List Your “Like” Bands

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A tight description of your sound is essential to marketing your music

Bobby Borg
Bobby Borg

Listing your “like” bands (the bands that you sound most alike) will further help to define your musical category and sound. This will enable you to attract new fans via print media and the Internet, prepare you to respond to requests from “music users,“ and open you up to a variety of marketing strategies based on the successes of other artists and bands. If you can pinpoint your sound to something like “Alternative Rock in the style of Queens of the Stone Age, Wolf-Mother, and Eagles of Death Metal,” you’ve come along way.

Since a good deal of your marketing is going to be done via print/online and in conversation, a tight description of your sound is absolutely essential. You can’t fall back on letting your music speak for itself. You need to grab the attention of that fan browsing through posts on message boards, or that music supervisor (A&R person, etc) riding the same elevator as you at an industry convention. Marketing guru Derek Sivers of CD Baby succinctly amplifies this message in a tip column at “In print, on the Internet, and of course in conversation, words matter a lot. Describe your music in one good sentence. It’s not that hard, and it’s very important!”

Also relevant to note, “music users” (film directors, music supervisors, game companies, and advertising agencies) provide a number of opportunities for independent artists to get their music heard, but they are known to specifically look for songs by musical category and “like” bands. Why? One reason is because they often don’t have the budgets to use the original artists and recordings they so desire, and therefore they look for something in the “general style.” This is where you come in! If you can be brave enough to define your sound as concisely as in our above example, you’ll be that more prepared to respond to requests from music users and get some exposure. A placement in a film or TV commercial could be all it takes to get the ball rolling for your career.

Finally, you’ll find that the same websites, message boards, newspapers, magazines, fanzines, and radio stations that your “like” bands are showing up in, are all possible marketing outlets for you. Just type the names of your “like” bands into your favorite search engine, such as Google ( and you’ll get thousands of search results (fanzines, message boards, blogs, and podcasts), with which you can focus your marketing efforts. Sure you’ll have to scroll through a number of sites to find what’s most practical for you, but overall it’s well worth your time.

Now, to further define your sound and determine what your “like” bands are, use the following methods.

Determine the best bands to open for. Ask yourself what artists make the most sense stylistically for you to open for on a concert tour. If you’re a pop-punk band, you might list Blink 182, All American Rejects, and Sum 41. Presto—you have your “like” bands.

Get your fans’ opinions. Conduct a survey among your fans to see who they think your “like” bands are. Organize a contest to see which fan most accurately describes your sound. Fans are often the best at judging your music.

List your influences. Consider your top three musical influences. If you’re a Hot AC artist, perhaps Matchbox Twenty, Nickelback, and Josh Groban served as your inspiration. Though listing your influences is not quite the same as listing your “like” bands, at least it will get you in the ballpark.

Decide who sounds like you. If you’re still having trouble finding your “like” bands, try reversing it around to determine who sounds like you? I bet this made the exercise easier for you.

Remember that the point of all this is to enable you to attract new fans via print media and the internet, prepare you to respond to requests from “music users,“ and open you up to a variety of marketing strategies based on the successes of other artists and bands.

Though many of you may feel that your music is completely original and you don’t sound like anyone else, taking the time to at least find one “like” band will prove to be invaluable toward all of your marketing endeavors—and toward formulating your plan of attack.

Excerpted from How To Market Your Music and Create A Buzz. Like what you read? For more tips not found anywhere else, please visit the store now and purchase a copy of our resources. Your career is only worth as much as you’re willing to invest into yourself.

This material is copyright registered by Bobby Borg ©2008. All rights reserved.

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