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Why the Lotta Rock Scene Stays Small, or “Lessons in Self-Immolation” May 28, 2008

Posted by glenhooks in Uncategorized.

Hi.  CheckOneTwo here.  I’m one grumpy MoFu today, for no apparent reason.  So–true to form–perhaps I should take it out on the people that I love the most.

An oft-asked question has to do with why Arkansas bands rarely, if ever, make it in the outside world.  There’s so much talent here, so many good bands.  How come it’s only the rare band that gets noticed outside our borders?  I hear this question so often, along with the requisite wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, that it’s practically a cliche.

I have a few thoughts.

1.   For the love of Yahweh, don’t be embarrased to market yourself.   That might mean calling up some folks once in a while and trying to get a little bit of press.  You want to make it?  Stop shoegazing and push your band a bit.  For some reason bands in Arkansas don’t seem to want to do that.  It’s almost as if you guys are embarrassed, or it’s just somehow not cool to promote your music.   It’s really OK to do it, you know?  Unless you only want to play the same clubs in Little Rock for the rest of your lives.  If you do, knock yerself out.  If not, then sell yourself a bit.

2.  Marketing doesn’t just mean playing some shows once in a while, or having a MySpace page.  There are some simple, basic things that you should do, to wit:

     a.  Do you have a CD?  Bring the damn things to your shows, for crying out loud. 

     b.  Maybe once or twice during the show, even mention that you HAVE CDs for sale and that they’re available for purchase RIGHT OVER THERE AT THAT TABLE.  It’d also be kinda rad if one of your friends would volunteer to work the merch table.

     c.  You know that MySpace page or that website you have?  It sure is cool.  Too bad nobody knows about it.  Put your URL on everything, please.  Don’t be a web secret. 

     d.  Got a video up on YouTube?  Wow, that’s awesome.  Please make sure that the name of your band is somewhere on the video, along with the name of the song, the name of your album, and some contact information.  If I send the link to a friend out of state and he loves it, what does he do when he doesn’t have any way to find out  more about the band? 

     e.  Please spend just a little bit of money on some basic merch.  Think stickers.  Or buttons.  Not thousands of dollars, but maybe $25 can get it started.  And if you don’t put your URL on there I’m going to hunt you down and kill you.  That is, if I can ever find you….

3.  The only people in our scene that know how to market themselves properly are the hip-hop guys.  If I go to a show, I guarantee that the following things will happen:  the act will introduce themselves, will tell me their MySpace URL, will play the show, will mention where I can buy a CD, will give me a flyer for the next show, and will have me signup for their email list. 

If I go to a non-hip-hop show, it is a safe bet that one or more of the following things will happen:  the band will start playing without introducing themselves, won’t tell me their URL, will not mention that they have a CD, and will end the show, pack up their gear, and go drink some beers while the crowd files out the door.

Hell, I shouldn’t be preachy.  I’m not a musician at all.  I’m a fan.  But I go to a lot of shows, and this is what I see.  The hip-hop guys are kicking the rocker guys’ collective asses when it comes to marketing.  Take a lesson.





1. Johnny Mac - June 7, 2008

Some valid points, but you’d be surprised how exhausting self-promotion is, especially since it makes almost no difference in CD sales or attendance at shows. Stickers are a good idea though.

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