How To Promote Gigs

In the last episode of Pro Tips we talked about how to put together a music event, from booking bands and talking to the venue, to dividing income on the night. This month we're sticking with a similar topic and talking about how to promote the event, and actually get people to show up on the night.

Physical Promotion

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This is the info you’ll need on a flyer: date, location of venue, time of doors and or when the first act is on, price, age rating, band names, some way to get more info. If you’re getting a batch printed the website or Printers will often have a design template to download and use - always use a template!Be sure to drop some flyers at the venue, posters too if you can get them.

Pubs are usually cool about taking flyers, especially if they don’t run music events themselves. Many shops, newsagents and fast food places will take a small pile too or put a poster in their window.

Social Media Promotion

  • Facebook events - ask bands and venues to invite their fans to the event and make some noise about it with their own posts - don’t stand for any of that “you’re the promoter, we’re not doing your job” crap because they have the most direct access to their fans, it’s insane for them not to use that to pull people into your event

  • Announce bands one at a time in the Facebook event page and over Twitter

  • Create or re-purpose memes.

  • Post pics and videos of the bands

 How To Promote Gigs

How To Promote Gigs

You need to get your bands to help promote the event. As we’ve said in other videos, the bands will have the most direct access to their own fans so, whilst it’s not technically their job to do anything, it’s kinda uncool if they don’t make any Facebook posts or Tweet about the event. Some promoters I know would make it a condition that a band had to do X amount of social media posts in order to get whatever money they’re expecting - now, very rarely would this become a problem, because it’s so straightforward but it did act as a firm reminder. Maybe one notch up from “gentle reminder”. Some bands would get annoyed that this was conditional, but most seemed to understand it was necessary.

Word of Mouth Promo

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Never underestimate the humble mailing list. Whether you’re a promoter, a band, a solo artist or in any other creative industry, a mailing list gives you the best access to your audience. Always have a sign-up sheet on the doors of your gigs so people can find out when your next gigs come up.

What other stuff can you do to get people into your gig. Fancy dress - punters get money off the entry price if they turn up dressed like a dinosaur. Easy. Especially if it’s halloween or some kind of celebration gig. You could do the same with Students- just be sure that it’s made very clear on any promotional materials.

How To Manage Gigs

This episode of Pro Tips talks about how to manage gigs - from choosing bands and getting in contact, to booking a venue, and working out how much money you need to bring in to keep everyone happy.

Firstly, Find Yourself A Venue

If you don’t have one in mind maybe use Google to see what’s available in your local area. Ideally you’re looking for somewhere with their own PA system, with an in-house technician, and is reasonably well known for hosting music events. Once you’ve found a venue, check their website for an events calendar or call them up or talk to them in person for their availability. Be sure you give yourself a good few months to prepare, especially if it’s your first event.

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Lastly, ask if the venue is 18+ and whether it’s your responsibility to police that, (FYI, it should never be your responsibility but you can help the bar out in the way you advertise the event - we’ll get onto that when we talk about event promotion in the next episode). Well done, you have a venue booked, now you something to put on that stage.

Recruit Bands

Get in touch with the band, usually by email if you don’t know the band in person. If you can’t find their email you could always ask them informally over social media. Something like “we have an event booked this August in Leicester - would you be interested in playing it? If so can I have your email address?” From there you can talk and work out what kind of payment they would want - it could be a flat fee, it could be percentage of all door takings or a percentage of profits. If you’re lucky, they might just want you to cover petrol or travel expenses.

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Now you want to find bands to support them, which is essentially the same process as the headliner, only the bands will be incrementally less popular or from further away. They would, ideally, play a similar style of music to your headliner. Your opening act should always be local - acoustic versions of rock bands won't usually work by the way unless it’s an acoustic rock night. It’s cheap and easy and very cringy.

Other Considerations

  • Timetable the event - which band is on at what time? Make sure to account for the venue’s closing time, the set lengths of each band, and any equipment moving that needs to happen between sets.

