October 1, 2010

Week 2: Social Media

(This is Week 2 of my Fifty-Two Weeks of Music Do-It-Yourself advice)
Week 2: Tweet your Facebook all over MySpace.

The Set Up: Let’s assume you have booked a show… since you are a band. So… next step is promoting said show. We’re going to call this one “New School” promotion. (Because last week’s was “Old School.”)

There are a whole heaping helping of great (and not so great) things out there on the internet you can use to promote a show. Most of them are free… or dirt cheap. Treat this blog like a checklist, did you blog? CHECK… Did you create a Facebook Event? CHECK. Did you tweet? CHECK… and so on.
(All logos are property of the places from where they came.)

People forget.. e-mail is the original online social media. You really need to create and maintain a list of people who are interested in your music (have them sign up at shows) and keep them informed about your show. There are several options of places you can use for e-mail campaigns, and if you get a list long enough… maybe you should consider it. For now, a personal email from the band will work. Oh and to get a personal e-mail from the band you should probably have…. (read on)

If someone wants to know about your band, where do they go? You should have a point page for them. If you have the time, money and resources you can have yourself a pretty dynamic page. If you have some talented friends you may be able to get the same, but I tell you this… most of the time you get what you pay for. Friends and business seldom work out as swimmingly as you thought when you were playing pool at the Red Eyed Fly and your friend says “Hey, I can make a site for you.” And you say “Cool man.”

Put all of your show information under a “Gigs / Shows / Tour / See me” tab. Make sure you keep it updated. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to a bands website and the last show they tout is 2 months ago.

There are many free blog options out there. The most popular (for the moment) seem to be WordPress and Blogger. You can also port that blog over to another site so it can come from your band page instead of having a blogspot address (which is something I’ve not done with my blog… so I’m not really sure about the importance of that). The point is… have a blog. Keep posting on it at least twice a week. It can be something as simple as “The drummer made pork chops this week and here’s his recipe.” Or something having to do with the band, the music, sharing video, songs, gig information.

The point is, if you post to your blog regularly (give each member of your band a day they need to blog.. so everyone shares 1 thing a week) you will have people regularly visiting your blog. If people visit your blog, they will see when you post your show information.

Twitter – Does your band have a Twitter page? Does each member have an account? Do you talk about the behind the scenes stuff that happens within the band? Are you being interactive with your fans? Are you seeking out fans of similar genres (“following” or inviting them to “follow” you)? Are you tweeting things that people find interesting/funny/informative? Do you tell people that there’s a show coming up and share a link to a place where they can find out more? You may think Twitter is a big waste of time… tell that to the guy who started tweeting “Shit My Dad Says.” He’s now got a book  AND it’s a CBS show starring William Shatner now. Shit for Shat. That’s funny. Hopefully thinking and typing “shit for Shat” isn’t funnier than the show, I’ve not seen it yet. The point is, 140 characters doesn’t take much time to type, it’s free, and it may get a butt or two through the door.

What MySpace was five years ago, Facebook is now… and more. For your show you need to make an event, invite all of your local and area contacts. Make each one of the bands on the bill an administrator of the event so they can do the same. Do me a favor and don’t just invite ALL of your friends. The dude in Michigan doesn’t care about your show in Las Vegas… really.  The more people who hear about your show the more likely they will darken the door of the club you are playing. Facebook is wonderful for this.

Thoughts About Event Posting on Facebook:
1.     Create your event as soon as you book it, and invite people about 3 weeks out. People who want to attend your show probably aren’t sure what’s planned that weekend yet. They can plan on going to YOUR show.
2.     Don’t just make an event and post it on your wall thinking everyone will see it. They won’t. Invite people.
3.     Don't assume publications who have a facebook page will look at your event. They won’t. Post it to their page.
4.     Here’s a twofold one.
a.     Don’t just post about your event once. That’s not enough for people to care
b.     Don’t post about your event 100 times in 3 weeks. That’s just annoying.

YouTube is the place where the world goes when they want to find music videos. Yes, there’s a few others out there, but YouTube is the one everyone knows about. It really doesn’t take much to create a 30 second to 1 minute “video invite” to the show. Some people like to do skits, some just use it to create that band-to-fan direct invite. How you do it doesn’t matter. Make sure you include a graphic with all of the information needed (you know, the stuff you needed to put on your poster?). There is not an indie band I've found that executes the promotional power of YouTube as much as Austin's Full Service. (One Eyed Doll comes close).

MySpace is dead. Nobody goes there anymore for social interaction. BUT… MySpace is still a good place to put up our show information and some songs so people can hear what you sound like.  If you don’t have a Webpage, MySpace can act as your page. If you have a MySpace, keep it current. For daily interactions with real people, stick to Facebook.

Austin-based Sites:
DO512.comDO512.com is a really nice site for the promotion of Austin Entertainment. It’s got a nice format where you can share the poster (you remembered to do that from last week. right?), links to each band’s MySpace, and venue information. You can even put in a message to the fine folks at DO512 and they may take an interest in your show. With INsite, I like to give a pair of tickets away through DO512 just by people clicking “I Like It” on the listing. Bonus: if enough people click “I Like It” the show makes their weekly blog to all subscribers. How’s that for free advertising?

DoubleStereo.comA really cool page where bands can sell everything from their music to their t-shirts, and the homepage has a blog w/interviews and updates. You can also embed your twitter account and have links to outside sites through here. Not so much a tool to promote a single show, but it’s something you need to consider. Perhaps another week I’ll dedicate to sites like these.

showlistaustin.comJust another option for where you can post your show information.

Other band-related sites:
The two I’m hearing about the most right now are ReverbNation and Bandcamp. Revebnation is kind of like an electronic Press Kit where you can house everything from your music to a bio to your preferred stage set-up. I’ve seen Bandcamp used by musicians to sell and/or give away their music. It seems like a useful tool. I don’t know much about either one of these, but these are the ones I’m hearing about.

Ah, instant gratification. Just for kicks, do this at your show. When the first band goes on, ask anyone who has a FourSquare or Gowalla account to update that they are at your show. Ask people to Twitter where they are. Ask them to update their Facebook the same. Tell ‘em anyone who comes to the door saying they saw it on Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare/Gowalla and came because of that gets $2 off admission. Will it work? I don't know. But darn wouldn’t it be cool if it did?

No single one of these things listed above is the THING to do. In order to properly execute promotion for a show, you should really try and do as many of these things as possible. Remember, you know how awesome your band is, but don’t assume the general public does. You need to earn that cover price for the show. And the show itself isn’t where you earn it, the promotion brings them to the door before they’ve seen you play lick one live.

Next week, I’ll talk about your merch. You DO sell merch at your shows,, don’t you?

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - http://www.tinyurl.com/Claes52DIY. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/.

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