5 Obvious & 5 Less Obvious Things Bands / Musicians Can Do to Get Noticed

performing for fans

If you’re a musician or in a band, then one of your goals should be to get noticed by the right people. Whether those people are fans, peers, labels, or anyone and everyone else, there are a few ways you can make sure that you’re noticed.

Check out these 10 things bands and musicians can do to get noticed…

Obvious options:

1. Open for Other Bands

Being the opening act for another band is a great way to get your music in front of a new and (usually) larger fan-base than your own. Wow them and you could gain countless new listeners. And be sure to keep in mind that managers and execs hang around shows to see larger bands and notice when an opening act plays a great show and is well-received.

2. Get on a Festival Lineup

concertFestivals are a great way for fans to see multiple bands that they already like as well as be introduced to new musicians. Because of this, the crowds at festivals are usually much bigger than a typical band’s normal shows and are great opportunities to increase your fan-base.

Also, if the festival happens to tour and you’re lucky enough to go along with it, you’ll have the opportunity to make new fans in every stop along the way.

Festivals are also a great opportunity to gain exposure to labels and execs. You never know who’s in the audience looking for the next big thing!

3. Attend Shows that You Aren’t Playing

Along with supporting your peers and keeping yourself involved in the scene while exposing yourself to a range of music and musicians, attending shows that other’s are playing is a great way to network and make connections.

4. Don’t Ignore the Internet

The internet can reach far and beyond most other methods of getting your music out to the world. Your own website, accounts on music sites, and social media should all be areas on the internet that you’re taking advantage of to get your music noticed. And most of it’s free!

5. Make Mad Merch

Make as much as you can (but not more than you can afford!) and make it awesome. If your fans are wearing your t-shirts or buttons, then they are promoting you and getting the word out to those they come across.

Less obvious options:

1. Play a Guerrilla Performance

street performersNot that I would suggest anything illegal (I’m not responsible if you choose to do something illegal! Seriously, dude!), but playing a guerrilla performance can be an interesting and exciting way to get your band and your music noticed.

Choose an unusual location and time when there’s likely to be a sizable crowd that will, hopefully, like what you’re up to.

2. Merge Your Music With Other Mediums

Merging, blending, and fusing artistic styles has become a popular idea that can still be done uniquely to suit your band’s style and that of whoever you’re working with. And just like opening for another band or playing a festival, your music will be introduced to people who may never have come across your music otherwise.

Have writers do readings between bands. Play at a gallery during an art show. I also saw a call from a local brewer looking for bands to play in their retail space. New fans could be in the unlikeliest of places. Just try to be sure to merge your music with mediums that suit well together and compliment your music.

3. Write Something Other than Music

Have an opinion? Know something about being in a band that might be useful advice for others? If you’re talented with the pen, try writing an article for publications and websites you like (like, um, Canada Arts Connect Magazine).

If you get published, be sure to include your band’s website and social media information in your bio as well as any possible upcoming performances if it’s suitable. You’d be surprised how many readers may turn into listeners.

4. Expose Yourself and Be Accessible

Obviously I don’t mean expose your nudity…although that definitely might get you noticed! But if you’re willing and able, opening yourself up to your fans is a great way to attract more listeners. i.e. people like to get a glimpse at the person/people behind the music.

If you need a good example of this, look no further than Amanda Palmer. Through her Twitter account, blog, and various social media sites, Palmer has managed to connect with and increase her fan-base in a way that is unique and at times quite powerful (to witness the replies she receives to often sensitive or intriguing questions is wild to see!). Her fans now have input into her projects and are in-turn incredibly supportive of Palmer’s artistic endeavors. She did a TED talk along these lines and had just completed a book, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.

5. Stand Out From the Crowd…It’s Not Necessarily as Obvious as You’d Think

So you’re like, whaaa? That’s totally obvious! But really, maybe not so much. One of the biggest and best ways that you can stand out is by targeting that one thing that sets you apart from the rest — and that’s not always easy to do.

What’s unique about your sound? What’s that something extra you put into your stage show and live-performances? What’s interesting about your band’s dynamic? Do you have an extreme back-story? What do you have to offer than no other band or musician has?

If you say: We don’t sound like any other band!
Ask yourself: Really? Because A LOT of bands/musicians sound alike. Be sure your sound has something truly unique if you’re going to claim this.

If you say: Our shows are wild!
ozzy doveAsk yourself: Are they any more wild than other bands? I mean, bands are wild, some are really wild, some are so wild you have no chance topping them. Ozzy bites bats’ and birds’ heads off, Damian Abraham regularly cuts his head open, and who was the guy who stuck a broom handle up his bum while totally naked on stage?…Do you have something new to offer along these lines? Really?

If you say: Our band has a great dynamic! We’re all friends.
Ask yourself: Awesome. That’s great. But an interesting dynamic is something more than just getting along. Have you known each other since before you were born? Are you divorced former circus partners? That’s certainly an interesting band dynamic.

If you say: Our back-story is totally extreme!
Ask yourself: Did your band emerge from cliff-jumping, ex-environmentalist, world-traveling treasure-hunting, alternative-anarchists? That might be something you might want to highlight in your music, performances, or the ways you connect with listeners.

Now figure out how to use these to your advantage when it comes to standing out. Can you use your unique sound or signature live-performances to leave a lasting impression? Does your group dynamic or back-story allow you to significantly connect to a certain group of people?

Highlight what makes you and your music special and you’ll stand out from the crowd and get noticed.

Have any of these ideas worked for you? Do you have your own advice for bands and musicians who want to get noticed? Please be sure to leave them in the comments below!

* First image by: John Nyberg. Concert image by: Ruben G.S. Street performer image by: pat herman.