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Soccer Leagues And Keeping Up With The Jones'
By Chris Standring

I'm a big big fan of the step by step process. You know, setting little goals and realizing them. I'm what you might call a realistic dreamer. Whilst I like to visualize what it might be like if I were selling six billion records, I really prefer to look at what I know I can absolutely achieve, in a marketing sense, directly on my own, without the help of a third party. Sometimes those third parties 'aint around are they? And the truth is, those guys only come around every now and then anyway. One of these "breaks" might be a big gig, a record deal, an opening spot for a huge artist, a publishing deal or an offer to join a band you love. It is safe to say that the only reason these breaks happen is when money can be made. Or the perception therof. Money to be made, for the most part, because much of the preparatory work is already done.

We all need a break at some point. We can't conquer the universe alone. So to impress these "helpers" we have to position ourselves so we look attractive, right? And to do this we have to find marketing ideas and strategies that we can personally jump on and realize on our own. One of those strategies I find myself using almost subconciously is the "Keeping up with the Jones'" strategy. Let me explain this...

It's like soccer. We all are in a league. Some of us are in divison four, some of us division one.The guys in division one are the big selling artists with major record deals, touring and promoting their sell out concert appearances. (Ah to be in division one!) Those in division two are those artists signed to financed independent record labels, struggling to get basic tour support from labels, yet enjoying radio play, doing live shows and building a slow but sure career. Division three is made up of tenacious artists that set up their own indie labels, jumping in a van to make a gig, selling cd's out of the trunk. Guerilla marketing tactics abound. Money is tight. Those in division four are bands that have a hard time getting a gig at all, don't have money to make their own CD and most of the time are kind of wondering which way to turn.

Which division are you in? Be honest and recognize where you are in the success road. Here's the leveller that works for everyone; If you are in a band that gigs, no matter how many shows you do, you will be aware of your direct competition. Many of us are very aware of the band playing once a week down the street who seem to be making waves. (Probably half way up division three!) It is infuriating when you might not be doing quite as well as they are. Now is the time to go find out what they are doing that is working for them and make it work for you! Go to one of their shows. Be a fly on the wall. Ask yourself; how is the audience responding to them and why? Are they selling tons of CD's? Is there someone in the audience walking around grabbing people's e-mail addresses for their mailing list? Is anyone stamping hands with the band's website address? What are they doing that you are not doing that seems to be working?

Most importantly, this is not about asking yourself if a band is better than you. It does not matter. This is not about ego. This is purely about getting inside information and inspiration so you can make it work for you. Get to know the band personally. Find out who is behind it all. But most importantly, check the division they are in. You have to be ready and able to effectively achieve these things. You have to bat in your own league! Go to websites of bands that are doing the same gigs you are doing. Check their live show schedule. See where they are playing. Have you played that gig? If not, go get it!

The wonderful thing about this strategy is it works no matter what level you are at. Make it work for you. Competition is great fuel for inspiration and ideas. Go grab some!

  Chris Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R Online ( He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording career go to his personal website at

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