Do real “paper” flyers and hanging up posters outside of the venue you’re playing still work? What about just using social media to promote your shows, is that sufficient? Can you use one or the other, or do you need both?
I think this is an excellent question and one I am well versed in. During my time working at MegoGlobalMusic Company I became quite familiar with both street and internet marketing. I think both are important however how you go about using them is equally important. Let’s start with Street Marketing.
It sounds really simple, take flyers, posters, stickers, cd’s of your band and take them to the people. If you’re working with an unlimited budget street marketing can be quite easy, however I have never ever had a client give me a blank check and tell me to blanket the world. Almost always I am told, “You have a very limited budget and I need the world to know about this band/show/product.” I’ve gotten really good at getting the most exposure I can for virtually little money. When you have no budget you need to be creative, but we will talk more about that later.
Given the likelihood that you have a very limited amount of funds and time you need to get the biggest bang for your buck. You need to go where the people who like your band shop and hang out. Most times when I’m handed a similar project I have to spend weeks researching on where to find the best consumer base for my clients. Now hopefully since they are fans of your music, you have a good idea of where those places already are. If you don’t, ask them, talk to them after shows or send out an e-mail asking them to list the top 3 places they go to hang out or eat. Once you know the places they hang out at go to those stores and talk to the people who own or manage them and ask them if you can put your stuff there. It’s important to build a relationship with the people who work there for a few reasons. The biggest reason is you don’t want them to throw your stuff out as soon as you leave. Also they can talk up your band to their customers.
I ‘ve done a ton of street marketing starting at the age of 16 so I spent a lot of time (almost 14 years…fuck!) walking around to stores during the day. For the most part there is not really much going on during the day so I got to know a lot of store owners pretty well. What I found is that because I have built these relationships with these people, that when someone would ask about the flyers or posters I’d left they would talk up the event to them. They were doing my marketing for me, now this isn’t going to work everywhere but it’s a nice byproduct of good street marketing and relationship building.
If it’s your first time going out to try this kind of marketing my suggestion would be to start small. Focus only on the places you know that your crowd hangs out at. Sure a lot of people who like your music are already at these places but that’s ok. Just having your stuff there can pay off big time, all it takes is one fan of your music to be hanging out with their friends, see your flyers and from that a conversation can go from how much they like your music to a new group of people coming out to your next show.
Social Media Marketing
Marketing your show on the internet can be tricky. So many artists, particularly in the early days of Myspace, just mass added people thinking that it would lead to fame and fortune. We all know that this isn’t the case, even though a few labels lost their mind and thought it was a good idea to sign them anyway. (i.e. brokencyde) Mass adding 120,000 world wide has some merit. It can’t hurt to try a get your music in front of a ton of people. However when you’re playing locally it’s not going to help you at all. I can’t tell you how many times I was settling with a local band at the end of the night and I heard something pretty close to this:
“I don’t really know why only 8 people came out, we were all over Myspace and Facebook. We have like 50 billon fans between the two pages.”
Since the Social Media explosion happened a few years back I’ve seen a lot of artists, particularly on the local level, get really lazy. A lot of artists seem to be under the impression that just because they listed their show on Myspace and send out a few Facebook messages that they have done their job. It’s just not that simple. Much like street marketing you need to build relationships with your online fan base. Sending out 35 messages a day to someone’s inbox isn’t going to help that relationship, you’re spamming them. I personally like when bands get creative, make a web video or record a song, just doing something different that grabs people’s attention to your gig. People are way more inclined to send a funny or interesting video to their friends than yet another generic posting about your show. That alone can help bring more people to the door.
I think both street marketing and social media marketing are incredibly important to a band. Each one has the potential to reach people the other one can’t. So while you could just stick to one, I think you would be missing out on reaching a whole section of your potential audience. As we move forward I’ll go into how to effectively create and build a street team that can easily handle a lot of these tasks for you. I’d like to thank Erica for her question and if you have a question you’d like answered please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org