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promotion 101 forum

The Undercurrents Series of Music Business Educational Forums is designed to assist musicians, songwriters, bands and music industry professionals with continued growth and knowledge of the music / entertainment industry.  These forums and the information provided is practical rather than legalistic in its approach and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice in relation to any particular matter.   Undercurrents, Inc. accepts no liability for any errors or omissions.


Business Cards Clippings and Press Clips
Flyers Folders and Envelopes
Friends and Fans Ideas for Extra Promotion
Image Independent Promotion
Mailing Lists Newsletter
News Releases Photographs
Postcards Press Kit

Promote, Promote, Promote

The absolute first thing that you must decide even before deciding to promote your band is "Why am I doing this?" Is this something you really want to succeed? Are you willing to put your heart, soul and every single second of your life into making this band successful? The answers to these questions must be a resounding YES. Otherwise you're probably just wasting time.

Once you've decided that you're willing to do whatever it takes, you must face the fact that your band is a business. You must treat it like a business from the very beginning. Taking this standpoint makes the promotion end of things much clearer. Look around you at other businesses. How do they promote themselves? Most, if not all, of the standard business promotions will work for a band.

· Learn How to generate a buzz surrounding your music.
· Learn How to develop a target market
· Learn how to set yourself apart from the competition.
· Learn why some artists' sell and others do not.
· Learn the importance of Artist Development

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Business Cards

Business cards are the most basic form of promotion.   While not quite as cheap as flyers to produce, they're just as effective and much more businesslike. People generally keep business cards, while they rarely keep flyers. Don't forget that there are two sides to a business card and it's not that expensive to print a slogan, demo offer, or other information on the back of your cards. If you have a computer and printer at home, you might want to look into printing cards yourself. Card stock is widely available at office supply stores and is inexpensive.

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Folders and Envelopes

The first impression your music makes is a visual impression. In other words, if the package your music arrives in looks unprofessional, you music may never be listened to.

Whenever you have an opportunity to present something to a professional in the music business, you should remember two things.

1. What type of information does the person receiving your information need from you to do their job?
2. Does the folder or envelope that contains your kit reflect the professional image you want?

It's very easy to tell what artist or band has their act together professionally, and who doesn’t.

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Along with a photo you'll need a brief biography on each member of the band as well as an overall biography on the band itself. A little introduction about who you are, where you come from and where you're going. What is your purpose and goal, what is your experience? All of this framed around the idea "why you should hire me." Typically each band member writes a small paragraph about themselves and their own personal experiences so that the reader gets an idea of the personalities that make up the band.

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Image stems from a lot of things, and the sound of your music is an important one, from the instruments you play to the particular ways in which they are played, the tone of the lead singer's voice to the instrumental make-up of the music. Obviously a soft country image is not going to work if the guitarist has skulls engraved all over his instrument, and by the same token a band portraying themselves and a heavy punk band will probably want a 'fat 'n' nasty' sounding guitar with a more interesting body design. When your band plays, look at how people stand and how they hold themselves, do they put a lot of physical movement into it or do they stand looking wooden and solemn.

The image of your band is something that should be neither discounted nor over-considered. For one thing, it's something that relates to the way people think of your band away from the musical aspect, which is something that is fairly trivial in the early days of becoming an established band, yet it also affects the context in which people listen to your music. People can read into your lyrics very differently depending on whether you have presented yourselves as being cool and aloof or energetic and upfront.

Band image is something that can fail miserably if too much effort is put into making it a certain way. It's much better to allow your band to act naturally and develop an image that's a true reflection of it's constituent members. The skill in developing the image of a band is to recognize what kind of presentation you can pull off without it looking too 'manufactured'. Of course, part of the stage acting is just that, acting, but for a young band it's a relatively pointless exercise to try and convince the audience that they're the hardest metallers around, and spend so much time doing so they only manage to prepare 3 songs for a gig.

However, deciding what your image will be is part of the 'fun' side of being in a band, and can add a lot of 'spirit' to the band, making simply being in it a more enjoyable and proud experience. The feeling that your band has a particular character helps you to take what you do more seriously, and as long as you remain realistic, you'll find this character shines through in your music on stage and your songs will begin to develop a unique style.

Your bands image is also to do with the member's personalities. There's no real way to classify a person, but look at the band and see which members have the attitude, which have the charm, which have an exuberant presence, and so on. And once again, don't try and force an image on the band. The best bands have become role-models for younger musicians, and people like to believe that the image these idol bands present to us are the representations of how they really are, not how they would like to be.

