I was having lunch with Bill Klatt, a multi-platinum producer/engineer, who also manages bands and produces shows. I was asking him about going out on the road and before I even asked a question he said, “Any band that isn’t playing in front of 100+ people a night has no excuse.” This post is a punch list that he has put together for his bands to use for online promotion. You can find out more about Bill and contact him via his website, www.billklatt.com.
OK, some truths you must accept:
- The headliner will not draw
- The club does not have the built in fan base you think
So now what? How do you play for a crowd of 100+? You work your asses off. Here is the approach I take. Excuse me if some of this seems obvious, but the idea is to work multiple angles and get a few attendees from each area, a few here, a couple there, and you got a crowd.
Here are the steps to take,
- Book the gig – Ask the booker about the best way to promote in that market. You would be amazed at how useful this is. Ask questions; radio, press, who draws – get the scoop before you drive 1,000 miles.
- Advance 5 posters and 100 4×6 cards with date of show to the venue 30 days prior. Send a CD for the club to play and a couple of shirts for the bartender/bouncer(XXL). Then hope they use them.
- Every club wants you to draw, they all post a links/resources section on their site. Use it. Most have Myspace/Facebook/Twitter links in addition to local press/radio contacts.
- Become a Myspace friend of the venue and email an mp3 and .jpg to the venue to use on website/Myspace. Not everyone will use it, but if you don’t send it they can’t.
- Create an HTML banner for the show and post it to Myspace comments on venue’s page. Keep sending it so it is always visible at the top.
- Same goes for venue’s Facebook page, stay active, stay visible on their wall. Use the fanreach section of ReverbNation to search for fans of your genre, for example, “rock,” “metal,” “live music” in that market. Enter the zip with a 30 mile radius and reach out and invite.
- Search out relevant pages and groups on Facebook. Stay active in their discussions and tastefully promote your show. Now music fans are starting to see your name in several places, you are starting to create a buzz.
- As you work these other sites in that market, you will see people comment/post saying, “Hey, I’m coming.” Ask these people to be your street team and E-team, offer free admission, a CD or a shirt – whatever – if they will hang some posters or hand out some 4×6 cards. Ask them about the club, the good nights; get some local knowledge before you get to town. You might have a layover and you now know where to go that night before to promote your show. Ask them if this is a “blue collar” club or a “college crowd.” If it’s college you have to hit the Facebook pages of any campus groups, join the groups and send invites.
- Be your own publicist. Find out (Google) what the local music paper is, submit the event to their calendar, try to get your show or CD reviewed. Do this with enough time so if you do get a review it prints before the show. Big acts have this down; a week before a show there is a review. In the old days you had to pay a publicist to pull this off, now all you have to do is ask, earlier the better. Don’t forget to work the mainstream press arts sections, also college papers. It’s so easy to Google up and find the Arts/Music editor and email off an EPK and with music, no excuses.
- Radio, same as above. Find out if there is a Rock/Active Rock college station in your market. They might have a metal show. Again just spend the time on the web and ask, “Do you want us to come by for an on-air?” Have a package and one sheet to mail if they ask. Make a friend even if they say no, invite the staff to the show, you are setting this up for next time.
Nothing is ever guaranteed, sometime a bigger band is playing the same night, but if you are working your show properly, you will know about the big band coming through ahead of time and you can work smarter and harder. I have had luck sending someone to the concert and getting the after crowd to my band’s 1AM set. Here’s the idea: Many clubs let you print discount cards to hand out, you know, $1 or $2 off to get in, these are great and if you put your name on them, the club knows you pulled the crowd.
FYI, always be mindful of weather. For example, don’t bother touring the mid-west in Jan/Feb/March if you don’t have a history, the weather will @$% you at some point.
Yes, a bunch of work to do for a 20 date tour, but better than playing for 3 people in Cleveland. If all in the band contribute, you get in a flow and it’s not so bad.