I’m currently working on a trip to Baltimore so the idea of planning and thinking ahead is fresh in my mind.

I’m thinking on average that shows are booked anywhere between 3 weeks – 2 months in advance (on the local level).
Assuming that this is true, how are you going to promote your show. First, its important to factor in a few things.

  • 1.] How big of a show is this for you? If its a big deal, then decide to put more effort into pushing it
  • 2.] If its a small deal, maybe you want to spend less energy on this one and more energy on the next
  • 3.] You can only milk your audience so much. Don’t oversaturate them with information.

So lets say you have a big show and 4 weeks to plan it.  Here’s what you can do…

WEEK 1:

Drop a buzz.  In your weekly newsletter put in a 1 or 2-liner about the event.  Give just the facts and tell them more details are on the way.  You can even do this more than 4 weeks priop. But make sure to do it again at the 4-week mark or as the date nears. Example…

“I also want to let you know that I’ll be headlining a show
at World Cafe on February 25th at 7pm.  Save the date
and stay tuned for more details.”

If you’re only sending bi-monthly/monthly newsletters, then just go ahead and share the bulk of your information. Sometimes weekly newsletters are best when you have something to promote because people have short term memories and information changes/gets lost/gets forgotten so often.

In Week 1, (if this is a really big show), maybe you’ll also want to contact some local e-zines to see if they are interested in doing a short write-up  (ideally you’ll want to contact them with even more advance notice). Check out the “How to Score Reviews of Your CD” post for details.

WEEK 2:

Make the poster (or make sure someone has created artwork).  Nothing drives the message home like a visual!  If you’re doing an event and no one has artwork, then create your own!  Pictures will always speak louder than words.

Then Post the artwork on your website. Photobucket, or other various image hosting sites, will give you the html code to do this.  Send the html code to every other performer on the bill and ask them if they will also post the artwork on their site.  Post the event on as many city events calendars as possible.  Yea…just keep posting until you’ve covered all grounds.

WEEK 3:

This is the most important week. This is Facebook week. Create the FB invite at the top of this week (you might consider doing this at the end of week 2, actually). Once created, invite everyone. Just invite. Don’t start sending spam messages to people’s inboxes with more information about the show. There’s nothing with than overmessaging people with details. Just give them time to respond to the original invite notification. Include all the factual information on the event page – the who, when, where, what, and why. Also include links to your site and the site of all performers on the bill. Provide all necessary information.

During Week 3, you will also need to make sure you have flyers posted in prime spots in the city  Does the venue have posters?  Ask them if they can also use handbills.  Handbills are postcard size flyers.  Suggest that they put handbills next to the cash register or on cafe/restaurant tables. If your show is a family-friendly event, the Library bulletin board is so excellent.  Believe me…people read those things!   If your show is  at a bar or club,  put poster in nearby hangout spots.  Ask local establishments  (convenience stores, businesses, art galleries) if you can put a poster in their window or leave handbills by the door.  FB is essential to marketing – so much so that people are asking whether its even worthwhile to have hard copy posters.  Really, I think it depends on how big of an event you’re promoting and how much time you want to put into it.

During Week 3, you should also send a solid comprehensive email to your newsletter subscribers about the show. Include the poster artwork. If you want to go crazy, you can blast individual FB pages with the show info and artwork (but they call this spamming :)).

WEEK 4:

Your work should be done for the most part.  Make the show poster your default picture on Facebook.  That’s a great final way to get the word out.  Two days before the event, send a message to folks you’ve invited through Facebook with last minute details about the event and a last “petition” for their attendance. This basically serves as a reminder email.  By this point, you’ll hopefully be hearing back from people on whether or not they’ll be attending.

If you’re one of those people who sends out a weekly official newsletter, then don’t be afraid to remind everyone about the show again.  Not as much detail as last week.  Just a reminder…similar to the Facebook reminder.

Important things to remember while promoting

  • Be conscious of location: If your gig is North of the city, don’t go plastering flyers in the South.  Hit up popular venues in the North,
  • Be conscious of demographic: As sad as it is to admit (and depending on where you live), you can bet that only certain types of people will go to certain types of shows.  In other words, you’re not gonna get “Soccer Mom” to come out to your 11pm gig if she can see you at a coffeehouse next month.
  • Timelines: You don’t want to send out information too soon because it’s briefly remembered, then forgotten.  You also don’t want to send out information too late for fear that potential attendees might have already plans.

Feel free to offer your own tips.