Unlike the image of your band, the way you appear on stage is something that you'll want to give some careful consideration to. Your stage appearance really falls into two parts, how you look and how you act. How you look is something that people may judge upon a little less than how you act. It's perhaps a little less common to find bands dressing up in elaborate costumes and making as if they were in a pantomime, yet you can still see some bands going for uniformity. For example, a band may decide for all of it's members to dress in black suits, which allows for either a 'Blues Brothers' image or a 'Men in Black' image, or any others you care to mention. It's a good idea for all the band members to have a common theme in the way they dress, such as smart, loose, denim, or whatever. However, to an extent it's important that the clothes you wear are clothes that you might wear during everyday life, for two reason, you must feel comfortable on stage, and you must dress to a role that you can fulfill.

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The industry standard is to have an 8x10 black and white photo of either yourself (if you are a single artist) or the band together. Don't wear lots of patterns. It's usually better to wear solid colors...stay away from white around the face. Wear colors that are bright.....They tend to show up better in black and white. Try to look natural. Don't over smile. Don't back light your photo's, as it distracts from the pictures' subjects. There are very good professional photographers that can give you suggestions.

Photo Tips
Get a real photographer
Use our search engine to find a photographer if you don't know any
Try to be creative and avoid cliche shots
Strike a balance between too boring and too artistic
All band member's faces visible and in-focus
Horizontal layout more likely to be used
For general distribution, state that "color photos are available"
If  the publication is color, use a color slide instead of a print to save $$$
Label which person is which and their instruments
Print contact information on all photographs

As they say a picture is worth a thousand words so ask yourself one simple question - is your band photo the BEST it can be?

2 or 3 years ago I never paid much attention to the band photos that our artists provided us with - they were an important part of the press kit but now more than ever I find a great photo to be CRUCIAL. Why? Because 1,000 CDs are coming out every single week and if you are going after the press for articles and reviews your photo is what may just separate you from the pack - and keep in mind a calendar editor at a newspaper doesn't always listen to your CD. He doesn't have to.. he's the calendar editor! He's going to select the most visually interesting coolest / brightest photo that he (or she) gets on his desk that week.

The Photo Shoot - What NOT to do

So four guys standing in front of a brick wall, down an alley or on a couch ain't gonna cut it. If you would like to see THOUSANDS of Awful, laughable photos and get ideas of what Never to do click here: http://www.rockandrollconfidential.com/hall01.htm
(This has provided hours of entertainment at our offices)

The Photo Shoot - What to do

Make sure your photo is interesting, represents you well and says something about who you are. Go to your favorite band's website watch and learn.

I almost never say try to emulate what major labels do but take some tips from the majors their promo shots almost always look awesome. Keep the backgrounds light, photos with movement are always a plus.

You don't have to hire a professional photographer but it really helps!

Enlist a friend who is good with fashion/ color to be your stylist and have them there to make sure your hair is in place and you don't have salad in your teeth.

Printing Photos

If you ask me the days of the glossy 8X10 are over - no need to go through the expensive printing anymore or the large envelops that 8X10s required. I suggest printing postcards at one of the many websites that print 4/4 for really cheap. I love http://www.jakprints.com.

If you print postcards you can put your photo on one side and your CD cover on the other side with your release date and or URL and contact info or any other info you want to give not only the media but also your fans and friends. You can use these postcards as giveaways at your merchandise table, to send notes, or for your snail mail list . Just leave some visual room on it to put a sticker with upcoming show info and voila - a multi-purpose promo item! Or you can print cool sticker postcards at http://1800postcards.com

Photos for Media - on your website

As for the photo the press will use - they will go and grab it off of your site (saves them the time of scanning it in) just make sure its 300+ dpi and you can keep a gallery of different shots for many uses (this is helpful if you play the same markets frequently).

Hope these tips helped - keep on fighting the fight!

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Press Kit

Eventually you will want to put together a press/promotion package of your band.  Your press kit is your calling card so to speak. It will introduce you and your band to the people you need to help your career. Make it interesting.

Promotional Materials, such as CDs, photographs, biographies and press clipping, help people to get to know you. When these materials are assembled in one package or folder, they are most commonly known as a press kit.

Your press kit should include any reviews you've received for shows, information on current venues, and any reviews from your new CD when they're available.

