APB Ramp: Think Global, Start Local

Get on the Ramp to stardom by breaking your hometown first. You’ve made some great music and you’ve signed up with Spinnup to get it onto the biggest music sales and streaming platforms on the planet. Good work. Now what? Like every artist we work with at APB, whether unsigned or with major label backing, you have to find a way to let your potential fans know you’re there and connect with the ones who love what you’re doing. But where to start? We believe there’s no better place than your own hometown.

You might not believe it, but there’s a whole music industry on your doorstep, doing  just about everything the ‘national’ industry does with the added bonus of offering support in your local area. There are websites, newspapers, radio shows, writers, reviewers, photographers, venues, promoters, studios, businesses – and most importantly fans – all dying to help musicians from their area to become successful.

So who are they and how do you find them? There’s no big secret to this, and chances are you’re doing some of it already, but it’s just about doing bit of detective work and investing some time. All you need are the most powerful search and networking tools to get started – Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Be a fan and immerse yourself in the local scene. Listen to the online radio shows, pick up (and read!) the magazines, find the websites, follow the bloggers and go to the gigs. Anyone who is serious about music in your area will be at the hot gigs and checking out the same social media pages as you and you’re likely to bump into them.

A good, old fashioned, tip is to get some cards made with your band name and logo, your website or main social media site and a contact name and number on. When you do meet someone you want to keep in touch with, give them a card and follow up with them as you never know when you might catch a break from a random encounter!

There may be a music networking group or ‘tweet up’ already running in your area – get involved. Go to the seminars and events, engage in local initiatives and volunteer to help out. You’ll learn loads and meet a lot of people. And if there isn’t one? Start your own!

Share and re-tweet the best social content from all the relevant local people – become a cheerleader for the scene not just for your own band. The more useful you make yourself to local media players, bands, fans and promoters by helping them reach more people, the more likely they are to help you in return. You’ll soon build up a list of the people that can make a difference to you. Depending where you are, there may be lots, there may be a few, but between them they hold the keys to unlocking your potential audience.

Once you’ve figured out WHO you need to convince that you’re the next big thing in your area, you need to start getting the message out to them. Try and do this by focusing on an exciting event you want to publicise. This could be a gig, a new video release or an EP release – whatever it is, you need something to push people towards that maximises the usefulness of the media coverage around it. 

Before you start your campaign, you need to get your press kit into shape so that, when someone does show an interest, you can send them everything you need really quickly – delay can mean missing important opportunities. You’ll need a couple of great band photos, links to your music and videos, an up-to-date list of gigs and a biography, ideally all downloadable from one place.

A biography is the story of the band so far and should be informative and well written, but not too long – one page of A4 is plenty. Make it personal, with quotes from band members and focus on the most interesting stories or ‘hooks’ that set you apart from everyone else. What makes you different? In some cases, websites or blogs will use it verbatim, so make sure it’s exactly what you want to say. Likewise with your photos – these are how you will look in the media and will be around for a while – make sure you like them!

You may have someone you know who is a great writer or photographer who’ll do you a favour, but we recommend offering a bit of money to a professional. The results will almost certainly be better, they’ll be connected to more people and, if they like you, will help to spread the word. Why not ask your favourite writer from your local mag or website to write your biography? It’s a good way for you to meet them and you might just get a media fan on side.

Once you have everything in place, pick a launch date and start getting your news out. Personal emails pay dividends and are more likely to get a reply. Make sure you get your key info and dates in without being too wordy or long winded. You don’t want to be too pushy either, but you should be direct by asking your contacts for the thing you’d like them to do: play the single, mention the gig or embed the video, whatever is most appropriate to them. And don’t forget to say ‘thanks’!

Once you start to get the message out, people ‘out there’ are going to want to find out more about you. Your social media pages are likely to be their first port of call. You’re in complete control of what they see when they hit those pages, so there’s no excuse for them not being right. Do you have the latest photos up? Is your ‘about’ page up to date? Is there a clear link to your music or current video at the top of the page? Have you got all your gigs on there? Are the link and photos on your Twitter profile consistent with your Facebook? If your pages are not consistent or look out of date, you might lose people who may otherwise have become fans. 

Labels need to see that you can connect with an audience who will engage with your music and your ‘brand’. The quality of your pages, Facebook and Twitter numbers, streaming plays and YouTube views are indicators of how the public feels about your music and what kind of audience you already have. It’s not all about the numbers of course – and under no circumstances be tempted to buy fans, no matter what emails you get from spammers. You need to know your social fans are real. The quality of your songs and how you perform them will always be the most important thing, but why risk turning people off by not spending some time on your own shop windows?

When you have a gig, are you getting it listed in the right places? Some websites have a DIY listings service, some need you to send your gigs in a particular format or using a form on their site, and some use third party services for listings. Find out how the important local sites do it and make it easy for them to include you. One of the biggest listings sites is Songkick, which allows you to set up an artist account and enter all your gigs for free. Various apps and services use this information, so it spreads far and wide.

Once you’ve got things going on at home – maybe you’re seeing a rise in numbers at your shows or on your socials – it’s time to look at the next town and see if you can do the same there. Is there a band that you know of from a town you’d like to play in who you could support in return for having them as guests at your next home show? If you can hook up with several of these, you can create a circuit that benefits all the bands by bringing each other’s fans to the party.  Apply the same research and networking strategy as you did for your own town and go and find the people you need to help you.

If things do start to take off, and the PR work starts to be come too much, it might be time to hire a professional PR. APB Ramp is our affordable service for unsigned artists who have already set the wheels in motion, have found an audience and who, we believe, have got what it takes to move up to the next level. If you think you’re ready to get onto the Ramp, contact us here and tell us more:

Above all, be positive and have fun (it’s infectious), be confident, humble and grateful as you hustle, stay open to new ideas and proactively help other bands and return favours. Put yourself at the centre of your local scene and you’ll quickly ramp-up the attention, from the media and fans!