- Published Sep 30, 2013 in The Scene
- Read time: about 2 minutes
Eventually you'll have to do both. The trick is knowing which one comes into play in any given situation. Get it wrong and you'll be playing to an empty room.
The first time you spend an entire day taping, stapling and gluing your band flyers to every vertical structure in your particular zip code, you think, "Boy, this is fun. I'm living the life!".
The next time you do it, it's raining and the paper gets soggy and you think, "Boy, this kinda sucks. But hey, I'm not in a cubicle. I'm living the life!".
By the time your third gigs comes around, you're willing to do almost anything to get out of putting those flyers on the same damn telephone poles again. "Boy, I'd love to go out and hang some flyers, but this dishwasher isn't going to unload itself!"
There it is. That's the point where you develop a chip on your shoulder and tell anyone who will listen that you're an artist and should not have to do anything as banal as advertising your show. You have music to practice, leather pants to buy, autographs to sign.
That's where Toby Mills comes in. He, the owner and operator of Australia's best—and possibly only—music blog, Turn Down The Shit Knob, has a theory about this. And we think it might be worth a few minutes to consider it.
Toby says that your job is not necessarily to tape those flyers to every pole, fence and board in the area. It's to market your brand. To illustrate his point, he compares the modern musician/band to Coke. Coke doesn't use up its advertising budget by telling you how easy it is to get two dollars off a case of their bubbly sugar water at the grocery store. "Coke has one goal and that is to make you feel that Coke is the best product and that you should buy it from anywhere you can get it," says Miller.
At that point, it's up to the grocery store to let you know about the fabulous savings you can enjoy if you'll just come in, use a coupon and sign up for their frequent shopper card.
Mills suggests you take the same approach. Spend the bulk of your time marketing your band/brand to the world. Then let the venue be the one to promote the show you're playing.
"Your Marketing activity is aimed at raising the profile of your brand, discovering the niche audience that your brand appeals to, targeting it and accumulating as much of a market for that brand as you possibly can. This includes web pages, facebook, twitter and even music sales. The more marketing activity you do, the more valuable your brand will be to the venue and the more you will get paid."
Will it work? It just might. But here's the thing: if you want to get out of hanging up those flyers before your next gig, you're going to have to move mountains to market yourself. You need to get your fanbase to the point where they are ravenously hungry for details about your band and information about upcoming shows. After that, it's all downhill.
Source: Turn Down The Shit Knob