Dear Artist Who Doesn’t Want to Promote Your Show,

I’m no one special…just another artist in the game like you. I write songs, record those songs, and when I can, I play those songs out.

I’ve been wanting to write this letter for a long time, not to tell you off, belittle you, or make myself look better than you. In fact, I’m writing this because I really respect your music and what you do and I think you should know, understand, and hopefully appreciate what I have to say.

You’re independent. You don’t have a major label behind you, a publicist, or management. You’re a lone ranger much like the rest of us. You spend alot of time writing these awesome songs and hoping that something big will happen with them. You put alot of time into your art. You even put alot of time into booking gigs. But for some reason, you don’t promote your shows. Nobody knows when you’re playing or where your playing, Your website hasn’t been updated in months. You drive 2 or 3 hours for a show and when no one comes, you throw your fists in the air or get bitter at the venue for not having more committed patrons. But you never think to ask yourself *what did I do wrong? what didn’t I do right*.

From one fellow artist to another, the first thing I need to say is that you owe it to yourself to care a little more. You spend months perfecting your songs, years recording your album, and thousands of dollars on equipment that you’ll never pay off.  But still, when it comes to sharing this music with an audience, your interest is significantly diminished. You owe it to yourself to try harder.

We are all in this game together. When you are on the bill with 1, 2 or 3 other artists, you are each required to promote the show. It’s the unspoken rule. It is artist etiquette. That means you each post the event on your calendar, you each invite your fans to the Facebook event, and you each share the event with your newsletter subscribers. You each share the burden of promotion. Burden might be a strong word, but it can feel like that when 1 artist  or group is pulling all the weight…and this happens alot.

Do your job. Don’t be lame. No one is above the hustle. Everyone has to do it. It’s the name of the game and if you can’t pull your weight, you shouldn’t play the show.

Also know that if you’re each bringing fans out to a show, the mission is accomplished. Every artist on the bill makes new fans, plays to near ears, and hopefully sells some CDs. When you don’t do your part, it’s a slap in the face of the other musicians on the bill. They’ve shared their community with you. You’ve withheld yours from them. They give. You take. It’s kind of wrong. And you…artists like you…are what keep us from getting ahead.

Look, I’m not blaming my lack of success on you. I’m just saying, if everyone cared a little more we would all be better off.

Ok, we all know there are certain types of shows you don’t have to promote – the ones were you get paid up front, or the venue provides the audience.Those gigs are awesome. We all love these shows because they’re low pressure and they pay the bills. I’m not talking about those. I am talking about the club show where the booker threatens to excommunicate you if you fail to deliver in heads. I’m talking about the coffeehouse that put an extra employee on staff for the night because they thought the place would be busier than usual. I’m talking about the small theater that took a chance on your show even though they didn’t recognize any of the names in the lineup.

If you’re like me, you know that sometimes it’s just impossible to get people out of the house – especially on a weeknight and especially when they can stay home and rent a movie for under $2. It’s getting hard to do what we do. So I don’t blame you for being discouraged. I get discouraged all the time. But there’s a difference between a small turnout due to weather, and a small turnout because you didn’t care enough to try.  In only one of those instances did you actually do everything you could.

Last but not least, your friends are not your fans. Your best friend can’t come to every show. The chicks in your knitting class are not coming to every show. Your roommate isn’t even coming to your show. And they don’t have to. If you’re not building an actual fanbase, then you`ll never grow your audience which mean you will never grow your career.

So I guess I should reemphasize the fact that I really dig your music. It deserves a bigger audience. I also, like you, have been doing this for many years. I’ve never had a show that didn’t go well when everyone cared and equally contributed their time and effort to make it the best it could be.

Thanks for reading…and maybe we’ll split a show together someday.
Your fellow music-maker