  • Work out the entry price. The smartest way to do this is by working out your outgoings - how much does the venue or sound tech need? How much are you spending on flyers, posters and any digital promotion? How much do bands need? And what’s the least amount of money you’d like - realistically though. Add that all up, that’s your target. What we used to do was take the venue capacity, and half it. Let’s say the capacity is 150 people, so we’re going to aim for 75 people. Again hypothetically, let’s say you need to make £300 - divide that by the 75 people you hope will attend, and the ticket price is £4. I would suggest that, while promoting events on the indie level, if you’re charging more than £10 you’re probably doing something wrong - usually, it’s that you’re expecting too much money for yourself as the promoter.

  • You might need to find someone to act as a doorman for the event itself. Their job is simple - they sit there and take money from people as they enter. Maybe they put a mark on a person’s hand so you know they’ve paid. That person will probably want money as it is a boring job. You can do it yourself, but you might want to be available to walk around the venue and make sure things are going well.

In the next episode of Pro Tips we'll be looking at how to promote live music events, and actually get people to show up on the night.

The Top 5 Lies Your Band Believes

LIE #1 - "People don’t want to see our band because the huge bands are still touring"

Many unsigned artists believe that because the big names continue to tour, (Rolling Stones, Metallica, etc), it takes the attention of their potential fans. If those bands we’re to just stop, their fans who could save like 90% of their night-out funds by seeing you guys down the pub instead of whatever Axl is calling Guns N Roses over at Wembley. There is a logic there, it’s not stupid at all.

First off, for a lot of these bands touring is their only source of income - you don’t tour, you don’t eat. Especially with The Rolling Stones, whose material is written by only 1 or 2 core members, the other guys are just sorta there. Their record label might keep them fed and warm during studio sessions, but the rest of the time they might not have the income to actually live. That’s why you need to be a songwriter, regardless of whether or not you perform those songs - that’s where the long-term money is. Second, it was probably one of these bands that got you into making music in the first place. Maybe it was the obscure proggie bands you found later on that made it interesting for you, but the first thought of "HELL YEAH, GUITAR" probably came from someone as big as Iron Maiden. So yeah, you basically owe them. The upshot is you just need to work harder to give people a better experience than one of the bigger bands. But really, the reason this is wrong is that it’s a different experience. Seeing your band play a small venue or pub isn’t the same as seeing a super well known band at a stadium. Yes, it is music, but they are different experiences. What you need to do is make it clear that that’s an experience potential fans will enjoy.

 lies your band believes

lies your band believes

Supply and demand: If people want to watch Metallica and they can afford Metallica, they're gonna get Metallica. Ultimately it's down to the fans, so either make your gigs worth their while, or shuttup. You could even try to target potential fans who enjoy similar bands to you, but can’t afford to see them live, in your marketing, (that’s called a demographic). Or, become a cover band - as much as I hate it, people will see a reasonable cover band. Unless you’re trying to directly rival Metallica, but then you need to work super hard for a long time. Like Megadeth - HI DAVE! Also the big names won't live forever, so y'know... Waiting game… People might just not be at the gig because you’re not promoting it well, which leads me to Lie #2.

LIE #2 - "It's the gig promoter's job to promote!"

Some bands will tell you that they shouldn't have to promote the gig at all, because their job is to PLAY music. That's the promoter's whole job!

Mate, well observed.

But, if you were to call a promoter by what they really do, the job title would read more like "promote the gig-book the bands-stage manage your dumb asses because you overran your set-flyer designer-and-distributer-provider of tuners because guitarists are idiots-and spammer of online adverts". Promotion is only a portion of the role. But you're right, what's the point in doing all that if there won't be anyone at the gig?

Think about it - who has the most direct access to your fans? Is it you guys, with the Twitter account and the Facebook page and, (if you know what you’re doing), a healthy supply of your fan’s phone numbers, or is it someone who isn't in your band? It's probably you guys in the band, isn't it? You should not have to do all the work, fine. But the amount of effort it takes to do a couple posts on Facebook, or text a few friends to save the date, it's not hard. So why not just do it. I've always felt the promoters job should be to pull in people who haven't heard of your band, but have been promised a rockin-good-time, so that's a cool division of labour, right? Obviously, if you know a promoter won't pay you, or show gratitude, or get in any punters themselves, then maybe you don't work with them. The first few years of your performing career should be spent working out what local promoters are worth your time, and getting to grips with stagecraft which, unfortunately, means playing to empty rooms.

