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Promoting your own band on a budget

Updated on November 21, 2009

Work smarter at promoting your band, get paid better.

Starting the promotion of a band can be a very daunting task and is sure to take a lot of your time. A whole lot. If you have a good work ethic and can stay motivated all that is left is being patient.

If you can do both you will succeed. That is if your music is as good as you say it is.

Imagine you can get one out of a thousand people in this country to pay you a dollar for a one song download.   That would add up to approximately 300,000 dollars!

That is just one person out of every thousand!  Your music doesn't have to be popular, you just need to find your one in a thousand audience and then promote your music to them.  They all hang out together you know, right?

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

What you need before you promote your band

There are a couple things that you should have before you start promoting. The most important being a great demo of your songs. You can talk til your blue in the face but if people can't hear your music they are not going to want to see your show. Get a recording done however you have to, but you got to have it.

You also should have some good pictures, fans love pictures. Most booking agents are going to want to see pictures before they book you as well.

Your band also needs a great band name! I have written an article here on how to create your own perfect band name.

Not all band promotions are free

So where does one start? Well that could vary from band to band depending on skill level, previous experience, and other factors but you should probably decide how you are going to fund the promotions. Many things are free but some will require money so you might as well as start saving.

One idea is a jar in the practice room. Make everyone show up with at least a dollar, more if they can afford it. If friends stop by to watch practice make them chip in too. You will be surprised how fast it gets into the hundreds of dollars.

Sometimes a band looks for an investor or a loan to promote themselves. This can be risky as very few bands make much money ever. As it is probably someone you know, it can be a strain on your relationship with that person so be careful. The last thing you want to do is lose a good friend or family member because your band flopped. Uh, loser.

Of course I am kidding, but music is a tough business and chances are that you won't be making much money for a couple of years. Many bands commit to putting all of their earnings back into promotions and see good returns on that investment.

Pimp Your Friends to Promote a Band

Your friends are most likely going to be you first fans. These are often an overlooked source for growing your fan base.

Never forget how important these first fans are, they are the ones that tell people that tell people that tell people. The trick is to get them excited about your band so that they tell their friends about it. Get them excited for your band by showing enthusiasm in your own band as well as things that they are into. Go to their volleyball match and they are sure to be showing up at all your shows, hopefully with a group!

Promote your band to your family

Even more often young musicians overlook this key group of fans. Most of the time their excuse is that they wouldn't like the style of music being played. That is probably true but they are still big fans of you and want to support the things you do.

So next time your at grandma's house give her some demos to hand out. She might not head bang but she probably knows a lot of other peoples grandchildren and connections are key.   While your their, bookmark Christmas Gifts for Musicians on her computer, just in case she is interested.

Free Internet Band Promotion.

Everyone in the band that is computer savvy should chip when it comes to promoting your band online. If your the only one that is then you have your work cut out for you. If two or more people are going to work on it they should each take a site or two to develop. Get some competitiveness going, try to match twenty new myspace friends with ten new reverb nation fans.

What sites you use aren't really as important as how you use them. It is important to seek new people and introduce them to your band and their music. Here are some of the larger sites although I encourage you to pay just as much attention to sites dedicated to local music in your region.

  • Facebook - In case you have been sleeping in a cave they have opened facebook up for promoting your bands. No flashy backgrounds but their music player, photo hosting, interactive calendar and traffic more then make up for it.
  • Myspace - Musicians once owed myspace a lot of thanks but these days it seems myspaces only alive thanks to the music. Many bands are using their myspace page as their official homepage, thanks to their minimal restrictions on customization. To do this you only need to purchase the domain name and then redirect it at your myspace url.
  • Twitter - Promoting your band on twitter is a good way to stay in touch with fans. You can get add ons that allow you to connect it to your facebook status so you will tweet everything you update. Got it? Good.
  • ReverbNation - This site is growing in popularity quickly. I think it is actually the most useful site for they promote people to take your bands calendar widget and display it on other websites as well as having lots of very motivated bands to network with.
  • Purevolume - Another site you should get your music on, Purevolume attracts a lot of people that are looking for new bands.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Street Sales, Promoting your band the hard way.

Street promotion is probably the least favorite and least practiced of all the promotional techniques we have discussed.  It can be one of the most effective as well.

When I think of street promotion I think of it as including not just handing out flyers, but also being outspoken about your band.  If you strike up a conversation with someone and they ask what you do, tell about the band.  Too often people are modest about this and miss a lot of opportunities to make new fans.

If you are making flyers make sure you include your website address on it.  If you have free music available somewhere, make a note of it on the flyer.  You would be surprised how many people acctually check out bands they see on a promotional flyer. 

One last idea I have on flyers is to consider having business cards printed instead.  My theory this is that it looks more proffesional, is easier to stick in a wallet or purse, and you can usually get a better price then on a larger flyer. 

There is no right or wrong way to promote, as long as there is something to promote.

The ideas in this article are by no means the only way to promote your band, they are intended for those just getting started and don't know where to start with their promotions.  Like I said earlier, every band is different with different crowds. 

The most important job is to learn the music, be entertaining and draw crowds.  If you don't have a great product no amount of advertising is going to get people to your shows.  So keep practicing your instrument, writing great songs, and jamming like always, but now you have to find a few more hours a week to promote your band.  Good luck!

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