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How to Successfully Self-Market Your Band or Business: Interview with Phil Kosch from ‘The Super Happy Fun Club’

After my fantastic interview with Nickolas Blazina from State and Madison, I thought it would be interesting to get another point of view about self-marketing local bands. Say hello to Phil Kosch, guitarist from The Super Happy Fun Club.

Besides playing in several local bands over the past ten years, Phil also works as a talent booker for JBTV, Chicago’s longest-running music television show, and the Double Door, a club in Wicker Park that hosts live music every night.

As both a supplier and buyer of local bands, Phil shared a unique perspective on how to successfully self-market your band or business.

What merchandise is the most popular among fans?

We sell more CDs than anything else.

What experience do you have with using or receiving promotional items like stickers, demo CDs, etc. with your own and other local bands?

I take every single CD or sticker I get and listen to all the music. I know I’m doing the same thing to new friends and fans so I want to make sure people know I love receiving them.

How do you spread your band’s name and music?

Fliers, emailing new people free music, radio, and any kind of press we can get.

Super Happy Fun Club onstage

Super Happy Fun Club on stage

What do you do differently from other local bands to inspire fan loyalty or engage new fans?

I think the videos we will have coming out will separate us from typical rock bands. Also, we are the most down-to-earth band you will find. We are like a small community/family and we want everyone at our shows and that follow us to have the same feeling. Also, we have a good sense of humor and don’t really take things too seriously.

How do you discover new bands and talent?

The Internet and word of mouth from friends.

How important is a band’s image when you’re booking talent for JBTV or the Double Door?

Very important. I want people to want to look good and work hard. I don’t just think of image as looks; it’s the entire package of the band. Do they work hard, do they promote, and do they want to grow their band into a business? Also, how good is their music?

Anything else you’d like to tell me about local band marketing?

Keep getting the word out. If you are good you will stand out. Make sure you take care of your business and work hard to grow it! I promise if you work hard and achieve goals you will become successful.

Phil Kosch

Phil Kosch

What businesses can learn from Phil:

  • Just like Amazon, giving away music/information/products for free (or practically free) is a great way to garner new fans and clients.
  • Any size of press that can reach your target audience is good, especially when you’re just starting out.  Even though a short spot on a local college radio doesn’t pack the same punch as an article in Alternative Press or Rolling Stone, your music and message is still reaching a new audience.
  • Keep in mind that your first fans or clients will most likely be friends and family, and that word of mouth suggestions will be more effective than e-mail blasts or mass advertisements.
  • Take the time to do your research. Even though a stack of CDs or business cards may seem daunting, listening to each band or researching each company can open up new possibilities and business ventures. Just because a band is handing out EPs on burned CDs does not mean their music is bad.
  • The road to success is not easy, but a lot of hard work can go a long way. There are recruiters like Phil that want to see drive and passion in bands before they book them, just like there are companies that want to know you’re serious before they will do business with you.

Can you think of other creative ways for local bands or businesses to self-market? What else can we learn from Phil and Super Happy Fun Club?

Post image courtesy of Super Happy Fun Club’s official Facebook page.


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on

Comments

  1. Jill Tooley

    Cool interview! Phil and the gang seem pretty level-headed and I really hope they continue to excel. I read on their Facebook page that they snagged a European tour with a band called Madina Lake – that’s so exciting! Their hard work obviously paid off. :)

    And for the record (no pun intended), I’ve gotten into many a band by listening to free burned CDs from shows. It’s true what they say…people will take ANYTHING if it’s free, and since most band CDs are $10+ each I’m usually reluctant to drop that amount on a band I just heard. When I get it for free, though, I end up listening to it and almost always end up buying more later on!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      It’s so true! I’m much more likely to listen to/purchase more music from local bands if I’m given a free CD first. Strangely, it’s how I got interested in one of Phil’s older bands, Saraphine. I saw them at a show and one of the members handed me their EP. Needless to say, when their full length album came out next year, I was more than excited to buy it.

  2. Jenna

    This is all awesome advice! I know that one thing my boyfriend’s band does — at home and especially while they are on tour — is just take their acoustic guitars out with them to local malls, shopping centers, or parks and play impromptu mini-shows to find new fans. They have gotten a lot of new fans from this, and some people will even buy merch on the spot! :D

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      That’s a great idea! I know that I always will stop and listen to someone playing an acoustic show in public. And the personal connection to band members is really important in carving out a new fan base.

  3. Jana Quinn

    Another excellent interview, Mandy. I like how you got Mr. Kosch to talk both about the wide net approaches (sending out free music, getting press involved) as well as their popularity as a small, close-knit community.

