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How To Promote A Show (Without Pissing A Million People Off)

I know that this blog is primarily band focused, but given how viral the article I wrote last week about what bands can do to promote their local shows went I wanted to focus on the things that makes your show a banger, or at least make the bands not feel like you totally screwed them over. This can be a tricky thing to do, and though the barrier of entry is low, the financial cost can be high. This is why so many promoters so frequently straight up drop out of the game and why so many other promoters engaged in endlessly sketchy practices. When it comes down to it, in most cases on the DIY level the numbers don’t add up. Also, as a newer band or a band trying to be movers and shakers the odds are that you are going to be booking some of your own shows early on, so this can be valuable information for you to pick up on. Simultaneously, it’s important to check up on your local promoters and make sure they have some semblance of a system that they are using to boost their brand.

First off – book bands people fucking care about and make sure that you have local bands on your bill. I see so many promoters who just toss on bands who are their friends from other cities or folks who got posted about once in a genre specific publication and then were never heard from again. So many young promoters over value bands and end up hurting themselves. Try and find out what the previous draw was for the band in that market and go from there. Ask promoter friends if they have had success with the band in the past, even if it has been in other cities. If you’re booking on the DIY level and a band is coming to a market for the first time and asking for more than say $150 then you are getting yourself into hot water. Also – when you choose your locals, make sure that they aren’t locals who play every show ever. Make sure they are locals who people give at least a modicum of a shit about, otherwise again, you are embarrassing yourself.

It’s important to be reminded here that if you screw up promoting shows, especially if you screw up multiple shows then you will piss people off. It’s not a question of having a bad reputation or whatever, just if you are an annoying super nerdy gorn lord who pisses people off then word will get out. So you might want to pay attention to the respected promoters in your scene, because they have been doing this for a while and know how to promote shows on their socials etc in a way that isn’t going to make everyone tear their hair out at you and instead is going to set you up as an individual who does a lot of cool stuff. This is a wonderfully tricky world to get involved in, so be very cautious with how you move forward. The stakes aren’t always super high, but you want a name as someone who puts on the most badass shows rather than the lamest right? Tied into this – be sure the bands you work with won’t fuck you over, make sure they are the sort of folks who post about upcoming events a LOT. If you’re unsure, look at previous events they played and see if they pushed them at all. If they didn’t, don’t listen when they say ‘this time is different bro!’ it’s not different, they suck. Fuck them.

Point being – you want to be trying to announce two months out. This is usually enough time for everyone to mark a date and not forget it and also get to sharing. This is also about how far out most tours get announced. If there is an agent on the date ALWAYS COORDINATE WITH THE AGENT when the announcement is. They are giving you one of their premier acts, don’t fuck them on this. Once you’ve made your announcement and your Facebook page for the event start to send out invites to people in your region. If you can, get a few friends who are hip in the scene to send out Facebook invites as well. Remember – if your show doesn’t have a Facebook event page then it might as well not even be happening. I know that sucks to hear but it’s true. The event page is the focus of your promotional efforts. You need to share it at least once a week from the announcement up until about two weeks out when you want to share two or three times in that week. The week of the show you share it every day.

Of course this isn’t the only way to promote the event. If you live in a flyer centric city then be sure to be doing that at all the cool shows. Try to get the tastemakers in your scene talking about your show at shows they go to in order to promote yourself. The other key, and this might get you more tastemakers than conventional flyering these days, is posting directly in relevant Facebook groups as much as possible. These are not national groups but rather ones focused on your local music scene. If some of the cool bands in your scene also have Facebook groups then I would post in those too if the bands are cool with it. The whole goal with promoting a show is making sure that you are hitting your target demographic as many times as possible. If you do that by coating all the relevant groups and sending them invitations to your event you will start to get there.

Night of the show there isn’t much you can do. You’ve promoted as best you could. I always try to make sure I have a firm grasp on the drink ticket situation for bands at all time because it keeps them happy and makes you seem like the cool guy. Tied into this I always like to buy a case of water for the bands. It only costs like 5 bucks and they really appreciate it. People like feeling catered too and taken care of. This 5 dollar investment can make people really look forward to your shows and get folks invested in you. So keep growing your name and following these basic rules .They aren’t tricky and will get you a lot of love and respect.

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