If I’ve learned one thing while working at MAX, it’s that artists cannot always “make it big” with their musical talent alone. Some artists receive guidance from a team of professionals, some partner with brands to grow their fanbase, and others take on everything themselves.

During a recent conversation with Northern National, an emerging alt-rock band from Dallas, I learned what it truly means to be “independent.”

In less than a year together, they have amassed more than 10,000 Facebook fans, and their single “Love Is Fire” has nearly 400,000 streams on Spotify. Despite these quick successes, Northern National has no manager, no booking agent, no publicist, and has not yet signed to a label. Instead, they handle marketing, promotion, branding, web design, and booking on their own (Although we hear this will be changing in 2017!).

 

Northern National

From left to right: Michael Kanne (keyboard), Anthony Comas (drums), Dylan Greene (bass guitar, vocals),  Michael Rossi (Lead vocals, guitar), Andrew Supulski (Lead guitar)

 

Their number one tip? Get creative. Their tactics have ranged from planning a newsworthy EP release party to supplementing their music with similarly-styled photography. Listen to my 13 minute interview with the band for:

  • Marketing Strategies 

    “It’s more in today’s age than just music. Like, you have to get really good music. But you also can’t just wait and hope that stuff happens… for us, you have to put a lot of work into the brand, the business, to the marketing, everything.”
    – Michael Kanne (Excerpt starts around 1:54)

  • Brand Feeling 

    “I want people to think of us as like a fall-type band. Whenever they listen to us, I want them to be like, ‘You know what that reminded me of? Whenever I was cuddling up next to my significant other on the couch in the fall time with a fire…’ For us, the brand is more the feeling and the time and place they remember things.”
    – Michael Rossi (Excerpt starts around 7:45)

  • Cohesive Branding 

    “That’s really important with brand especially for bands and for us, is making sure that our imagery and everything we do is cohesive. When you look at our photography and listen to our music, it makes sense together. You can hear our music and look at our image and say, ‘Oh that makes sense,’ or vice versa.”
    – Michael Kanne (Excerpt starts around 8:05)

  • Getting Noticed 

    “You have to grab an audience from one song now much more than you used to, and the other side of it is, a lot of people when you’re scrolling through things or looking at things, you judge a band on their look before you even listen to them, and if that’s not together, then you don’t give them a chance today.”
    – Michael Kanne“It’s because of Tinder… you judge based on the look!”
    – Michael Rossi (Excerpt starts around 11:11)

Catch the entire interview below:

To listen to Northern National on Spotify, click here.

To learn more about how MAX works with artists, click here.

If you have any questions or feedback about this Q&A, please comment below.

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