Promotion doesn’t have to cost money to be effective. Here are some ideas that can be powerful tools that don’t even involve a computer.
1. Don’t underestimate the value of something free. Fans love free items, either as part of a package (for example, buy a CD, and get a T-shirt free), part of a contest, or just being one of the first ten fans to email. Sometimes items of seemingly little value have a wide appeal. Backstage passes, seat upgrades, seats on stage, tickets to the sound check, invites to a meet and greet, and downloads of live songs are all prized by a real fan.
2. It’s surprising that this isn’t done more since it works so well: park a van or truck that has a banner on it across from a show by a similar act. Every fan entering or exiting the venue will be aware of you.
3. Free or low-cost entry to show “after parties” extends the show experience and rewards the true fan. These can be promoted along with the show, and even offered as a part of the ticket package.
4. Instead of sending a “thank you” email to a promoter, writer, interviewer, or just someone who’s done you a good turn, send a hand-written thank-you note by snail mail. You’ll be shocked how well this works. It’s unusual, it’s sincere, and it’s remembered.
5. Consider asking your tribe to help you with promo. Ask them to put up flyers or send out emails. Put a PDF of a poster or flyer online for fans to download.
6. Fans always want a chance to meet the musicians. Consider having a “meet and greet” after every show, but make sure that the fans know about it in advance.
7. Find your niche and market to it. It makes no sense to market to Amy Winehouse’s tribe if your music isn’t like hers, so don’t waste your energy marketing in that direction.
8. Make everything you do an event. What holiday is coming up? Is it a band member’s birthday? Is an anniversary near? Try a tribute to “Fans that just got laid off” or “Fans that just got hired.”
9. Use the power of your niche to widen your fan base. Flyer someone else’s show in a related genre. Sponsor somebody else’s event. Consider trading sponsorships and gigs with another band.
10. Align yourself with a cause you believe in. Causes often have a large PR mechanism behind them that can expose your music, but it has to be something you really believe in or it may hurt you in the long run.
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