Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to Promote Your Band on a ZERO Budget - Gain Fans and Friends

I've had people writing me and asking about what they can do to help promote their band.  Now, I'm no expert, but I have put countless hours into research and found a number of things that have helped MY band and for ZERO dollars.  That's right.  So, here is the first of a series on how to promote your band, gain fans and friends, and become better known without spending very much money at all.  All you'll have to do is take the time, in most cases, to do your job well.

Keep in mind--the overall goal here is to get people interested in your music, but also YOU.  People want to know you, they want to understand you, they want to feel close to you.  Music is about passion, and most of us play music to share our passion with others.  Be real, make friends, wear your heart on your sleeve every now and again.  Being jaded is SO last year. 

You, too, can be a gunslinging panda of promotion.  It's not magic, it's work!

First things first--Create a Facebook fan page.  How can people like your band if they can't even confirm you exist?  Once created, put up the BEST photos you can that present the image you want people to see.  Put up the best set of information and details you can.  Assume everyone coming to the page has no idea who you are, what you're about, or what kind of music you make. Give them something to like. What is so unique about you? What makes you interesting? Why should people care? If you get them to care, you've got them--people who are as passionate about your music as you are and who can share the love (or anger or humor) that you're putting out into the world.

***Watch your spelling and grammar, always, or I'll send tiny angry pixies to put your guitars and drums out of tune. Do not doubt me!***

MUSIC.  You're in a band, right?  People want to hear you! There are a lot of decent home recording programs out there--that is how we have recorded our stuff. It can be time consuming to get it done, but in the end our CDs will have cost us about $1 each, which is excellent. PLUS, we have music online for people to listen to.  If you're in a band, people want to hear your music.  End of the story.  If a band doesn't have songs up, it's hard for someone to convince themselves that they should spend money or time to go see said band, especially if they don't have many fans or much activity on the page.

***Generally speaking, MOST people will think like this:  "If no one else cares, why should I?"  Make it look like the whole world cares, and the whole world will start to.  (You'd better be able to back it up with quality, though.)***

ReverbNation has ENDLESS ways to help you.  Click it and check out how WE are using it.

ReverbNation Profile--take the time, go through it, and put as much information as possible into it.  Take the time to make it interesting and relevant. Make sure everything is spelled well, grammatically correct, etc.  Put up songs, put up videos, find a way to get yourself some press so that you can put that information on your profile.  ReverbNation is a great way to connect with other artists as well as fans and venues.

***Make the most out of EVERY tool you have to use, and take pride in what you are doing!***

Videos are great to have--people love to just watch stuff. Anyone have a video camera? Even a bit of an acoustic jam would be great for people to be able to watch and it gives Facebook fans something to "share" that will help get you more fans.  It lets people into your world, to wander about for awhile.  If you think about why you enjoy reading a book or watching a movie, you'll understand. It's an escape.  Give people an escape.  Even if it's three minutes.

"Three minutes in heaven is better than one minute in heaven." -Flight of the Concords.  True, true story.

Get everyone talking on your page. The more interaction you get with people, the more MORE people will want to join in. Get every band member to invite all of his friends to like the band. Do this weekly. It's time consuming, but completely worth it.  Much easier if you download something like the "select all" bot for Firefox--it'll select your friends for you.  If you have 500 friends but your band page has 60 likes, you aren't doing it right. Make jokes, post photos, start conversations, ALWAYS REPLY to things posted on your page.  Someone took the time to do that.  Enjoy and get to know the people who are taking the time to enjoy and get to know you!

Work with other local artists!  Check out Greg Waldrop of DMI Photography for some sweet photos!

