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Turn Your Band into a Virus... with a Book?

Your-band-is-a-virusGuest post by Aarti Kelapure of Evolver.fm.

We have learned to be leery of marketing. After all, marketers and advertisers are paid to push commodities — human and otherwise — on the defenseless masses whether or not they believe in what they’re selling, or so the story goes. Perhaps I’m being too cynical, but we’ve all seen marketing that borders on propaganda.

So what? You’re not a soul-sucking marketing executive, right? You’re a musician exposing your heart to the world. Your music will sell itself because you have soul, man.

I hate to be the bearer the bad news, but in today’s saturated media market, some degree of self promotion is almost certainly a must, especially if you’re a new artist or band without any “people” around you to take care of promotion and other matters.

The web has made it easier to market stuff, which has also made getting noticed among the noise even harder, as many have observed. Canadian music promoter James Moore wrote Your Band Is A Virus – Behind-The-Scenes And Viral Marketing For The Independent Musician to demystify the digital marketing process, and luckily for you, perhaps, it’s filled with helpful information and concrete examples.

Written in clear, straightforward prose, Your Band Is A Virus ($10, hard copy or ebook) offers independent musicians or anyone who is curious about marketing these days a wealth of practical advice, both banal and novel. In addition to focusing on digital media marketing as it applies to music, Moore covers traditional marketing methods too, so there’s something for everyone.

Moore begins with a fundamental tip: sound good. Even technically unsophisticated listeners have so many listening options that they don’t have to — and won’t — sit through 15 seconds of a poor-quality (for whatever reason) track. He advises shelling out money to re-record if you need to, because no amount of promotion or marketing will help if you sound bad.

After getting the right sound, Moore advises getting the right look. No, he’s not going to point you to the nearest skinny jean depot, or tell you where the best old-timey barber shop is to get your mustache waxed and trimmed.

Instead, he’s talking about the grunt work that should solidify your band’s image before unleashing it to the world’s cruel judgment. He calls this “Behind-The-Scenes Marketing.” Here, you’ll learn how to build a standalone band website, after covering hosting and design options, tips for making search engines find your band, the essential building blocks of a band page, and how to build relationships with targeted press members to gain press quotes you can use later.

You’ll also learn to penetrate iTunes' tricky terms of service and (legitimately) get your music into their store, as well as in eMusic, Rhapsody, Amazon, Spotify, 7Digital, and other digital music services. This little trick of using content aggregators to do the dirty work for you also gets you into apps build atop these services’ catalogs.

Sounding and looking good seem like obvious tips. Why do you need a book to tell you that? But one look at the Myspace cemetery of insufferable bands confirms the unfortunate truth of just how many artists have put themselves out into the world before they were ready. Avoiding their fate might be incentive enough to read the book.

Once your band is locked and loaded, you’re ready to turn it into a virus. Moore’s chapter on “Viral Marketing” will give you all the tips you need for building your fan base, getting them to help you spread your music, and doing social networks and blogs the right way.

What makes this book a must-have for struggling musicians is the explicit detail of Moore’s suggestions. He doesn’t just provide avenues for reaching audiences, but also the nuts and bolts of using them — stuff like HTML codes and sample wording for websites, press releases, and emails to journalists/bloggers.

Whether you’re just starting out, looking to expand your band’s fan base, or just want to revamp your web presence — or even if you want to become one of the people who helps bands do this stuff — we can safely highly recommend Your Band Is A Virus – Behind-The-Scenes And Viral Marketing For The Independent Musician.