The principles of running a business and marketing a band to the point of making actual money are not that different. Just so happens that this business is music.
There’s an old saying that goes something like “build it and they will come”. It’s an old saying because in today’s world it should read “build it, MARKET IT… and they will come”. If you don’t believe me than think about how many talented people have you come across that made incredible music in their basement. Music that never made it out of their house. It’s like they’re waiting for somebody to knock on their door and say “I was just strolling through the neighborhood with a briefcase full of money and wanted to see if you have a great song available”. It’s not really going to happen. However there are things you can do to get your music and band marketed and we will be discussing this in the following article.
First, let’s establish what we’re looking to do. We need to market the band while at the same time making some money or at least not losing much on the marketing costs, all this while making sure that our efforts will be rewarded in things are done right.
Traditional Marketing Methods
Under this guise we have t-shirts, buttons, stickers and any other solid tangible good that represents the band or artist. Obviously CDs enter the picture and so do DVDs. With the arrival of Zazzle and other similar merchandize services you can sell your stuff without ever seeing it or stocking it. You simply create your design online and when somebody orders it they will print the design onto the shirt and ship it out. The quality is great, but as with anything that helps make your life a bit easier, it cuts into your profits.
These items earn you money back while promoting your music/band. After all, some girl dressed with your t-shirt is like having a walking billboard. Try to keep in mind these simple rules as you design your products:
1. Very easy to read, clear and relatively big logo. If you’re a fan of warped letters and squiggly lines you should try to stay away from that. It doesn’t mean that your design has to be plain or boring, but stay away from stuff that you need to spend time and effort to make out. If you’ve ever seen a shirt for a death metal band you’ll know what I’m talking about. You want people to be able to read your name fast and easy. Same goes for logos. McDonalds is famous for it’s yellow arches. Adidas, Nike and Mercedes are well known for their logos. You’ll notice that their logos are based on simple forms/graphics.
2. Make sure to put your contact info on just about anything. The more contact details the better. Your phone number is good and so is an e-mail address. Some things, like t-shirts for example, do not lend themselves easily to this end, but there’s no reason in the world why the website address can’t be present on everything.
3. Entice people to give you their e-mail address in any way shape or form so that you can start to build your own e-mail list.
Here are some ideas for non-traditional promotion that will give you the most bang for your buck.
1. Postcards are good but before you run out and do these yourself try and see if you can get a sponsorship to pay for the cards. Here’s how it works: Find a business that is somehow linked to the scene you’re trying to reach. If, for example, you’re a rock band, a tattoo parlor or a thrift clothing store might do the trick. Five thousand cards will cost you about 200 bucks. Pitch the idea as five thousand cards distributed as promo at your show for $200, with your band on one side and their business on the other. Avoid saying stuff like you’re offering the back of the card, because in all reality the card has NO back, it has two faces. They get five thousand cards printed and distributed to people that are in their market and you get your card FREE! Works great for everybody.
2. If you know other active bands or artists releasing albums then work together and print small footers on each other’s posters. Your poster will have a small footer with gigs/releases of 5 other artists let’s say… Each of those artists will in turn feature a small note of your release/gig on their poster. You will reach about five times more people without any extra expense.
3. Sponsorships may be a bit hard to come by until you are better known in your market. Most sponsors look for artists/bands with a following. If you have started to build a following then you can try to approach companies for a sponsorship. Offer space on all your marketing materials as well as promotion of the sponsor at your gig.
I hope this has given you some ideas about how to promote your band.
About The Author – Stan Oldman
With experience from playing in bands to producing alternative rock music and managing artists, Stan Oldman has always been thoroughly involved in the music business. The current NYC band he manages is RED i CLAN.