Comments Off on This long hard road to… what? Part II: Promotion, Booking and Revenue

This long hard road to… what?

Part II: Promotion, Booking and Revenue

Buckets of show promotion, oceans of band promotion.

You have the music, now its time for a direction for that music. You made it, now own it. Publish your music by creating your own publishing company. Now before you get all discouraged and think its such a hassle or expensive to start one, just realize that your company can also become great tax help by being able to write off the many expenses of your band. From travel to guitar strings, you will want to keep track of spending and benefit at the end of the year. Plus its not really that expensive. So shut up and do it damn it! Ideally you want it named differently than your bands name so you can potentially grow that company by publishing your band members side projects and other bands you may want to work with down the road. Just be open to everything and prepare yourself in a way that your band can capitalize on as much potential profit as possible.

When you are published then you will want to join a performing rights group like ASCAP or BMI. Make sure the band joins as well as your publishing label and band members individually as songwriters (ones who actually help create the music). It could also be beneficial to have your publishing company join a different one than the bands, or both, to have the whole system working for you. That way when you are able to collect royalties and license your music for advertisements, movies and tv you will be able to ensure there is always a company looking to gather you some revenue if people are using it. Even if you are giving your demo away initially for free, you will want to make sure you are in control if it happens to gain notice somewhere down the line, or you want to release it for sale later. During the weeks and/or months it takes to join the performing arts groups and publish your music, that’s a great time to start evaluating the local venues, bands and radio stations to see where you can potentially make some early headway. This is a bitch-whore of a business and there is endless amounts of bands doing what you are doing, so get used to hearing no, and learn how not to get discouraged. Once its all cleared with your performing rights group, now sign up for Sound Exchange. They are the next era in digital royalty collection, so get on board now. Or be lazy and give your rights to a publishing company and split the royalty money for no damn reason.

Sign up for electronic press kits on both Sonic Bids as well as Reverbnation’s RPKs and start submitting to opportunities (each site has exclusive opportunities). Set a small, manageable budget to start. I’m not talking hundreds of dollars either, $50 is a great place to begin. Submit to licensing and radio opportunities first, because if you happen to land one, say a commercial run in the South West, you can start looking at where those commercials reach, and target things like radio stations, blogs, rag mags and weeklies. If a month happens to have lame opportunities, spend that $50+ budget on internet ads that get you on multiple sites or just social ones like Facebook or Reverbnation.

Use these complete press kit pages to send to local venues, booking agents and promoters, and aim high. Do some research and see who and where hosts your genre of music. Death Metal and Hardcore has it the worst in finding a regular place to play. First of all you are targeting to a very small market to begin with, then many of them are stubborn and only like established, known, ‘this scene knows them’ kind of band. When you get a gig, don’t be shocked if its only a Wednesday or other normally shitty night. Every market that has live music, has people off during the week. Think of all the retail, servers and chefs, fast food and other industries that have workers off on those shitty days that are just aching for some entertainment. Hell, I bet even some of your band mates have a job with weekdays off. Go fucking figgure. Now usually shows are booked out a few weeks in advance. Every venue advertises differently, so find out what they do, and take advantage if they offer tools like posters and fliers. If they don’t, which alot of smaller venues rely on the bands for the draw, which exactly like large venues do, they rely on known bands with a large draw. Seeing a pattern? Look at where your favorite bands are playing. They aren’t playing there because the venue likes their music, they book them, pay them, and advertise them, because they have already reached you in some way, laid up that ground work and will be easier to draw you into their establishment. I guess what I am trying to get at, until you either pay someone to reach new fans (concert promoters don’t establish bands, they capitalize on them), or you get your happy asses out there and get your music heard in any way, shape or form, and if you haven’t done that, don’t expect a damn thing. Earn it. Realize there are hundreds of other bands that play better and will play for less because they went through the ego check already. And one more thing about this, if you get offered one solid weekday show once in a while, take it. If one of your band members works the next day, tell their ass to suck it up and be tired for one damn day, don’t be a figgin baby.

Rally round the family, pocket full of demos. Have your music with you at all times. All your band members. CD-R’s are cheap if you can’t afford those fancy printed sleeved copies. Get your ass down in front of one of your band members computer and burn a massive amount. Sharpie up the track names, your website or EPK link and your band name. Duh. Split them up and get them out to anyone and everyone, everywhere and anywhere. The music is what will advance your band, so until a royalty check starts coming, dominate your local scene with leg work and get that word of mouth rolling. Remember this digital age, and maybe find a cheap lot of USB memory sticks and really impress them. Most specialty/customize merch companies have these available now, so go check em out.

