For all you bands that are trying to make it and really can’t afford to hire some publicity agency or consultant, here’s 38 sure ways to market your band with little to no budget. Yeah, besides running GrimyGoods.com I’ve been doing marketing and publicity for the past five years or so. Trust, these tips will totally grab you some exposure and hopefully land you a proper label and publicist so you don’t have to do all the busy work. And remember, you’ll never get anywhere by sitting around on your ass and waiting for opportunities to come to you.
- Social Media:
Duh! In order to succeed, you must have some of these: Myspace Music Page, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, Youtube Channel, LastFM, etc. I recently sent a random tweet about a band named Fartbarf. Can you tell why? Because of that tweet they were featured in an LA Weekly Music post and the shit went viral. That’s what you want kids. You want your band and tunes to go viral like H1N1!
- Be Social and Personal!
Your fans want to know more about you. Instead of tweeting what looks like an automated link to purchase your album, throw in some tweets about your personal life. What shows you’re going to, what bugs you, food you like etc. And repy back to some of your fans! As mentioned before, do the same with Blog entries. Some bands that are great at sharing their personal life: Silversun Pickups, Amanda Palmer, The Ettes, Fanfarlo, Quest Love, the late and great Jay Reatard (RIP), etc.
- Get a Blog/Web site!
If you can’t afford to get a Web site built, get a pro lookin’ Blog going. I highly recommend using WordPress. It’s FREE and totally user friendly. Your fans want to know more about you than just your music. Get personal! Write Blog entries about your tour, a fucked up show, your own favorite bands, a random hook-up, etc. Also, upload photos from your own personal camera and phone. Fans eat this shit up and WILL come back for more.
- Get a Fuckin Bio!
I can’t stand when a band wants us to check them out and they have absolutely no background info available anywhere. Get a bio written, one-sheet, slap it on your Mypace—I don’t care where it’s at just have it easily available.
- Press Photos:
Even if they’re not professional, just please have some photos of your entire band together. These days anyone with an SLR thinks they’re a pro photog, I’m sure you know many.
- Whore Yourself Out!
Hit up your favorite music publications and taste-making Bloggers with you bio, photo and a link to download your EP/Album. I always listen to bands first with album download links as opposed to those with out.
- Contact Info:
List your PR contacts, booking, management, and label on your myspace/Facebook/Blog/etc. (if you don’t have any of the above, set up a band email). Make sure Bloggers and media can reach you for interviews, album reviews, show reviews, and what not. If your contact info can’t be found, you’ll get skipped.
- Proper Email address:
Get a legit email. Yahoo and Hotmail are so ’92 and reek of lame cheese. If you have you’re own Blog or band Web site, use a url that shouts our your band’s name or at least get Gmail (email@example.com).
- Don’t be Pushy!
Most high profile Bloggers and media are inundated with emails and only get to mabye 20 percent of emails during the week. The others get deleted or archived for later. If you sent someone your music and info, follow up at least after two weeks. If they don’t respond, they probably don’t dig your tunes. Move on.
- Catchy Subject Lines:
You want us to open that email? Well it’s all in the subject line and please don’t use annoying “ALL CAPS.” If I get an email that has “Album Download Inside” or “You’re one sexy bitch,” chances are I’m going to open it. Get clever, get witty … get your emails opened.
- Flirt! ♥
“Um, are you twirting with me?” Whether it’s through Twitter, Facebook or an email, if you got the cajones, flirt with the Blogger or media you’re trying to reach. I won’t lie, some boys and girls with charm get a quicker review (if we like they’re tunes).
- Give FREE Downloads!
Hell! If you got the balls dish out an entire EP or album download for free or as low as a buck. Fanfarlo gave their debut album “Reservoir” away for $1 (for a limited time) and look at them now—headlining tours, playing big festivals and performing on Letterman!
- Go to Shows!
Learn from others and network while you’re at it. It’s like they say, “in order to be a good writer, you gotta read other people’s shit.” duh
- Hot Girls!
A pretty face and a bangin’ body works wonders in this world. If you have a bunch of hot chick friends hook them up with some T-shirts! And if they have big boobs, give them a smaller size and say “yeah, they messed up our order and only gave us smalls. Weird huh?” Bands with a hot following attract a lot more people.
Get into a fight with a bigger band. Remember when the lil troll from Wavves got into a fight with Jared from the Black Lips? Well, it sparked a huge amount of attention and the lesser known Wavves got a lot of publicity out of it.
Get to know your fans before or after your show. I’m sure you’ll meet some pretty cool peeps by doing so, let alone some hot groupies. If you show you’re personable and not sitting on some imaginary high horse, they’ll spread the word to their network of how awesome you are. And I’m sure you’ll get a free shot or two out of it!
- Play Lots of Shows!
Even if it’s a small or lesser know venue, you need to get yourself out there. Even if the money is little to nothing, get the fuckin’ exposure!
- Play House Parties!
That’s um, kind of the hip thing to do these days. Both The Soft Pack and Avi Buffalo have played plenty of house parties even with their recent fame.
Get some cool on-stage signage for when you perform. This will set you apart from the rest and brand your band with an image (choose wisely). A few examples: Fanfarlo with their hanging flags, Heavy Young Heathens with their life-size vertical banners, the XX and their big blocks, etc.
