An essential part of a tour is getting the right message to the right people at the right time. Here are a few tips on how to get your tour promoted in the most effective way.
Tour Promotion Essentials
Don’t leave it up to the venue to do the promotion for your shows. Some venues may do some promotion but don’t assume this is going to happen – it’s up to you get as many people along as you can even in those places you’ve never been before.
One of the simplest promotional tools is a mailing list – have a sheet available at your gigs for people to write down their name and email address and update your list regularly. Send out emails to your list notifying them of upcoming gigs (making sure to bcc the names so their privacy is respected). Send them regularly but not too often – fortnightly or monthly is a good rule although special events can warrant breaking that rule. If you send too many emails people may begin to get annoyed with the frequency and opt out of your list.
The venue may ask for some promotional posters to put up in the venue – make sure you send them to the venue a couple of weeks prior to the shows. Whether the shows are in your home town or in a different area there are often local businesses that will put up posters for you. Do your research and find out. Remember many councils have regulations regarding posters so make sure you know what you can and can’t do in the area (this is why it is sometimes good to get locals to do the legwork). Pole posters are great promotion but again do the research – you don’t want to spend good money on getting posters printed if they are going to be ripped down or, worse still, you get fined!
Flyers can be cheap to produce and easy to get around – find cafes, retail and record stores in the area and see if they take flyers. If you have established fans in the area they will probably help you to get the word out. Hand out flyers yourself and have flyers available at your gigs for upcoming gigs if you can.
You can create your own street team by approaching the fans on your mailing list. Get your fans excited and involved in the promotional process. You will be surprised how many will want to help out. Send out an email to your mailing list and see if anyone wants to put up a few posters or hand out some flyers – make it personal and they’ll feel like part of the team. A street team becomes a dedicated fan base that will enthusiastically promote you on a daily basis. Include special offers for your street team whenever you can.
Put together a media list and get to know the media and the right contacts in the areas you are going to be touring. There’s no point contacting the classical music community radio station if you are a punk band. Research is essential and relatively easy. Start by using the Australasian Music Industry Directory and make some phone calls to make sure the contact is correct. Your media list is going to be an ongoing essential promotional tool.
Make sure your designs for advertising are easy to read, eye catching and include all the relevant information. Make sure your radio advertising briefs contain who, what, when, where and why. And always remember when you are placing advertising to ask about getting editorial whether it be print or radio.
How do you get a sponsorship ‘presents…’ attached to your tour? Most music media offer ‘presents deals’ for tours so contact the media you’d like to support your tour and ask for the relevant person and chat about the deals available to you. You will need to have a tour plan (where and when you are playing), with relevant proposed promotion for the tour. No one wants to align themselves with a disorganised artist – that just looks bad for everyone involved. Remember a tour with a presents attached does not ensure people through the door without support promotion. Make sure you are selecting the right media – for example if you are not touring in support of a release it is probably not the best idea to approach radio as they won’t have anything new to play.
Radio stations, street press, and music websites all offer presents deals and it’s up to you to work out what will work best for your act, and what you can afford. Don’t spend all your money on getting a presents if it leaves you with nothing for additional promotion. Factor all of this spending into your budget. You may find you are not at a stage where a presents will help your act at all and you can get more out of a bit of inventive promotion instead.
If you are looking to hire a publicist, it’s important that, just like when you are building the rest of your team (ie manager, booking agent etc) you do your research first. Does the person you are approaching — or who has approached you — have the necessary and relevant contacts for the job, do they have enough time (ie how many acts are they working for at the time you need them to be promoting for you), are they the right person for your style of music. As with most of the people you have working for you, you will want someone that understands where you are coming from and can communicate effectively with everyone in the industry. You can find a good checklist for what makes a good publicist in the MMF Music Manager’s Manual.