Learn How to Promote Your Next Music Gig

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You've got the venue booked and the band on board, now all you have to do is promote the gig. Concert promotion can be a tough job—there is a lot of work to get done, and often there is not much time in which to actually get it done. The job gets even harder if you're a new promoter. If the stress of getting a show off the ground is making your head spin, take a deep breath and check out this guide, which will walk you through it.

While the steps below are a great starting point for promoting a concert, it's important to note that different kinds of shows require different kinds of promotion, and as the gigs get bigger, so does the promotion job. These tips are best for new promoters and smaller gigs.

Gather the Materials

Before you can start promoting the gig, you need the materials in place. Gather the following so you're ready to go:

  • Promo CDs from the band
  • Band bios and photos
  • Posters for the show
  • Press release for the show

If you don't have one already, take the time to build a database of local media contacts (email, fax, phone and street address), as well as publication deadlines for local papers.

Make the Contacts

With all of the material in place, you can build a promo package to send to local papers and radio stations that advertise local gigs. Include information about the "where" and "when" of the show and ticket price, as well as information about the artists playing the show.

If the bands are available for interviews in the run-up to the show, make this known in your press release. Make this initial contact as far in advance as you can (at least eight weeks in advance is ideal). Don't worry that you're contacting people too soon—you'll be following up with these contacts later.

Do the Legwork

Granted, this isn't the most fun part of the promotion but it can't be helped. Head out to the gig venue and every place else in town that allows people to hang posters, and place yours front and center. You can send posters in the mail and ask places to hang them for you, but don't count on it actually happening. If you want to be sure your gig is being promoted, then you need to go out and do the dirty work yourself.

Follow-ups, Follow-ups, Follow-ups

As the gig draws closer, keep the lines of communication with the press open. Send out a few emails to your mailing list reminding them of the show. Make some phone calls and see if you can get a local journalist interested in writing about the show or the bands.

How often you should be doing these things depends on how long you have between the time you book the show and the big day. Make sure in advance that the show will be listed in all of the local gig guides and send out an email to your mailing list the day of the show reminding everyone what's happening.

Extend Invitations

One great way to increase coverage of your show is to offer spots on the guest list to journalists. If you can convince them to run a preview or review of the show in exchange for a spot on the list, great, but even if you can't, go ahead and let 'em in. You'll be able to cash in on the goodwill you've created here in the future. If you want to increase your promoter cred and get other bands in your area to turn to you for future shows, extend a guest list spot to them as well, space permitting.

Don't Forget the Band

Encourage the bands on the bill to do their share of promoting as well by advertising the show on their websites and sending out an email to their mailing list.

Plan for Next Time

If this is your first show, create a mailing list of your own by getting people to leave their email addresses at the door. This way you will have another channel for promotion in the future and you'll be able to communicate directly with the people who want to come to your shows.

Be Realistic

Sometimes, you can promote and promote, and still, no one seems to want to turn out to the gig. You can spread the word, but you can't force people to attend. Promoters often find themselves in the crosshairs of the band after a bad show, but take it with a grain of salt and be realistic about what exactly you can pull off. If you did everything you possibly could to promote the show, then maybe you don't need better promotion techniques—maybe you just need different artists.

Don't Neglect your Other Duties

Promotion is actually only part of a promoter's duties. Don't forget you also have to take care of things like working out a financial deal with the venue and the bands, making sure all of the technical requirements are met, planning the timeline of the night of the show and so on and so forth.