I literally cannot hide my excitement to bring you this interview with one of my favourite bands and favourite examples to use when talking about branding & release strategy!
In this episode, I’m chatting to Courtney LaPlante and Mike Stringer from metal band, Spiritbox.
We talk all about their branding and release strategy and how they were able to achieve epic results on a budget. All their videos have hundreds of thousands of views and as you’ll find out, many were filmed on an iPhone using very simple, yet effective concepts and techniques.
We also chat about songwriting, working with a producer, preparing for tour and reveal a bombshell announcement that no other media outlet (I guess you could call me that) knows about yet! So stay tuned for that.
I hope you enjoy my nerdiness during this episode… When I started to become obsessed with music marketing, branding and release strategy, Spiritbox were one of the first bands I studied, having already been following Courtney and Mike for a while since their time in their last band, I Wrestled a Bear Once (IWABO).
Watching their journey unfold and band grow over the years has been fascinating and inspiring on a professional and personal level. I know you guys will get a lot out of this interview.
Don’t forget to subscribe on your favourite podcasting app and share this post with your bandmates!
The Spiritbox Concept
A “spiritbox,” is an AM/FM radio which is said to speak with the dead. What struck me when Spiritbox (the band) launched is how the theme of the spiritbox was carried not through their content visually, but sonically.
“Everyone in the project loved paranormal stuff…the first EP was just going to have small bits of EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon), then we just decided to go all in and basically base the whole entire thing off what the device is.”Michael Stringer
When Spiritbox launched, all their content was in black and white. From photos to their album art, video clips and cool visualisers, the theme fit well with the concept, it was also a very practical decision as well.
“It’s a lot easier to edit black and white photos if you don’t know what you’re doing than it is to do stuff in colour if you don’t know what you were doing…it made it so we were able to do it ourselves.” – Courtney LaPlante
Creativity on a Budget:
“We don’t have a lot of money so everything we do is super strategic of us figuring out what is a novel idea that is free or virtually free that we can then build a concept around.“
Courtney explains that the TV they used as a motif in their visualizers was found on Craigslist and the bunch of flowers that appears on their first EP cover and various other visuals came about as a family member was a florist and they could get a great deal on them!
They even filmed a few of their videos on iPhones! It’s all about being resourceful.
As long as you keep your intentions very vague then people can project whatever they choose onto the thing that you’re showing them.”Courtney LaPlante
On their launch strategy:
Spiritbox built up their concepts and visuals for 6 months before launching which meant that they were able to not only launch strong, but also keep people engaged by keeping the content flowing and with continuity.
This very smart approach is one I used as well when I launched, The Last Martyr, and I know it helped us gain more traction quicker than if we were to launch on social media first without that plan and content prepared.
“If you stagger it out properly then you can really give this appearance of productivity and it keeps people engaged and interested.” – Courtney
A focus on singles:
They also had a very strong focus on singles which meant that they were able to get the most bang for their buck with their EP. In 2017 when Spiritbox launched, I hadn’t up to that point seen a heavy band with such a huge focus on singles. I thought it was incredibly innovative for the heavy scene and a smart move all-round.
If no one is demanding 12 songs from you, why are you supplying it?Courtney LaPlante
“Everything of value that I’ve ever learned is all from the rap, hip-hop and Rn’B community…currently rap and hip-hop and Rn’B is the biggest genre in the world and so because of that I like to study what they do.
When you’re a new artist and you want people to discover you, having a large volume of stuff released gives people more opportunities to hear you and it’s it’s just the supply and demand factor.
If no one is demanding 12 songs from you, why are you supplying it? That’s an expensive investment and no return so I’d rather spend that money on visuals that will get people interested in my band verses spending $15k on recording an album that 5 people are going to buy.” – Courtney
On working with a producer:
Spiritbox have recently been working with a producer who has not only helped speed up the writing process, but also added more structure to the material which they feel will translate better to a live show and be more engaging for their audience.
“Now that we are writing with a producer it just speeds things up so much…” – Courtney
“There has to be repeating parts, there has to be hooks, it has to be catchy. I mean, otherwise if you’re going into this and you’re looking to gain any momentum or have anyone take interest in you, if they can’t remember the song then how are they going to take interest in you and actually enjoy what you do?” – Michael
On using live video to build social media:
Spiritbox are always going live on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and it’s one of my favourite parts about their marketing strategy. Even when they were just starting out they used live video a lot to connect with the small audience they did have.
I’m a firm believer that whilst your visuals and music can hook people in, it’s the personality and message of the band that makes people stay. Not to mention live video kills it in the algorithm!
“It’s a great way to build your channels whether it’s YouTube or whatever, because the moment you go live you get put into another category on YouTube where people can stumble upon you.” – Michael
As an artist I feel the least you can do is talk to people and keep them updated.Michael Stringer
Links & Resources
Tickets to their European tour: www.atbevergreen.com