Electronic Musicians: Promote Your Town

April 11, 2013, at 03:22:02 PM

Electronic music is a unique genre. An artist like Burial can sit in his house, fiddle with Sound Forge, create a masterpiece of emotion and nuance, and release it out to the world without ever showing his face. I doubt he’s rich off of his music, but if you know electronic music you’ve heard of Burial.

Recording and composing have become dirt cheap. Money and resources are not part of the equation anymore; one only needs talent.

It comes as no surprise that electronic artists have global aspirations; the goal is distant but not unachievable. In reality, though, most artists’ work will never see the outside of their Facebook and Twitter circles. They forget one rule. It’s a rule any rock, punk or country band knows by heart: Conquer your own town first.

Selfless Promotion

I read a blog article recently by Marcus Taylor from The Musician’s Guide on Music Clout the other day--Why it Pays to Replace Self-Promotion with Selflessness. He touts the advantages of becoming genuine and gaining credibility by talking about other artists you love. This is great advice.

The key here is that you are being selfless. That means that you are not expecting anything in return. You’re talking about things you love because you really love them. You are building up a tangible social karma by being positive and encouraging.

Think about the town or city you live in; there are probably things you love about it and things you hate. Think about the things you love: that coffee shop you go to several times a week, that bar that knows your favorite drink, your favorite music venue, the best falafel place in town. Think about your favorite local blog, the black and white ‘zine you always read, and local band you love seeing live.

Talk about these places. Mention them on Twitter, link to them from your Facebook Page, write a blog post about one of them. It literally costs you nothing to do this. The time it takes is measured in seconds or minutes. The people you are promoting will love you and the people that follow you will respect you.

Your Town is Looking for You

Go to Soundcloud and type in a genre name. You’ll receive countless hits (Really, countless. Soundcloud stops counting at 500+). Now type in a genre name and the town you live in: much more manageable. There is simply too much music being made for a no-name act to have a chance at being noticed on a global scale.

People want to know you. They want local artists to make it big so they can say they knew them when they were small. Here in Phoenix, nearly everyone I know that has been here for years has a Jimmy Eat World story. They’ll tell you about seeing them play in a cramped storage unit or Modified Arts. Your own town is rooting for you to succeed. They just need to know about you.

Promote your town: events that you’re going to, businesses that you frequent and bands you love. Tell people about the little record shop where you buy your vinyl or the local soap that you buy. Get involved with groups and attend community meetings. Go to music shows and art openings.

The Best Validation

One time, a Mexican blog wrote a little review of Scenery’s music that I had to use Google to translate. I thought that was pretty cool because I have no idea how they found us. I still have one memory that won’t be topped, though.

I was sitting in a restaurant in the small Arizona town I grew up in. It was 2005. I was in a band that had just released an album on CD. A young woman came up to me and asked if I was in The Green Revolution. Yup, I was. She told me that the last track on the album meant so much to her and had gotten her through a hard time. This wasn’t a nameless person a thousand miles away. This wasn’t another play count on Myspace (2005, remember). This wasn’t a blog post from a stranger in a different country. This was a flesh and blood person from my hometown that was affected by my music.

Winning over your town is the best validation. Hearing your song come on at your favorite coffee shop or having a local blog interview you is what makes it worth it. Win over your town by promoting it. Be positive and helpful. Social karma always finds a way to repay. 

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