Social Gaming – The new frontier for aspiring bands?


Bit of a strange one, this. Now generally, my position in indieberlin entails various escapades (or quests, as I prefer to call them); seeing a band, getting inappropriately drunk and forming whatever I can remember into semi-coherent pieces of prose. I tentatively dip my toes into the ‘Artist Support’ section of indieberlin on warrant of having potentially useful information for my musically-inclined kin out there.

To say the music industry has changed beyond recognition is an understatement, and by now, a well-established factoid you can throw nonchalantly into conversation to appear sexy and topical. The traditional, perhaps even linear career progression of forming a band, toiling in hope of a major record deal, making an album and then rolling in the Benjamins simply doesn’t apply anymore. The reasons behind this are apparent, chiefly that people simply aren’t willing to pay for music anymore. That in itself immediately annuls music as a lucrative or even sane career choice. The other problem is visibility, ironic considering the bazillions of new platforms now available for musicians to promote themselves. But therein lies the problem. With millions of bands spread out across sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp, every genre becomes hyper-saturated with middling, sameish bands. Getting your music heard and rising above the horde of mediocrity can be a daunting feat.

In times of necessity, success rewards ingenuity. The post-internet chapter of the struggling musician story is littered with bands testing new paths to success with the zeal of Victorian inventors replacing the steam-engine. I write to you now both as an associate of indieberlin and an employee of a company proposing a novel and incredibly effective method to promote yourself.

I started working for “Bands”- The Game, around a month ago. The concept is the marriage of casual gaming and music streaming. Users form bands and embark on careers, starting in sleazy bars and working up to packed-out stadiums and virtual rockstardom. Geniuses amongst you may have noticed the parallel to games like Guitar Hero. The difference however, lies in the fact that the in-game song library is comprised exclusively from unsigned, up-and-coming bands around the world. Casual gaming isn’t really my bag, and any friend of mine sending me a Farmville request is immediately deleted from both my virtual and real life, but the promotional aspect of the game is very, very real. It is difficult enough getting people to even listen through an entire song nowadays, especially from an unknown band. Having users actually ‘play’ through a track, often multiple times, can ensure your well-crafted hooks plant firmly inside players’ heads – players who are then repeatedly encouraged to buy your song from a conveniently placed iTunes link. Clever, huh? Monetary benefits aside, artists can take advantage of our geographically scattered player-demographic to raise fan bases in foreign countries in which they would otherwise be anonymous.

I delicately tread the balance of being an informative writer whilst simultaneously oozing self-promotion in fulfilment of my job description. I hope the candour of the former role outweighs the slight-bias of the latter. In any case, unless I’m so far deluded as to be blissfully unaware of my own delusion (a possibility, I concede), this is a product which can be of great value to the contemporary artist – especially considering the fact it is totally free.

Social gaming is an untapped resource. As fun as it is reminiscing over old days of liner notes and vinyl records, we must embrace technology as the force which burnt down the industry but left creatively fertile ashes for bands to pioneer their own way to the top. To that end, a game like “Bands” and promotion through social media in general is a vanguard of novel, 21st century musicianship. Worth a shot at the very least.

Article by Neelesh Vasister