So here’s something direct and clear I haven’t fully dug in too and which a lot of bands need help with – how and when to promote their shows. When it comes down to it, you want to do a good job promoting your shows because even if your promoter is a “Total bro, bro” it’s not really fair to them if you post about a show once in the entire month lead up. This is part of why certain bands get booked all the time and have cool opportunities and why other bands get ignored by the tastemakers in their scene. It’s not because the tastemakers are clueless assholes and don’t know a good band when they see one, they just don’t want to lose a ton of money. I feel like that’s not an unreasonable goal and it’s one that bands need to actually think about before starting to shit on the very people who can help them out the most.
So let’s do a timeline for y’all, make it nice and easy. Let’s assume that most shows get booked eight to ten weeks out, and there is generally a week for the tour package to be 100% locked in so that you can properly announce. Ok. That’s a good place to be, right? I mean sort of. You obviously want to announce as soon as you are allowed – but what I will say is, don’t just post on your band page. This doesn’t do anything for you, unless you sponsor the post. You need to be posting this on all of your personal pages, your relevant groups, hell even try and beg your friends relevant to your scene to share it. This is going to be essential. Remember, Facebook doesn’t really prioritize band pages anymore, so if you can make people feel like they are coming to more than just a local show, but rather a glorious party, then the will be a lot more hyped. You need to focus on organic buzz to get anywhere in this game, because outside of organic buzz nothing matters.
Ok – so now you’ve announced your show, shared it on personal pages and friends pages, what do you do now? Well you keep fucking pushing it. This is what most bands seem to miss out on. You don’t just call it a day once its announced, you need to remind people all the time. Plans come up, new ideas get proposed for a given night. You don’t want to be the one caught holding the short end of the stick when all is said and done. You need to remind people time and time again that your event is going to be THE event to check out on that particular day in that particular city, even if it’s a Tuesday. ESPECIALLY if it’s a Tuesday. If you’re not reminding people then your promoter is going to get stressed. Furthermore, if you DO make your show the place to be then lots of people are going to come through. There is sort of a critical mass for shows, maybe around 100 having clicked ‘going’ where it goes from just another show to a ‘banger’. If you are continually ensuring people are clicking ‘going’ on the Facebook page then you are going to have a banger.
One of the keys as well is personal outreach. Most people don’t pay attention to a ton of shit in their feeds but will pay attention to a text. Don’t blast everyone constantly but definitely think about which of your friends haven’t seen your band in a while and who might be interested in taking the time to check you out. This is a great way to reach out to potential fans in your region and on your friends list or people who have attended multiple shows already who you want to show some love too. This is also one of the key places where direct outreach is immediately actionable (They have a show to go too) and has a value proposition (live entertainment) that isn’t easily locked in. If it’s the kind of person who you think is a tastemaker and who you know will bring people then on top of that you might even want to put them on the list. This is just another great way to continue to develop the brand and image surrounding you.
That being said, don’t be annoying and beg people to tell you they are going when they actually have no intention of heading out. This just encourages promoter confidence and makes the entire thing even more stressful when it falls apart. You and everyone involved end up looking foolish which is embarrassing and totally unneeded. Instead, try and reach out to the people you know attend shows. Begging is silly and makes you look amateurish. You want people to think that you are a pro through and through. So while regular outreach and posting at least once a week about an upcoming show is cool, trying to twist peoples arms into coming and guilting them is only going to make you look useless and silly. You need to give people a reason to come and have your reputation as a live band precede you, but you need to make sure that other people don’t forget.
Long story short, make sure everyone you can get to post is talking about your shows at least two months in advance and posting about them once a week. Doing more risk looking desperate, except in the week leading up to the show when it makes sense to do more and really push on people that THIS IS HAPPENING. Stay in peoples faces but remain kind and cool and they will want to come to your show. This is a scene that rewards hard workers and the people who want to help develop their scene and come to understand bleak realities that make so many of us uncomfortable. So come out, deal with the struggle and keep on trucking!