So let's assume you've recorded something you're proud of and need to
share with the rest of the world. How should you reach all those people
who want to buy your music and expand your fan base? Having been involved
with the local scene from the band side as well as the recording side for
a few years, I'd like to give you a few hints that will help you bridge
the gap between you and the label-size artists.
I shouldn't have to tell you to sell your new disc at your shows, but
frankly I'm surprised how many artists don't even have it out or mention
it while onstage. How can this be? There is no more direct market than those
who have already paid to see YOU! Have the album and anything else out that
you can sell at EVERY SHOW. People love to shop, so let them. One local
band has taken merchandise to the extreme and always has a huge array of
things to buy. They trade 10 albums with bands they've played with and sell
them every night alongside their own albums. The theory is that people come
to the table and instead of thinking, "Will I buy something?"
they see all the choices and think, "What am I going to buy?"
No big investment from either band and both get their name seen at twice
as many shows. If they don't buy something, they will at least sign the
mailing list (you DO have a mailing list, right?) Keep one and use it. Four
postcards on one page will cut nicely and postcards keep postage down. Also,
start an e-mail mailing list. You can always get that out in time for a
You must, must, must at least try to book shows out of town to support
your new album. There's no point in going to California for one show, but
there are countless good places to play within 4-6 hours of home so you
won't go broke. Pick up a "Musician's Guide to Touring and Promotion"
or a "Musician's Atlas" and get on the phone! Contact other bands
from out-of-town and set up favor-trade shows. Send them posters to hang
up in their town and do the same when they come to you. Don't forget to
mail posters to the clubs as soon as you get the gig. It'll make you look
like you're trying hard. Even if you fail to pack the place at the gig,
agents WILL remember that you at least put in the effort. Also, don't forget
to contact local radio stations and let them know you're coming to town.
The only difference between your group and major-label artists is that
they are on the radio constantly and become well known. You can get your
songs on as well. "The Point Local Show" (Sunday nights at 11
p.m.) will play almost anything that remotely resembles modern rock, and
all you have to do is send in your new recording. Also, do not underestimate
the power of 88.1FM-KDHX! Their signal is as strong as KSHE and no matter
what type of music you play, KDHX has a perfect show for it. For instance,
"Sounds Around Town" is a show that only plays bands that are
gigging that week. Listen in and find the deejay that plays your styles
and send your kit directly to them. 89.9FM WLCA of Godfrey, Illinois is
another big local music supporter and will play most modern rock styles.
All these stations might like to interview you as well, so let them know
you're available. Lastly, think a lot more globally. There are lots of out-of-town
shows that are billed as "regional" rather than "local"
shows and are happy to get new material all the time. Consider looking on
the Internet for such shows at stations like "The Lazer" in Lawrence,
A question I'm often asked is, "How do you get press from the local
papers?" This is especially important if you are releasing an album.
Get your press kit in order! Do not schlep one together in five minutes
before the paper's deadline. Include a cover letter, your recording, and
just one or two good pieces of press. Make a good impression. If writers
and agents think you've got it together, they'll respond. If you're just
starting out or having trouble getting press, remember: Everyone's a critic.
Find someone who is knowledgeable in your style of music and ask them to
write a review. This could be a radio deejay, a record store manager or
a student writer at a university newspaper. These can't compare to Rolling
Stone, but it's all press about your group and it will make you look good.
In the newspaper business, timing is critical because of their deadlines.
Be sure to get your press kit to the writer several weeks ahead of time.
Do not expect it printed the week you give it to them. Follow up with a
phone call to see if the writer has received it and has listened to the
As long as I've mentioned the Internet, let me clue you in on a few secrets.
This is THE place to make yourself look far bigger than you might consider
yourself. You should obviously have a web site with pertinent information
about you or your group. The number one thing that will turn someone away
from your site is if the information is outdated, so update your site constantly!
Besides the countless places to list your name like The Ultimate Band List
(www.ubl.com), there are
some far more useful places to market your products that are ALL FREE: 1)
Be sure to link to other bands and list them in your show schedule on your
web site. People looking for those bands will inevitably find your site
as well. 2) The St. Louis Local Music Pages (www.anet-stl.com/local/music) and The Point (www.kpnt.com) both have great
links to bands and band-related issues. This is also a place where people
from out-of-town (like those label-types) can easily browse the local scene.
3) Want to take credit card orders? Get signed up with Amazon.com (www.amazon.com). They will
make your band a web site, scan your cover art and take orders for you.
Your record looks just as important as anybody else's. 4) Mail order is
fun and HUGE business, especially outside the U.S. Several bands have sold
hundreds of copies to international markets through places like Miles of
They buy albums on consignment and order more as necessary and send you
a check. Many local bands are represented here. A great resource! 5) Look
up Fresh Tracks (www.freshtrack.com
or call 888-5-FRESH-5). This company just got picked up for national distribution
of their compilations, and they are a neat company. For $14.95 a month,
members get two CDs from the music genre of their choice and a copy of the
Fresh Tracks newsletter. The members send in feedback cards on each disc
they receive. If you do well, they order more. They also put out compilations
regularly of the featured bands.
These are just a few tips, but you get the idea that with very little
effort you could be reaching a whole giant mess of new fans that are hungry
for new music. The bottom line is that if you want to share your music with
the world, you need to be sure to get it in front of as much of the world
as possible. In the end, this effort will hopefully result in enough revenue
to fund your next project.