LIE #3 -  "If we're on every social media platform it increases our chances of being noticed!"

Simple logic - if you have a wider online presence it increases your chances of being stumbled-upon by someone really important, or by potential fans. Yeah, fair enough.

Are you honestly going to keep all your pages up to date? No, I guarantee one or most will fall behind and quickly become out-dated and offer visitors incorrect information or embarrassing graphics. Also, it’ll be fun to see how many of those sites are defunct in a year’s time.

 Too much social media can be a bad thing! lies your band believes

Too much social media can be a bad thing! lies your band believes

Some of these sites do the same thing. So, it’s fair enough to have somewhere for your music to live: SoundCloud OR BandCamp OR ReverbNation. On top of that, maybe a couple of the others - Twitter and a Facebook Page, done. You can have your own personal Instagram or, heaven forfend, Bebo as well where you post about your band, as well as pictures of your cats and lunch, but that’s not where you should direct people on your band’s promo gear. If you find you're not using a site much, delete it - it's better to have fewer well-used pages then it is to have loads of rarely-used and outdated ones.

LIE #4 - "I write the kind music I want to hear. Fans will buy it because it's genuine!"

It's normal to think that you should be doing something genuine that you enjoy doing, and that you will be respected for being true to yourself. 

You won't though.

If you wanna make music for you then do that - but you can’t expect anyone to care. I occasionally write for my own enjoyment, (that’s what “Ronnie Diz” is) - I do put it online because, purely by coincidence, there's a handful of people that seem to like it, but I never intend to do a big launch with it or perform it live because I've accepted that it's mainly for my own amusement. We've spoken about supply and demand already - people want what they want, and will seek it out when they feel like it.

If you're doing music with the intention of hitting the big time or gaining a shed-load of fans then you need to be supplying what they want to hear. Wanting to be famous without doing something worth people's attention is stupid and pointless.

LIE #5 - "That journalist hates us"

You played an awesome gig, you were awesome, man, everyone thought you were awesome, man. It was good. But some ARSE-HAT blogger has written a review that says otherwise.

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Maybe you do suck. Maybe you suck because you can't take constructive criticism. Any criticism is constructive, even if the published review is literally a .gif of someone vomiting because of their hatred of you and your music - that's a pretty big hint that you should rethink your band's core concept. If you're deluded enough to believe that you don't need to change to suit your fans or music professionals, (as per Lie #4), then you're not going to go very far. Unbiased feedback is way more important at an indie level than your best friends and family telling you what you want to hear.

Listen to the person who probably has more industry contacts individually than your band does between you. Even if it's scathing. Take it on board, adapt, and invite that writer back to review another show. Tell them you found their review helpful and you hope they find your slight change in direction more appealing. They will respect you, and I guarantee their second review will be better, even if it’s only because of that, and it will create a real stir that this person changed their mind about you.

Getting A Good Interview

How can your band find good interviews? What are some do's and don'ts for  during an interview? All this and more!Shout out to Graham Chapman for making himself look like a twat!


Finding interviews is a lot like finding gigs, once you replace a few key words. We have a video on that very subject which you can find that episode right here. We also suggested taking a look at our How To Contact Industry Professionals video, which is over here.

Smaller shows are more ACCOMMODATING

The bigger a show or blog the more likely it is that they have a strict format they cannot shift from. From our experience, the smaller blogs are often more accommodating, so will give you a much better experience and a much more useful end product.

collaborations are as important as interview

Not all show will play your music, or talk in-depth about your musical career. That sounds silly and pointless, but actually you can get a lot out of collaborations. Keep an open mind to being on non-music podcasts, for example. Here's some great examples of collaborations which promote films, music, or whatever else without talking exclusively about that.

