing your band is about making great music and sharing it with people.

And out of all the words in the last sentence, the most important one is “people.”

You can sit at a computer all day sending emails or sharing things on social media. It might give you a vague sense of satisfaction, but it’s probably not going to amount to much in terms of growing a band.

Your time is much better spent on your creativity and in building real connections with people. Because let’s face it – most people are too focused on themselves to care about anyone else or what they might be doing!

Dare to be different.

And once you’ve got steps #1 through #3 figured out, keep repeating steps #4 through #6. That’s all you’ve got to do.

How to Grow a Band, Final Thoughts

It’s easy to get impatient with the process of growing a band, but if at any point you find yourself overthinking the situation, just get back to the creative side of things.

Your inner world makes a BIG difference to your progress. And if you aren’t solid internally, the ride that ensues will feel like a massive, unending rollercoaster.

Even amid the storms of life, you can maintain a sound and calm mind. And this will take you further faster than stopping, noticing, and complaining about the “tragedy” that’s unfolding.

What did you get out of this? What steps will you be implementing now?

Let us know in the comments below!