Once a few license and radio plays are in place (or you happen to find luck in the gigs you play and get on the road alot), and you are selling some music online and at your shows, start reaching out to distribution labels that will get your physical copies of your album in music stores around the country. The more sales you can accumulate on your own, the more interest these distro labels will have in you, and then use their vast connections of outlets at your disposal. Some labels can even help with more online sales and promotion as they will want to market you to make money off the sales they create. And remember if you had your music published yourselves, you will retain all the rights and royalties, again they will only make money on the sales they create.

What about Facebook? Your mother. Yes Facebook is an important tool, but not the end all be all. The amount of time you are sitting there looking at meme’s of those kitties and titties, could be used to update and market on the hundreds of other social sites with music fans. Make a spreadsheet to keep track of your sites info, and bookmark your page in your web browsers, try and have all your band members involved in some aspect. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace (especially with it relaunching), Reverbnation, Purevolume, WordPress, Tumblr, Blogspot/blogger, buzznet, battleofthebands, Sonicbids, Last.fm, Google plus, SignMeTo, Youtube (if you cant afford concept videos, do basic graphic/pic/live videos like some labels do), DailyMotion, Songkick, and countless others. When you post about an upcoming show, or your album, make sure you release it to sites like Stumbleupon, reddit, digg and more. Keep each profile updated and try and keep the main graphic as your latest album, press photo or logo, as it will help with recognition and retention in promotion. Utilize all its features. If it allows you to post an event, do it on the site’s database, as it will be searchable by the users of that site, where as if you were to use an app, it will only be viewable to the page itself. Have that quality bio written up, and you may want to do a short one for each member if space allows, as you will be looking for sponsors and endorsements both as a band and as individuals. Keep the focus on the music and make sure you have links for purchase everywhere it lets you. It would be ideal to have fan exclusive downloads on each site to help grow your fans on each site, and give your existing fans a reason to venture out of their comfort zone. If it allows status updates, try alternating between songs, albums, gigs, merch, emailing list (details coming) and other sites you are on. Having all your band members involved will help keep all these sites updated and fresh, and you will be better utilizing each sites new potential fanbase.

The other two big things, and perhaps the biggest and best promotional tools that you need to grow constantly are your emailing and text message contacts. To start, use Reverbnation’s free (to 500 contacts) fanreach system. Its great, easy to use and has widgets that you can place on your website and other social sites and blogs that allow html and flash to collect fans more efficiently. The best tool is having the control room app on your smart phone, which you can gather email addresses right on the spot for your database. Once you gather a few, start sending out show notices at least a week out, any music postings, links, etc. Start thinking of having extra and exclusive content regularly, so the fan becomes more engaged with what your band has to offer. Once you reach that magically number to where you have to use a pay system to send to that large of a database, do some research. Reverbnation has great options for its pay fanreach system, but there are others like mailchimp and constantcontact, and those might be better for you. For text message systems, broadtexter is a great free option to start, and do the same by checking your options if you reach a certain amount and have to start paying. But don’t just set these up, use them. Encourage growth with all those sites I mentioned.

Merch is fucking expensive. Its a struggle for many bands to get that initial batch of shirts and other fine items with your band plastered all over it. But never fear the internet is here. You can use your hi-res logo and create a full line of merch on sites like cafepress, zazzle and good ol reverbnation. Granted they are one off printings, and the cost is higher, but you don’t have to do anything but promote the fact you have it, and collect any profits, just for having it up there. Having all your music published and doing the initial push will help create that demand for merch, and once you get some royalty checks, some digital music sales, or a fat tax refund, use that to get a small line for your live shows. Use those many websites that you are now on to push the fact you have merch by posting in your status and blog updates, and email rotation. These merch sales here and there will start adding up alongside your royalties, music sales and live gig money, then you can start expanding your advertising budget, buy onto tours and big gigs and more productive things for your band.

Exactly at this point, your head explodes. You become overwhelmed with the thought of all these things you have to do and being called out on your chicken shit excuses. But alas, many times will come at you like that in this business, just take a step back, breathe, utilize what you learn and move forward. Like to the next part.. part III… The Live Show.

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