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How do you successfully promote a band?


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I would be interested to know what strategies you guys have used to promote your bands to the public and build an audience. Facebook seems useless unless you already have a following, posters don't get seen if you can't post them anywhere, and merch costs money. What do you guys do?

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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We use Facebook and Twitter. We have posters. Coors Light provides us with our posters and other Merch.

 

An athletic clothing company which is another sponser provides us with some free T-Shirts we give away at shows. The shirts are limited and not as nice as the ones we sell and the freebies have the shirt company's logo on the back.

 

Venues and Coors distributorship provide with radio spots. All this MIGHT help some but it basically comes after you have already built an audience.

 

My bands are fairly expensive. If the better venues are going to go all in and hire more expensive entertainment they will spend more on their advertising budget because their risk is greater. To some degree a band is a prestige good. Mostly in the wedding and private party market. A more expensive band will often be thought of as better because they cost more. A Caddie is a better car than a Chevy even though it is the same car with different logos.

 

The Keyboard forum is talking about this topic right now starting with building the setlist and picking the setlist that the audience will like. I gave some thoughts about how in my mind this is a backwards way of thinking and how I prefer to think of building the audience you want through constructing the show.

 

My advanage is where I currently live the music community is relatively tight. The largest metro area I play a lot is about 150,000. It is the state capital and the largest market for a very wide area. The best venues know who the players are. For example when we put together the current band. The four guys who were the musical core all came from bands that were extremely successful. The two girls that front the band come from our target market and like to go clubbing. They have a lot of friends and their friends have friends and they are the age that does a lot of drinking.

 

My current band was super easy to book because club owners and bookers knew the musicians from past projects. People trying to break in to the scene don't like it and consider it a good ole boys network but it is what it is. People who follow local music know who the established players are. What makes it really easy is the established musicians are older guys and seem to dislike current new music and want to play the same stuff they were playing 20, 30, 40 years ago. Its a business. You need to play what 21-35 year olds like.

 

You need to realize that people listen with their eyes. Dress like you come to play. Don't dress like you come to mow the lawn. Exactly how you dress depends on the audience you want to build. How I dress for the Top 40 Country band is totally different that how I dress for this Pop band .... or how I am going to dress for my Motown project that is doing out of town private and corporate events. If you are spending money for 3rd party light show realize that dark clothing and gear suck light. Consider wear bright relectively clothing. I like to wear white pants and a white hat.

 

The Motown project is good money. The Pop band is a very busy band and we are very expensive as far as club bands go. But it is an arms race. The band pays out more in production cost than most bar bands make. It is fun but at the end of the night each player is clearing about $150 a night in a 7 piece. The Motown band is 9 pieces and we get $200+ each. But we don't have all the crazy light and sound costs. There is a lot of pressure with the Pop band. I've played some great music 4 piece combos providing our own PA for $400-500 a night for the band and if there is a slow night it isn't a huge deal as long as your good nights out number your slow night. But if you have a slow night in a band that uses the go big or go home strategy and you have a slow night the venue takes a bath you may not come back. This band has not had that happen yet but it will. We learn new songs constantly trying to keep it fresh but eventually we are going to cease being the 'new' thing.

 

If I were in a really large metro area I probably wouldn't have a clue what to do. The whole small pond vs huge sea thing.

 

My advice would be to pick songs your audience likes. It's okay to throw in some tunes that allow you to show off, but then you go back to songs your audience likes. And down here in Georgia, that's going to include Skynyrd!

 

This is a really common way of thinking. I prefer to think in terms of building the audience you want.

 

In my case I want 25-35 year old women. We got 2 female leads that are our market. We play what they like. Then we got ourselves a male rapper who is built like a Greek god. Then add over the top sound and light production. Create the audience you want. If it is large enough everyone will hire you if you pack the place.

 

My prior band the target was 25-35 year old women. That strategy was high energy top 40 Country. Good looking blonde male guitar player and a hot young female with a fantastic voice who could sell a great man hatin' tune like no ones business.

 

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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What do you guys do?

 

Talk to people. Non-stop. Don't be self-deprecating, don't be self-aggrandizing, just fun, friendly, and positive.

 

Sometimes I spend $2 or $3 advertising the band on Facebook. The ad is nominally for a specific gig, but in reality, I'm just trying to build brand awareness in my core demographic.

 

Same thing for posters. I sometimes blow $5 or $10 on posters for a gig. Big bucks! I use 80 lbs glossy paper, 11x17". Posters again are nominally for a specific gig, but my goal is to build brand awareness. At some point, once people have heard of you, it becomes easier to book gigs.

 

Wes

 

 

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Our local area was small about 150,000 in population, so word traveled fast. Most of our gigs were within a one hour drive. We would go into two adjacent counties, but we limited ourselves to 2 hours drive time each way. The best promotion was doing a good job getting everyone up dancing and having fun! We would get repeat bookings which would wind up in the local papers as the clubs advertised for us. We developed a following because the people would request the owners to hire that country rock band with the sax LOL! Playing at the County Fair and some large benefit venues always resulted in good advertising. We would make flyers and post them around town in strategic locations like the billboards at the post offices. We would send flyers to the outback venues to post in the bar or club that we would be playing at. We also played for various clubs like Grange Halls, Elks, Moose, etc, clubs that would advertise for larger audiences and had many members that would turn out to support their benefit fund raising drives.

 

Our band members and wives were all involved in self promotion but our advertised gigs is what got our name out there. From time to time there were scouts from other clubs, or people wanting us for a wedding, etc., that would come up and ask "how to we book you guys?" We would give them our business card and have them call so we could check our schedule. We would give a break on the price for new clubs as a tryout gig. It always resulted in repeat gigs at our regular prices. This was in the days of pre-computers. Now days there are probably all sorts of communications like email lists, Facebook, Twitter, texting lists, etc., where you can hit all of your followers by just pushing the send button and send them a very nice poster and invitation electronically. All of our promoting in the one band I'm thinking of, had to be done the old fashioned boot leather way... :cool:

Take care, Larryz
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What do you guys do?

 

Talk to people. Non-stop. Don't be self-deprecating, don't be self-aggrandizing, just fun, friendly, and positive.

 

 

 

I totally agree, especially on not being self-deprecating. About twenty years ago, I was on the board of directors for a well known non-profit organization. Back then, I did a lot of self-deprecating humor, assuming that everyone knew I was just joking. I assumed wrong. Some of my fellow board members really did think that people shot at me and filed paternity suits against me on a regular basis.

 

Keep your message positive and happy at all times. Never stop promoting yourself. Always invite anyone you talk with to come over and hear the band play at your next gig. Getting your name out is important.

 

One more thing to keep in mind. In the first year that the Rolling Stones were a band, they played 263 gigs according to their original bass player Bill Wyman. While that number is not realistic for most bands starting out today, the message is loud and clear. Get yourself out there as often as you possibly can, so you can build up a following. Social media is good, but if I own a venue that offers live entertainment, I want my place filled with warm bodies, not a handful of people streaming the show on their I phones.

I rock; therefore, I am.
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