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Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 ways to promote your self in other city's

Promoting for a show in another city has been one of the biggest pains I’ve had. I can’t physically be there. I don’t have any friends there. Who’s going to put up the fliers? Can I even trust the club to hang up ones I mail?

I’ve tried silly shit that was more of a waste of time, but was promoted on “marketing” sites on ways of using MySpace to get people to show up. “Hey, just plug in the area code 5 miles from the club and just start adding people and telling them about your show.”

I had it down. I’d open a ton of tabs in my browser of everyone on MySpace within 5 miles of that club. I’d add them left and right and send them a message when the show was. I got it so I could add 400 people in just 2 hours. Captchas notwithstanding.

Result? I think I annoyed about 400 people because they definitely did not come to the show. I also got to see the worse designed MySpace sites humanity had to offer. (People from Bremerton, Washington. Never use Flash or HTML ever again. Please.)

This post is to brainstorm some ways that are hopefully less painful than blindly adding people on social networks.

And, please. No one say “Get 5 friends from that town to…” or “Get your street team…” If you have 5 people or a street team to already do something for you, you’ve already made an impact in that city beyond your initial set of gigs. This post is not about “how to use your street team”. (I have no idea about street teams, so I won’t even go there.)

#1. Before Even Booking the Show

Photo by View D'World

Before heading a few hours to a new city, start reasearching months before you plan on doing a show there. Learn which clubs have the smallest capacity with the largest foot traffic. Know which bands are playing where, and when they are coming to your city. Know the demographics such as is it a college town, navy town, or upper-middleclass suburb.

I’ve made the mistake of booking clubs that were nowhere near any foot traffic. Being on tour from Seattle just to arrive to no one at all in San Francisco really sucks.

Booking a club that has a 400 person capacity, and you have zero fans, also sucks.

Traveling 10 hours to play that one club notorious for ripping off bands…sucks.

#2. Get Involved with the City’s Blogs and Forums

This is an experiment I’m dying to try. I’ve been getting the inspiration from posts from Jon Ostrow on MicControl. Participate in the local blogs and online forums of that city. Music blogs would be the best, but don’t leave out hyper-local news blogs.

Genuinely participate. That’s why above I said to start months ahead of time. Don’t immediately go into the blogs or forums and start pitching your band. Instead, thoughtfully comment on what others are saying. Post things that are fun to interact with or get a good conversation started.

When it comes time to have your show, you will have a community of people that “may” show up. I’ve never tried this before, but it seems more successful than just crossing your fingers and hoping. Or blindly messaging people to an event invite on Facebook. (Ugh, I hate those.)

#3. Be an Out of Town Band’s Street Team

Okay, I lied. I said I wouldn’t go there with street teams. Deal with it. Heh-heh!

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Be a street teamer for a band you like and would like to play with out of town. Whenever they come to your city, promote them on Facebook and Twitter. Grab posters and hang for them. Hand out handbills for their shows.

Get your friends to go to their shows!

Ask that band what you can do to help out with their shows. Let them know you’re in a band as well and would love to play with them in their city as well as your own. Let them know you are doing things for them without them asking.

And don’t expect them to pay you back. If they don’t do the same for you, just pick another band and help them out instead. Bitching about that band or complaining online will get you nowhere and may just hurt you in the long run.

#4. Create a Support Network for Out of Town Bands

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik

You know what a tired, out of town band wants? Some food, some good friends, and a place to crash. Travelling multiple hours to get from one show to the next, having a reliable place to sleep is a great peace of mind. A good meal is just heavenly. A shower is a religious moment.

I’m actually excited because I’m moving into a house in a neighborhood that has *gasp* parking! Now, I can have bands stay over at my place and get them some food in the morning.

But it doesn’t need to be just your place, it could just simply be bringing in some hot pizza to the show for the out of towners.

Basically, do for other bands what you would like to happen to you when on the road. If every band did this, there would be a support network that would greatly assist traveling musicians.

#5. Facebook and Google Ads

Photo by s_jelan

I’ve tried this one before, and I don’t know if I can fully recommend it. It’s basically the same crapshoot as using fliers, but may cost you more money.

You can set up Facebook ads for your show. Set a limit of how much you want to spend per day, and how long you want the campaign to go for.

Here’s the results I’ve had. I paid $30 for one week of ads. I got 50,000 views. Of those 50,000, I got 50 new “fans” of my band page. Of those 50 “fans”, absolutely none of them showed up to the show.

Was it a loss? No, my band’s name made it in front of 50,000 people. Was it a win? No, no one showed up to my show.

I say Facebook ads are more of a brand recognition thing than a call to action. However, since they are cheap to play with, you can start testing different types of ads. See which get the most view or hits. This will probably be a seperate article, though. I’m also not sure how much I’m willing to spend on such an experiment.

#6. Busk and Promote Before the Show Starts

I haven’t tried this one out, yet, but I really want to! Usually, my band just rolled up to the venue with about an hour before doors opened. Not much time to actually promote or busk before a show. This requires getting to the city way earlier. Maybe 3 to 4 hours before doors open.

Photo by Walter Rodriguez

If the club has enough foot traffic, start busking right out front. If not enough foot traffic, go to a spot that does have enough. Have handouts for your show ready. Have your name and where you’re going to play clearly marked.

Worse that could happen is you get extra tips to use for gas money back home.

If you are not busking, start wandering around the city and hitting up local places. Tell anyone and everyone you’re having a show. Talk, talk, talk, and don’t stop talking to everyone. Being nice and putting yourself out there could net a few more people coming out to your show.

#7. Create a Contest or Coupon for the Show

Something else I haven’t tried. Maybe your first time out, don’t worry about making money, but worry about making new fans. If the club and the other bands are okay with it, create a promotional flier that people can use to get in the club for free or to get a free drink.

Even if you have to pay for it out of your earnings, you would get people there that just would not have gone before.

I wouldn’t try this if you’re relying on gas money from the show.

#8. Send Handbills to Local Shops Near the Club

Call local shops nearby the club and ask if they’ll put your handbills near their cash register. If they agree, mail some out.

Hmmm. Maybe you could partner with the local shops? Agree to promote them from your merch stand or get coupons. In exchange, they help promote for you in their store. I don’t think I’ve seen any band do that. I’m not sure if that would be a good or bad thing.

#9. Use Craigslist and Free Event Calendars

I keep telling myself I’ll use Craigslist to promote a show, and then I always forget to do it. For Craigslist, you can make your show pitch as silly as you want. “Antique Band Needs a Home”. “Single Band Needs Hot Lovin’”. “Wayward Musicians Willing to Sleep In Your Home”.

Craigslist is free, so why not pitch your show and be creative at the same time?

Also, make use of all the free event calendars like Eventful, UpComing, and what makes this fairly simple to post to all of them.

Make sure to post your show in the local papers if it hasn’t already been done. The online counter part, I mean.

#10. Attempt the Traditional Routes

The traditional routes are something I’ve had zero luck with. But they still shouldn’t be ignored. Try to get a radio interview with a college station. Submit your press kit to the papers and try to get an interview there.

Just because I’ve had zero luck with, doesn’t mean I should ignore it. If I do get an interview with a radio station or a paper, that could do wonders for the turnout at a show.

What Else?

And that’s my brainstorm on out of town shows. I’m sure there’s way more options. I was trying to think of something that could be done with YouTube, but I entirely blanked. Anyone have any ideas or have tried something else that works? I’ve been struggling with proper out of town promotion for years.

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