Chances are good that you will be wearing several ‘hats’ as you attempt to establish your new band on the scene. Sure, you make great music and that’s the most important thing. But you are also the only one who is promoting your music—so you act as a marketer, PR rep, advertiser, web guru, and business manager—sometimes all in the same day! And of course, you probably have a whole existence outside the band, too. Family, friends, a day job—you know— a life.
You don’t have to bring your whole life to a standstill just to be in a band. Your music is a part of who you are—so take it with you everywhere you go. Here are some ways that you can promote your band while going about your daily business.
1. Cards and flyers
Get stacks of business cards and flyers and keep them in your car and on your person. You never know when you will come across a bulletin board or strike up a conversation with someone who you just know would love your music. A card or flyer gives you an edge because it allows you to leave something behind. Long after your conversation is over, they’ll have it in their hand to remind them to come to your show or visit your website.
2. Wear your own merchandise
Get cool t-shirts and hats made to sell—and then wear them around. It’s hard to miss a walking billboard and if the design is nice enough, you’ll have people asking you what it means and where you got it. You can also put your band’s name and website on the shirt. People you don’t even make personal contact with will see you and have the chance to check your music out online. Just make sure you don’t do anything mean and nasty while wearing your band t-shirt, or this idea could drastically backfire.
3. Talk to Strangers
Some people are naturally more outgoing than others. Even if you’re not the talk show host type, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before. If you see someone browsing music in a store, ask if they’ve heard music by a band with a similar sound to yours; or just come right out and ask if they’ve heard of your band and give them a card. Talk to people waiting in line at the store or coffee shop; or just hanging out on a smoke break. You don’t have to be a salesman—but getting your name out there is most effective when it is done face-to-face in a conversational manner.
4. Ask for Help
Ask your friends and family and most loyal fans to help you. Anyone with half a brain knows that making it in the music business is hard. These people care about you and want to see you succeed—so asking them nicely to spread the word or let people know about your shows and your new music is just smart. They’ll go the extra mile to tell other people about you—just because they care. Make sure they have cards and flyers or a shirt to wear—and remember to say thank you.
5. Your Email Signature
Depending on what you do for a living, you could send upwards of 200-500 emails a week—or more! A simple line in your email signature that points people to your band website is one of the easiest ways to get your name out there hundreds of times on a daily basis. Your personal email could even have part of some song lyrics in it or a flat-out announcement about an upcoming show. Just be sure that if you are working for an employer, you keep their email policies in mind before putting anything in your signature. Find out what is allowed, and then do it!
6. Volunteer in the Name of Your Band
You probably volunteer anyway, so why not do it in the name of your band for a little extra recognition? Even if it is working at the food bank for an hour a week—you can announce your efforts on your band’s website and let people know that your band is giving back to the community. You could even organize a regular volunteer effort with your fans or friends and get a big group to go to your favorite charity weekly, monthly, or annually to support their event.
7. Comment on Other People’s Blogs
Blogs aren’t just for moms and angry political pundits anymore! There are millions of blogs on different subjects—including music. Make a list of 20-50 good music-related blogs and read them regularly. Then leave comments for the bloggers along with the link to your band’s website. This is a great way to build relationships online and you’ll generate all kinds of traffic to your site. Plus, you’ll have a chance to read up on the music scene and stay informed on something you love anyway.
8. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Besides being a great source of income, your day job puts you in contact with all kinds of people—many of whom are NOT in the music business. Why is that important? Perspective! When you’re talking to musicians all day, you don’t get to hear what brings everyone else to shows. Chatting up a guy in accounting or IT is a great way to get an overall idea of what appeals to people musically and in every other way. You’re reaching a group of people who may be totally removed from “the scene” but who might still really like your music, buy your album and come to your show.
9. Always be Prepared for a Great Idea
Different things work for different people. A small digital recorder. A journal or notebook. A day planner. Whatever it is, make sure you have it ready any time you need to jot down a brilliant idea, amazing lyrics, or the contact information of someone you meet. Don’t rely on your memory. Keep your ideas logged and refer back to them. Even if it isn’t something you are going to use right now, it may be something you can pursue in the future…which is even more of a reason to have it written down.
10. Have a Routine
It doesn’t have to be a boring routine, but the key to real success in marketing and promotions is consistency. Have certain days that you read and comment on blogs, update your website, and respond to emails. Plan for specific nights to go out and hear other bands play. Try to spend a couple of hours each week on certain tasks that will give you a regular presence online and off. Try visiting your favorite coffee shop every week at the same time and ask if you can leave a stack of flyers there. They may be more inclined to let you if you’re one of the ‘regulars’.