  • First We Feast have a YouTube show where guests eat particularly spicy foods whilst talking about recent projects and answering trivia questions. James Franco and Bryan Cranston spoke about a recent film while Rhett & Link talked about their shows Good Mythical Morning and Buddy System.
  • Snoop Dogg cooking with Martha Stewart is the best. You can watch the video we used in this episode here, or the (as far as we know), original Snoop & Martha video over here.

Tips for Good Interviews

Here's advice for the interview itself.

  • Don't bring your drug dealer. Obviously.
  • Establish how many band members the interviewer wants you to bring, and make sure they can all talk.
  • Keep talking. Elaborate on your responses, and remember that the listeners probably aren't musicians so will likely find your responses entertaining or interesting.
  • Get copies of the interview questions in advance if possible. Most producers should be forthcoming.
  • Don't rigidly script your responses, keep things flexible to adjust to the specific phrasing of the question.
  • If you're asked to not swear on a show you need to oblige. They could just not publish your interview.
  • Try to look / sound healthy and upbeat! Unless looking ill is part of your band's identity.

How to get a good interviews

Working For Free


Lots of opinions, (OK, yeah, it's iterations of the same opinion. Shut up), on various aspects of giving away music or working for free.

 

How to Get Gigs

This  episode is all about how to get gigs: what do you need to get started, and how do you actually get yourself booked?


First off, here's a list of things to be sure you have before you even start searching for performance opportunities.

Songs

You need songs. Good songs, and several of them. You need to know them inside out, and be able to them play without being able to clearly hear your own instrument, or any of your bandmates, (Don’t worry, if that doesn’t make sense now it will when you start gigging)

A Set List

You need to be able to play those songs one after another with little to no gap between. Maybe have some different length setlists - for instance a 15 minute one, a half hour one, and a 45 minute one, just so you can fill a variety of slots. Also, once you’ve played a gig or two remember to swap out songs which your audience don’t seem to like with newer ones - it’s kinda more important to act on what an audience thinks than what you people in the band think.

how to get gigs

An E-Mail Address

One from which you actually respond to messages. Maybe you nominate someone in the band to do that - that could be their “band job” - i.e. the thing they do in the band which isn’t playing an instrument.

how to get gigs Video recordings

Basically proof that you can perform music, which you upload to YouTube Not a music video, (although that’s cool, it won’t help you get gigs), but videos of your band playing a song or several, all the way through will help promoters see what you can do, and what you’re likely to be like on stage. It can just be you guys playing in a garage, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Once you’ve played a few gigs see if you can get video of an actual live performance, then start sending out the most recent footage you have.

Stagecraft

Lastly, you need to be able to perform to an audience and look like a cohesive unit on stage. This is kinda hard to learn without playing gigs, but you can totally perform to your family or friends to get used to being watched.

how to get gigs

Now we can look at the actual steps involved with getting yourselves booked.

Research Venues

Step one: go to the internet; step two: use the internet. It’s easy, type where it is you live followed by the word “gigs” or “events”. Maybe try “pub gigs” as well. Some of these venues will have an in-house promoter in which case you can just drop the pub an email with a link to your performance video, and a little bit of info about your band.

Research Promoters

Research promoters. Again, use the internet. Some promoters will run different nights at different venues for different crowds so they’re possibly more likely to be able to help you than an in-house promoter. Even better, you could go to one of these local gigs from your research and at the end of the performances try and talk to the promoter When talking to a promoter don’t go into loads of detail about your band “we’re a metal band / we have our own drum kit and amps we don’t mind letting others use them” then you swap contact details.


Lastly, here's a few final considerations which may help.

Business cards

So when you talk to promoters, (or anyone else for that matter), you don’t have to go scribbling your email down on a scrap piece of paper. Even simple business cards will make you look twice as professional.

how to get gigs

A Facebook page

Promoters shouldn’t judge you by the number of likes you have, but some of them will. What’s important to promoters who are a little smarter is the number of interactions from fans, so try and propagate likes, shares and comments on whatever you post.

