In this article I may refer to a band, duo, single artist or event as the “product”. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but it is what it is, a product. And if you market it and promote it properly, you will have more of a following, and hopefully, more people at your gigs, because let’s be honest, you’re trying to win people over. You want them to be engaged with what you have to offer. And if you don’t care whether you have an audience or not, then play on the freakin’ street corner and don’t put the venues at risk.
For starters, there are so many different ways to get your product known, now more than ever. Social media is a must and networking is imperative. Since the dream of getting picked up by a big label has all but diminished, more artists are garnering “Street teams” to make a grassroots effort to accumulate fans. They’re following the DIY business model as the music industry attempts to reinvent itself. Yes, there are still Independent Record Promoters out there working artists trying to get them radio airplay, but they cost big bucks. BIG BUCKS. I make no attempt to try to tell artists how to “make it,” I’m just trying to get artists to promote their gigs here in Ventura! You can use Bandcamp, ArtistData and CDBaby for the bigger picture. This article is about getting people out to see you and support you in Ventura.
Number one rule, DO NOT depend on one medium, especially if that one medium is a social media choice (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Most people do not use social media and if they do, they’re not on it 24/7.
On the other side of the coin (and it’s a scary one), there are a handful of people who think Facebook is the internet and it’s the only place they get their information. I’ve met one or two and it’s bizarre.
Be that what it may, Facebook is fun because you get feedback, but Facebook now limits your reach; those who are your friends, or those who have Liked your page don’t always receive your post, and if they do, they’re not on Facebook ALL THE TIME, so they may miss your post. Bands who have used Facebook industriously have discovered that Facebook will warn them that they’ve abused the Events feature when people don’t accept invitations and they’ll blackball them for awhile.
If you do use Facebook, you should have a Band/Artist/Business page, and you should always promote your gigs from that page and not your personal page. I know a lot about Ventura’s music scene and it will still confuse me when a person says “We’re playing tonight at the Sewer!” My question is , “Who is We?” If you don’t have a Band/Artist or Business page (this goes to you venue owners too), at least spell it out for people who “we” is; name your band or venue.
When you do post a gig on Facebook, take the time when possible to create artwork. The artwork (poster) should include your name, date, place and time. People love images! And if you do create events, still use artwork so people can share it. I did a quick survey of my posts and found that when I shared a band’s event, it would get about 75 views, but when I posted artwork from that same event, it would garner over 700 views. Do the math, it’s worth your time to create art.
Also, if you use a photo, do not use a photo from another venue, i.e., a picture taken at Squashed Grapes to promote a gig at The Wine Rack. It not only confuses people, but let’s face it, it’s kind of rude to the venue you’ll be playing for. So, do try to get photos at every venue you play for future use.
Twitter is fun because it’s such a challenge to get everything you want to say in 140 characters. But I like it because it forces people to keep their tweets succinct and to the point. Use artwork here too, and don’t use a link to somewhere else explaining what you’re talking about. Spell it out on Twitter. I NEVER EVER click on those links. But again, the bottom line with Twitter (and all social media), people may miss the tweet because they’re not checking it all the time. Use it, but don’t depend on it.
The same goes for Instagram. People LOVE pictures! It’s true! Using Instagram to share Posters of events is a clever way to help get the word out. But like all the other forms of social media, people may miss it. Oh! And, if you share your Instagram post on Facebook, know that others can not share it for some reason. You need to post it on Facebook (not share it from Instagram).
Email blasts are a great old school method because they will reach your target audience. Just be sure you’re doing it right and the layout of your email isn’t all jacked up and oversized. That’s a quick way to get your email deleted and ignored, especially if you consistently do that. Also, don’t include too much information in each email. Keep it to the point. Triple check your text for typos and grammatical errors. Follow the basics, who, what, where, and how much will it cost. Again, artwork helps.
For the bigger picture, you’ll want to have a website, one that lists out who you are, what you offer and where you will be playing. Yes it’s an investment, but it gives you credibility, and it keeps you connected to your audience. They know where to find you. You can have links there to all your social media pages.
Please list your genre. Don’t list how it makes people feel, or who your influences have been, list what type of music you provide. Do this on your homepage of your website, the About page of Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter, YouTube, CD Baby, BandCamp. Maybe because I don’t personally produce music I don’t understand why an artist or band doesn’t like to be pigeonholed to a particular genre, but trust me, if you’re trying to win over new fans, people want to know what they’re in store for. They may or may not want folk, metal, punk or jazz. They just want to know what you have to offer.
Putting up flyers about town is still worthy of your endeavors, especially if you’re promoting an event as oppose to a gig.
And please use fonts people can read! Metal is the worst, punk follows closely behind. If you insist on using unreadable fonts on artwork for social media, then write out the band names on the post itself.
If you have a big event, let all of your local media outlets know! Write up a quick press release and send it out to The Ventura County Star, the VC Reporter, The Ventura Breeze, and of course VenturaRocks.com. Many of these resources list a calendar of events for free. Do the research and find out who to email.
And not to be tooting our own horn, but VenturaRocks.com is an invaluable resource for Ventura’s music scene. We get up to 10,000 page impressions monthly. These are people who want to know about music in Ventura specifically. Not LA, not Ojai, not Santa Barbara, just Ventura.
I can’t stress hard enough how frustrating it is to see a gig on Facebook the day of the show that isn’t listed on VenturaRocks.com. I take promoting Ventura’s music scene very seriously. I get up early every single morning, so I can update the website before I head out to my day job (which I start at 7 am). I’ve been doing this since 2009; I’ve missed updating the website maybe five times, and it was mostly due to technical issues or illness. I’ve never blown it off.
Please let me know when your gigs are and don’t depend on social media. I’m not online all the time! It may seem that way because I schedule posts in advance, but seriously, I’m away MOST OF THE TIME!! It really does break my heart to see something that I missed the day of someone’s show and I can’t update VenturaRocks.com because I’m not at my home computer.
Don’t be shy, I want you to reach out to me and tell me your gigs. I’ve never charged a venue or artist to be listed for gigs in Ventura. I do offer advertising for those who want to stand out more, but to be listed on the calendar, there has never been a charge. I just ask that you give me advance warning when you can, and let me know when your gigs have been cancelled or postponed.
VenturaRocks.com really is a unique resource that I wish bands, artists and all of Ventura’s venues would take advantage of. People swear by it and check it almost daily to make sure they’re not missing anything.
Send your info and updates to Pam@VenturaRocks.com. It’s helpful if you check our weekly calendar page before you send me information just in case it is already listed: http://www.venturarocks.com/Listings.