By Lydia Melby, Arts Editor
Maybe since I came to ACU expecting only bouncing tumbleweeds, numerous ranches and cowboys and churches on every corner, I was not looking forward to much of a music scene. But who would have thought that ACU, and even more, Abilene would have a great music scene that features many styles other than a cappella and country western?
That being said, the music scene I so fervently enjoy is, after all, an amateur one. And quality, unfortunately, does not count for everything in the music business these days. You might be able to put on a fantastic show, but really, that is only going to get you so far when the real way to get the word out about your music is through iTunes, which, last time I checked, does not really communicate stage presence too well. So here are a few pointers on how some local bands (yes, even those proudly not based in Abilene) help their publicity and band image.
1) Stick by your fans, and they will stick by you. Nothing is more loyal than college-aged band followers. They will go to your gigs, advertise you in their Facebook and Twitter statuses and even hit the “like” button when your band comes up in their news feeds, as long as you keep putting on a good show. However, once you begin pushing your CDs like drugs and charging $10 or even more for something your fans might listen to once or twice, they will not be too eager to attend your concerts, especially if they are told to buy the new EP after each played song. At this point in the game, the idea is not to make a profit off your first amateur CD – it is just to get your music out there. Be careful how much you demand of your fans because once you alienate them, all you have left are your significant others, and let’s face it, no one takes their recommendation for your music seriously.
2) Promote, promote, promote. All publicity is good publicity, so if people choose to write reviews, whether they be for their school newspaper, their blog or even their Myspace notes, take that opportunity. You are never going to get perfect reviews, and even a fairly positive review is more than most student bands can legitimately earn.
3) Do not be divas. Even if your music has gotten some local recognition, even if you have a fair number of people attend your shows, even if each of you has a girlfriend or fiancé willing to risk her dignity to defend your band in online forums, you still have a long way to go. Honestly, saying you are the best rock band in Abilene might impress someone who actually lives here, but most of the big names in the music business have not even heard of Abilene, so save the rock star routine for when you actually are making it. Acting like Beyoncé never got anyone any mileage points, and when you are this small, your reputation is all you have.
So I guess my main point is: do not get too big for your own stage. Stay humble – that way when you and your “rock band” are the afternoon feature of some middle-priced cruise line someday, the chances of you getting rotten fruit thrown at you by those old schoolmates you dissed way back when are not as likely. Keep your head up and keep trying, but stay realistic and stay human.