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It’s a Bandwagon - so Jump Onboard!

One of the effects of a democratised media (Web 2.0 technologies be-praised) is the huge increase in the volume of content out there. And by ‘out there’ I mostly mean in the online world, but also in the traditional offline media landscape, which is now (and rightly so) hugely interwoven with the web. While it is of enormous benefit to a struggling musician to be able to run his or her own website, social networks and online shop, the same age-old problem exists: how do I get people who have never heard of me, to listen to my music?

Well the answer, suprisingly enough, is there is no easy solution. And nowadays it is perhaps even more difficult to get your head above the parapet within such a cluttered environment. Which is why bands and artists who want to be in it for the long haul need to put time, energy and thought into how to market themselves and stand out from the crowd (ergo Amp’s existence). It is also why musicians need to be aware and take advantage of the opportunities that exist around them. It takes a lot less time and energy to hop onboard an existing bandwagon than to have to chop the wood and make the wagon yourself.

I was reminded of this when I heard about the recent announcement from Aiken Promotions that Bob Dylan had requested a local Limerick band to be one of his support acts at his July 4th gig in Thomond Park. Sharing a stage with Bob Dylan has got to be the dream of a lot of musicians so I was anticipating a lot of national buzz around this, even if it was going to be handled by the local Limerick media. Mostly I expected lots of bands to get excited and perhaps try to blag their way into the competition using the Irish soccer panel defense; “my great-granny was from Limerick and therefore I qualify”. Alas, apart from a good Facebook campaign (904 “likes” and counting) from rapsters The Rubberbandits. I didn’t here about any other bands engaging with this. It could very well be that all the excitement has been happening locally in Limerick or maybe the campaigning by bands to get support is yet to truly kick off (I’m open to correction). I hope so, because it’s a rare opportunity for small scale bands to promote themselves alongside a living legend of music. In this case the bandwagon is the behemoth that is Dylan’s Never Ending Tour and there should be plenty of room for some smart bands to jump onboard.

Associating your band with a larger event, competition or theme is in some ways similar to the way global brands associate themselves with events or celebrities through endorsement and sponsorship contracts. I know that many musicians would turn their nose up at such a blatant commercial concept, but let’s consider it for a moment. Brands cultivate these endorsements for two reasons. Firstly, they want some of the celebrity “cool” or a particular personality trait to rub off on their brand (which is why they generally make a hastey run for the door when scandal erupts á la Tiger Woods). Secondly, they recognise that associating themselves with a high profile person or event will immediately give them a short-cut into people’s consciousness. It’s for this second reason bands should look to take advantage of what’s going on around them (in the music world there’s generally enough coolness to go round). Any means that enables you to cut through the clutter and get a direct access to listeners ears and minds is worthwhile. Being aware of and capitalising on those bandwagons could provide the catalyst to musical success.

P.S. If you want to enter the Dylan contest, have a look at what Cherry Suede did to win a similar competition with Bon Jovi.

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