Include a head or group shot (black and white is the least expensive and generally the best looking), a bio (if you don't have a bio, create one, or get someone to create one for you), a cover letter, one CD, and a business card.

The cover letter, while it shouldn't be more than 1 - 2 pages, should be packed full of information, direct, and to the point. Additionally, try not to make your press kit have more than 7 or 8 pieces of information. You don't want to overload them and you want to save some excitement for later! Keep them a little curious. The packet should go in the following order starting on top:

After you have sent your press kit, make sure to follow up with a call to make sure your it has arrived safely. Then follow up every two weeks or so AFTER the 3rd week they have got the package. Don't just send the package and expect them to call. Remember, they get hundreds of packages from musicians just like you every single week. Follow up and get noticed!

I know your music is fabulous and you think it should be judged on its own merit, but this is the music industry, and image is everything. (Well, at least for the first 5 seconds to get whoever to open your tape/CD and actually listen to it.)

Your band is competing against a lot of other bands for the same attention of relatively few people. Consider your press kit a weapon which will (figuratively) explode that A&R/critic/judge/club owners' curiosity. (But don't actually include explosives, that would be bad.)

Include the best quality CD/tape you can afford. This is the most important thing you can do. Even if you just duplicate it at home, spend that little extra and buy the best sound quality tape. Nowadays, most A&R types want CDs and say they don't even own a cassette player as CDs are easier to scan through all of a band's songs quickly.

You have about 20 seconds to capture this person's attention so don't put a 5 minute guitar solo as the first track. Use your best song first, preferably an upbeat one, and if they like the sound of the first song, they'll check out the next one.

Cue the tapes up at the very beginning then listen to the tape yourself. Did you cut any of the song off? Did you actually record it? Most music companies receive several blank submission tapes each year.

The press kit, similar to a personal resume, is often the first impression of your band (or product). It is imperative that a band with professional aspirations invest adequate time and money into making the best presentation possible. Each band's press kit will be different, and kits can be modified to fit an individual situation. Here are a few items which will likely be included in any press kit.

--Recorded material, live or studio recordings
--A concise biography or history of the band
--Any positive press, include the date/publication
--Photograph, A good live photo will work in a pinch
--A listing or reference from venues already played

The best advice we can give is to keep your kits efficient and as inexpensive as possible.

They will judge your press kit by its cover!

Realize that your folder will be one of hundreds, if not thousands: Your first goal is to get them to just notice it

Send your kit at least two weeks in advance of what you want to promote

Press kits are most useful when trying to get exposure in newspapers, magazines, and Websites. They are also helpful when trying to get booked in clubs and in other live performance venues. A press kit may even entice an attorney or personal manager into representing you. Sometimes a press kit may inspire a music library, or music supervisor to place one of your songs in a film, television commercial, or video game.

Press kits, however, are typically not helpful in getting your band signed to a recording contract. It's not enough to simply put a package in the mail and then sit back and expect to become a huge star. Labels usually need to see that your first generating a buzz on your own. The reality is that out of thousands of tapes record companies receive per year, maybe one group gets signed. In fact, your package may even end up in the waste basket without ever being listened to-record companies typically do not accept unsolicited mail!

Press kits are typically not helpful in leading you to a great audition and gig, either. More musicians waste their time, energy, and money sending packages in the mail rather than just getting out there, being heard, and making friends. Keep in mind that the majority of all the work you get will be based on personal relationships that you form and nurture over the years. If anything, building a professional website and then personally handing out cards that include your URL (uniform resource locator) is by far a more useful way to promote yourself than the press kit.

Now that some of the misconceptions about press kits are out of the way, let's discuss what your press kit should include.

Photograph (8x10)

Your press should also include a photograph. People will not only want to hear what you sound like, but what you look like. Give your image and style some serious consideration. Your picture must be consistent with your music-if you're a hard rock band, then you must look hard rock. If you're not sure what image you want to portray, review magazines like Rolling Stone and Details to see what other bands are doing. The print size of your photo should be 8x10 inches and should include your band name and contact information at the bottom (phone number, mailing address, e-mail address and Website URL). Keep in mind that photographs are also used for reprinting in newspapers and magazines, so make sure your prints aren't too dark. Hiring a pro to help you get the best shots is well worth the investment. Ask artists in your home town to make referrals and then compare the quality and pricing.

