So I was talking with my friend A&R legend Rayshele Teige today and I was picking her brain for an idea for this article. She suggested I talk about the notion of your band having a concept, a clear distinctive “thing” that makes them interesting and differentiates them. She stated that “the concept has to feed the purpose” and without a clear concept you aren’t going to get anywhere. Then I looked up at the KISS poster in my living room with Gene, Paul, Ace, and Peter staring down at me and I realized she was completely right. So many bands just want to play music but don’t have a clear idea of what the basic concept behind the band is. I’m not talking about your concept in terms of “Oh we play black metal fused with folk” that’s cool and all but it’s not enough to differentiate. The entire focus of marketing band should be around your concept, be that lyrical, visual or whatever. You want people to say, “Oh that’s the band who do X” and X can’t be a genre because that isn’t memorable for people most of the time. Continue reading
So here’s a shocker – record labels are not out to get you, or at least not most of the time, or at least not most of the time if you’re not an idiot. Okay, there was a few layers to that and we definitely need to unpack them a little bit but I think you are starting to see what I’m getting at. What’s incredibly frustrating for me as a label guy is hearing normal people say that they feel labels are there to screw over artists constantly. And I get it, a lot of artists feel like they have been screwed over by labels over the years, and some of them probably have. The thing is a lot of others just didn’t read the fine print, were rushed into it of a desire for, money, fame, and fortune or simply were trying to find a way to wheedle out of what they know was a contract that was not in their favor and now that they have clout they are throwing a fit over it. The thing is – the music industry is, shockingly, not a huge scam. It’s just a complicated business.
One of the biggest problems that underground bands face is the grim reality that sometimes you are going to get services that are too big for your britches and it is going to screw you over. This can apply for anyone from PR to management by way of record labels. While it may be cool to have an awesome opportunity dangled in front of you it’s important to take context into consideration and to figure out what other components of your band you want to keep in mind before splurging for something. This is a constant money drain and source of stress for bands who don’t do the proper research before diving into a new venture and it leaves them all the worse for wear. It’s the sort of thing that would be combated if we spent time actually talking to each other about our experiences and not all constantly trying to get a leg up on each other. The biggest rule I want you to remember when going into this article that will hopefully save you literally thousands of dollars is to always ask your scene elders if something is a good idea, or at worst, me. Continue reading
Hard to believe that I haven’t covered this here – it’s one of the most important things in the music industry after all. Video content is the key to hacking visibility and getting more people to check out what you have to do. Obviously, I’m someone who has made a lot of money over the years with his video content, but I want to assure you – I am not the only one whom can be productive with his use of video content. All bands can get more traction by creating video content and I am going to delve into a bunch of it, figuring out how to help you generate value and to dig deeper into the world of the heavy underground. Having video is probably the single most important thing that your band can do in 2019 and watching the bands who get this grow is going to be really exciting. Watching the ones who can’t hang fall apart is going to be a telling turn of events or those of us searching for some sort of answer to this grim spectacle. Continue reading
Splits are these days one of the most important things that you can do in order to grow your band. I think for a long time a lot of people have felt that splits were really just the place of hardcore bands trying to cross-promote with their friends or simply just do a record with another band that they like in order to save costs. Yet as with most of the ideas in the hardcore scene we are starting to see the culture of splits starting to infect the rest of the underground music world and it’s a really good thing in my eyes. Splits are a great way to diversify markets, to reach out and try new ideas without committing yourself to a full record and even get a chance to work with new people. Look around at major bands in the heavy underground and you are starting to see splits left and right. There’s a reason for that. And while the profits aren’t as significant that’s okay in my eyes because there are a ton of other benefits, benefits that we are going to get into, as well as strategies for best marketing and creating your side of a split. Continue reading
So probably the most underused tool in the musician’s arsenal is their mailing list. Not enough musicians with free Mailchimp accounts take advantage of all that they can do with the power of their mailing list. This is a really tricky thing of course because it requires you to get off your ass and spend some time learning a back-end system, but guess what, even that isn’t that tricky. MailChimp and its peers make this an easy task and I think you’re going to actually end up getting a lot of value out of it. Look at it this way, if your band is making let’s say… $200 in the kitty off a show, that is to say, you are at a pretty decent level. All things considered, a single show is like 10 hours of work, so the band is making $20 an hour and probably investing a ton of time and money up front. Well, if you get good at emails then you can sell a few shirts with every email and your band will be making way more per hour, meaning that you can fund all sorts of other cool projects to better fuel your art. So let’s get granular on the basis of my strategy.
