Social Media isn’t your only tool when it comes to the modern music world. There’s something cringe worthy about being privileged with admin rights for a venue or festival inbox. Right around the week before any given event, you’re flooded (almost literally, flooded) with messages from bands begging to be added to the bill. Worse still, are those slightly delusional artists ‘offering’ their talents to headline. Again, I’ll stress. The. Week. Before. The. Event. Umm… no. We get it. There are tons of bands out there, and making a name for yourself, being heard, whatever, it’s hard. But messaging the organizers of festivals or gigs in a desperate manner just isn’t going to cut it, unfortunately. That being said, we want bands to succeed. We really do. But there are wayyyy better ways to get yourselves out there, so here are just a few… Give Out Freebies
People like free stuff. It’s basic, but very true. People aren’t always keen on flyers, although it’s never going to do any harm carrying a few around with you – just be prepared for operation clean up once people inevitably drop them all over the floor. When it comes to promotion, you could hand out a CD, but let’s face it, how many of those are going to survive in a pit? What you need is a little USB from USB Makers – pop your tracks on, brand it up with your logo and you’re good to go. If you’re scared people will lose that, you could even make an order from Card USB. The temptation will be real to get one made up to look like a Kit Kat, but these flat-pack USBs that will fit in your wallet will make you stand out and are perfect for the band. They should also do well sold as merch – definitely something to think about for the future if you’re budget isn’t the highest. But sometimes, you gotta speculate to accumulate. Wow, all of the clichés – but maybe there’s a point to them.
How does one ‘look’ American, exactly? We’re not really talking about image on this one (although image really does help… okay? However much you begrudge that). What we do mean is be confident. Don’t be afraid to approach people. There’s a certain cockiness with American bands, and we’re not just talking about their style which gets members of the opposite sex flocking to them. It’s just that they seem right at home in a music scene, and it shows. So, take a leaf out of their book. Bands in the USA will often be seen engaging with fans at other gigs – whether it’s in the queue outside, or whilst people are waiting at the bars, and so forth. One great idea is to allow people to have a quick listen to your tracks on some headphones. The joys of being able to carry around music devices, hey? If you’re polite and don’t, say, interrupt their conversations (or worse still, the band they came to see…) you can definitely pull this off, and potentially even look pretty important!
Make Friends (With Pseudo-Important People)
Take from this one what you will, but making friends (read: connections) is an absolutely vital part of being a musician. That old saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’? Yeah, it’s kinda true. At a gig or festival, you’re lucky to be surrounded by what is most likely to be your key demographic. From the fan girls & guys, to the music journalists, to the clothing lines (such as Big Deal and White Trash London) who’ve done endorsements in the past. The place is usually crawling with industry types, you just need to know where to look. So, how will you know who’s important? Don’t worry… you’ll know. There are two types. Those falling all over themselves to let you know who they are (these are typically the semi-important ones), and then there are those who are too cool to talk to you at all… these are often the big-wigs. If you know how to network, this is how you can best use social to your advantage, because they’re far more likely to want to take note on Facebook once they’ve met you! You’ve got nothing to lose though, so why not give approaching people a go, providing you aren’t just being super annoying. Which leads us on to the next point…
Don’t Be An Idiot
Drinking at gigs or festivals is pretty much a given, but if you’re there representing your band, try not to make a fool of yourself. It’s one thing to do this when you’re not associated with anything, but if you’ve made a huge deal about your band, your professionalism will look shocking if you’re acting like an idiot and being rude to people ten minutes later. You aren’t a famous rock star yet, and not all press is good press at this stage. So remember, like your mum told you – manners can get you everywhere.
… For the right reasons. Whether you’re co-ordinating some ridiculous outfits, or you happen to be blessed with some friends from Front and the like who will act as models for your band merch, standing out is pretty key. To reiterate, these types of environments are the easiest place to find people who might potentially care about the stuff you’re putting out. But, everyone wants to be in a band these days, so you have to make the most of every opportunity, especially when it’s often simple and free.
Even if any of the above seem a little out of place, always remember – gigs and festivals, whilst fun, are the ultimate aim for your own band. Use them to your advantage as more than a social call – these are the people you need to win over and create a buzz within the community. If you’re a little over-confident and getting your name out there now, it will go a long way in the future. And who knows, maybe someday, the tables will turn and people will be begging you to play their events.