BotB: How to Create a Winning Band
When SimsFilmFest was still under the Simatography, I think we hosted 7 or 8 seasons of Battle of the Bands. I entered 5 of those, 4 by myself and once with other staff members.
- • Toxic Dream – a punk band that spawned my main sims that were recreated in TS4 and I still play today.- First Place
- • Neon Tarantula – another punk band. I tried to recreate Toxic Dream but only as an all girl group lead by Toxic Dream’s guitar player’s sister. Not nearly as successful but it was good for a few laughs.- 2nd Place
- • Cacophony – this idea came to me out of nowhere. It seriously started as a joke. A band of mimes led by a failed circus performer named Frantic the Spider. “But aren’t mimes silent?” The idea of mimes being a band was supposed to be ironic but I really took this in a weird directions. I still don’t know what genre of music they played because they mimed their music and any CD they put out was blank, even though it contained a track list. The running joke became only the most pretentious could understand them, or those trying to act like they could hear them to be “one of the cool kids”. Newt from Toxic Dream liked them because he secretly liked mimes. – 3rd Place
- • Thanatos – Death as a musical performer. I figured if Death had a hobby in his down time, this is what it would be. I used both TS3 and TS4 for this. – I think I took 3rd place with this one as well.
- • The Three Bears – This is the TS4 band that I did with other staff members. The Three Bears played children’s music and the joke was there were really 4 of them. – 1st Place
My point here, I know a thing or two about creating a successful Battle of the Bands band. So let’s get to this.
Create a Memorable and Unique Band or Artist
Honestly, I didn’t think there was much memorable about Toxic Dream, other than they were going to be the only punk band in the contest. Same with Neon Tarantula (a name that I borrowed from Zoog von Rock of Angelspit. He said in an interview sometime back that Neon Tarantula would be an awesome band name). What made them memorable was the detail put into each band member.
They were each given their own likes and dislikes, quirks and personalities. Newt stood out the most because he was basically the ring leader and the “serious” musician of the bunch. He made sure they did things. Adonis was more into all things sharks, Shark Week, and his shark worshiping religion that he would go door to door to promote. Kaidan would have rather be playing video games, Siren was just trying to keep her cool surrounded by all these guys who were…guys. When Phoenix was added he was the least punk rock of them all. It was supposed to be a juxtaposition of a pretentious snob who wore designer clothes and hung out in art galleries that was really into punk music and wanted to play in his favourite band. He was made part of the band because Kaidan was dating his sister. It was a favour.
It was their shenanigans that people enjoyed following. Shenanigans that were often documented in a comic strip called A Sims Life. A comic strip that was never supposed to be about Toxic Dream but a self-aware sim. Newt was one of the original characters and, with TS3 being TS3 I ended up loosing all of the characters in the story, except Newt, so it became about Toxic Dream.
What made The Three Bears memorable were the act that they were bears. We portrayed them as bears, and not people in bear suits. They endorsed teddy bears and performed at amphitheaters in forests. They also threatened to eat anyone not a child. No one knew who was behind the band, and we got a lot of questions via social media asking why there were four bears when the name was The Three Bears. Our answer, “They are bears, they can’t count.” We would also answer a lot of fan mail with bear puns and memes.
The Bears also had their own personalities and back story of being escaped circus performers who could sing, dance, do magic, and twerk. We even recoloured the bear costume to have a black bear where no one would confuse who was who.
Like most things, it was an idea that took on a life of it’s own. We didn’t expect to win or have the fan base that we did. We just set out to have fun. That’s really the thing though. With the role play aspect of Battle of the Bands, if you aren’t having fun with your band, and treat it like it’s work, people know and you’ve lost them. The Sims Community seem to remember bands and artists based on what goes into them. They want characters they can get behind. Don’t forget that backstories can go a long way to bringing a band or artist to life.
Create Quality and Interesting Promo Material
Okay, we realize that not everyone can do amazing things in Photoshop. Things don’t have to be perfect, this is open to everyone no matter what their skill level. I seriously had no idea how to use Photoshop when I entered Toxic Dream into Battle of the Bands. It was a learn as you go experience for me. Remember, your promo material is only one aspect of the band. However, if you take good and interesting pictures and present them well in your promo material, you will get your audience’s attention. This means resizing images where they aren’t too small for your poster size and not cutting off important parts of an image. Use poses and stage your pictures. Make sure that your pictures can tell their story on their own, or with little explanation. Search the internet for inspirational ideas. If you need help, someone on staff can help you out. Just ask.
Promote Your Band or Artist
This is where things get interesting. Bringing your band or artist to life is where you get your fan base and makes people want to vote for you. It doesn’t matter what social media platform you use or if you create a band website or whatever. This is all about engaging your audience and bringing the Battle of the Bands experience to The Sims Community.
Before I go any further I want to talk about interviews. This falls under both promo material and band promotion, so I wasn’t sure where to stick it. One thing that I am sure has sealed the fate of bands over the course of Battle of the Bands is interviews. Some people chose to phone it in. They provided very short few word answers and didn’t answer as if it were the band members were answering the questions. This really does make a world of difference. Think about what draws an audience into sim stories. The writers have created characters that draw people in and make them care about them.
Back to promotion. It doesn’t matter how you promote your band. Create a website for them. Put them on social media. Role play them on Twitter. One hugely successful band, Nightcrawlers, had a huge following because the creator decided to make each of the band members their own Twitter account and role play them on Twitter. Other people have chosen just to share pictures of their band/artist on their own social media pages while others have involved their bands in stories, as I did. I had Frantic the Spider reviewing every book he could find on mimes and writing his own blogs. Toxic Dream and Neon Tarantula were in a comic strip. Pick something, or a couple somethings, and draw you audience in and engage them.
We promote all the bands equally across our social media pages but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what you can do on your own. Once again, the most important thing is to have fun with it all!