Confidence

You have to be pretty ballsy to talk to strangers, especially when you know nothing about each other and you want them to give you gigs, so it doesn’t hurt to send the most confident person in the band to talk to promoters - as long as confidence doesn’t turn into arrogance.

how to get gigs

Transport

If you’re able to move all your own gear around it makes it much easier on the promoter as they won’t have to find amps or cabinets or bits of drum kits for you to use. In fact, if you’re able to bring your own drums and amps and that you should consider letting the other bands performing with you use them - that will make you pretty popular.

how to get gigs

Interviews

This may be more helpful down the line, but any interviews, whether written, audio or video, can help a promoter get an idea of how professional you guys are. In fact, we have another video on exactly this - check out How To Get Gigs right here.

 

Prepare for you Music Video [ft. Tom Anderson]

Today we're looking at music videos -not just how to make one, but how to do it well, some of the common pit-falls and how to avoid them. We've enlisted the help of our friend, Tom Anderson who has worked in various aspects of the film industry for some years, but has a particular penchant for music videos. You can browse his website at your leisure, and view his full interview at the bottom of this article.


Finish the track before you start making the video

Yeah, obviously. Don't go adding an extra verse after shooting the video, as your filmmaker probably won't have enough footage to make it work, especially  if you're going for a narrative style video. At the very least it needs to be finished structurally and well recorded, providing your the final mix or master doesn’t alter the overall feel of a track, (which it shouldn’t, to be fair).

Hire a professional to make your video

As much as you like making music, that’s how much a filmmaker loves making films. Imagine how good the end result could be if everyone involved was super passionate. You probably could get away with making an OK video between yourselves in the band, but if you really want something great, you’re gonna have to hire someone.

Pricing

Work out your budget and go from there. The first thing price could affect is what gear the filmmaker brings into the shoot - less money might mean that they don’t want to use a great camera because of the inherent risk involved with leaving the house with a camera. This could also effect how many additional staff the filmmaker brings in.

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Hire a Producer

A producer will handle all the logistical elements involved with a shoot, of which there is loads: timetabling, location booking, weather. It's possible that the filmmaker will have someone on his team to handle this, (as per our above point), or maybe they want to do it themselves but you definitely want to have someone in this role.

Get more footage than you need

This applies more to the filmmaker, whether that’s someone in the band or someone external. Always get far more footage than you think you’ll need. Often the pacing of the song will seem different in, hopefully, calm and quite editing process compared to the day of shooting which will be crazy, hectic and exhausting. To compensate for that you need to make sure you have way more footage that you need, just in case you don’t have enough. It’s always better to be over-prepared than caught short.

music videos


 


REFERENCES & FURTHER READING

Budget For Promotion [ft. John Wheeler of Hayseed Dixie]

In this episode Liam talks about how best to budget for promoting your album or E.P., with a little help from John Wheeler - front-man for rock n' roll parody band, Hayseed Dixie. These guys coined the term "Rockgrass" to describe the way in which they perform classic tunes, and Si managed to talk with John for a while about his experiences in the music industry. Scroll down to find the interview in full.


Budget

85-90% of your budget should go on promotion. "Build it and they will come" is a dumb idea, people have to know your *thing* exists, otherwise how do they know they want it? Create your record as cheap as you can, without compromising what you want to achieve musically. Remember, a good song is a good song with or without huge production value. At least by keeping it simple people won't be able to accuse you of "hiding behind the mix"

Hire A Publicist

You may have your own list of contacts for reviews and press, but imagine combining that list with someone else's? Specifically, someone who has based their career on making these contacts, and probably knows that side of the industry way better than you. Hire a publicist.

Tour

Go on tour. Take your *thing* out into the world and see how it fares when the venue isn't full of your friends and well-wishers. Self-improvement aside, it's a great opportunity to spread the word about what you do. As with the above point, you should hire someone to arrange these tours for you, or to at least assist. This allows you to focus on the thing you really want to do - y'know, make music?

Record Labels

All they really do is sub-contract people to do the various jobs involved with promotion and tour management. Yes, they may have better contacts than you, but they will probably take a huge cut of the profits. That’s the big labels anyway, we can’t really talk about independent labels because they all vary so hugely in what they do and what they’re capable of.