- Newtork, Network, Network!
It sometimes is all about who you know. I’ve seen some not-so-great bands fill up venues because of who they know and associate themselves with. Get out there and talk to people, you never know who you’re going to meet.
- Guest Spots:
Fans love a special guest appearance. Whether it’s a well known musician playing a song with your band or you playing a guest spot with another band, do it!
The trumpet player from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Stewart Cole, is always participating with other bands. The past few months I saw him perform with Soko and Local Natives. Brooklyn’s White Rabbits somehow managed to get Britt Daniel to play a song with them back in November.
- Well Known Musician Cred:
If you’re friends with a well know band or find out another musician digs your tunes, ask them to hook you up. Maybe they can promote your album in their newsletter, Twitter or Facebook. I’ll use Fanfarlo again as an example. That’s how I heard about they’re $1 album download, through a Sigur Ros newsletter.
Respond back to fans through social networks and online message boards. They love that shit! It makes them feel special, duh.
Just like special guest appearances at shows, you can do the same on your record. Everyone loves a good collaboration with another kick-ass musician.
- Record Store In-stores:
Ask you local record shop if you can do an in-store performance! I’m sure they’ll fancy the idea as it will bring them new customers.
- Guest DJ
It takes one to know one. You guys are musicians and probably have quite a diverse palette. Most venues these days have DJs before and after the show. Try to line-up a guest spot at your favorite venue to throw down some records (that’s if you have a collection or can work off another DJ’s). Anything other than vinyl is pretty lame. DO NOT BE THAT iPOD DJ.
- Guerrilla Marketing!
This shit never gets stale. Get stickers made with your band name/logo and tag the streets up! Famed street artist Shepard Fairey got his fame this way. It all started with his simple “André the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign. Hook your friends, family and fans up with some stickers and tell them to go to town with them! Get flyers made too with your up coming shows. Drop them off at your fav record stores, coffee shops, hip clothing stores, and venues.
Order some T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc, and set up a merch table at all your shows (big or small). And please, list the track titles on your CDs. I once got a CD with no track names and it pissed me off. How the hell am I supposed to review that shit, if I have nothing to reference the tracks to? Another popular merch item are tote bags! I recently went to a Heavy Young Heathens show and they were selling tote bags with some cool artwork of themselves on it for only $5. Chicks love tote bags! Order em! Cool mini posters are also a quick purchase. Especially if you’re gonna stick around to sign autographs.
- Business Cards
Get some with you band info on it. If you’re out and about on a Friday night and schmoozing with all the right people, chances are they won’t remember your band’s name (especially if they’re a bit tipsy). I’m guilty of forgetting plenty. I can barely remember what I wore last weekend. Give them something tangible that they’ll look up!
I LOVE Wikipedia. This is such a great source for music journalists and fans. It’s like an encyclopedia page all about your band, from discography to guest appearances, history, and more, this your fuckin’ bible—from beginning to end.
- Join Contests:
Don’t act like you’re too cool for school dude. Almost every music mag/Web site has contests for best local artist, best indie band, etc. (LA Weekly, Deli Mag, NME) Nominate yourself into these contests. Even if you don’t win you’re getting mad exposure. I’ve voted a few times for some of my friends’ bands on such contests and while doing so, I made sure to check out a lot of the other bands competing. Perfect example, while voting for the Freelance Whales on the NY Deli Mag’s “best emerging artist” I discovered The Vandelles. Holy fuck they rip!
People still do listen to the radio. And although most stations play a bunch of shwag shit, there are still some hip stations. Contact you local radio, public radio, college radio, and online radio stations for some coverage!
Participate in Local Charitable Functions. You’ll probably be hitting a wider audience and will be doing a good deed at the same time. I put on an event for a skateboarding charity once, The Doogood Conservatory and was stoked that Earthless came on board to contribute their thrashing tunes. There’s lots of publicity to receive with any charity event.
It’s a lot of work to do all this promoting, so get some free help. Put up a Craiglist add for a street-team to execute some of your guerrilla marketing campaigns and even contribute to some of you social media efforts. College interns, younger family members, friends of friends, dedicated groupies—I’m sure you can gather some sort of a team to get this shit going.
Get a fan email list going! Place an option to join your band’s newsletter on your Web site, Blog, Facebook, etc. and start collecting them emails! You should send a newsletter at least biweekly depending on how much new info you have to announce. You can highlight new mp3 downloads, tour updates, blog entries, contests, and much more. There’s also ways to make money off of a healthy targeted email list.
- FB Event invites
You should send out Facebook Event Invites for all of your shows and ask those you’ve invited to pass the invite along to their friends and so on.
- Google Alerts
Every band should set these up for their band name, as well as each member of their band. This will help you track all coverage and hear what people are saying about you guys.
Start a word document with every single mention of your band on the Internet with direct links. Be sure to clip all print coverage too! Scan any piece and make sure turn into a digital copy/PDF as well. All this coverage can later be used for future one-sheets, testimonials, press releases, and for booking purposes. As well as shopping labels.
Words: Sandy B.