Here’s something that a lot of bands struggle with that is ultimately going to lead to a lot of frustration if they don’t maintain it. This is the idea of having to maintain a social media presence even if nothing is happening for your band. This is admittedly one of the hardest things to do in the music industry and something that you are going to find yourself scrabbling with tooth and nail for. That all being said – understanding how to maintain a social media presence through a policy of high engagement is a really effective way to grow your name, get higher outreach and become someone who is going to do stuff that matters and whose bands releases are remembered, respected and appreciated rather than falling apart between releases because no one is paying attention. I know this is problematic given the nature of many bands where one guy is running all the socials and doing all the things – but learning how to deal with this is going to be essential for long-term growth. Continue reading
Hey, so I’m Matt Bacon and I’m honored to be writing for Ghost Cult Magazine. You may already know me from the Dumb & Dumbest podcast graciously hosted on this site, you may also know me from my work as a music industry consultant both for independent bands and labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, just want you to know that you’re probably not gonna like reading this one because I’m going to ask you to do something hard that you are not going to be interested in even attempting – and I don’t blame you, because though the payoff is huge it’s going to suck during the process. What I’m talking about is maximizing your engagement. This means going out and focusing on interacting with everyone who gives a shit about you and engaging with everyone who could potentially give a shit about you. This is a hard one but it’s also one that can actually end up being really rewarding and fun, giving you meaningful experiences that lead to productive long term relationships.
With the release of their début full-length album Grow (Sumerian) in 2015, Californian’s Chon found themselves standing out from a peer group they were arguably unfairly lumped in. Perhaps due to the Sumerian Records ties, but their début saw them linked to the contemporary Tech/Metalcore scene despite their sound being more technical, but smooth jazz with little to no signs of metal whatsoever. If such pigeonholing was unfair back then, on new album Homey (Sumerian), any comparisons to the like would prove practically absurd. Continue reading
In modern progressive metal there is an all too common tendency to flesh things out far too much, concentrating on writing the most overly complicated and difficult to decipher pieces possible. Many a band now chooses to write full album’s worth of long, drawn out songs, which cram so many ideas and virtuosity into without actually writing songs that you can latch on to and fully enjoy. On their full length début Grow (Sumerian Records), prog upcomers CHON show that sometimes, less really is more.
As typical for a progressive metal album, CHON pool from a huge range, and Grow has a great diversity at work, with signs of jazz and fusion, math-rock and contemporary prog metal to name just a few. But rather than thrown into overly long treks, Grow is built on short, bite size nuggets no more than the 4 minute mark. Yet despite these short durations it never feels overly cramped and proves comparatively accessible and easy to digest for bands of this ilk. A fair few hooks and catchy segments give this an inclusive and welcoming feel. The likes of ‘Can’t Wait’ with vocals prove the easiest to latch on to.
That being said it still has an abundance of complexity and layers for ardent fans to get drawn into and discover. For the most part an instrumental album, this has significant dynamic shifts and turns throughout which will take time to fully grasp. The task of making something that appeals to both newbies to prog and the most battle hardened is a very bold and almost nonsensical task, but it was a feat that CHON have managed with aplomb.
A fantastic début album from a band that are clearly a new shining light for the genre and a suitable gateway for new fans to prog.