Saturday, March 19, 2016
After spending months rehearsing and getting your songs tighter than a sweat soaked shirt on a metal band's drummer, you've finally landed a decent gig. You're opening for some touring band that's coming through town and you couldn't be more excited. The only problem is that the show's on a Tuesday night, and you just know that in your hometown, it's going to be hard to convince anyone to come out and watch you rock your pants off on a work night. To add to that, you just bought that new amp, so you can't exactly rush out and drop a bunch of money on promotion for the gig. The out of town band doesn't have time to promote every individual show. Hell, that's why they asked you to open in the first place.
So how does a cash strapped musician- and let's face it that's most of us- get the word out about theses gigs? Simply creating a Facebook event and sharing it with all your friends is not enough promotion for any show. I don't care if it's happening at the nearby amphitheater or the summer barbecue for your local block party. You need to do more to get the word out about you gigs. So let's take a look at a few of the better options.
Sticking up posters for gigs is one of he oldest tried and true methods of show promotion existence. A.P. Carter (from the Carter family, duh) used to drive around to the towns he and his family were scheduled to perform in day before the gig. He'd put up flyers advertising the concert, usually held in a church or local hall, and try and drum up some anticipation. And that was in the 1920s.
Posters in general date back to the 1840s when the printing industry perfected color printing, making mass production possible. They're a relatively cheap and eye catching way to advertise an event, but they've seen synonymous with music for decades. Any joker with MS Paint can come up with some half assed design, but where you'll find the most success is by convincing your artistic friend to put together something for you on the cheap and go run off 500 copies. The better looking the thing is, the more likely people will pause to look, and that's really the trick here. People are too busy staring at their phones and bumping into strangers to look up at your posters for more than a second. So make it interesting enough for them to pause and give it a longer glance.
As far as putting up the flyers, you can go the old packing tape around a telephone route. That's probably the easiest way to get your poster out on the street. A more effective way is by wheatpasting the paper to the pole or wall. This is less likely to be torn down, but more likely to draw the ire of he local constabulary, depending on where you live. A lot of record stores, instrument stores, coffee shops, and restaurants will have some place to feature advertising for local shows, so go sweet talk the dude behind the counter and see if he can put your flyer in the window.
These are just smaller versions of the poster. You should be able to a fit stack of them into your back pocket to carry with you everywhere you go in the weeks leading up to the show. Go crash a college kegger and hand them out to all the kids who are dying to spend their student loans on band merch. Hand them out to strangers on the strangers. The point is to get them out to as many people as possible.
A really good move is to go to other concerts with bands who sound like yours. Wait outside just before the show ends and hand them to all the people exiting.
This is probably the easiest and most cost effective way of getting the word out about your gig. Grab some acoustic instruments and take it to the streets! Between every ripping rendition you do of one of your songs belt out to the passersby that anyone interested can come see you play this coming Tuesday at the Pig's Ear Tavern or wherever. A piece of cardboard and a Sharpie makes for some fine advertising if your music is good enough to make people stop and watch for a minute. It's also a good idea to have those trusty handbills on... er, well, hand to pass out while busking.
Depending on where you live, this isn't always easy, but a lot of college radio stations are desperate for content. It really can't hurt to fire off an email with a link to your recording, or a recording fro one of the other bands, and tell the about the show. Even better, just show up at their door with a CD and flyer and tell them in person. A firm handshake and a friendly smile always goes a long way with people, and building a relationship with any sort of local media is a good step.
Alright so, as discussed, there's a prevalence of social media event pages and invites that many people think is the epitome of concert promotion. Many bands and promoters think that creating a Facebook event and sharing it with all their friends is all it takes to get the word out about a show but, as discussed, that's half assed. Still, you can not deny that social media is a huge force in the modern world. Make a Facebook event page is the bare minimum for any show, but it's still something that must be done. If you can convince all the bands from the show to throw in a bit of their cut from the door and pay for Facebook to boost the promotion, even better.
But please don't stop at Facebook. Take to Twitter, Instagram or hell even Tinder. Whatever form of online interaction you prefer should be used to get the word out. Make a hashtag and be consistent with it. Get everyone in all the bands to use it. Take funny pictures of your drummer and throw them on Instagram. Always swipe right and tell them to come to your show.
All of these methods are helpful in their own way, but combining the or utilizing each one is bound to increase your chances of getting a couple extra people through the door. However this is by no means a definitive list. Get creative! Try to come up with new ways to get people's attention. The zanier the better. All of these are designed to trick people into take an extra second to look at what you're offering, and then you've got to convince them to come to the show. It's an exhausting thing sometimes, but try to have fun with it!
Friday, March 18, 2016
Face it: once your career gets to a certain level, you're going to need a manager. That word scares some musicians, and while it's tough to find the perfect one, it's going to be necessary. Many artists just starting out are aware that having a manager is important but they don't quite know what that role is responsible for. This is a person that you'll be working closely with and paying; so it should be clear to you exactly what they do. Here are a few things that your future manager will be in charge of concerning your music career- or if you already have one, make sure they're doing all of these things for you!