(Kobra and the Lotus: Jasio Kulakowski, Kobra Paige, Brad Kennedy and Marcus Lee)
The times are changing, and with that comes the need to adjust our perception of what "making it" really looks like in the music industry.
Growing up in the 90's, once a band was big enough to tour nationally, it was a fairly common understanding that they'd reached success. While this was true to varying degrees, one thing seemed certain, there was a recording contract in-hand, and people were buying their albums. Despite that, bands still had to fight hard for our attention to build a career out of doing what they love.
Today, much of what we may have accepted as fact years ago is simply no longer the case. You'd have to have been living under a rock for the last 15 years or so to be shocked at the news that record sales are down, big time. This has been a primary reason why so many of the past generations bands are touring more now than they did at their height of popularity, because the revenue stream they counted on has vanished.
Sure, the big bands can pay their bills, but what about the emerging artists that you might have seen open for them? What about that new band you heard on Spotify, or caught a video on YouTube from? Chances are, they're struggling to make ends meet and work a full-time job at home when they're not on tour. It could be argued that this is simply the price to pay for chasing down the dream of rock stardom, right? If it was easy, everyone would do it. The fact is, touring is expensive and there's a lot of talent out there on the road that could be beaten into obscurity if we don't do our part.
This weekend, I read an article someone shared from MetalSucks.net containing an interview with Kobra Paige of Kobra and the Lotus that really caught me off-guard. A band I thoroughly enjoy, and absolutely love to see perform live, was discussing their uncertain future. These guys are phenomenal, and I've been following them for about five years now, just waiting for them to explode. How could this happen? Well, fortunately, it hasn't happened, but Kobra offers a very candid dose of reality here and it's worth checking out.
What can you do to help? It's easier than you might think, really. Here's an outline on where you can start though, and it's probably not doing much more than you are now, only perhaps being a bit more intentional on talking about your band.
1. Buy Their Stuff!
When you go and see your band live, buy the CD or the record. Pick up a t-shirt or any of the merch that might entice you. It might not seem like a big deal to you, but a band would rather sell you their music at a show than have you listen to it on a steaming service. Their t-shirts are a walking advertisement of your endorsement for their music. If you like what you hear, and their designs match your style, grab a shirt.
2. Tell Your Friends
Post about your favorite bands. This isn't a pyramid scheme, no one needs to sign up. If you are in any kind of social media groups that have similar tastes as you, drop some love in there for your favorite artists. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've gone to a few shows alone. Still, whenever possible, I'll bring a friend along if they're free and have an interest in checking someone new one. Exposing your friends to music you like (that might be new to them) is really killing two birds with one stone in that you're brining a potential new fan to your band, and you're brining great new music to your friend.
3. Engage With Their Social Media
This is a big one, and it's SO easy. Most people don't realize it, but by doing incredibly simple things such as liking, commenting or sharing posts from your favorite bands does them a world of good to be scene and heard. It costs you nothing and is incredibly valuable as it extends their reach every time someone engages in any of the above mentioned ways (all three is even better).
Some next-level engagement tactics can be extremely helpful. Don't just type out the name of your favorite band, "link" them in your post or comments by typing @ before their name. Similarly, paste a link to their new video. That little bit of work on your part, allows everyone that reads your post or comment to be lazy and still arrive at your bands page/video etc. This stuff might seem so small, but I promise, it helps!
That's really it. Pretty simple, right? Bottom line here, don't ever let your favorite bands be one of your "best kept secrets." Help them build an audience so you can look forward to more music and more concerts for a long time!
KOBRA AND THE LOTUS - Burn! (Official Video) | Napalm Records