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Showcasing Your Music

What you need to know

Communicating with your fanbase

If you have a database of your fans’ contact details, send e-mails with details of upcoming shows. Keep the e-mails tidy, accurate and don’t send them too frequently as you may find that people unsubscribe.

You may also choose to include details of your social media pages in order to drive your fans to more interactive platforms.

Don’t be tempted to share your database of fans’ e-mail addresses with other artists or fans – not only will this annoy the recipients when they receive e-mails that they didn’t subscribe to, but it’s also a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Working with promoters and venue owners

When you’re negotiating a gig with a promoter, establish the level of promotion that they will do for the show and ensure that you support their efforts by sharing information across your own platforms. Make the promoter aware of your online profiles and pages and ask them to use the details in promotion relating to the show.

Whether your deal with a promoter is based upon a ticketing deal, a cash fee or another method of remuneration, promotion is important as it will help grow your fanbase and your future gig bookings.

If you’re added to the bill of a show that has already sold out, you may feel that promotion isn’t required. However, you can still communicate news to your fans that you’re playing at a sold out show and let them know who else is on the bill. Follow up with links to reviews and photos.

Promoting your own shows

If you’re promoting your own show by hiring a venue, you will need to promote the show extensively. However, you can still ask the in-house promoter or venue manager to get involved by sharing your info and including the gig in their listings etc.

The in-house promoter / venue manager may have their own local press contact list – ask for a copy of this in order that you can make contact with the relevant people directly. 

Physical promotional materials

A lot of promotion for live shows now takes place on line. However, flyers and posters can still help to promote shows, but they should only be produced if you have the means to distribute/display them. 
Where possible, posters and flyers should include details of multiple shows in order to keep costs down and promote your shows as widely and effectively as possible.

It’s useful to display posters in the venue/s that you are playing at in the run-up to shows, but it’s best to check that the promoters/venue owners will be happy to use your posters.

If you’re producing flyers, ensure that you have ample opportunities to put them to good use. If you’re intending to distribute them on the street, you will need to obtain permission/a licence from the relevant Local Authority (LA).

Due to environmental concerns surrounding litter,  some LA’s  are taking steps to limit the use of flyers, it’s worth taking the time to check with the LA on this issue. There will usually be a cost attached to this, as well as various stipulations which will be stated on the application form.

Creating your own mailing lists

Start your mailing list with the street and/or email addresses of friends and acquaintances, adding any local or national press journalists that you think would appreciate your act. At each gig, try and collect the details of the audience members who enjoy your show and, before too long, you will have a sizeable array of contacts.

Email lists are an efficient, cost-effective way of maintaining such contacts.

N.B. Spam email filters maintained by many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block messages that are sent to over 30 people at a time, so it is a good idea to sort your list into alphabetical groups, which also helps to reduce email duplication, manage the data effectively and make sure you message gets through.

Making a database

Information is a valuable resource for promoting your work, and how you collect and manage it can help expand your profile enormously. It is vital to collect the contact details of your fans and make a database and keep them regularly updated with all your news.

You can do this either through a form on your website, or physically by getting someone to go out and harvest this information with a clipboard or an iPad at your gigs.

N.B. Do bear in mind though that you must be aware of the Data Protection Act. Any such data should be collected for a specific stated purpose, should not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose (six months is a reasonable duration unless otherwise instructed), must be stored in a safe, secure place, and wherever possible you should give those on your list the chance to opt out or unsubscribe if they so wish. In doing all this you are not only protecting the people on your list, but saving yourself from any potential Data Protection issues.

In the studio

1. Your potential employer needs to have the confidence that you’ve been in a studio before, that you’ve played with other people and, ideally, that the product of those recordings has been released. There’s nothing more telling than being able to say, ‘I played on that record that you’ve heard on the radio.

2. Session agencies are inundated with promotional material from musicians, so having a strong promotional package — the CV, the biography, the photos and the demos — makes a massive difference.

3. Not all music employers are impressed by slick promotional packaging, however, and the CV is by no means the first port of call. A personal recommendation from a trusted source can speak volumes about a player’s ability.

The art of self-promotion

What if you are interested in studio sessions for pop bands, big bands and orchestras, but also for film scores, adverts, corporate events, cruise ship slots and musicals?

A polished promotional package will help you stand out from the crowd. This should present a concise view of what you and your music are all about. With the right CV, photographs and optional audio and video clip links, you will provide potential employers with the overall flavour of your musical talent and experience.

A CV is a snapshot of your musical career to date. Begin by stating your main instrument, any other instruments you play, and the genres in which you specialise. Next, compile a list of your best gigs and achievements.

This need not be chronological — you may want to highlight the most impressive gigs first. Keep information to the point, making it easy for potential employers to assess at a glance.

If you are after mainly live session work, do make this clear. If, however, you are seeking recording session work, it is important to flag up any studio experience you have had and also the people you have worked alongside.