There Are Things A Band Should Never Do

LiistenlogoGuest post by Tyler Hayes, founder of Liisten.com, an independent music discovery site.

Don't label songs "Demo", "Rough Mix", "Unmastered" or anything in that vein. Even if it is one of those, but you think it sounds good enough to share and you can't wait, don't tell people it's a "demo". Back in the days of actual 4 track tape recorders and tape hiss, a demo was something that wasn't meant to be heard outside the band or for business reasons. Let's keep it that way.

Don't Use MySpace.

Don't make people "Like" your Facebook page before they can listen to a song. Even if it was the point, it would be wrong, but that's not the point. The point is to make people like the page if you have something special, maybe a brand new song or new video, something specific. The reality is that some people will "Like" the page, but probably more people won't. If a band doesn't want me to listen to their music, then I don't.

Don't put up pictures with members not in the band anymore. Also make sure the pictures you do post aren't terrible.

Don't email unless there's a really good reason. The start of a big tour, the release of an album, maybe even when your new video goes up. Don't email 3 different times though to tell me you've been writing music and your music video is in the works. Don't care.

And above all else, don't put out music that you don't truly believe in. Anyone can pick up a guitar or computer, seriously even a computer, and make something that sounds like music. If you're trying to make music your career and the music that you're making isn't your absolute best and isn't something that touches your soul, start looking at an IT job.

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  1. Umm… No.
    1. Fine to label songs as ‘demo’ or ‘rough mix’. It gives your fans a peek into the process.
    2. Use MySpace, just not as your primary site. According to Alexa.com, MySpace is still the #155 most-viewed site on the internet. Liisten.com is #2,238,931.
    3. Agreed about not making people ‘Like’ your Facebook page before they can hear your music. That’s just silly.
    4. Don’t post terrible pics. Great advice. Here’s some more – liisten.com with two i’s is a terrible name. Common sense, folks. Use it.
    5. E-mail every once in a while. NOT just to announce a tour or some other product you’re trying to sell me. I like to know about the process if I’m a fan. Just don’t smother me.
    6. Don’t name your internet startup liisten.com – with two i’s. That’s retarded and makes people immediately discount anything you do or say.

  2. Demo release: Depends. To pick a real-life example: In summer 2011, British roots singer Naomi Bedford pushed out a self-manufactured CD labeled as a demo or rough-mix. Reviews were over-the-top, and she got picked up by a label, and a formal release of that material followed, and it charted very well at amazon.co.uk.
    Of course this strategy only works if the demo is going to knock ’em dead. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. – “Demo” is not so much a reference to recording quality/sound but a tag to indicate that the creative process for the song is ongoing. As Spanky mentions above, it is a way to give listeners a peek into the process. Sharing early and unfinished versions of songs is a wonderful way for artists to interact with their fan base.
    – Avoiding MySpace is not good advice. Any site that appears on the first page of search results for your name (just ask Rick Santorum) demands your close attention. MySpace is still an SEO powerhouse.
    – Email consistently, and not once in a long while, but do not waste people’s time. The trick here is to come up with something important to say and share beyond the obvious.

  4. I think some of this is really bad advice. Especially point 1.
    “Let’s keep it that way.” Why? Back in the days we didn’t have the chance to involve fans into the creative process, or at least give them a peek. One of the components to creating a strong bond with your fans could actually be sharing some work in progress every now and then. Sure, it’s not going to be the material you will use to pull in new fans, but it sure as hell can excite existing fans.
    It really shouldn’t be about finding new ways to do the old stuff. It’s about doing new things. Part of that is having a more intimate relationship with fans by inviting them into the ‘studio’, through whatever means work best.

  5. Wow, I also just thought it was just music.. However i believe Tyler Hayes, founder of Liisten.com, is trying to help musicians to sell their music to humans not using “musical” substances, and it’s a lot harder ๐Ÿ™‚
    Do feel free to send some of your insights on my portal going live this week.
    Go to http://www.facebook.com/jamclouds and message for an invite ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Using the word “retarded” as an insult makes me immediately discount anything you do or say.

  7. I think the author makes the point that crappy material shouldn’t be shared because you’re excited. However, demo material absolutely SHOULD BE shared because like another commenter said, you can involve people in the early writing process. Let’s face it; we’re moving to a more socially connected society and knowing that you impacted a song can give it even more meaning. I talk about that on my youtube channel a bunch. IN fact – I mentioned that artists should do the exact OPPOSITE of what this author said. But, that message also had a context as well.

  8. I’m sick of “Don’t” posts. Don’t do this, don’t do that…sure, but what SHOULD I do? Which social networks SHOULD I use? What photos SHOULD I publish? How often SHOULD I email my fans? Those answers are truly useful & valuable to artists. Laundry lists of things to avoid are not very useful. Especially when a few of them are just plain wrong (see earlier commenters’ words on emailing fans).

  9. Some of my most precious musical items are cassettes or cds labeled demos that were simply early recordings by a band on 4-track or other early DIY equipment.
    Hardcore fans that saw you play before you put anything out love that kind of thing.

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