So you have got yourself a great group put together. Everyone knows the songs inside and out. You have acquired all the equipment you need to gig. The van is tuned and ready for action. Your bass is polished and the new strings shine. You found some great looking stage clothes. 2 brand new rolls of ducktape are on standby.
What’s wrong with this picture? The phone is not ringing. Why?
The “Life Blood” of a band, any band, is advertising!! I’m sure you have heard the saying “Any press, even bad press, is good.” Why? If you can get people to hear about you, say your name, talk about you over coffee, without hurting anyone or committing a crime, this is “good”.
The times, they are a – changing
Tougher D.W.I. laws, boomers getting older, gas prices way to high, the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, whatever the reason, people are not going out to listen to bands like they did 10 years ago. Everybody you know, and their cousin, has a band. The number of clubs supporting live music are dwindling. Karioke A.K.A. Crapioke, and D.J.’s are hiring on at much lower prices and bumping us out on the streets. How can you compete?
When Payday Daddy gigs, every gig, we are constantly selling ourselves. Not only through the music we play, and the stage show we do, but we always push our name. On every table, in every club, for every gig, is our full schedule. This shows where we will be for the next year. The phone number of every club is listed on the bottom of the page. This way, if someone wants to come out and see you again, but they are not sure where that club is, they can call for directions. Chances are, if they had to take the time to look it up, or call information, they wouldn’t do it. Also, on the schedule, our webpage address. The website has the full schedule, always updated, easily accessible. Also included is our email address and home phone number. This allows your adoring fans to get in touch with you in whatever way is easiest for them. You must be willing to be available.
The mailing list
This is a very expensive, time consuming endeavor, but it will pay off. Doing a mailing list involves work, a lot of work, for someone. Along with your schedule, you will want to include your “Mailing list sign-up form”. And you will need to remind the people, many times, that it’s there and what it will do for them. First off, it will allow them to be “First in line” on any changes in your calendar. It will make them one of the “Elite few”, and they will like that idea. So, what you need to do is make you up some forms, 6 to a page works great, and what it consists of is their name, address, and zip code. Very easy stuff. Once you have their valuable information, you need to get a good program such as ” My Mailing List”, and enter the info there. Every 2 months or so, you will send a postcard to the mailing list folks. This is a card stock paper, that is available a places like “Kinko’s” or “Minuteman”. I take in my master copy, and have them print it up and cut it for a very good price. The work and cost comes in the stamps @ .20 each, address labels, and your return address stamp. We deduct $20.00 from every gig to help support the mailing list. This way, no one person is out of pocket more than the others. Make sure you don’t forget to change the address on the cards that come back to you, or delete them out completely if they have moved to the ends of the earth.
Posters should be put up a couple of weeks (ideally) before you play that club. That gives ample time for people to see you, and your name. Put them up yourself, if you can. That way, you know it will get done. Sometimes, you will have to rely on the club to do it for you. If this is the case, call them and follow it up. Chances are, if you don’t, those really cool posters will sit on the contacts desk, and sit, and sit. If you can afford it, go all out on your poster. After all, it represents you, and you want to make a good impression, right? Nothing looks worse than a badly photocopied picture. Include the dates and start times on your posters, and hang up a couple extras if you can. Some will be damaged, torn down, ripped, or even stolen.
Introduce yourself, in person, along with your schedule, photo, and a bio to the “Entertainment Section” person as soon as you can. Be polite and professional. This person can be your best friend in the advertising game. Ask them to please run your photo along with a write-up on where you will be playing. If they do it for you, call them and thank them. A little appreciation can go a long way. Don’t expect them to run your photo more than a few times a year, if you are lucky. This is why you are doing all this other stuff. Contact them the week before your gigs, to remind them of where you are going to be, club’s address and phone number, and if there will be a cover, and how much.
I hope this has inspired you to really go out and push for your group. If the people don’t know where you are, they won’t come, and you won’t be hired back. Don’t count on the clubs to do it for you, they won’t. That’s why it’s so important to do it yourself. Good luck!!