Why You Should Promote Your Gigs
In our surveys, some bands reported that they have trouble getting and keeping gigs. If this sounds familiar, read on.
Ian Bolendar is a digital marketer with 20 years experience in music promotion and event production. He’s also been a touring musician, and he also runs Cincymusic.com. In other words, he knows his stuff. In this document, we will be referring to Ian Bolendar’s “A Complete Guide to Booking and Promoting Concerts”, which is an excellent summary.
According to Ian, there are two types of shows:
- Gigs – the person booking talent is interested in selling alcohol, not tickets. You get paid via proceeds from the bar.
- Shows (Concerts) – someone purchases a ticket to see you play. You get paid via proceeds from the ticket sales.
Local blues bands generally fall under the first category – they are playing gigs.
In this scenario, the bar isn’t too concerned about your music in and of itself. But what they do care about is whether your band brings enough people into the bar, so they can sell alcohol and make money.
So, if you want to get and keep gigs, you need to be bringing a crowd to the bar, and for that, you have to effectively promote your gigs. Nobody cares more about your band than you – don’t expect or assume others will do promotion for you.
How to Effectively Promote Your Gigs Online
Most bands have a Facebook business page and will promote their gigs there. Unfortunately, Facebook posts are no longer the great promotion tool they used to be. Unless you’re paying for extra promotion (and we suggest that you don’t), Facebook posts only reach 6% of the people who have liked your page.
However, the Facebook Events feature is still an effective strategy. If the venue has already set up an Event for your gig, ask to become a co-host. This will share the same Event to your Facebook page. If not, you can set up your own Event. What you don’t want to do is have dueling Events for the same gig.
One of the best ways to promote your band is with an email list which is managed by an email list service. In general, we suggest using Mailchimp. It’s free up to 2000 names.
Sometimes bands promote their gigs with their personal email. For various important reasons, like protection from being reported as a spammer and being able to see email open rates and other statistics, we suggest using an email list service.
Emails get noticed at a much higher rate than Facebook posts, more like a 30% reach.
We suggest asking people to sign up for your email list at each of your gigs, and also have an email signup form on your website.
You should also have a website, which is the central information hub for your band. Your website should link to your Facebook and other social media pages, and they should link back to your website. Your website should also have an email signup form.
We did an analysis of local blues bands, and they use a variety of website softwares. WordPress is the most popular, followed by Bandzoogle and Wix.
WordPress is more flexible and can be altered by adding various plugins and pairing it with an email list service like Mailchimp; however, it can take some research and trial and error to get it set up right.
Bandzoogle and Wix are less flexible, but you can get up and running quickly with band info, contact info, a gig calendar, and an email list, which are built in to the service.
Another way to promote your gig is to list it on event calendars such as Citybeat.com or Cincymusic.com. Ian Bolendar has a comprehensive list for the Cincinnati area – you can experiment with to see what works best for you. (See A Complete Guide to Booking and Promoting Concerts – Promoting Your Concerts – page 24.)
For blues bands (including traditional blues, contemporary blues, blues influenced, or blues hybrid/ crossover), we also suggest using the Cincy Blues Society Events Calendar.
How to Effectively Promote Your Gigs Off-line
The classic off-line method of promotion for bands is handbills (aka flyers) and posters. You can hang posters in the venue where you’ll be playing, and at local businesses in the area that cater to your type of audience.
You can also go to some of the larger concerts in the area with music similar to yours and pass out handbills as the show is letting out. (See A Complete Guide to Booking and Promoting Concerts – Promoting Your Concerts, page 26.)
Getting the Gigs
When you’re booking gigs, be sure to let the bar know your marketing plan for promoting the gig. This should make your band stand out above others and give you a better chance at getting the gig.
We hope you enjoyed this article and found it valuable. If you want more detail, or if you aspire to tour and play concerts, please read Ian Bolendar’s A Complete Guide to Booking and Promoting Concerts. We’ve read a number of books on music promotion, and it’s easy to get lost in the weeds with endless tips. We feel that Ian’s guide is an essential reference which has the right amount of detail without being too overwhelming.