Biography (Bio)

A biography should be as short as possible (typically 500 words) and written without a lot of flowery adjectives and big words. You should include your career accomplishments and make mention of your work ethic (touring, promotion strategies, etc). If there's a unique story about how your band formed or about the various members in your group, include it. This gives writers at newspapers and magazines a special twist or hook when writing about your band. If you have any flattering quotes or reviews, include them here as well; but don't over do it. Including 15 quotes from people no one knows is pointless. Check out other bands' bios on the web and see what their approach is.

Tear Sheets

A press kit should also include clippings, known as tear sheets, from newspapers and magazines you've collected over the months and years. Clippings help prove you're established and not just another fly-by-night operation. Again, don't over-use them.

Cover Letter

When mailing out your press kit, include a cover letter that clearly addresses who you are, what you do, and what you want. Be sure to include all of your contact information here as well. It also helps to call the person you're soliciting to inform them that your package is on the way. Follow up in a few weeks with another call to see if they liked what you've sent. With some luck and a lot of persistence, your hard work will all pay off one day.

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Press Kit Tips

Use a cool sticker on the envelope and/or a colored envelope instead of plain ol' brown

Color photocopy of your CD cover or anything eye-catching is good

Use a nice pocketed folder that can hold everything

Remove shrink-wrap (or don't get it in the first place)
Unwrapped CDs get listened to while wrapped ones are being opened

Specify which tracks to listen to on a CD

Do your research to know who/where/when to send it

Develop a relationship with a writer whose reviews you like

Avoid obvious sucking up or false interest. They get it all the time, and will spot you a mile away.

Make direct contact with free-lancers whose opinions you respect and who contribute to the publication

Hire a free-lance writer, publicist, or other verbally-talented scribe
Your kit will sound like a pro wrote it, instead of just somebody in the band

Use the Undercurrents search engine to find a writer if you don't know any

Ask the pro to have it proof-read by another pro, if at all possible
You don't need to know who they get, just ask them

Include all positive or even partially positive quotes and reviews
If you have more than one page of short quotes, start to trim, but include all full-sized reviews/articles
Also include negative reviews if they are humorous or ridiculously slanted
A bad review from somebody who obviously has an ax to grind can get you a gig.
If you're too new to have Reviews or Quotes, ask somebody for a quote
Venue Owner/Manager/Booker/Engineer, Recording Engineer, Other Artist, etc

Also Include
A business card with publicity, management and booking contact
These contact people need to return calls promptly
It's better to call back immediately no matter what the situtation than to annoy by not calling back at all.
A copy of your most recent recording

Brief Band Bios.
Keep these very brief, even if you have somebody who's done it all
A comparative description
Goofus "Them Apples is Chicago's most original new band with a great live show."
Galant "Them Apples is a psychedelic stomp-pop band that sounds like a cross between Urge Overkill and P.D.Q. Bach."
Count on some writers using your description verbatim, if it's accurate and well-written
Your chance to control mass-media in a teeny, tiny way
Include your name, phone number, e-mail and web-site on EVERY item in the kit
Your photo, CD, and bios will all end up in different places
Something that's cool or a freebie so they remember you
A T-Shirt if you can afford it and aren't creative enough for something cheap, unique, somehow-related and memorable.
Flyer/Card/Poster for upcoming shows
Tailor your press kit for the medium by adding or taking out irrelevant items

Call or E-Mail a Week Later
E-mail is more likely to get read, and get some kind of response
Remember the three P's: Persistent, Polite, Professional
But give some time between calls

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News Release / Press Release

A press release is a simple statement about what you are doing at any given time. Send them information when you are involved with a big show, when you're recording a new demo, etc. Send them to local newspapers, radio stations, to anyone you want to keep informed about your band. Start keeping copies of not only your originals, but of any clippings from newspapers that print your items.

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Probably the first thing every band does is flyers. Flyers are cheap and they work.   Make sure that you have all the important information on your flyer.  If  you're promoting a performance, insure you have the date, location, ticket price, time and other acts who you're performing with included on the flyer.

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Benefit Performances

One way to both promote your band and get free publicity is to contact local charities and non-profit organizations. Offer to play a benefit for them. If they agree, you not only get a gig but you'll get great promotion mileage. Anytime you can play a benefit - do it. Then announce it to the press, including all radio and television stations in your area. One good benefit can give you free advertising for months. As with any business, the primary focus should always be keeping your name out in front of your target market.