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Photographers

Get one who’s actually a photographer. Y’know, someone who owns a camera and lighting and stuff. This is a real easy way for promoters to tell whether or not to send gigs your way. Some bands will use live photos, but this only works if you have reasonable stagecraft as a band.

Band Biographies & Press Releases

Put effort into your band bio and press releases, because most publications are just going to use that word-for-word. Also, for people like us who have to crawl through press releases to get to the kettle, please make them fun. Please! 


Thanks again to John for his time and the honesty with which he expressed his experiences. The full interview is available below, and contains info on how to tour without exhausting yourself, leadership and roles within a band, and how not to cack your pants on stage, (no, really).


REFERENCES & FURTHER READING

 

The Importance Of Remixes [ft. Yvette Chivers of the B-Side Project]

In this episode Liam talks about the importance of remixes, what they can do for your band, and what makes a good one.Featuring expert witness Yvette Chivers, DJ and founder of the B-Side Project.


Sharing Fan-base

As Yvette said, if you get remixed, you will get a wider fan-base. It doesn't really matter if you like the style of the remix, or indeed the individual track - the fact is, it will have the potential to bring you new fans. Also, consider this: the more different a remix is from the original song, the wider the scope of people it might attract. Music listeners aren't one-dimensional, they can like opposing music styles.

Stay True To The Original Track

On the flip side of that, it is fair enough for a band to make sure they're being represented in the best way. Producers need to be respectful of the original track, and make sure they're doing it justice.

Touring

Now, just like bands, to really make money and be a success you pretty much have to tour and perform tracks you've created. Luckily, performance hardware is easily accessible and super-easy to learn, so anyone can take their show on the road - you really have no excuse!

It's the same deal for DJs as with bands - you might not be able to perform many gigs at first, (unless you count weddings and functions where they won't want you to play original stuff), but you can definitely play at a friend's party, right?

Do It For The Love

bad-djIf you're trying to create something, (anything in fact), you have to stay true to that - if you don't love doing it, people are going to notice, and they're not going to care. There is some compromise between expressing yourself and trying to appeal to people and make a living - but that's just a balance you'll have to get used to over time.

Tell A New Story

The last thing Yvette said there was interesting to me - depending on the instruments and effects used, or the way you mix a track, you can tell a create an entirely new track. So when working on a remix, why not try to tell a different story to the original piece? Rather than just a more energetic track, you could transform it entirely - that's a real challenge there.


Thanks again to Yvette for donating her time to talk to us. Remember to get more information on the B-Side Project from their website, and check out the full interview below.


References & Further Reading

 

How To Quit Your Band

We're baaaaack!

The first episode in this new series looks at ways to quit your band. Liam's 6 tips are as follows...

1. The Ultimatum

An ultimatum is a simple "If this, then this" situation. Make it clear that you want to leave and your reason for that. If they're willing to fix the issue then it's probably worth staying.

2. Timescale

An absolute necessity if you're gigging a lot or recording tracks. Say that you'll stay for  a couple months, but after that you're gone.

Quit your Band

3. Find a Potential Replacement

Offer the band a replacement who is at least as good as you, if not better. Don't offer this individual the job, but certainly make sure they're up for it if asked.

4. Be Transpaent

Don't lie about why you're leaving. If the band try to fix your issue you'll have to come clean about the real reason for leaving. Que awkwardness...

5. Be Firm, but Avoid an Argument

Shouting matches aren't rock n' roll - they could actually screw your potential future endeavours. The goal here is to minimize the amount of crap your ex-bandmates might say after you leave, but it's also important to be firm and clear so what you're saying isn't misunderstood.

6. Be Sure

Don't come crawling back 20 seconds after you quit. Because durh, obviously.

 

Those are our tips for quitting your band - we hope your next bailing is a joyful one.

(R.I.P. the Liam Taylor Musical Endeavour)

 

Acting Like A Professional vs Actually Being A Professional

Liam complains about discusses the lack of understanding surrounding the word “professional”, a personal bugbear of his. What does it actually mean, and what does it mean to get it wrong?

Music by The Centimes: https://www.fb.com/TheCentimes We also recorded an interview with The Centimes a while back, which you can enjoy right here.