    I especially liked the part where he talks about not viewing “image” as just looks – it’s the whole package. So true!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Jana! Phil definitely had a lot of great tips that I’m glad came out in the interview – and so applicable to bands, business, and beyond.

      • Amanda

        Agreed! Great interview Mandy! =)

  4. Wim @ Sales Sells

    Thanks for again giving us a glimpse into the world of band marketing Mandy! The part I liked best is where Phil was talking about seeing their fans like a family or community. I think that’s hugely important, especially if you’re trying to get the word out. Your biggest fans are your best ambassadors, marketing machine or salespeople if you want. The fact that they are down to earth and don’t take things too seriously is a great attitude to go with the community feel.

    Wim

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Wim! I’ll admit, it was your enthusiasm over my last band post that spurred me to do another. And you’re completely right. How do I find out about a lot of the things I like? From people that already like them.

  5. amy

    Great Interview Mandy! One of my friends really likes Phil’s band and after looking at their website I really want to check them out! I especially loved his quote; “I promise if you work hard and achieve goals you will become successful.” No one can ever hear that enough, you just gotta keep moving ahead!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      It is always nice to hear that hard work will take you where you want to go. And I will definitely get you a copy of Super Happy Fun Club’s CD. They’re already making new fans through this blog! :)

      • amy

        Cool, cool! I’m in need of some new songs to listen to, thanks!! :)

  6. Joseph Giorgi

    “There are recruiters like Phil that want to see drive and passion in bands before they book them, just like there are companies that want to know you’re serious before they will do business with you.”

    Very true. If you’re looking to be successful in any way, shape or form, then you better be able to convey it. Employers (in any industry) need to know that their investments are sound, and that of course extends to the investments they make in their employees.

    Being a booker for both JBTV and the Double Door, Phil obviously knows his stuff. It would behoove any of us to take his advice.

    Excellent interview, Mandy! :)

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Joe!

      It’s so true. You can have the best product or service in the world, but if you don’t figure out how to tell anyone, nobody can invest in it or your success.

  7. JPorretto

    Oh you know I love a good band blog. You should do one about advice for weekend warriors who aren’t looking to make it big… just get out and play (AKA me =P ). We rely more on the venue for the crowds – to varying results. But some loyal followers are always a good thing!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Ooo, that is definitely an interesting approach. I shall file that idea away for future blog posts! :)

  8. Cybernetic SAM

    As an avid concert spectator, I always love getting free stuff from bands, even if it is just a sticker, button, or a home-burned single. I think it does the band good to offer stuff like that! I can’t tell you how many local concerts I have gone to and really liked a band but was reluctant to drop 10 bucks on a cd or shirt for the mere fact that I just heard them. When I get SWAG I feel it serves as a reminder of which bands you really like. Also, I can’t tell you how many times I liked a band at a show, but by the next day I am like “SHOOT! I can’t remember which band in the line up I really liked!” And if I received free stuff, even better (I still have buttons and stickers from when I was in high school from shows that I NEVER would have remembered had I not had free stuff). So you see, I think taking a hit as a poor rock band by pleasing your audience with free stuff really puts you on the map (and it doesn’t hurt if you have good music). Swag says to the audience “HEY! we are here for you (the fans), and to show how much we like you, here is a reward for coming and making us a truly a band!” GREAT post!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      It’s funny that you mention bands that you saw/liked in high school. Finding old merch from my high school years has made me investigate what happened to those bands. While about 90% of them aren’t together anymore, I’ve tracked the old members to their new bands and started listening to them. This is partly what happened with Super Happy Fun Club and State and Madison from my other blog.

  9. Sue Basko

    Thanks for such a nice interview. It’s so nice of Phil to help other musicians with his advice. Such a great attitude toward others! Like!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      He’s really great with sharing his advice with others – and you’re right, a great attitude, too! Both of which I think are necessary for positive networking. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Sue!

  10. Scott Sweeney

    Phil needs to write a book. He is pretty much a brand in and of itself. I got to work with this dude for 4 years. He is relentless, meticulous, honest but most importantly practices what he preaches. Outside of all those factors, I have no idea where he even finds the time to sleep, let alone respond to emails (which he pretty much does instantly) — If Phil wrote a book, I’d be the first person to purchase it and maybe learn something, 10 years after the fact.

    -scott

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hey Scott, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      And Phil does need to write a book. I’m simply a fan of the music industry in Chicago, and I always seem to learn something when I talk with Phil. Anyone in any business would do well to follow his lead.

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