Help promote other bands, artists, and events.  Stop thinking of them as competition.  They aren't.  YOU are your worst competition.  Here's a secret: every time you make a post linking to another band/person/venue/event/etc, anyone who is friends with or "likes" those things, has a chance to see your post.  Let's say you're playing a show with Metallica.  You include a link to their profile in your status.  Now ALL of those Metallica fans have a chance to see you talking about it, to go to your page and give your music a listen.  Every time you introduce your fans to someone else, you're also introducing yourself to a whole new audience.  You NEED new audiences.  Another reason to help other bands and artists?  If they find you friendly and worthy, they'll return the favor, and a new contact/network has been created.  You NEED other bands if you want to play shows.  And bands that are more popular and well-known than you are are great to learn from.

Gabe Wilkinson, of Microwaved, says "Remember names, remember faces and shake hands. Have fun with people when you meet them at shows. I know a lot of us musicians are the shy type when we are off stage. It's a part of our insides for some reason. We can't turn it on when we aren't on stage, but push yourself to turn it on. Making friendships beyond the internet is important, too."

Is this what you're doing?  Is this what your fans are doing?
Again, YOU have to give the random person on the web enough information to make them care enough to want to spend their hard earned money on going to see what it is that you do.  That's pretty outstanding and can be pretty difficult to do.  In words similar to what David Lowry of the Lowry Agency used, if you don't have time to promote your band properly, than you may not have time to be in a band.  If you want more people to know about you, stop watching television and spend your time working on what you love.

That's the only way I think you'll get OTHER people to turn off the television and come to see your shows.

Thanks for reading!  Keep checking back--we'll have more of these.  Next time we'll be talking with some of those fancy journalist fellas.  I hear that if you treat them nice, they can help promote your band and shows.  We'll find out if that's true or not, and the best ways to go about it.

So.  When are you playing next, boys and girls?  Tell us about your show, and what you're doing to promote it.



Jen Allen said...

I'm in a band called Hath No Fury. You can find us on Facebook and YouTube, as well as Twitter. @HathNoFuryBand. We have shows coming up March 3rd at the Fremont with No Good Deed and March 23rd at the House of Bricks with Madam Jules and Black Storm Alice. We do our marketing in a number of ways, as neatly outlined in the blog above.

I have to say, that WAS a helluva blog, right? Yeah. I like that writer. She's nifty. ;)

See? It's easy, guys!

Ryan Keller said...

*Shameless band plug* My band is called FreakLabel, out of Cedar Rapids IA. Were playing in CR the 2nd, and in Des Moines with Warbringer on the 19th of March. Our Drummer looks like he's 12, come check out our facebook page and post comments that further lower his self esteem, then come to a show and throw stuff at him. I would much appreciate it. Great article!

chuck said...

All right, Fetal Pig plays at Vaudeville Mews tonight with The Autumn Project, after the Metal Up Your Tap show which maybe hopefully I can also manage to get to. Sunday night we've got an experimental/noise show featuring Ben Bennett, Office Park, and my solo incarnation Distant Trains probably doing a no-input mixer feedback set.

Anonymous said...

I ran out of bubble gum. So I recorded this, and 4 out of 1035 people think it sucks.

Jen Allen said...

Love ALL of it!

bbrv2.011 said...

Good read. Thanks.

John Thompson said...

Hey, What's Happening! He's my shameless, but loveable plug for my local band!!!! We are called SHATTER and you can find us on the interweb at the following places = SHATTER.CO - - ReverbNation/1shatter - or of course the Twitter, at Say hi, we're lonely!

We are playing at Hull Avenue Tavern in Des Moines for the first time March 16 and on St. Patty's Day we'll be in Bonaparte, IA. We share the stage with My Darkest Days, The Veer Union and Fatal Addiction on April 3rd. We head to Milwaukee to open up for Shinedown April 13th. Then, we have Stand Up Comic, Ben Herman opening for us April 28th at The Thirsty Sportsman. Come on by and buy everyone a drink, it makes the evenings run so much smoother!!!!!

Sushi and Cigars said...

BLACK STORM ALICE will play THE HULL AVE TAVERN on MAY 5, 2012 at 9:30pm.

Like that, Jen?

Seb said...

For UK bands:

Folk Records said...

great article!
here's another quick read : )

Anonymous said...

Good one.