DIY Band Promotion: Mykel Exner Talks about Selling Kill Matilda
Mykel Exner is the Bassist for the band “Kill Matilda”. He recently sent my friend, Bill Allman, an email in which he thanked Bill (who taught him at Trebas Institute) for emphasizing that a band must not leave their promotion to management and the importance of taking control of your own brand and management. Bill told me about the email and I asked Mykel to participate in an email interview about artist promotion. Fortunately, he agreed. Here’s what he had to say. (Note: I took my questions out here as it flowed better without them.)
About the band
Kill Matilda is a do-it-yourself band that has been touring Canada since 2009. We are a 4-piece female-fronted hard rock band that began in Vancouver and has since based itself out of Montreal and South Western Ontario. We’ve self-produced, recorded, released and promoted our self-titled EP along with 3 music videos to support the release – one of which, “She’s A Killer” has been put into rotation on MUCHLOUD, providing us with national exposure. We’ve gone from complete unknowns to playing large festivals like NXNE and opening for acts like Econoline Crush and Die Mannequin. We are blessed with an amazing front person, Dusty, with a killer voice. We have been making a reputation for ourselves for putting on high-energy, fun to watch live shows. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most talented and dedicated artists and professionals, who’ve seen value in our project and have helped us by lending the skills and talents that have brought us to new levels that we never thought possible.
The DIY Movement
Initially, when you first dream of being in a “well-known” band, you dream about being “discovered” by someone and having them take you and your music to the heights of being a “rock-star” – or even just simply heard and appreciated by a larger audience. The reality of the music industry today is that NOBODY is willing to take the chance with their money or time to push and promote an artist that isn’t already making a name for themselves.
We’re facing a crisis in the Canadian music industry where “Music Industry Professionals” are not equipped with the skills and know-how to even make posters to promote shows they organize. Bar owners don’t see the value in investing in promotion for shows that are booked in their establishments and most bands don’t even know how to begin to promote themselves or the shows that they are a part of. From the inside of this beast, the system looks broken. If you aren’t a jack of all trades, i.e. a photoshop pro – a video editor – a photo editor – a booking agent- along with being an artist and performing musician, you’ll never have anyone take notice of your music or project.
No one is going to take you by the hand, discover you, put you on the cover of the Rolling Stone, put your song on the radio, pick out your first single or do anything for you… unless you’re willing to pay for it… and pay big for it
How Kill Matilda raised nearly $2000 in donations in a week via their merchandising sitelet
We’ve investigated fundraising options out there like pledgemusic.com and others but the thought of “All or Nothing” fundraising really scared the crap out of us. In reality we didn’t need a lot of money to help us reach our goals. One big incentive we found helped make it easier for fans to help us was to include a limited time offer to have their name in the credits of our new album “I Want Revenge”. That push really drove a lot of the action we saw. Providing those unique and one of a kind incentives to your fans really open the door to their wallets.
Building an fan-base online
Basically, we built a strong online fanbase through having a lot of good content online and following that up with a killer live show. We have Youtube videos of us bringing people along on tour, and we provide personal experiences for our fans when they come to our shows. We interact with our fans online a lot and I think that providing that personal interaction combined with kicking some ass on stage live over a long period of time really helped us achieve some of our goals and gave our fans a feeling of being a part of our growth and pride in “growing” with us.
Here is one piece of free advice to performing bands… Mention your Facebook Page on stage as a part of your banter. We urge our new fans to like us on Facebook so we can connect with them and comment on pictures of their cats..dogs…babies… all of that. Give your audience directions and where exactly they can find you. It’s amazing going home after a good gig and logging onto Facebook having fans “requesting” your friendship and “Liking”and commenting on your page.
In 2010, before we left Vancouver we asked our fans which track off the Kill Matilda EP they would like to see made into a music video and through a series of votes and comments they picked “Fault Lines”. It was a pretty fun experience to see people actually care and provide their opinions on what Kill Matilda should do next. Ask your fans questions about what they like… what they don’t like… those sort of exercises get your existing fans talking about you and thinking about you when they start thinking about a question you’ve asked, or associate you with the topic you got them thinking about.
Promoting the “She’s a Killer” video (viewed over 14,000 times on YouTube).
The key is constantly reposting and sharing and reposting and sharing. Encourage your fans to do the same for you. Research who promotes music videos online in your genre, show them and talk to them about your video. Create an “online street team” to post your video on relevant pages and just don’t be afraid to share and re-share! We’ve used “She’s A Killer” to promote Kill Matilda to new listeners and used the video to help us gather a lot of opportunities. (BTW!!! If you like that video share it!)
Social Media in general
Social Media has basically been responsible for Kill Matilda being able to have reached where it has today. Just being able to exist, get further, reach more people, have them listen to our music, watch our videos and enjoy it is really amazing and fun. Without it we wouldn’t be able to operate at all.
My personal favorite was tweeting at Bif Naked and having her check us out. She loved and shared my personal favorite Kill Matilda song, “Geisha With A Switchblade” with her followers. Being a big Canadian rock fan-boy that make me feel like a kid again.
Tips for musicians doing DIY promotion
- Be pro-active not RE-active. Have your own website. Facebook/Myspace/Twitter profiles are good, but a dotcom is the BEST!
- If you don’t care to share about your bands shows or videos or songs online… then why should anyone care about it? Think about your comparables… sound like Tool? then go after Tool’s fans… Sound like Radiohead? Go after Radiohead’s fans. Don’t think you sound like anyone? Then ask someone else. You have to have a comparable otherwise no one will care at all.
- Don’t just promote your music! Promote all music you think is good! Promote other bands shows! Let people know that you are a part of a scene and that you care about not just your success but the success of your favorite bands and your friends bands.
- Learn that there is a difference out there between a “booking agent” and a “promoter” ANYONE can book a show, cats and dogs can book shows. It’s a simple process of saying, “Hey you wanna play at this place at this time?” Booking agents do not promote shows. Get this through your head and you will not be disappointed when no one shows up to your show. Take control of your own promotion because quite simply, the booking agent, the bar owners, the other bands and fans that don’t know about you DONT CARE who you are if you dont give them a reason to care. Its amazing how many show posters we here at Kill Matilda have been required to make for booking agents across Canada. If you allow someone else to control your destiny… to poster for you… to promote for you… to hold your hand and tell you its going to be alright… you might wanna take up another lifestyle choice.
- It is EVERY member of a band’s job to promote. One person should take the lead of course in being pages and website admins BUT if your lead guitarist is “too-cool” to promote… stick your foot in their ass and set them on the right track. No one is too cool to promote, except for bands and musicians that no one has ever heard of or cares about.
Find Kill Matilda:
Want to learn more about Artist promotion? You might also enjoy other posts in my Artist Series.
Entry filed under: Art, artist series, interview, social media. Tags: Art, artists, band, bill allman, DIY, facebook, kill matilda, marketing, Me Like the Interweb, Monica Hamburg, music, mykel exner, promotion, she's a killer, social media.