By guest blogger, Jesse Lacy from On The Savvy
Promotion is key because live events are a great way for creatives to build a following, interact with fans, and sell merch. However, preparing and promoting an event takes time and hours of hard work, no matter the size. As a touring musician and publicist, I organized and promoted hundreds of concerts in both small and large venues. The one thing that affected the success of these events more than anything else was how I promoted.
Often times, creatives struggle with marketing and promotion because they don't believe in their abilities or feel weird self-promoting. It may not be the glamorous side of the entertainment industry, but they’re crucial to achieve success as a creative. Don't stress or worry though. Like all things, you'll get better with time and practice. Hopefully this promotion guide will help you get started!
1. Spread Out Your Performances
As an up-and-coming performer, everyone says "perform as much as possible" and there's some truth in that. However, when you have a big performance coming up, you don't want to oversaturate your city with events that are too close together. To get more people to your events, a good rule of thumb is to limit performances in each city to once every 3-6 weeks. For regional performers, the rule is to hit each city 4 times a year – which is exactly how often RAW hosts showcases in each city.
2. Gather All Materials
It's always good to be prepared for quick turnarounds when press or fans have questions, so getting your promotion toolbox together is important. Here are things you'll want to have at your fingertips at a moment’s notice:
- Electronic Press Kit (check out On The Savvy’s cohesive article "Knock Their Socks Off With Your EPK")
- Overarching time-frame and schedule for promotion (reaching out 3-8 weeks in advance gives the press outlet time to plan, write, and publish).
- Promo CD's or download link to share.
- Multiple newsletters pre-written and ready to send.
- Social media posts pre-written with high resolution concert photos or flyers that are ready to share.
- Contact info for press outlets you want to work with, as well as, local events calendars to submit to and lists of personal invites for guest list.
Now that you have your promo toolbox ready, you can move to the next step! Yay!
3. Add Event To Public Concert Calendars
Adding to your public concert schedule is easily forgotten about and kind of tedious, but is still a very important piece of the promo pie. If you’re a musician, make an account with both Bandsintown.com and Songkick.com, if you haven't already. There are perks to both platforms. I've always liked Bandintown's concert schedule widget for my website and it has great integration with Facebook. On the other hand, many online music platforms such as SoundCloud, Bandcamp, ReverbNation, and Spotify already have super user-friendly connections with Songkick's concert schedule widget. Using both platforms allows for more reach and fan building, as both enable fans to subscribe to your account and then they get notifications when you add new concerts near them.
4. Send Out A Newsletter
If you don't have a newsletter (mailing) list, go make one. I’d use MailChimp.com to start out. You'll be able to integrate a "subscribe to the newsletter" widget on your website and stay connected to fans you convert at concerts. The fans that join your mailing list are your superfans. They want to be in-the-know... or as I call it, on-the-savvy. Plan to send them a couple emails describing the awesome event you're a part of, why they should attend, and how to get tickets. Be sure to geotarget your outreach, as not to spam fans that live outside a reasonable travel distance of the event.
5. Getting The Press
Be your own publicist! This is a big one. As a creative, our greatest assets are talent and time.
- So, first thing to do is to find the community events calendars for the city in which you are planning to perform. The trick is to visit websites for newspapers, zines, radio stations, TV stations, etc. They usually have a calendar submission method and once added, it will be included on their media and events they announce (aka: FREE PROMOTION).
- While on those media websites, find the contact info and add it to a spreadsheet.
- Join music scene groups on Facebook. You'll be able to network with fellow creatives and share the ticket link to your upcoming event!
- Send emails to local outlets about a month or two in advance. I know that sounds like a lot of time for some, but it's important to remember that press outlets are inundated with press releases and submissions. It's standard practice to follow-up once a week or so. As Tom Petty would say, "the waiting is the hardest part," but honestly it takes time to hear back from outlets and they may have a lead time for when they schedule articles.
- FOLLOW UP! It increase the open rate and response by nearly 25% according to recent studies done by email marketing software.
- Check out On The Savvy’s "Tried and True Email Templates for Booking and Press".
- With 2-3 weeks to go, start following up with press using a phone. A lot of communication these days is via email, but phone calls are also a huge part of scoring press.
- Ask the radio station if they'd be interested in adding your event and/or music to their playlist. Maybe they'd be interested in an in-studio performance on the air.
6. Work Together
If you have a promoter working with you to promote your event, that's great. Regardless, connect with the other acts that will be performing at the event. Work together – there's strength in numbers!
Pool together some extra money for advertising on Facebook and Instagram, encourage everyone to share each other's content, mention each other in emails to mailing lists, and overall spreading the word!
7. Use Those Feet
There are many great places to hang your event flyer including coffee houses, community centers, record stores, vintage shops, etc. Take a stroll with a stapler and some clear tape and hang your flyers up (after checking that it’s OK to do so). Enlist friends to join your "street team" and make the flyer hanging a hang out.
8. Social Media
General consensus says to go to the people and social media promotion is hard to beat. The trick is to post consistently about your brand and the event without getting all spammy, so plan your social media posts ahead of time. I've used several tools for this and the best free social media management tool that I’ve found is Later.com.
- Use your insights tool on each social media platform to see when your audience is most likely to see your posts (ex: advance tickets are great weekly posts).
- Promoters and venues will know how much social effort you put into promotion for the event and will keep that in mind when booking you in the future.
- Join some music scene Facebook groups. Then network and share your events/releases with them.
9. Personal Invitations
People love to be invited to things. Tell the people you often see where you are going to perform, in person or by phone, text or email. Be sure to reach out one-on-one and have a personal conversation with each individual. Express how much you want them there and how much it would mean to you! Some events allow you to add a couple people to your guest list too. So pick a few friends, do a "first come, first served" with your mailing list, or invite a press outlet to enjoy or review the event.
Hope you found these tips helpful. Check out OnTheSavvy.com for more in-depth articles or to discuss available professional services for creatives.