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Clippings or Press Clips

What are others saying about you?  Quote sheets can be a useful addition to a demo/promo/press kit. It is simply a document that lists positive comments about you or your music, made by various industry professionals. They give the gatekeepers at distributors and stores, radio, the print media and live venues an easy to read glimpse of what other industry people have to say about you.

Select solicited comments from some of the following professions:
Producers or Engineers who recorded your music.
Club and other live performance bookers or talent buyers
Press writers from various music, or entertainment publications
Radio Station Music Directors  and DJs
Record store managers or clerks
Other respected musicians
Fans - but only use one or two of the best quotes from these people.

Select the best quotes and type them up on a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper or your own artist or band stationary.  Title the page something like “ What People Are Saying” or “A Few Comments About My Music”.

If longer reviews have been written, or feature stories and cover stories start to appear, then the whole article should be copied. 2 or 3 of these can then be put into your kits. Do not go overboard on these clips. There is nothing more annoying than getting a demo/promo, or press kit filled with a dozen or more clippings.

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Friends and Fans

Make friends with your local reporters, DJ's, the receptionist who answers the phone at the radio station and newspaper, anyone who might be able to assist you with anything. Most of these people are very nice and would probably enjoy your music. It will definitely pay off big if you're nice to them. Send them things. Along with your press release send a handwritten note or card thanking them in advance for passing along your information. If you have a demo tape, send them a copy with a handwritten note asking for their feedback. If you have T-shirts, send them one. Whatever you send them, always send along a handwritten note either thanking them or asking for their opinions on something. This makes sure you stay in their minds. It flatters them to think that their opinions matter and they will be more inclined to do more for you. Don't waste their time, however. Don't become a nuisance and send them things too often. You have to realize that these are very busy people, appreciate that and only send information to them when you have something to report.

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Independent Promotion

There are Artist Promotion companies who advertise in the back pages of the musical press offering performers a fast track into the big time. The music biz has always been about the mixing of cash and talent. You bring your talent to the deal and the record companies their investment. While not all of these outfits are deliberately setting out to rip-off unsuspecting musicians, have you ever heard a positive report from anyone who has paid for their services? Therefore, before considering using the services of one of these companies, ask yourself the following question: 

Do you believe that someone who is paid $500 to try to achieve a result will work as hard as someone who receives $500 if and when they achieve a result?

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Mailing List

Using a band mailing list can be an effective way of letting your fans know what's happening with your band at minimal cost to you.

The Basics:
If you're not collecting names and addresses of people who are at your gigs you should start immediately. All you need is a simple sign up sheet with name, address, phone and email address on it, and put copies of them on the tables at the club where you're performing before you go on stage. Get some type of box and label it with your band name. Have your singer announce from the stage a few times throughout your set that you have a mailing list and to sign up, fill out the form on their table and put it in the box. Make sure you have the box located somewhere that people can easily get to and see (the front door of the club?).

Using Your List:
You can immediately start using your list by sending monthly calenders with all of your upcoming gigs. This is very effective because you can promote all of your gigs in that month with only one mailing.

Swap Lists With Other Bands:
If there are other bands in your hometown that play a similar style of music, consider trading your list for theirs. This is a great way to build a large list quickly.

Discount Costs:
If you have a few hundred people on your mailing list, you can send out your mail using a bulk rate and have quite a cost reduction per piece mailed. If you contact the post office, they'll give you all the info you need on bulk mail.

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Another idea is a newsletter. This can give fans some inside information about your act that they might not have know about. Some ideas might be background about band members, special parties or gigs. How about a special gig for a band member's birthday? I knew a band member who liked cooking and he had all kinds of special recipes that he put in the newsletter, sounds weird I know, but people liked it! Some other ideas might be, contests or a band crossword puzzle ( you can get software that will output a crossword puzzle with words you supply!). The newsletter is open to your imagination so the sky's the limit. Don't forget to include a coupon to order your CD or tape.

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Post Cards

Instead of sending a letter, send a post card. The rate for a post card is cheaper and you can shrink a monthly calendar down to post card size.


Of course email is becoming more and more popular and the cost of sending to an email list is very low. Definitely use email when you can, and for those people who don't have email addresses, use regular mail.  DO NOT SPAM.

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Ideas for Promotion

Make fans a birthday card!

Remember your fan’s birthdays by creating a musical birthday card you create yourself. Email them the card that is imbedded with an mp3 file of a birthday song you wrote.

