How to Promote Your Shows
**Guest post written by Yannick Illunga of The Jazz Spotlight, as featured on The Jazz Spotlight.
"...it is time to promote your gigs. But wait, hold your horses. Close that Facebook window you have just opened!
You have to ask yourself this first: How am I going to promote my gigs? The answer is simple: be memorable!
By now, you probably know that social media posts and tweets that iniclude photos and videos are more engaging and are more likely to be shared by others. This is why, I suggest you create some virtual posters, flyers and video teasers that your fans will love and that promote your gigs.
When it comes to pictures, you can outsource the work to professional designers or create awesome design yourself. In Tools for Creating Amazing Visual Content I talked about free tools you can use to touch up your photos and craft killer designs without sweating (too much).
More info can be found in the article, but here’s a breakdown of some of the tools:
- Canva: easily craft designs and visual content optimized for various platforms
- PicMonkey: a free alternative to Photoshop, which lets you do pretty much anything you can think of with your pictures. Edit, apply filters, add text, all for free, no sign up required!
- Word Swag: add cool typography to your photos and create visual quotes people love
- Instagram: turn your pictures into visual masterpieces and share them on the most popular social media
Some of the things you can do to promote your upcoming shows through visual content are: craft special Facebook, Twitter and Google+ covers and profile pictures, create virtual flyers and posters, share images about the venues you will perform at.
Videos are another excellent type of content you can use to promote your shows. Videos that build momentum and anticipation work very well.
In terms of platforms, you definitely want to upload and promote your videos on YouTube – which is the #1 engine search when it comes to music (and the #2 overall) – and Vimeo.
Contests and giveaways are other ways to build engagement and promote your upcoming concerts. Get creative and come up with ideas that will build momentum and turn your fans into your “ground crew”. In Must-Have Online Tools for Independent Musicians, Andrew Hall talked about how powerful it is to have your fans do promotion for you. On that podcast episode, Andrew and I also mentioned additional tools you can use to showcase your gigs to your fans: Songkick, Bandsintown and JamBase.
When it comes to promoting your gigs, you can create Facebook events (take a look at this post for some great tips on how to use them to get more people to your shows) but don’t ignore your website. After all, it is your online headquarter, right?
Make sure to have your upcoming dates visible somewhere on your homepage and reach out to your email list subscribers. My advice here is to send out a broadcast (perhaps featuring a cool virtual flyer you have created) to all of your subscribers – because people travel and you never know where your fans may be traveling to – and an email that targets fans living close to where you are going to perform.
Promoting yourself online is fine, but you don’t want to limit yourself to that. In a recent interview, indie musician and music biz writer Ari Herstand mentioned a great, “old school”, promotion tactic many musicians aren’t using: putting up posters and handying out flyers.
Network and Get Press Coverage
In Touring the World, saxophonist Ezra Brown discussed the importance of connecting with local musicians and fans, when performing around the world.
The easiest way do this is probably through Twitter. Start following the venues you are going to perform at and bands that will perform around the same period. Look for fans who interact with the venue and interact with those that seem interested in the music genre you play.
And don’t forget about those who are already following you! Browse through your Facebook and Twitter followers, check out the geographic locations of your email list subscribers and look for them on social media. Connect. Be genuine, don’t be spammy.
Don’t let your communication be about you, let it be about them first. Mention the venue in a tweet, share a cool picture or video of it on social media. Send out #ThrowbackThursday and #FollowFriday tweets and mention them in those.
I am going to repeat myself: don’t let your communication be about you, let it be about THEM first. If you do this the smart way, those people will engage with you and will definitely help spreading your messages and buzz about your upcoming gigs. This is something that can help you stand out from the crowd, especially from the music venues’ point of view. Promoters will remember your help in promoting the club and are going to welcome you with open arms the next time you are back in town and are looking for a gig.
You can also create ad hoc hashtags for your gigs and use them on Twitter, Instagram and all the other social media you are using. Indie rock group The National is a great example of a band that comes up with its own #hashtags pretty much for each show: @The_National
Once you have started connecting with locals, it is time to start thinking about press coverage.
If you are an independent musician, you will have to take care of your PR yourself. Ari Herstand and I talked about the topic in How to Write a Press Release and Get Press, so you may want to check that out. But simply put, you want the press release you will send out to have this structure:
- 1st paragraph: the facts. The who, what, where, when and why
- 2nd paragraph: background & accolades. Here is where you write 2-3 sentences about the band’s background and achievements (e.g. important venues you have performed at or big names you have played with)
- 3rd paragraph: info about the event. Self-explanatory, isn’t it?
- Final paragragh: last sentences. This is your final effort to showcase to the reviewer why she should cover your event or band and to the reader why he should come out to your show
A good piece of advice is to actually do a little research before you get in touch with newspapers and other media to promote your shows. This way, you know if they are the right publications for you, what their style is and so forth. My advice here is not to go only after for the big outlets, but also for smaller local newspapers, magazines and blogs.
Maybe now you are asking yourself “When is the right time to send out my press release?” On the podcast, Ari Herstand recommended to send your press release at least a few weeks or even a month before your gig. Keep in mind that most newspapers, magazines and sites plan their content days in advance, so sending your press release a couple of days before your show may be too late for their publising schedule.
Obviously, everyone is different and that are other things you can do to promote your gigs. Hopefully, though, this post has given you some ideas on what to think about when you get gigs and how to promote your shows.
Do you have other suggestions? Leave your comments below."
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