So you’ve got a great band. You’ve practiced for hours and have a killer show put together. You got booked for a weekend headliner at a great venue. What now? I’ll tell you. In one word, promotion. It’s up to you to promote your show and bring a great crowd in. Nobody likes playing to an empty house but how do you pack them in? What’s the best way to jam the most possible people into that venue? How do you promote without becoming that obnoxious musician dude or dudette that’s constantly preaching to people about the next show?
The ideal way to talk about your upcoming show is only when someone asks you about it. The problem is getting the word out in an effective but not overbearing way. There are several ways of doing this without seeming pushy and irritating. You never want to turn somebody off of your art without even having the chance to listen to it.
Social media is one of the best ways to spread the word about a show. It’s an easy way to get in touch with all of your friends and if you have a page for the band, all of your fans. Create an event and give it a catchy and clever name. That’s right, name your show. Don’t just say “Band X @ Bar N” because nobody is going to be interested. Give it some shine! “Band X, Rockin the Night away and Giving You Chocolate Thunder at Bar N!!!” It might sound silly but you’re far more likely to get someone interested if you give it some thought.
The old school way (and best, in my opinion) is flyers. With as much as modern computers are capable of, there is no reason not to send flyers out to all corners of the globe. Design or purchase artwork that represents your band’s image and create flyers that incorporate your logo and all the pertinent information for the show and get them printed. If you’re in school, put them up on bulletin boards and kiosks around campus. If you have a job, bring them to work. If you live in a city, staple them to light poles. You can hang them in bathrooms, offices, stores and all sorts of other places. A friend of mine once put his flyer on a drive thru menu, which I thought was a great idea. They see thousands of people every day. Make sure to ask permission or not to get caught though.
Using a street team of fans and friends is another great way of promoting a show. They need something to give away, like flyers or tickets but often you’ll find that they’ll work harder than the band because they get to feel included in the whole thing. Street team members can be a life saver for promoting because they don’t have to be with the band. A lot of promotion gets done on the day and/or night of the show, which is the busiest time for the band. Load in, sound check and other obligatory band functions take time that the street team has in abundance. You can choose to give something back, too. Give them free admission to shows and/or free merchandise.
Remember while promoting not to get too pushy as well. Many folks aren’t going to want to have anything to do with you, your flyers, your street team or your show. This doesn’t mean that they are bad people or that they deserve to be hassled. Be ready for rudeness and even short tempers on occasion. You shouldn’t expect everyone to be as excited as you are about your show and you should be respectful even when they get ugly with you. As a musician you represent a larger group than just yourself and you should hold yourself to a certain standard for your band and for the larger community of musicians, too.