Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Hope you're all having a excellent and productive weekend! Mine has been a balance of solid progress and making myself take a day to chill and get my bearings; the later being just as important as the former. Progress with The Incantus is picking up momentum and things are being put into place at a great rate of knots (yep, apparently we're nautical by nature. Now I'm picturing a maritime themed Naughty By Nature cover band).
The chilled portion of the weekend has however been focused on pondering some of the challenges metal musicians face in the modern era, and how I'd answer these challenges on a professionally for myself. I'm a believer in striking a balance between being artistically true to yourself and recognising the 'adapt or die' mentality. In other words, to create something genuine that is going to resonate with your audience, you need to draw upon a very honest place within yourself.
Many musos know full well that it's rarely as simple as that, as we often have to adapt ourselves to an modern music industry ever in flux, without somehow compromising our artistic integrity.
If we were to be brutally honest, the modern boons of accessible home recording and reaching your audience through social media have been a double edged sword. There is a cacophony now of bands that sadly lack this old fashioned credibility and believability - the same qualities so intrinsic to some acts, that creating deeply emotive and powerful music appears to be as easy as drawing breath. We all know bands that make us feel this way, which is likely why we do what we do. The upswing: Despite this cacophony, there is a whole host of new bands that have adapted to these modern challenges and come out fighting, which makes it a damn exciting time to be a musician. Point is, amongst all of this it can be easy to get lost in the wash. Finding your niche market and loyal fans is no simple task, and sometimes we fall flat on our damn faces.
All those great bands we love have some measure of mystique about them; that's a thought worth a few moments. Each act undoubtedly has some elusive qualities that make up their fabric, something that makes them as powerful as they are unique. In the age of disposable music we sometimes feel that the great bands of the old guard are fading, and we often (and unfairly) compare our path to success to theirs; that somehow that kind of 'mystique' is totally out of our reach. Thankfully, that's complete bollocks. Despite these days being always accessible through social media and living in one another virtual pockets, there are bands that are somehow capturing that magical essence that keeps folks wanting more.
I came across an article recently from an artist I'm a big fan of, Floor Jansen of After Forever and Nightwish, and she had some strong views on social media that I honestly share. It's another edge we have to walk; our bands need an effective online presence to reach our audience, but at the same time posting 12 images of yourself drinking lattes, going to the gym and crash tackling parked cars can realistically damage your credibility. Floor had this amazing point; imagine walking into a bar and every patron was talking and acting like they do on social media platforms. The place would erupt into complete chaos, as acting this way just isn't civilised, yet somehow our inner keyboard warrior can blind us to the simple idea that we're speaking to other human beings.
How can we create mystique for our own bands? There is no hard answer for this one, but I think we can certainly see a few place where it might begin to stem from. Firstly, the contentious concept of 'the teaser'. "Big things coming, stay tuned!", "If we get 1k likes we'll release 'x' track", "Bring your friends to my show, but sorry, I can't make it to yours". These are all very dated and borderline narcissistic marketing tactics. When it comes to a release, naturally building hype is something we want to include into our release plans.
Social media can make us a little bit lazy with building hype sometimes, and there are plenty of 'outside the box' ways of building hype worthy of your attention. These can vary greatly depending on your particular sound, but you can start by thinking of how to identify your hardcore fans and devise ways to make a genuine connection with them. What kind of additional content can you build and polish up ahead of the release? Are you considering documenting your creative process to release once your work is out?
My advice, maintain radio silence until you're ready to come out armed to the teeth with killer content, try to avoid putting up little studio teasers and sneak peeks - you're only diminishing the initial impact of your product. By keeping your cards close to your chest, honing your product into a frikken weapon and coupling it with a well refined release plan, you're giving yourself the best chance of making a devastatingly awesome first impression.
'Drip feed' this content over a balanced period of time whilst continuously creating more to keep your momentum up. Sadly many of us invest so much time, passion and resources into an album, only to fall off the radar a couple of weeks later - it doesn't have to be that way. The idea of the album certainly isn't dead, only the traditional marketing tactics of release are. Be both innovative and inventive, you're one of them 'creative' sorts!
Here are a couple of examples examples of creating mystique and clever releases here in Australia:
Suldusk: www.facebook.com/Suldusk An immensely powerful artist (counting myself amongst her massive fans) who weaves acoustic black metal and neofolk into a genuinely captivating, ritualistic performance. Suldusk creates her own mystique through an amalgam of cleverly elusive social media marketing, old/other worldly sound, and through her darkly emotive performances.
Triple Kill: www.facebook.com/TripleKillBand
Melbourne mainstays Triple Kill are an act that never seems to fall short of stirring up a crowd. For me, they are a great example of everything coming down to having great songs. They go above an beyond when it comes to generating engaging content, being known for hilarious and well produced videos and promos portraying the band in a comical light. Their antics on and off stage, as well as their genuine connection to their audience give them a certain mystique you simply cannot manufacture.
For further evidence of these positives, you need not look any further than bands like Ghost or Woods of Ypres.
So, there are my thoughts and ramblings for this week. As always, I hope some of this helps you on your own journey in someway. Take on board any part that might be useful to you, and always keep true to yourself! Keep it metal folks and much love! Nat \m/