Despite the every man for himself attitude I’ve seen grow all too prevalent, we are all in this industry together. I imagine this attitude developed from both the (seemingly) increasing competitiveness between bands/business people/etc and from the suspicion that others in the industry aren’t actually being nice but trying to get something from you. I understand this feeling. One networking event in LA will have you questioning the motives of everyone you talk to. It can quickly start to seem like everyone wants something from you, and probably for free. This suspicion isn’t totally unfounded. The industry is bursting at the seams with predatory managers, venues, bands, labels, etc. There isn’t a position in the industry that is entirely untainted by corruption. That doesn’t mean we should stop looking out for each other, however. It means that more than ever it is important to look out for each other, to show that not everyone is out to get something from you. Giving back to our communities can only bring good things. Here are 4 easy ways to do it.
Go to Other Bands’ Shows
The easiest way to give back to the musical community is to go to other bands’ shows. When you play a show with other bands you should hang out for their sets. Unless you have something important to do to prep for your set, or if you’re working your merch booth you should be in the audience supporting your fellow band. It doesn’t matter if you have seen their set 500 times. Help energize the audience and make their sets a better experience.
You should also show your support for other bands in your area by going to their shows. Talk about their shows on your social media sites, mention that you’re going, and invite others to join you. There isn’t a band in the world that doesn’t appreciate more people at their shows. They might even return the favor.
Promote Local Bands for Free
Aside from going to other bands’ shows, you should also promote them on your website/social media/videos. Mention their new videos every once in a while on your twitter. Interview a fellow band for your YouTube page. You could even organize a giveaway with a few fellow bands that includes a prize pack with albums/merch from multiple bands. Even if the bands you’re promoting don’t have a huge following compared to yours (so the cross promotion won’t do much for you right now), everyone remembers bands who are willing to help each other out.
While you can and should promote bands that aren’t from your area, promoting local bands helps more than just the bands themselves. Bringing attention to your local music scene helps both the whole scene and the local businesses who are visited before/after shows.
Another great way to give back to your community is to volunteer together. It doesn’t really matter what non profit your volunteer for (provided you do your research to make sure that the organization really fits with your values). Although, choosing an organization that your ideal fan would support would be best in regards to PR. Partnering with a non profit ultimately benefits everyone. The organization benefits from the awareness you bring when posting about your volunteering experiences, and you benefit from the goodwill generated. A word of caution however: Don’t just show up at a soup kitchen, take a picture and leave. Actually put in the work. It’s really easy to tell when someone is bullshitting their volunteer experience and you won’t be helping anyone. Remember, the goal here is to actually give back. Any benefit for your band is secondary.
Donate Money from Merch Sales
While there are many other ways to give back the last way I am going to discuss is donating a portion of your merch sales. It doesn’t need to be all of your merch sales. Ask a non-profit to help you design a shirt or a bag that represents both the band and the organization and donate 50+% of the profit to the organization. Again, as will volunteering, this approach brings good things to not only you but also the organization. This is a strategy employed by many business with great results. In fact, I have a whole Pinterest board with examples of how businesses partner with non-profits through merchandise sales.
Help dispel the view that our industry is corrupt, self-centered, and shallow by showing that you care for those around you.
If money and time were not factors, how would you give back to your community? To the world?