Working with venues to successfully promote your show

  • By cvbizz
  • September 8, 2020
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Promotion is tough, there’s no way around it. Facebook, Instagram and twitter limit organic reach in order to get users to spend money on ads, physical flyers get overlooked more often than not, and we all have so many different brands constantly screaming for our attention that it is often just a sea of noise. So yeah, here I am to talk about promotion.

First off, I do want to preface that all of my experience is coming from the perspective of a club owner/promoter. Also, I definitely do not have all of the answers and am in no way claiming to be some infallible expert, I’m just hoping to shed some light on the subject and maybe get you the reader thinking about some things you might not think about in your day to day life. 

Pay Attention to Venues Promotional Efforts

One thing I often notice from performers/bands when it comes to where they play is take notice of previous venue’s lack of promotion. It’s not usually evident until after a band plays to a smaller crowd than they had hoped and by then, it’s already too late. As someone who owns a club, and books 250 shows a year (I actually tallied 257 in 2019), I will admit there have been times where I’ve dropped the ball, and could have done a much better job. However there have often been times where I’ve gotten the show vs.a nicer club (esp when Radio Room was in our old building), b/c they took notice of our promotional efforts.

You and The Venue Need to Work Together to Promote

However,I do think that promotion should be a 2-way street and that’s one thing I’m guilty of as well. One thing I always appreciate is when someone performing makes their own flyer or video snippet. I’ve been asked to make flyers before, and although I can fake it well enough, it’s not my area of expertise by any means.

One thing to think about when designing show flyers/assets in the future would be to send it to the venue and ask them if they wouldn’t mind using it in their own promotional efforts. To me the club owner it signifies that not only are you taking promotion seriously,you’re keeping promotion in the back of your mind (and you’re also gently reminding them). Another idea to collaborate would be that instead of sponsoring a post on your own, to ask the venue/club if they would would be interested in co-sponsoring a post.It could also send a message that you’re looking for ways to make your gig a win-win, instead of coming at them like “why aren’t you promoting my show?!?”. For instance if you said “Hey I want to spend $20 to promote my show through Facebook/Instagram ads,would you guys be interested in matching or pitching in so we can all reach more people?”. 

Every club may not have a budget for it, or already have their small budget already tapped, but it’s at least worth a try. My venue typically allocates $400- $500 a month on FB/IG ads for shows, so if someone reached out to me a month or so ahead of time before my monthly budget was depleted, I would definitely try to contribute. 

Ask the Venue How You Can Help

I always recall the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Instead of coming at a club/promoter with a “why aren’t you doing your part to help promote?” or just assuming they are promoting as well as you would like (until it’s already too late). A better question would be “how can I help promote?” Or “how do you typically like to promote?” (This goes both ways, as a club could try this approach as well). Remember it should be a 2-way street, and in small venues most people are doing multiple jobs, so promotion can often slip through the cracks. Most venues also have a press list, where you can get it and email local press. I have one, and I’ve definitely forgotten to send it, so I do appreciate it when someone asks for it.  

Last Thoughts to Help Make Your Gig a Success

So before I leave you all, here’s some of my random thoughts and (hopefully) helpful hints on promotion in 2020, and maybe some stuff you haven’t thought of.

1. Since FB and IG limit reach, don’t rely solely on them. Other internet avenues which people under-utilize are things like local and regional podcasts, and even Reddit (the #7 most popular site on the internet currently). Every city should have a specific Reddit thread,and I rarely ever see any musicians utilize this in the Greenville reddit.

2. Making sure your profiles on streaming sites such as Spotify and Apple Music are current and look good. When I’m looking at new acts, I generally look and FB and IG first, but I take both of those with a huge grain of salt, b/c it’s super easy to buy likes and follows,and a lot of younger bands don’t even use Facebook much, if at all. If I can go to your Spotify, and see your plays along with good artwork and a bio that tells me a lot right there. Also having your shows linked to Songkick helps a lot, so I can get  a general idea of your gigging and the size rooms/ frequency you’re playing. 

3. Good graphics are a must in this day and age, for free graphics templates you can go to sites like Canva as they have a ton of free templates, or there are a million different smartphone apps as well. 

4. Lastly,and this is just a pet peeve of mine for band photos:  
DO:
Have a hi-res photo or 3 you can share and use. Having vertical, as well as horizontal can help everyone design promotional graphics using your image. I would also recommend having a photo where there is lots of space in the top half or ⅔ of the image, so the venue could insert their own show specific info above it (show date, time, cover etc.)
DON’T:
Please don’t have your photos set on train-tracks, hanging out beside a brick wall, or something else you’ve seen a million times like in the middle of a field. I know there’s definitely the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” mentality, however you only get one chance to make a first impression, so showing something atypical and that you have put thought into will help differentiate you from the million other people trying to get noticed as well.

Thanks for reading,
Wes 


Wes Gilliam is a co-owner of Radio Room, as well as the venue’s primarily talent buyer. He is also the founder/ festival director for the Hey Look! Music Festival and a co-founder of the Upstate Music Awards. Wes has been active in the Upstate music scene for over 10 years, but the thing he is most proud of is his amazing family.


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