August 19, 2011

Week 45: Promote From Your Phone

Is That A Promotional Tool in Your Pocket?
Hey, got a Smartphone? Pick it up and look at it. Do you know you’re holding what could be the center of your band’s promotional efforts? With what you’re holding you can e-mail, call, surf the web, and interact with the world at large, or just one person at the tap of a screen.

Confession time. I just joined the ranks of the iPhone, so I’m pretty new at this. And yes, “Angry Birds” was the first app I downloaded. But, I quickly realized that this is a much bigger animal than an app about flinging birds at pigs and monkeys. PLUS, it has some great social and promotional tools. So, I’m dedicating this week’s column to a few thought on how you can make that phone work for you.

NOTE: All of these things are free, or included with your service plan (provided you have a data package and unlimited texting…which I think I may be one of the last people in the world to get).

5 Things You Can Do To Promote
Your Music from Your Phone

1. Store Media contacts and USE them – yes, you can store thousands of phone numbers on that little device, but do you use them to promote yourself? Shoot a text to the writer at the local newspaper/magazine/entertainment blog when you release a new song or have a show… or just to tell them you enjoyed their review of Dog Face Cow’s new album. Tip: ALWAYS include your name and band name.

2. Use Gowalla and FourSquare – When you’re doing band things, “check in” on one of the apps that let people know where you are and what you’re doing. If you’re checking out another band.. share the love.. and share the pictures too.

You may even use one of these for promotions. “Anyone who is coming to the show and checks in here can get $1 off cover if they show the doorman when paying.”

3. Photos – Use them, take them, and encourage them. When you’re at a show, take photos and post them to your Facebook page, Twitter account, Flickr… anywhere you can. I use a free app called Instagram (the “free” version of the popular Hipstamatic). It takes “square” photos and gives you the option of posting it to Twitter, Facebook, Email, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Posterous. I don’t use all of these... but if you did.. it’s one stop-shopping.

4. Play Games – I’m currently playing “Words With Friends” and “Hanging With Friends” with members of several Austin bands. It‘s fun, it’s relaxing, and it’s keeping me top of mind with these bands. Nobody has pitched anything to me while playing, they’ve shot me some Facebook invites (like every other band that’s vying for my time out there) and you know what? I read theirs. Why? Because we have a bigger connection than an ominous e-mail or Event Listing. I play Hangman with them. Yes, on the surface it seems trite, but think about it. If you had the ability to play a game with your fans one on one… and it brought them closer to your music… would you?

5. Is there an App for that? – I have seen a few bands that have their own apps. So, I googled and found a few companies who do this service, there’s Mobbase, who has, among others, a Rebelution app, Mobile Roadie, who handles the likes of Train and Xenodium has several bands represented on their “Artist” page. I used Xenodium to create a version of what an app for my fictitious band Dog Face Cow could look like.

I didn’t get a Smartphone for a long time because I thought it was too expensive. I still think paying over $100 for a phone is robbery, but I’m doing my best to make things happen to allow it to earn it’s keep. Now, I just came up with 5 things you could do. I’ll bet you could come up with 20 more. If you do, let me know. Oh, and if you friend me on Facebook, you can challenge me to Words with Friends and Hanging With Friends. As long as you’re not Dave Madden or Twinky P (from Full Service)… I think I have a shot at beating 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 - If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here -

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