It’s frustrating sometimes, thinking about all the amazing music that goes unheard, all the awesome bands that, by no fault of their own talent, go undiscovered by the wider public. Make no mistake, the music industry is a grind, especially if you’re a fledgling outfit looking to make a name for yourself here in Canada. You need to strike the right balance between shameless self-promotion and rock and roll swagger – in other words, you want to market yourself, but you don’t want to come off too eager. Here are three facets of band self-promotion that you should know about if you want to gain better exposure.
The Merch Table
This is your on-the-ground marketing tool, the site where you can actually communicate with fans (or prospective fans) and make an impression. CDs are obviously a mainstay at merch tables, but where you really want to focus is on band apparel, like t-shirts. When you sell a fan a CD or record, they listen to it in private usually, admiring your band in solo, but with custom apparel, they get to express their admiration publically, which is a plus for you since it gets you even more exposure. Figure out a compelling logo, create a scalable design and then contact a custom t-shirt printing company to make you a bulk order –if all’s well, your return on investment should be very good.
This isn’t “on brand” for every band, but in this day and age online presence can be a real boon to musicians looking to promote an event or tour. Making an event on Facebook is, of course, the classic way to ensure your gig is filled with warm bodies, but utilizing Instagram to create a continued presence, even when a new gig isn’t imminent, keeps your band on people’s minds. Go ahead and look at Instagram analytics for what hashtags are trending, and go from there. You could even give away CDs or that branded apparel to people who tag you at your gig.
Different Types Of Gigs
If you’re just playing bars, you’re going to be a bar band. That’s not the worst thing in the world, but at a certain point, it’s wise to diversify. With summer coming up, reach out to one of the many street festivals in Toronto to see if you can play there. Not only will you reach more people at a street festival, but you will reach people who wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to hear from you. Play in different parts of town as well. While a lot of people opt to take their act on the road right away, it’s probably better to gain momentum in your immediate community first.
Other than that, promoting your band is all about improvement. It may not seem like self-promotion, but every time you practice, every time you get better, you increase your band’s currency. Set up a merch table with some custom made t-shirts, take to social media, and play a variety of gigs – that should be the winning combo you need to hit it big.