Every week we answer our readers questions in an open thread. This week reader Joe Frank asked, how you can effectively promote your music when you have a full-time job and can’t tour? Rest assured, all hope is not lost.
Play Local – The first thing I would recommend is to not be upset that you aren’t touring. In our new book, we recommend bands to not tour before they are able to draw in a sizable audience in their hometown and the surrounding areas. Instead, focus your energy on doing 3 day weekends where you play the surrounding areas. Make these shows special, by devoting time to flyering, stickering and spreading the word about shows in your local area as best you can. Those hours you would spend in a tour van playing video games is far better spent roaming the town center, meeting people, flyering, putting up stickers, etc. For smaller bands, 3-5 nights of most tours get wasted playing to almost no one (if no one shows up, we have some tips for that). By focusing on promoting and finding new people to get to your next local show, you can often get more people to see you then you would in a week of going out on a poorly booked tour.
YouTube – YouTube is your best friend. YouTube is the biggest music discovery channel and the more videos you have for your music, the more chance you have of being discovered. Be sure to do as many best practices as possible including linking a free download of each song you have a video for in exchange for an email address. Add annotations that promote your shows, link to other videos and do as much you can to make your YouTube channel active. Trade recommendations on YouTube with your friends. Since you’re not on the road, devote time after work to brainstorming and creating creative videos that work well and help introduce your music to new fans.
More Music, More Often – When you are beginning to build a fanbase, you need to do everything you can to stay in the news cycle and keep potential fans hearing your name, over and over and over again. The more often you release new songs and releases, the more often your fans get called to spread the word about you, friends in bands post to their fans about you and open the chance that this will be someone’s new favorite song. When you put out an LP you lose 12 chances (on a 12 song record) for your friends and fans to have a reason to talk about you. When you release 12 songs once a month you open up the chance for all your supporters to tell the world about you, get in the press and have new fans finally see what all the fuss is about, every single month of the year. Give fans more reasons to spread your music, more often.
Online Radio – Pandora, Last.FM, Earbits, Jango, etc. All of these online radio services will recommend you to potential fans of your music. Once your songs are on these services, the majority of the work is (and on a few of them, you need to cough up some cash). Take the time to get all of your songs on these services. Getting your music on these services can take all of about 3 hours and can do big things for building your fanbase.
Blogs – Last week, we went into a lot of tips on how to pitch your music to blogs. If you can’t tour, you should spend the time you have after work reaching out and making powerful friends who influence others. Here is how to find some blogs (or how to use HypeMachine to do it) and here is what you do once you find them.