So you agreed to a date with the venue and your show is booked. Now what? Please, please don’t think all you have to do next is show up on the day of your show. In fact, the hard work has only just begun. The fact is, venues are expecting you to bring your fans. That’s why they booked you. While it helps the venue out, promoting your shows is a big help to yourself. It increases your chances of earning more money in merchandise sales, ticket sales, door sales, etc. It also makes you look good to the venue and gives them confidence in booking you again. It makes you look good to the built in venue patrons, and it makes you look good to your fans.
Before we get into what to do, I want to address a few things NOT to do.
Don’t rely on other people to promote your show. This is VERY important! If you don’t have a draw and don’t think you have the capabilities to promote the show successfully, don’t try to book it. You’ll be wasting your time and the venue’s. Also, don’t make any assumptions. Operations are very different from venue to venue, so what one venue does and allows could be very different with another venue.
Here are some things you SHOULD do to promote your show:
- Help the Venue Promote Your Show. Send a promo kit to the venue. Include a short bio, digital flyer & your music links & youtube/soundcloud links. Remember this is not simply what you sent them in your initial booking pitch. Think with the end-listener in mind when sending material. Send something that would interest a potential listener.
- Design a great poster about your show, print some up and send them to the venue.
- Create giveaway CDs and send some to the venue to put on display. Be sure to include information about your show somewhere on the CD.
- Write a Press Release and send it to local media outlets. (This should be done about a month or two in advance of the show in order to make it into their deadlines.) I wrote a very in-depth article on how to write a press release, craft a newsworthy angle, and make a great pitch. Click here to read it.
- Look for any online calendars in the area and add your event to their event listings.
- Ask the venue if they know of any local radio stations or media outlets to send correspondence to about your next show. It’s possible that there’s a radio station or a morning TV show that would be interested in interviewing you to promote your show.
- Create an event on your Facebook Page. Add the venue as a co-host and any other bands that are on the bill. This will give the venue and the other acts on the bill an opportunity to share the event to their page, and post on the event page discussion. Plus it shows the venue that you are serious about promoting. Trust me, they pay attention to these things. Read about my extra tricks for promoting a show on Facebook here. Don’t forget to also e-mail your venue contact a link to the Facebook event.
- Create a Video Flyer promoting your show. It can be something as simple as you talking about the show. Or it can be a snippet from one of your best songs along with information about the show. Be creative and make sure it looks professional. Post this on your social media pages and send it to the venue.
- Send an e-mail to your mailing list. If you have people in the area on your mailing list, send them an e-mail telling them about your show. I recommend sending it directly from your e-mail address instead of a software like Mailchimp. Reason being is that sometimes those e-mails go directly to spam folders and they get completely ignored. You can’t afford to have that happen if you’re promoting a show and trying to pack a venue. So if an e-mail is sent from you personally, it has a better chance at reaching the intended recipient. Include all pertinent details. Share a few personal things about the show and why they should come. It might help also to talk about the general location of the venue and what the parking situation is like. I’ll be honest, sometimes, I don’t go to events simply to avoid a parking nightmare.
- Where applicable, send text messages and hand-written post cards. This works especially well for friends and family. Sometimes, when you’re on tour it’s hard to remind friends and family that you will be there, but if this is a part of your routine show promoting tasks, it can save you the embarrassment of showing up in your Aunt’s town and forgetting to tell her you were coming. Plus, your Aunt just might show up if you send her a text or a hand written note in the mail. If you have phone numbers and addresses for your fans, go ahead and send something to them as well.
- Are there any special interest groups that might be interested in attending? Youth groups, non-profits, support groups, etc. If you have songs that specific people groups would be interested in hearing you perform, there might be an opportunity to use that as a way to get people to come to your show. I wrote an entire album dedicated to natural hair. Every time I go to a city, I reach out to the local natural hair groups in town telling them about my upcoming show. Most of the time they show up.
About a week before the show:
Post about the show on all of your social media and tag the venue.
Find different things to say about the show throughout the week leading up to your event. You can talk about their menu, the last time you played there, any interesting news about the venue, what merch you will have with you, what new songs you will be playing, who said they were coming, etc. Also, include a link to some of your best live footage in the post. That way people who don’t know you can hear your music without having to take any extra steps. If you tag the venue on all of these posts, a notification will be sent to the venue and they will most likely share/repost it on their pages. If there are other acts on the bill, tag them as well.
Send a reminder to your mailing list. You might find luck offering a sweet gift to the person who brings the most people. This could be a t-shirt, a free drink, or a CD.
Spend a few dollars and advertise your event on Facebook. People are looking for things to do, and if you boost a post about the show, it will get more exposure.
Reach out to other similar bands in the area. Tell them you’ll be performing at XYZ venue and if they’re not doing anything to stop by. You’d love to meet them and it could be good for networking/gig-swapping for the next time.
Want this as a checklist? Click here to download a Printable Checklist that can be used to Promote all your shows.