Local Music Promotion
CREATING A BUZZ By: Nick Shuley
So you want to rock arenas??? You’ve got the sound that is the next big thing. You just can’t seem to catch the break you deserve. Well, here are some ways to get your name out there and increase your chances of finding the right place for your band. I say the right place because getting signed to a label is not always the way to go right off the bat, or ever in some cases. I know so many people and so many bands whose sole goal is to write some hits and get signed, make millions, and retire. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but after working in the industry for over six years, that is really not the way it works. There are many great success stories similar to this, but there are just as many if not more, stories at the other end of the spectrum. So you ask, what should I do to increase the likelihood that I can make a career out of this music thing? Well, I’m glad you asked…and the number one thing I can tell you is to build a local buzz. How can I do this?
Here are some tips:
I. Building a local buzz. This is the single biggest thing you can do to market your band. Why would anyone sign a band that can’t even draw in their home town? After all, if you can’t get people to come out where you live, how are you going to get people out in cities where you know no one? Build your fan base up one person at a time. Do your best to build relationships with each fan so that they feel loyal towards you. If they feel like they are part of what you do, then they are more likely to show up again, and if you’re lucky they’ll bring their friends. Slowly but surely you are building a buzz. What elements are biggest for growing the buzz? Here they are in no particular order:
a. Building your fan base – as mentioned above the more you draw, the more attention, and power, you will receive.
b. Local Radio – Get in touch with your local radio somehow. Find a radio market you can penetrate. If you live in a town with or near a college. Go in and talk to their radio department. These are usually the easiest to get your song on because they want to support local talent, and the majority of them have no set play list. If you have major stations in your area submit your demo or recordings to them for play. Most major stations have local time built into their station, so find your way into these.
c. Promotion – Do your best to get your name out there. Now I admire the bands that spend all their time making flyers and passing them out at the shows…but to me it seems you are wasting time, money, and effort. If you don’t have music to give away, I say save your time and use it more wisely. Nowadays people get so inundated with promotional material after shows, that unless you have music the item is most likely going to end up on the ground. Take the time and spend the extra ten cents burning CD’s that have a couple of your best songs. Then tag that CD with when you are playing or where they can buy your record.
d. Get Gigs – Play, play, play. You will get better as a band, and the more you play the more likely you are to catch people’s ears. All it takes is one person telling one person telling one person and you have the beginnings of a buzz. Don’t be snobby about where you are playing at first. The important thing is getting the gig and playing. Strike up a relationship with the person who books at the venue. Give them a CD, and ask them to get back to you and tell you what they think. Then follow up and see what they think. Tell them your situation and that you really want to play. If you show some genuine effort, hopefully they will respond positively. If you live in a town where it’s tough to find venues. Play wherever you can: parties, dances, coffee shops, or anywhere else they’ll allow.
e. Get to know your local Record Label representatives. In most major cities record labels are going to have reps or street teamers who are asked to keep tabs on that particular market. Develop a relationship with them. You can usually find these people doing their work at local record stores. Find a way to get in touch with them. Look for them at shows where the bands on their label are playing. Also pay attention to listening parties and free music give-aways. If you see someone passing something out, ask them who they work for. Try to build a relationship with them or find out if you can help them out. It’s probably best not to dump your bands CD on them the first time you meet them. After this hopefully you can get them out to a show.
f. Newspapers – Find your local free newspaper or weekly. These exist in most major cities, and they are generally receptive to reviewing or at least checking out local bands and records. After all, they want to be the ones that discover the next big thing from their town. Pick up a copy of the paper, find the CD reviews, and see if they have a process for submission. Try to email the music editor and see if you can drop your CD. Take the extra step and show that you are willing to make an effort.
g. Online efforts – Nowadays the internet has become a powerful method for marketing your band. Take advantage of this and get your bands music and information up on the web. Don’t know how to make a web page? Go somewhere where you don’t have to. There are many sites that exist where you can simply post your music and other information about your band for free. There are many sites that do this, a few examples are: www.purevolume.com, www.myspace.com, and whole load of others.
II. This last piece of information does not actually have anything to do with your buzz, but merely a piece of advice. If you choose to mail your CD off to major labels and indies, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t send an elaborate press kit, with your family tree and 20,000 pictures. Simply send them a CD, list the three tracks they should listen to, and give them your website and email address. The people that listen to these don’t have time to sort through mounds of information. They receive thousands of CD’s, make it easy on them and let your music speak for itself.
Well, there you have it, a few tips for creating a local buzz in your market. Hopefully this helps everyone out there. I don’t, by any means, claim to be an authority on these matters, I’m just merely trying to help people out with tips from my experience. "Good luck, and build that buzz!"
About the Author
Nick Shuley is a member of the Sony Street Team here in Austin, Tx. By day, Nick is a Graphic Designer for Communication Specialist, Capital Spectrum, Inc. For fun he likes to not only promote bands, he also like to video tape up and coming bands here in Austin. Lastly, gives his valuable time coaching a basketball team.
"The only honest job I've ever had was a paper route and that was to buy a musical instrument."- Eddie Van Halen