Posted: Sep 28, 2015
**Guest post written by Brad Barnett, professional musician and founder of Indie 411.
Most musicians have a general idea of how to promote their upcoming shows. Some are better than others, but most musicians have a couple of things they do to announce their new gigs. Even new performers are doing things like updating their social media to let fans know where they are playing next.
With so many musicians actively promoting their gigs, it comes as a surprise to me that most of them stop there. What I mean by that is they work hard to try and get people out to their event, then don’t do anything to promote or sell their brand once it’s show time.
If you think that playing a show is just a great way to get people to see you live and nothing else, then you are missing out on the bigger picture of things. The name of the game is to get as many people there to remember you as possible. Some of those people will turn into fans, and some of those fans will turn into paying customers. If the goal is to get as many people to know about you as possible, then there are a few things you should be doing at gigs to maximize your reach.
Having a mailing list should be a top priority for all independent musicians. Unfortunately, most artists don’t even have one to begin with. Those that do may promote their newsletter to fans online but rarely do anything offline to attract subscribers. A live event is a great place for you to get a large number of subscribers in a short period of time. Doing something as simple as bringing a pen paper to collect fans emails can dramatically increase your number of subscribers. For best results place the pen and paper at your merch table with a sign that says “enter your email to join our mailing list.”
If you want to get fancy, set up a QR code that directs people to an opt-in form. A QR code is that square code that people can scan on their phone. You should put your QR code on promotional flyers, business cards and even your merchandise!
When I say properly network, I don’t mean by just saying hi and chatting. That is something that most musicians already do. Getting to know everyone is great, and is something you should be doing, but you need to take it a step further. You should be striving to get as many people's contact information as possible. At the very least you should be trying to connect on social media or exchange email addresses. Knowing people in the industry that can help you out along the way is great, but only if you have a way to contact them to let them know what you need.
This is pretty simple and straightforward, but it is something that most artists neglect and it is hurting your sales. Quickly reminding the crowd that you have merch for sale or a mailing list they can sign up for between songs should be a must. It is a time when you have the whole crowds attention (if you are playing a good show that is). For best results, do this right after you finish a song that gets a lot of cheers. The more into the song they are, the more likely they are going to listen with open ears when you speak on the mic.
I shouldn't even have to say this, but I've seen it so many times that I can't let it go. Too many times I go to a show and the band puts their merch table in the very back corner of the venue where nobody goes. Some people spend hours at the venue and don't even realize the band has anything for sale. How can you expect to sell your merch when nobody knows you have anything for sale?
I get that some venues have limited space and sometimes you won't get to choose where you set up your merch. When that is the case and your merch is not in a high traffic area, you need to do what you can to get people over. This is one reason why selling your merch over the mic can be so effective.
I truly hope this post gave you some great ideas to help promote yourself at your next gig. Simply playing at a show is an excellent way to get your name out there, but there are a lot more opportunities to promote yourself at gigs if you know what you are doing.
Do you have a great way to promote your music at a show that wasn't listed in this post? Let me know in the comments section below!
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Brad Barnett is a professional musician that has been writing, recording and performing since 1998. He is also an expert online marketer that uses his skills to help indie musicians build a solid online presence. For more great tips on music promotion, visit his blog at http://www.indie411.com.