Breaking Up and Getting Back Together in Style
Written by Laura Maxwell
By now you’ve decided you’re “on a mission from God” and you’re putting the band back together. Whether you’ve been out of the game for two months or two years, your “second-first impression” is key. So maybe a full tank of gas, a half pack of cigarettes, and wearing your sunglasses at night will get you to Chicago, but it won’t necessarily make people pay attention to you.
Blues Brothers references aside, the music world has changed since your breakup, and it’s constantly evolving. Unless you’re the Saturday night regular at Bob’s Country Bunker, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. You’ll want to announce your triumphant return in a big way, so how do you make the biggest impact?
Let’s use Rocky Mountain FreeGrass band Mountain Standard Time as an example. They had a strong following in the Denver area before going on a hiatus in 2011, and before reuniting in 2012, the band knew they had to focus on securing a place in the hearts of Denver music fans again.
“It’s always nerve racking going from a situation where you have a lot momentum ,to a complete stop, [only to] come back and try and be in the same position,” said Brian Heisler, Manager for Mountain Standard Time. “Six months after getting back together, we’re getting really close to where we were and it’s really encouraging.”
1. Make a big announcement
Fans don’t have mental telepathy, and they aren’t scouring the Internet waiting for rumors of your return. Think about the places where your fans are hanging out - especially in cyberspace - and try to reach them there. Tap into your previous mailing list and established social channels and make a well-calculated announcement. You’ll want to give fans a call-to-action to help get things buzzing again. Give them incentives like free copies of an old album, a t-shirt, and more for sharing the news with their friends. If you have your first show planned, this is the perfect place to announce it and get it on people’s calendars. You want them to engage with you periodically following the announcement - so give them a reason to!
Mountain Standard Time announced their return through their “Return to the Road” initiative. Through a series of shows, and content on both their website and in social media, they announced their return as a band. The band played an intimate local festival and then officially kicked things off with the “Fall Barn Dance,” a themed show modeled off their sold-out MardiGrass shows that happened each February. Brian Heisler said, “Response from fans was really good and [the number of] people that attended the Fall Barn Dance was close to the numbers we had seen before. It was really encouraging.”
2. Get social media savvy
Social media is where your fans are - plain and simple. If you left the music world without proficient knowledge about how to use Facebook and other social networks like Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud etc., it’s time to get educated! This is where fans want you to communicate with them- don’t be a dinosaur!
Piggyback off your big announcement by being continuously active on social media. When you look like an active band, it will reinforce the message that you’re back and ready to rock. Use Facebook events, post content, and engage with fans. Make sure they know you’re still breathing!
“It takes a bit of effort to get things moving online again, but we saw an immediate response once we turned the switch on.” said Brian Heisler. “We’ve noticed that Facebook is even more active since the band got back together, and we made a resolution to focus more attention there - posting more frequently and showing more of the behind the scenes aspects of the band such as the recording process and backstage at shows.”
Like many bands, Mountain Standard Time considers their Facebook social media strategy a work in progress and a constant priority. They are committed to building and refining their approach to reach more and more fans. The band has gained over 1,000 new fans since getting back together!
If you need help getting started or getting up to speed with your Facebook strategy, Hypebot has a great crash course in their The Definitive Guide To Facebook for Musicians.
3. It’s all about the tunes
You likely have ambitions to churn out some new tunes with your triumphant return to the music world. Do it! New content can get your fans buzzing in a great way. Show people how the band has progressed, and keep them engaged through a new song or album. New content will keep your live shows evolving and give fans something new to engage with.
Consider giving some content away for free to hook new fans. Exchanging an email address for a free MP3 of your latest track is a great way to beef up your mailing list, and get the Internet buzzing about you. If you’re a living, breathing, growing band you’ll be putting out new content, so make sure everyone knows it.
As Mountain Standard Time continues to build momentum, they have been recording a new EP that will be released at their annual MardiGrass shows. They’ve linked up with Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band) as a featured guest, which is a sure fire way to attract current and potential fans in the area to give them a high quality live concert experience.
4. Measure, Learn, Repeat.
Make sure to measure the impact of your announcement through: your email open and click through rates; Facebook reach, likes and comments; and ticket sales. These results will be important as you continue to make big announcements about the awesome things you’re doing. You will learn what’s working and what’s not so that you can make adjustments in the future to make a bigger impact with each announcement. You’ll be shocked to see how much you can learn by simply tracking this information and looking at how it differs over time.
Whether you’re wearing black suits and sunglasses or Birkenstocks, now you’re ready to get back together in style. Do you have an epic reunion story? Share it in the comments below!
Laura Maxwell is an experienced social marketer, analyst, and the co-founder at MusicVagabond.com. Based in Boulder, CO, she helps brands and bands uncover the social strategies that will engage their fans and take them to the next level. Connect with her on Twitter and visit MusicVagabond.com.