October 30, 2007

Does your band measure up?

Have you ever wondered if your band is 'good' or not? How do you measure this, and if you do measure it, via downloads, myspace hits, or plays, how do you draw meaningful conclusions? Let's keep it simple, and try to judge by something easy to measure, and easy to draw conclusions from (even if it's not scientific). You can even try this at home!

Recently, while reading an SEOmoz article on what I'm going to call, 'friendly spamming,' I had a bit of a realization. Rebecca was complaining (politely) about how people expect her to digg up their articles because they're friends.
I don't want to sound like a jerk, but if you're requesting votes from people you need to understand that these people are doing you a favor by awarding your content with a vote. If you keep bugging them and badgering them and incessantly hounding them to vote up your content, they're not going to want to award you with a vote any more.

Sound Familiar? Maybe you do this when you're trying to promote a show? well the same concept applies. If you hound your friends to constantly be doing things to 'support' your band, pretty soon they won't want to do anything for you. They might even start trying to avoid your phone calls. But let's assume for a moment you don't incessantly pester your friends with upcoming shows, myspace spam, new merch they have to buy, etc. Rebecca also said this:
If someone does not vote for your content, don't hold it against him or try to guilt him into voting ("Come on, we're friends!"). If even your friend doesn't think the content is worth his time, what chance does your piece have of being interesting to the mainstream?

This (perhaps unintentionally) hits on an important point. If your friends don't think your band, or something your band is doing, is worth his time, what chance does it have of being interesting to someone who doesn't even know you? Probably none.

Unfortunately you can't just ask your friends if your band is good; social rules, and mushy crap like feelings get in the way of honesty. So here's what you can do to find out if your band (or just something your band is doing) is good enough to really be worth it:

For this example, I'm going to use a song as an example, because it's the simplest thing a band can produce, and if you repeat the process with each song you make, it'll help you improve much more quickly than just guessing as you go.
  1. Keep track of all the people you tell about the song. If they've already heard it when you tell them, ask how.

    This is your first indication of how interesting and desirable the song is to hear (and how good it is). If they heard it from someone else, we know that person probably likes it, or at the very least, thought it was worthy of talking about. A really good song, will be introduced to people primarily though other people who already like it.

  2. Keep track of how many times you generally have to remind your friends to come to your shows.

    This is a relative measure. Some people are just forgetful but be honest with yourself. If it was something else (that you aren't involved with), and the person in question was interested in attending, how many times would you have to remind them?

    If you find yourself telling your friends about shows, and reminding them to come, and they still don't show up... you might have a problem. Again you have to compare this to how they act in other circumstances, but if you can't get your friends to come to shows, maybe you should think of ways you can make your shows more interesting/appealing/etc.

  3. Ask people what they don't like about your band, and don't just ask friends. Ask people who dislike your band - They'll be the most honest.

    This is where you get feedback on what you can do to improve. Be careful though, don't change to fit the genre preference of the people you ask. Try to weed out the comments that pertain to genre preference to get at the things you can do, without abandoning what the band actually is.

    Garageband.com is a really good place to get a feel for how non-friends react to your songs, the $15/song listing fee is absolutely worth it (you can list free by doing reviews though). However I need to let you in on something first... not all the reviews are actually worth a damn.

Lastly, I just want to say, 'Don't Give up!' It takes time to develop something that people really like, and get excited about. Keep making music and developing your style, and try to think of ways to be different, interesting, and appealing.

© 2008 Jim Robert