BOOKING PROMOTION 101 - Lifestyle Promotion
Once you decide to do something for your music that is tangible, i.e., something besides "upload it to the world, and wait", lifestyle promotion is a great first choice. Not as difficult as street promotion, but less competition that venue promotion, it's a nice middle ground and is a very hands-on and visible way to get your music and image to the public.
Lifestyle promotion is where you go to places in town (besides venues) which have the types of people that would be potential audience/fans for you, if they only knew about you. Usually, these places are some type of retail establishment, and they attract people/customers who have the same "lifestyle" that your current fans do. It's really pretty simple to do; it's just extremely hard work. Why would these places want to help out an artist? Because it makes them look like they are current and "in" with the cool people. Not all, or even many, places will agree with this, but the idea is to work with those that do, and try to convince those that aren't sure.
How does this help you get gigs? It convinces potential venues that you really have an awareness in their town, and more importantly, an awareness in their immediate neighborhood. No amount of (real or fake) Youtube views, Twitter feeds, web radio spins, or online friends is going to convince them otherwise. Matter of fact, venues have learned that Youtube views, Twitter feeds, web radio spins, and online friends have absolutely no effect at all on the number of people which will show up and pay to see an act at their venues. Only commercial radio regular rotation has an immediate effect (it can create lines around the block), but that is another story.
The nice thing about lifestyle promotion, in retail locations, is that it's pretty easy to get started: Just start selecting the types of places that you normally go to! And preferably, near the venues you want to perform at. This might seem a bit simple, but usually an artist has similar tastes and interests as the fans, so it's easy to get started most of the time. Generally the best types of retail locations are those that are run by just one person; in other words, mom-and-pop shops. This is because there is only one person to make the decision: the mom, or the pop.
The first thing you want to try to do at the retail locations is to get them to put up a small poster in their front windows. An 11 x 17 inch (ledger size) poster is a good first choice; any bigger and it will be hard to fit in crowded windows. Full color posters in 11 x 17 are cheap nowadays; it's only the bigger ones which get expensive. Here is a sample poster:
Note the poster has a blank white strip on the bottom; this is for writing-in the date and time of the next gig that is nearby. Or, if there is no gig nearby, it's to write a thank-you to the retail location for supporting you: "Thank You Bob's Donuts!" Also note the large letters, and the lack of pictures; this is because the poster has no purpose unless people walking by (and glancing at it for 1/2 second) can walk away and remember the name. A picture won't help anyone remember a name, especially in just 1/2 of a second. The purpose of a poster is to get your artist (brand) name to a potential audience; not to show off your artwork. When the potential audience shows up at your gig, and buys your cd/shirt/merch, that is the time to show off your artwork.
The big challenge in putting up posters in lifestyle locations is getting the owners to say yes. This is where the "Thank You Bob's Donuts!" comes in. Tell them you'll sign a thank-you right then and there, while you are standing in their store. And you'll put it up in the window for them. And you'll take a picture from the outside, showing the store and the poster, and you'll put the picture up on your site to show all the local potential fans and store customers how their store is "cool".
But the ultimate power of all the pics is when you try to get gigs: You show the venue person all the pics of all the posters, in all the windows, of all the stores. Powerful! And this is on top of them seeing it for themselves when they walk around town. At the very least, the venue person will have to agree that a large number of neighborhood customers have seen your name, and would probably consider paying to see you at their venue.
Next topic: What is Booking-Promotion?
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