These days, it seems that there are opportunities to promote your music everywhere you look. Some band services sites like Sonicbids and ReverbNation are full of opportunities that you can submit your music to (though often, that submission requires you to pay a fee). However, it doesn’t always require a submission service, a paid EPK site, or contests where you try to prod friends and fans into voting for you. Sometimes, it just takes some creativity and a lot of drive.
I always look looking for opportunities on the road less traveled. Not only is there simply less competition for attention, but when you find the right opportunity, there’s generally a higher payoff as well. Here are some idea generators you can use to find more ways to get income and/or attention:
Bottoms Up! Do you frequent a local watering hole or know someone who bartends? While the “provide them with free coasters” idea has been done to death, bands seldomly ask to be put on the bar jukebox. Even more rare: designing a custom drink for the bar and have it named after you, your single, etc. In return, you put that drink on all of your business cards and flyers, telling people to visit that bar or club. You could even provide free download cards to patrons who order that drink. You could even do the same thing with a restaurant. It’s a win-win. You can even talk o them about slipping some music into the jukebox as well.
Contact the Chamber. I’ve been a part of various local chamber of commerces and business networking groups for 15 years now and I’ve never seen another artist as a member. Chamber members are often looking for live music for special events and often rely on their network. The fee to join is nominal; not only can you meet business owners of important resources (printers, screen printing, graphic designers, auto mechanics, etc.), but if you book a single gig from it, it more than covers the dues. The chamber itself often needs music for each gathering, so offer to come up with a playlist for meetings and include some of your music!
At the Car Wash! When the weather is warm, you can almost always expect to see high school students and local charities washing cars to raise money. Why don’t you consider doing the same to raise money for an album or tour? With every car wash, you could even include free samples of your music or sell CD’s while there. Plus, it could be a bonding event for you and your hardcore fans.
Consignment. You can almost always place your record on consignment at your local record store, but have you considered making it available at other stores as well? For example, if many of your fans love comic books and you have songs about them, you could put your CD on consignment at a comic shop (same with skateboards, art stores, sports, coffee shops, or whatever the interest might be). In addition, you could ask the store to play the music, offer to do an in-store performance or signing to help promote it as well.
Turn it Up in the Library! Did you know that many libraries allow members to check out music? In fact, many have a local music section, especially college libraries. Talk to your local library about putting your music in the lending catalog – but don’t stop there. Ask to perform at the library, especially if you have songs that are related to books, about reading, inspired by stories, etc. There is an entire genre of music called “wizard rock” of bands inspired by Harry Potter. The most popular act, Harry and the Potters, has been touring libraries for over ten years now.
This is a simple list to get ideas going. Think about all of the interests that you and your fans share, where you get inspiration from, where you spend your time, where you shop, and how other businesses promote themselves. Those are some of my favorite ways to find new opportunities to promote my music and make new fans.
I’ve done every one of the ideas listed above and they’ve all worked quite well (especially when you can work with a group of volunteers to help promote). It’s often just a matter of thinking creatively about your music and finding nontraditional methods of getting the word out. Another time, I contacted the small town of Astoria, OR because our band had a song about it. I simply contacted their local paper and called the tourism office, letting them know that we wrote a song about the city and would love to share it. Shortly after that, we got booked to headline the Astoria Crab, Wine, and Food Festival and played for thousands of people. Also, every time we made it into the news, the Astoria paper would write a story on the band!