Back in the day, ‘content’ wasn't a problem for your average musician. Producing the stuff generally boiled down to doing what most artists are meant to do: releasing an album and playing some shows.
Things got a bit more difficult in the 80s with the invention of the pop video, but even at that, this sort of content creation was just a case of accompanying 3 singles from your album with some clips of you parading a mullet.
Fast forward to 2018 and it’s a different kettle of fish. Mullets are, for the most part, out, and content is now, to pardon a much-overused phrase, king. These days it's not enough to record songs, make videos or play gigs: on top of that we have to ‘engage’ our audience with blog posts, photographs, live videos, vlogs, viral games, tweets, status updates, online gigs, alternate acoustic versions of album tracks...and so on.
As exhausting as making / doing all that stuff sounds, there is actually a point to it – it can generate interest in your band, drive traffic to your website and help you make new fans. It also gives any industry contacts checking out your act a sense that you are serious about what you do online (something which is crucial in an era where the music industry and the internet are increasingly joined at the hip).
But how on earth do you tackle producing all this content? For many artists it’s hard enough to fit in recording music and playing gigs around a time-consuming day job; as such the thought of even keeping a Facebook page up to date — let alone writing a blog post about what the band cat gets up to on tour — simply instils dread.
There are a few things you can do, however, which make climbing the content mountain easier, and in this post, we're going to highlight four ways you can tackle the 'lack of content' problem.
1. Create a ‘content bank’
Don’t wait until you’ve got something to release before you start thinking about what sort of content you’re going to accompany that release with. Have it all ready beforehand.
I usually suggest devoting a week or so to content well before you release any music. During this, you could...
- go into a studio for a day and record a load of live acoustic versions of your songs
- spend a day in front of your computer writing several blog posts about music or art that's inspired you
- take a load of ‘behind the scenes’ images of rehearsals, gigs, recording sessions and so on.
- capture footage of recording sessions and editing them into little ‘making of’ videos.
Once you've done all that, you can edit it so that it looks, sounds or reads great, and put it in a Dropbox folder: now, you have a 'content bank' containing a lot of stuff that you can share regularly during a music promo campaign.
So, by the time it comes to releasing your album, you won't be worrying that tumbleweed is blowing through your Facebook page at a time when it’s clearly meant to be conveying a sense of that much-sought-after ‘buzz’.
2. Curate content
If you’re struggling with the content bank idea (or even if you DO have a lot of content ready to share) think about being a ‘content curator’.
This means sharing other people’s content via your social media presences and blog — something that takes a lot of the legwork out of content-sharing.
The kind of content that you share can say a lot about your band though, so when you get into the content-curation business, you need to think very carefully about the links you post and how frequently you post them.
But, done correctly, content curation can create a ‘vibe’ about your band, convey a sense of activity and make your followers keen to stay posted to your feeds, simply because they’re interested in what sort of crazy / interesting / downright disgusting link you’re going to post next.
3. Make some live videos – and kill four birds with one stone
It’s a good idea to make a live video of several tracks. Done correctly this can gives you up to 4 pieces of valuable content:
- Live tracks that you can give away or use as bonus tracks on releases.
- Several video performances that you can whack up on Youtube and include in electronic press kits.
- Well-lit photographs of your band (assuming you can convince a photographer to hang out that day).
- An experience that you can blog about (complete with lots of nice images and embedded videos).
4. Use Instagram
Being in a band is as much about the visuals as the music.
This can be a bad thing, as it it often means that bands who make great music but don't quite have a slick enough image aren't taken as seriously as they should be.
On the flip side, today's emphasis on image in the music industry, coupled with Instagram, can make content creation quick and simple. It's dead easy to create and share interesting visuals using Instagram that arguably say a lot more about who you are as an artist than a 1500-word blog post could ever do.
In short, Instagram is one of the quickest way to get into the content-creation business without having to spend ages on creating any content! So if you're not using Instagram, it might be time to get cracking with it.
In terms of the kind of pictures you should take and share using Instagram, I'd suggest that rather than constantly share pics of your band, you post images of stuff that represents your act and its ethos – whether that’s pictures of vintage microphones or dramatic skylines.
Doing so lets you make an impressive statement about you and your music in a few seconds.
I hope the above suggestions have helped ease the content pain a little. And remember, there's always the mullet video...