Many musicians are under the impression that you have to be signed by a major label and have videos on MTV to make a living as musician. While this might be the ideal situation, many people make a comfortable living playing music without ever inking a contract with a record label.
Some bands have such a great local reputation they can play three or four shows a week, draw a huge audience, and make a decent amount of money. Some bands do it full time, while other bands use that money to supplement their fulltime jobs. Does this sound good to you?
There are some simple tricks that bands use to promote their band and make more money. A good band knows the basics of success. Play the right music, get people in the door, and you can charge more money. You have to be smart about it, however, and have a plan.
Before you can promote your band, you have to know what your band will play. Choosing the right music is essential. Many bands dream of playing their original tunes in front of a roaring crowd, but when you first start out, this isn’t advisable. In order to be a big bar draw, you have to promote your band by playing tunes that an audience already knows and loves, and wants to hear live.
As your band becomes more popular, you can then start adding some of your original songs into the set list. This should come after people already know you, and you begin to see the same faces week after week in the audience at your shows. You can then add more and more until you have a happy mix of covers and originals to keep both you and the audience happy. Don’t be afraid to promote both your originals and your covers.
Image and Sound
You can’t just haphazardly through together a set list and rush the stage. No matter how excited you are about your new band, take some time to learn the songs so you can play them sharply and tightly. Work on a set list that flows from song to song and practice until you can’t stand to hear the songs one more time.
When your band appears on stage and makes a lot of mistakes, and seem to be struggling to get the songs right, you will turn the audience off. You can’t promote a band that doesn’t sound like a band. The bar crowd wants a fun, and polished sound. They want a show so give them one.
Engage The Audience
Make those who come to see your show the center of your attention. Your front man (or woman) should be engaging and charismatic. People who feel appreciated in the eyes of the band will come back for more, and will help promote your band by word of mouth. Be friendly, courteous, and don’t play ‘rock star’. You’ll lose any fans you may have gained if you do.
Once you have gotten your act polished and the fans coming back for more, it’s time to add to your base audience. Promote your band through advertisement. Print up tee shirts, pins, hats, or anything else that comes to mind. These are great and effective ways to promote your band. Have an artist create a band logo that matches your image and put it on everything.
Your aim may be to make money, but don’t dismiss playing free gigs like charity or community events. The best way to promote your band is through exposure, even if you don’t make any money doing it. The more people can see you, the more likely they are to come see you again and become a permanent part of your audience.
Internet exposure is also a great way to promote your band. Many people now search the Internet to find local shows to go see. Build a professional looking website with photos, set list, shows dates, and song samples. Don’t forget to put your bands profile on Myspace and other related sites.
Know Your Value
If you are packing clubs and bars, your band is worth more money. It’s that simple. The more people that come into a bar, the more beer the bar sells. The more they sell, the more they want you to come back. This is when you can start asking for more money to play.
Take some time to talk with other musicians in your area and ask them about what they charge and how often they play. Some bands guard this information and won’t tell you much, but many will be willing to share and let you know where high paying gigs might be. They may even be able to give you tips on how to promote your band in your particular town.
Many bands have a hard time surviving because they don’t know what to do with the money they make. When you first start out, don’t expect to quit your job after you’ve booked your first gig. That isn’t realistic.
What is realistic is to work on your band from the first day and never stop. One huge part of that is managing your money. You should all sit down together and decide what you need to do with it. You should set aside something each show go to promote your band, its up to you how much that will be.
The key to making money as a band is having a viable product, and knowing how to promote that product. While you may be anxious to get out there and play, this may backfire in the end. Be polished, be ready, and keep an eye on your cash for promotional purposes. Think of it as an investment in yourself.