Today's music marketing requires a band, or at minimum, their manager, to experiment with emerging forms of digital connectivity: online publicity, social media music communities, and internet music distribution.
Should we abandon the old fashioned "gigs" at real world venues like bars, clubs, birthday parties, and ampitheatres?
Here are the priorities I would suggest for music bands.
Assuming your music is polished, and your band is a coherent unit, ready for mass acceptance and universal fame, proceed with the following actions.
(1) mp3s uploaded, as free full-length downloadable files, to MySpace Music (artist account) and Last.fm
(2) CDs given to friends, family, fellow musicians, music reviewers, music bloggers
(3) mp3s uploaded to net labels and Archive.org
(4) live streaming video show (not band practice, but actual events: a set of songs, a comedy skit, interviews with other bands, guest band performances, discussion of music topics, music news)
(5) band blog: where news, photos, videos, opinion, reviews of other bands and CDs, etc. can provide value to fans
(6) videos uploaded to YouTube, the band's MySpace Music site, the band's blog
(7) photos and poster art uploaded to the band's blog, MySpace Music site, flickr
(8) live performances in real world venues
I put live performances in real world venues last, not to degrade or devalue it, but to emphasize how the online world is rapidly becoming the primary source of news, opinion, and product by and about musicians.
You get more bang for the buck, so to speak, by emphasizing the digital tools of music promotion and distribution.
Quit thinking only in terms of "getting gigs" in real world venues. Stop craving only a "recording contract" from a traditional record label. Look into doing online shows and videos for web surfers. Realize how music fans are spending way more time discovering bands, listening to mp3s, and downloading music...than they are going to "gigs" in bars and arenas.
Real world venues are great. Nothing can replace the experience, the atmospheric electricity of being in a building, in close physical proximity to a band you like, and watching the flesh and blood musicians struggle on stage to entertain you and fulfill their artistic vision.
But...you can reach MORE people FASTER when you use online tools and internet venues.
Let's finish this harangue with a few observations on live presence vs. virtualized action, or, in other words...
Live Real World Venues
Live Streaming Internet Video
In a live show that occurs in the real world, you reach from 50 to 50,000 people...and, unless you're a really big national or popular local act, only a fraction of them are real fans. Many are just bar clientele who happen to be there when you play, others are attending the show just to get out of the house for a while. Then you have people who know and like your music. They may be the only ones arriving at the show specifically to see you play.
Live streaming video productions are different. People are watching it on their computers because they're curious or they know and like your music. In a bar, if the band is boring, you can at least go get another beer or hit on some attractive barfly. But if your live streaming video show sucks, disappointed fans just click...and POOF. They're gone. It's easy, and nobody gives them a funny look.
In a live show in the real world, your music and performance quickly fades from memory. There is often no recording or archiving of it. It vanishes into thin air. But in live streaming video shows, you can archive and label show for future viewing. It's all there. Forever.
You may want to delete or hide certain shows due to flawed performance, bad sound quality, poor video work, failed skits, or other reasons that make put your band in a bad light. Don't worship your work: critique it and get rid of the crap, even if most of it is substandard. Keep only the real gems, that you're proud of and fans rave about.
You can't do the same old junk every show when you're live streaming a video show. Fans can watch previous episodes for songs, skits, and discussions you've already done. This is the challenge: to keep doing new, unexpected, entertaining things.
This may mean going to thrift stores and buying wigs, masks, crazy hats, and assorted props. It may include doing parodies of rock star celebrities, or arguing political issues, or doing a satire on a recent mainstream news item.
Explore. Experiment. Extract the good, and delete the not so great.
You don't need a lot of cash or equipment. Your soundboard, a webcam, a computer microphone, perhaps an online audio editor like Audacity. That's about it.
Start with making music videos with your webcam or digital camcorder, then uploading the best ones to YouTube. Grab the embed code and put them on your MySpace Music and blog or band website.
Make an abundance of free material available to fans and music lovers.
Free generates Paid.
There is too much music. There are too many bands. Fans cannot make sense of all the options for satisfying their music hunger. Too many bands think that photos, videos, and hype will get them fans. No. You must provide music lovers with ever increasing amounts of free full-length mp3s, to let them hear your sound.
Hearing leads to having and wanting, and fans turn into unpaid buzz generators, promoting your terrific tunes.
Free takes you from Unknown and Unwanted...to Known and Craved.
Once your free product generates buzz, your collector mentality, hard core fans will demand more...at almost any price. For bragging rights mainly, or perhaps: a true love of your music and its message, if you're lucky.