Use old school psychology, (if you can afford it) send a real birthday card to each fan that has a simple chip attached to it with a sound file that begins to play when you open the card. (the technology is now available, such cards are now in many retail stores).

You will obviously have to have your database setup to include a place for your fans to give you their birth dates, but after that, at the beginning of every month simply sort out who has a birthday coming up and mail them off. Be sure to do this at least a week before the beginning of each month.

Think of how appreciative your fans will be for having been thought of, and as your career and goes on and gets more established, your past musical birthday cards will become valuable collector items.

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A Sticky Way To Be Remembered

Print up promotional “sticky notes” using the Post-It note method for upcoming gigs and send or pass them out to music fans attending live shows. Have your latest shows printed up on them, so fans can use them as reminders to attend your shows and can put them up on their home bulletin boards or refrigerators. You can also use this idea for reminders to buy your latest CD or merchandise you have for sale at your website or live shows.

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Be The Musical Entertainment For Your Favorite Record Store

Work with a local record store that carries your genre of music and ask them about participating in a special “ after hours” party and special sale where you get to be the band or artist to supply the music for the event. Have them put your CD on sale at a special price during the party only. Take time to sign autographs, and get the customers to sign up on your mailing/database list. The store can add whatever added incentives they want to make the event a special sale and you get to go along for the ride.

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Free Domain Name Registration Site

There is an advertiser supported web site offering free registration of domain names. You can inquire about being an advertiser yourself and put up an ad for your CD this way. The web address is www.register.com. Pass the word around to fellow bands/artists and fans that need to register their domain names and they will see an ad for your music when they visit the site.

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Use Your Business Card To Promote Your Favorite Lyrics

On the front cover of a folded card, place a catchy lyric from one of your songs. Inside, or some place other than where your traditional contact information is printed ,briefly list information about your CD and other merchandise you have for sale, and where people can buy your releases. (internet, live shows, mail order)

On the back get creative and list other interesting facts about yourself or your music than fans and industry people might appreciate knowing about.

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IMEDIAFAX is right on target

Here is a unique way to fax your promotional messages and press releases to the media. Users create a proprietary media list from a selection of magazines, newspapers, syndicates, and broadcast stations. The service, called IMEDIAFAX -- Internet to Media Fax on-line custom news distribution service, can be found at www.imediafax.com<.

Here's how it works: You make your selection by clicking your mouse on the industry and classification, key editors, states, market area, or circulation. Then enter your news release and click to send. IMEDIAFAX news releases can contain graphics, letterheads, logos or pictures. The cost is 25 cents per faxed page….A bonus is that there are no international phone or fax charges.

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Become a Music Marketing Matchmaker

Maintain a supply of local music related businesses business cards and distributes them to likely musician and music lovers you know. Using return address labels, create a sticker that says " referred by (your name or band name here)"

Placed on the back of other people's business cards, the stickers reminds the person who you are, and you get great word of mouth name recognition over time, and you’ve helped a local music related business get some customers, as well as helped your music fans learn about where to get the best local help for the their music needs.

The customer is reminded of a cool business, and your name is the first one the prospect hears. (“ So and so recommended that I talk to you”)

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Turn Your Fans Onto Other Cool Music

On your website, (you DO have your own website don’t you?) create a section where you and your fellow musicians regularly recommend other local bands and great music that you think your fans would enjoy.

The benefit of this is that you are not seen as strictly a selfish musician obsessed with promoting your own music. Your fans will benefit and thank you over time for all the cool music you have turned them onto.

On a professional level, as you recommend other bands and acts, they will get the word from others that you have recommended their music. Can’t hurt when it comes to finding other artists to perform live with at various gigs.

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Fax Reminders For Your Live Shows and Events

When you create your sign-up sheets for mailing lists be sure to include a place for people to write in their fax machines numbers. Everyone is pretty hip to email these days but the good ‘ol fax machine is now in 70% of homes across the country.

A few days before each gig, after you have emailed your fans about an upcoming show, send some faxes out to your fans, it is a much more direct way to remind someone of a gig coming up.

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Flower and Candy Power

When you get an important gig, or get some substantial radio airplay, think about saying thank you the old fashioned way….with flowers. I can only remember a handful of times over the decades of being in the music business when I was thanked with flowers or candy for having done a favor to help a musician.

