In my last blog post I talked about the importance of going to live shows, mostly as a way for people to get to know who you are. If you don’t have any shows coming up, it’s just as important—maybe even more important—to attend other shows so your awareness doesn’t slip off the radar of your growing fan base. As you’ll experience once your band starts rolling and you have a couple years behind you, the band experience is full of peaks and valleys. I’ll share an experience that my band and I had, in the hopes that you don’t repeat the same mistake.
During our first few years, we played as many shows as we possibly could. The problem was, we were starting to burn out and we realized that we needed to work smarter. In addition, we hadn’t been able to work on new music because we were burning the candle at both ends by juggling our band and work lives. The mistake we made was that when we decided to write our next record, we decided to focus as much as possible on the writing process and put playing live shows on the back burner. Since we weren’t playing live shows, what use was it to waste energy on promoting a band who wasn’t playing out, right? WRONG!
After the record came out and we starting booking shows again, we starting hearing that people had thought we had broken up. We had completely vanished from their radar. Don’t make the same mistake. Even if your show schedule is bleak, or you’ve chosen not to play shows because you want to spend your energy writing, still go to shows. See and be seen. This will ensure you stay in the hearts and minds of your fans. It ensures your band stays fresh and relevant. Also, keep up the promotions. You don’t need to go out and paste flyers everywhere, but get on social networks and remain connected. Join conversations or start conversations. Your fans want to know what you’re up to.
When you have a show coming up, say within a few weeks or so, it would behoove you to visit that venue and start passing out handbills for your upcoming show. This will satisfy four very important criteria to make your upcoming show, and future shows at this venue, go well:
1. You’re passing out handbills, thereby increasing word-of-mouth and recognition about your show. You don’t need to be pushy. Simply tell people you have a show coming up and that it would be great if they could make it. Have a nutshell description of your band ready because chance are, if the person with whom you’re speaking hasn’t heard of your band, they’ll ask you what your band sounds like. Keep it simple.
2. You’re making one-to-one connections and meeting your future fans. Having a face-to-face interaction with people is so very important. If your fans like you or your band personally, or they feel a connection to you, they are more likely to follow you. They’ll want you to do well, and they’ll do what they can to support you.
3. The venue’s owners and/or booking managers and/or promoters will see you out there promoting for your show. In the club owner’s eye, not only are you promoting your show, you’re also promoting his business. The booking managers and promoters will see that you’re out there pounding the pavement.
4. Most bands are lazy. So when good, hard-working bands see that your band is in the trenches doing the dirty work, you’ve instantly escalated your stature as a band with whom they would consider working. If you have four bands on the bill for a show, and all four bands are promoting, it’s a beautiful thing. When one of the four bands is the weak link, it’s obvious. Don’t be that weak link. Instead, be the band that leads by example and pushes all the others to try harder. When it comes to promoting at shows, many venues will let you in for free if they know that you’re promoting a show at their club, so all the more reason to get out there and do it.
All bands, regardless of the level of success, are in danger of slipping off the radar screen. By promoting consistently and wisely, you are taking steps toward eliminating that risk and catapulting your band to the center of the radar screen.
If it seems like all my posts are about getting gigs, that’s by design. So far, I’ve posted 5 1/2 chapters of a book I’m writing titled How to Get Your Band out of The Garage. There are 16 chapters written so far, geared toward helping fledgling bands get their start. Chapters posted so far:
If you know someone who could use the advice, won’t you please share? Thanks and I welcome any feedback.