How Making It Works: Antigone Rising


Those who pursue music full-time quickly realize that playing music ends up becoming the thing you spend the least amount of time doing. For new bands, cutting your own path through the surfeit of struggling bands is imperative for getting your name out there. Relentless self-promotion becomes a full-time job. But how do you distinguish your band from the ocean of flyers, stickers and other bands duking it out for the same recognition? Kristen discussed Antigone's approach to grassroots marketing:
    I realized early on, no one's going to do this for us, except us. And the truth of the matter is that if a day goes by where I haven't done something for the band, I can pretty much assume that nothing's been done for the band.
In the mid-nineties, when Antigone Rising was in an earlier incarnation, Kristen discovered an up-and-coming medium to spread the word:
    I got on the Internet bandwagon really early on. Nobody even knew what the Internet was, but we had a Web site. So, early on we used to do a lot of guerilla Internet promotion. We would even e-mail, like, other fan Web sites, like, for example, we loved Pat Benetar. So, I literally e-mailed every person who ran a Pat Benetar fan page. I would e-mail them and say, "I'm in a band called Antigone Rising. If you would be willing to put our banner up on your Web site, I'll mail you our CD for free. And we'll put a link to your page on our site." So, I literally did that with, like, hundreds of artists' fans' Web sites.
These days, the Internet is part of standard operating procedure for bands; but Kristen's ability to see its potential early on helped the band to establish a digital presence before lots of other independent bands. Antigone also employed other innovative techniques:
    Another thing that we did pretty early on before anybody else was creating street teams. We created our street team called the A.R. Force. And they really helped a lot in that. They would do flyering in markets. A lot of times we'd have kids on the street teams actually setting up radio interviews in markets for us. 'Cause the kids on the street team have no fear, I mean, they don't even think twice. They'll pick up the phone, "give me the manager of the radio station. I've got my band coming through" ... you know? They don't care.
And they did more to promote themselves:
    You know, typical stuff, flyering, postcards, doing mailers, trying to meet other bands any way we could, you know. Anytime we played on a bill, especially with a band that was bigger than us, we always made a point of making friends. Being able to pick their brains, being able to get on other bills with them.

    [And] when we lived in the city ... we would just play on street corners. We'd play in the subways. We would play until we'd get kicked off the corner.

This pioneering spirit of fearless innovation helped to rapidly grow Antigone Rising a loyal following in their fiercely competitive home market of New York City. But the one common denominator in all of their marketing approaches that propelled the band the farthest was attitude. Kristen shares the secret: "We always tried to appear bigger than maybe we were, you know? It's just one of those things, if you act like you are, then people assume you are. It works, it actually works."

So the early days were spent doggedly pursuing the exposure that is crucial to a band that hopes to "make it." But what good is exposure if you have nothing to sell? Antigone Rising had to figure out how to make albums.