When you think of clothing companies rooted in the music community, nothing should be more obvious than GLAMOUR KILLS CLOTHING. Not only has the brand spread to thousands of show-going bodies, but it's collaborated with bands, filmed live sessions, sponsored entire tours and released free samplers (most recently a covers compilation) since its foundation by MARK CAPICOTTO in 2005. Tracking down CAPICOTTO was no easy task—flying to Europe one week, Bamboozle the next, and so on—but AP finally squeezed some of the best lessons he's learned in the business out of him.
Altpress asked me to do an article for them about a month ago to talk about running your own company within this scene. I knew I would have a lot to say and have been working on this periodically since the idea came to form. Hopefully, some of you will read this and take something away from it. I'm not a writer by a longshot, so many thanks in advance for reading this essay that is probably riddled with grammar miSTEAKS (He wasn't kidding. -ed.).
Old Business Models Are Broken - Create Your Own Way
With technology always changing, it dictates the way consumers consume, the way marketing reaches consumers and the overall way business is being conducted. Even well-established companies & industries (Exhibit A: The Music Industry) have been scrambling to keep up with the ever-changing business landscape.
Being a young brand—whether you are a record label, clothing company, management company, etc—WE are in it. Meaning, we aren't a bunch of suits sitting in a boardroom, planning our next multi-million dollar ad campaign on Myspace. We are the early adapters Instgramming our brands months before Mark Zuckerberg spent his lunch money on the application.
You don't need millions of dollars to build buzz for your brand. You also don't need investors to get one started. I started Glamour Kills seven years ago with only $300, three shirt designs and a Myspace page. I've used technology as the topic for this category, but this really applies to everything. Keep your ear to the ground. No one ever said you to need to do X to achieve Y. There is no set path for starting a business (or living your life for that matter). Break the mold. The rat race was meant to be run by rats, not humans.
Grassroots Are The Only Roots You Should Know
After running a company for a few years, you may generate some extra revenue and it's very easy to say to yourself, "Let's spend some money on ads. Let's spend money on wrapping a tour bus. Let's spend money on getting throwing crazy elaborate events." Be careful!
I have realized that the most effective form of marketing are the ones that are free. Consumers see through the bullshit of major ad campaigns and things that are essentially being forced down their throats, so to speak. For the sake of me not getting shot at Warped Tour this summer, I will not use any names, but take for example some bands that sign to a major label. They have the look, they have the sound, they have the hair. They are the "perfect" band. The major label spends money for the biggest name producers to appear on the album, buys them onto the best tours, teaches them the perfect way to talk to a crowd in between songs (like a broken record), and has a marketing budget that puts their faces in all the right ads and magazine covers. There is nothing real to them, no substance, it's not honest.
Put them up against a band like All Time Low, for instance, who started out in high school, toured in a van for years straight opening up for 20-30 people and who are hardworking kids who write honest lyrics and run their own social networking sites. What you see is what you get, basically. Who will the fans/customer gravitate to? Long winded example, but this can be applied to everything and anything starting from the ground up. Get on the social networking grind: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Give away free music, shirts or anything that lets your consumer know what you stand for and who you are—and let them grow with you.