Yeah, hiring a big-wig PR person would be cool, but your band is probably eating PB&J for breakfast in the back of your van with barely enough money to make it to the next show. How do you promote your shows to get people through the door without taking on more debt or asking your parents for more money to help you make it home in time for Thanksgiving?
I know how tough it is for an indie band to find the funds to put up flyers around town, print promotional CDs, etc. That’s why I’ve come up with 5 marketing ideas that could either be copied, expanded upon, or used to inspire more creative juices to come up with some clever marketing tactics of your own. Not saying these ideas are anywhere near perfect, but if you’ve got the balls to give them a try, let us know how they go! The point is to get creative.
You’ve got the music and you’ve got the spirit, now it’s time to take things to the next level and hire a publicist to pitch your album to big review sites and the like. Unfortunately, many new bands don’t realize that sites like Pitchfork, SPIN, Consequence of Sound, etc. require knowing the right people behind the door to even be considered for a review. That’s where a publicist comes in. Publicists have built professional, working relationships with music bloggers, magazine editors, and TV music supervisors and will pitch your music on your behalf. Now, publicity isn’t cheap, but paying people who are in the know and who can get you press around your album to lift you to a national (or international) stage is well worth it in terms of what you’ll recoup from ticket sales, record sales, and other revenue down the road.
Let’s talk about wristbands (yipee!). This is an idea I’ve been toying with for a little while after seeing it posted by a few other music blogs around the web, but I haven’t actually put it into practice yet. Wristbands are required at the door of just about every show you’ll be playing, so why not see if you can distribute your own wristbands at the show to get some additional branding/exposure for your band both before and after you’re done playing.
You’ve probably seen venues with custom wristbands before (where I’m from they’ll print coupons for Domino’s pizza onto the wristbands), but have you ever considered asking the venue if you can use your own?
Building a local fan base is great way to have a “jumping off” point for your music. While you may have dreams of selling out Radio City, you have to start small sometimes to build up recognition on a regional level. Starting locally and then branching out to nearby cities will give you a solid touring structure to base your work from as you progress. It’s not the most “attractive” and “rock star” way of doing things, but starting with your local area to build a name for yourself is my personal recommendation for any band looking to make a sustainable career.