Believe me, sometimes the corniest ideas are the best ideas. People like getting thanked in this business, and no one would be upset getting a bouquet of flowers or a box of delicious candies….you will be remembered for your kindness and your consideration!

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Credibility for Small Record Labels

Almost every new and small record label struggles to gain credibility and recognition.

So, use a ‘Suite’ address, and not a PO Box, or an apartment number when you create your business cards, and letterhead stationary, as well as your envelopes.

Also, list your title as Promotion Manager, Sales Director, Publicist or something of a similar level, rather than more imposing titles like President, Chairman or CEO titles.

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Put Your Fans To Work: Street Teams

Street Teams are the way to go when you don’t have a lot of money or time to promote your music. They can be recruited to write articles and reviews about your releases and live shows, and they can be used effectively to get the word out on the street. With your supervision, let them write up press releases, design posters, and get them put up around your city of town. Thank them with free CDs, merchandise, and tickets to your upcoming shows. They will be happy to help you, and feel a real sense of pride in having helped spread the word about your music.
Be sure to make all submissions your property if used and gain all appropriate publishing rights.

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Fishing for Leads

In addition to providing a simple sign-up sheet for your mailing list that you can have available at all your live shows, consider buying a fishbowl. You know, those road bowls you have seen on the counter of restaurants, where people can drop in their business cards. Do the same at your live shows….Write up a nice sign that mentions you will do a drawing each night for a winner to get your latest CD, if they would drop their business card into the bowl for you.

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Hotel and Motel Promotions

Remembering your image, and who your fan is, research hotels and motels in the areas that you are going to be touring and arrange with the appropriate lodgings to have free copies of your CD put on the pillow of the quests who are staying there. This is especially important to do when you are going to any of the many music industry conferences and seminars that are held around the country.

This is a great idea because it costs the hotels and motels nothing, and depending on your budget, you have just exposed your music to potentially hundreds of music lovers.

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Create a Links Page On Your Website

Create a part of your website that has links on it for other interesting music related websites. Plug it in your fan newsletter and in your promotional materials Ask your fans to recommend their favorite music websites, and create an exchange of ideas with your fans. Perhaps give a free CD to the best link suggestion of the month.

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Give Your CDs Away At Your Live Shows…..But…

I am a big fan of selling CDs at live shows, but for those of you just starting out, and doing your first gigs, perhaps the way to go is to announce from the stage that you are giving away free CDs to the first 25 people that sign-up on your mailing list. That way you get the fan’s name and contact information, and they get some free music of yours to listen to, and hopefully tell their friends about.

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Partner With Your Local Record Store

Contact a favorite local independent record store, and ask them to donate a few gift certificates. Tell them that in exchange, at concerts you will promote their store as a supporter of local music and even pass out circulars for the store at your live shows. On the back of the gift certificate include your own offer for a buck or two off your CD. This works, I know…I use to own a independent record store and I loved doing this type of local promotion with favorite acts because it got new customers into my store, and it got the band another fan. We were both winners.

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School Promotions

Contact local high schools and colleges and donate copies of your CD to the school libraries. If your schools have music programs, donate copies to them as well to be given away to the students.

(Musicians worry to much about making money from every promotional opportunity they think of. My idea is that just like those supermarkets that give-a-way free samples of crackers and cheese and sandwiches, you have to give away your music at first so people can hear what you sound like. After you create a fanbase, then you’ve got ‘em hooked and they will be more willing to buy future releases, merchandise, and tickets to your shows.)

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Promote Your Music Around Special Holidays and Events
Get a copy of Chase's Calendar of Events (buy the book by email: Bookserve@aol.com) to discover all sorts of holidays and "awareness weeks" that apply to almost any business. The idea is to scan the list and see how many of these events you might be able to use for a charitable gig, a networking opportunity, or sources for paid performances and promotional parties.

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College Radio Promotions

On the left hand side of the dial from 88.1 FM to 91.9 FM you will find a lot of college radio stations, and other non-commercial broadcasters. Check them out. Most of them have dozens of specialty music shows and certainly a few of those will be playing your style and genre of music. Instead of just begging them for airplay, approach a specialty show host and tell him or her that you want to promote their show on your website and other promotional materials. Tell them how much you enjoy their show, and give them a copy of your music, but without any pressure to play it…let that happen organically. As they get more listeners and feedback on how people heard about their show, you get some of the credit, and have begun a real relationship with the show and the station.  Smart musicians realize the value of supporting their local non-commercial stations.

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