As you sit back and observe the drama unfolding for the Absolute Best of Tulsa Music Awards, do you find yourself daydreaming of being a rock star?
Maybe you've got a new band and are wondering what it takes to get nominated and win an ABoT Music Award?
A few years back, before Urban Tulsa stepped in to fill a gap in the local music scene with the ABoT Awards, we would often get an inquiry (or, maybe 10) about what it took to get nominated for the music awards that our local daily paper was sponsoring.
After years of wondering the same thing and a couple of ABoT Music Awards under the belt, I believe I now have the insight to share with the masses. So if you're ready to make your daydream a reality or just want to finally get the recognition you think you deserve, follow these steps to becoming next year's big winner at the ABoT Music Awards.
1) Form a band: OK, this might be a given, but it's important. If you want to be known, you need to form an identity. Yes, performing as a solo artist is an option, but music is supposed to be fun, and there's no better way to keep it fun than playing with friends. So gather everyone up and get started. And practice, practice, practice!
2) Pick a name: Again, this might seem redundant and simplistic, but it's important.
If you want to get noticed (and you do, if you're trying to win), you need an identity -- a name that will grab everyone's attention. Keep it clean folks, otherwise you're limiting yourself.
Yes, the F*** Buttons is a fun name that catches in everyone's head, but I doubt you'll be getting any radio airplay or landing on the marquee and posters for any big shows with a foul or profane moniker. Make it fun, catchy and memorable. Make it something that everyone remembers easily and recognizes quickly.
3) Don't suck: Enough said?
4) Play, play, play: If you want to be known, you've got to get out there and in people's faces to create an audience. Pick up any gig you can and play for as many people as possible and as often as you can until people start recognizing you. Any club, restaurant and house party is an opportunity to make new fans, so seize any chance you get.
5) Again -- Don't suck: If you're playing as many shows as you should, then people will be listening. You should be tight and focused. After all of the rehearsals, preparation and the addition of shows, you should only be getting better. If not, something's wrong. A good band will be remembered and a bad band will be remembered as well -- and avoided.
6) Create a mailing list: Yes, it might seem old school, but it still works. When you're playing all those shows, get as many new fans as possible to leave you their e-mail or phone number. That way you can let them know when and where you're playing again -- or more importantly, when you need their votes to win an award.
7) Social networking: MySpace might be three years ago, but it's still a place to post your music and let people hear you before the show.
Right now, Facebook is king and Twitter is essential. Create an account for each of them -- and any other new hot-at-the-moment social networking site. This will help you not only grow your fan base, but keep them informed of everything you're doing and remain in the forefront of their mind. And if you're going to win a music award, you need all the friends you can get.
8) Don't suck! No really, I can't say this enough.
9) Be from a small town -- or a large high school: This might sound odd, but it works. If you're the big fish in a small pond, it's easier to get everyone in your corner and get them to vote for you.
High School bands have an automatic angle here: Get all of your friends and everyone in the school to vote for you and vote repeatedly. We know they're all on the computer for hours each day anyway, multi-tasking on Facebook, chat sites and online gaming. If you've got a rainy day out of school, one hour with 50 to 100 friends hammering away on a voting site sees your vote tally add up exponentially.
Likewise if you're from a small town like, oh, let's say Coweta or Lanapah, you've got the whole town behind you. The sky's the limit.
10) Rally the troops: When the time comes to vote, both for write-in nominations and for final voting, it's time to pool your resources.
If you've got an e-mail list, cell numbers from all your fans and an established social network on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, you can make things happen.
Email, message and text your fans, and let them know when and where to vote for you. Organize a voting pattern. Tell your fans: "This Saturday, we need you to vote and vote often" or "Please bookmark the site and vote for us daily." You can even make a contest of it, offering up free tickets to a show or a prize package in a random fan drawing. And remember: Rabid fans are good -- they vote faster and more often than you can imagine.
11) Sit back and watch: If you've done everything properly, your fans will love you and vote repeatedly. As the vote tally adds up, you'll be sitting pretty as the people behind the scenes wonder what's going on and where you got all these crazy fans.
12) One last time -- Don't suck: Please, for the love of God, don't suck. No one likes it when a shitty band wins all the awards. You want to add to the credibility of the ceremony, not destroy it. So please, I don't care what style of music you play, just be good. I beg of you.
13) Thank your fans: When you've finally won and take the stage to accept your award, don't forget to give credit where credit is due. After all, without everyone out there who took the time to both nominate and vote for you, you wouldn't be here.
Yes, your band is good (crossing our fingers), but there are many more great bands out there that didn't get the votes. You might be talented, but your fans make you winners. If you forget that, we won't be seeing you again.
There you go -- 13 steps to winning an ABoT Music Award. It seems simple enough, right? Now you know, so put it to practice, and we'll see you on stage at next year's awards ceremony -- perhaps as Newcomer of the Year.
(Note: Steps 3, 5, 8 and 12 are optional. After all, sucking is a purely objective opinion.)
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