Do you have a tour or one-off show coming up? Let’s talk about how to promote it.
Now, I understand that there are many debates on where the responsibility of promoting lies (some argue the venue/promoter, some argue the artist). Those debates aside, let me say this: the time and money that goes into strategically promoting your shows will always provide a good return on investment. Who doesn’t want to gain a reputation as a hard-working artist willing to do nearly whatever it takes to make the show a success?
This should be a checklist for your next tour. You might have some of this ingrained into your mind already but it’s always good to get a reminder. Or maybe you have some additional tips. If so, please share! You can apply all of the same concepts to any show that you have coming up:
1. Create a Tour Poster: In fact, you’ll want to create a few, optimized for different sizes. The most common sizes will be 11×17 and 5.5×4.25. Leave an empty field for the promoter to fill in and use a digital format (such as .pdf or .jpg). A few promoters will want physical copies mailed to them, most will only ask for the digital version.
2. List the Show Online: As soon as you get the show confirmed, put it on your website and all of your social media sites. You’d be surprised how many artists forget to do this or wait until it’s too late. If you use sites like ReverbNation, that’s even better since their shows fuel other websites like Songkick. Spend the extra time to write a description about the show because that does get picked up elsewhere. Don’t worry about sending e-invites yet, just get the show listed.
3. Send the Dates to Your Publicist: If you are touring, you should have a publicist working the press. Don’t have one? Here’s a guide with 5 Tips on Getting a Label, Sponsor, or Booking Agent. It’s preferable that the publicist have the dates at least three months in advance. Need a contact to start with? You could always use my publicist, Alex Steininger – email@example.com. Just let him know that Simon from Last Stop Booking sent you.
4. Send Out Your Press Release: About three months out, start sending out the press release. Actually, your publicist should be doing this for you (see #3) but if you don’t have one, make sure that you compile a media list for contacts in each area. Almost every local venue/promoter will have a list available, simply ask. You can also useEasy Media List and buy contacts.
5. Create a Facebook Event for Each Show: When you do this, please only invite the people who are in the target market for each show. Your friends won’t be happy if you’re inviting them to every show on your tour, especially when they can’t go to most of the shows. If you’re unsure where the fans are, you might consider creating a Facebook “event” for the entire tour and have each show’s information listed. Here’s my guide on How to Use Facebook to Promote Your Shows/Tour.
6. Send Our Targeted Emails: By now, you should have a e-newsletter service. If not, I recommend using the ones by Fanbridge orReverbNation. They help sort/organize your email list and can send out emails to specific zip codes so you’re not spamming everyone on your list. Your emails should have all of the show information (time, date, cost, age requirement, address, list of acts) as well as link to RSVP to your Facebook Event and one to buy tickets.
7. Social Media Blast: A few weeks out, begin really working your social media sites. Get creative: hold contests, upload videos, have listening sessions of your new music, create a Google Hangout, do a fan share-athon, etc. Create a hashtag for your tour that’s easy to share/remember, you could even hold a contest around fans who use it.
8. Niche Markets: Are there untapped target audiences that you could reach? Most niche sites have some kind of community board. For example, before each tour, my band-mates and I post in local Yelp communities and invite people to the show/go out for food. Need some ideas? Try this article on Making New Fans in Unexpected Places.
9.Invest in Targeted Ads: If you have some kind of promotion budget, consider buying some targeted ads on Facebook, Google AdWords (or YouTube), Pandora, etc. Get specific with your ads by narrowing down interests and zip codes and promote each individual show, not your band’s Facebook page or tour in general.
10. Follow Up: People have a short attention span. As the show gets closer, send a reminder email or post on each of your show’s event walls to keep it fresh in their minds.
I know promoting a tour is a lot of work. I’m usually in at least one of these steps all year round. However, it can help drive engagement with your fans and the media, boost attendance at your shows, and help you get better shows because the industry does pay attention to hardworking artists. What’re some of your “must” promotion steps?
Simon Tam is the President and Founder of Last Stop Booking, author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements, and performs in dance rock band The Slants. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at www.laststopbooking.com. He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam