April 25, 2013

Contributed By Steven Hill (@Scottishste) of Vinyl Puppet

As a music fan, I frequent the music venues of my local area. We have a few pubs, a concert hall and there is an annual festival in a nearby farm.

The reason I do this is simple, it is cheap and convenient.

Most amateur bands today will begin with an online presence, many do local pub circuits and gig nights, but most blogs will have you believe YouTube and Facebook are the best platforms for finding potential fans. YouTube and Facebook are great, and every band should take advantage of these free resources.  But don't overlook what's worked in the past.  After all, there's no place like home.

The first port of call for any band should be your hometown. By gigging in the local area you can establish a base of fans who feel like they are literally in on the ground level. They will engage with you because you’re accessible, they may even bump into you in Tesco (or Walmart if you live in the States) and tell you how much they love a particular song. Beyond the simple grandeur of being a local celebrity, it can also mean that you reach far wider audiences than you thought possible. People talk, they share and they are influenced by peers.

Social media has given rise to sharing like never before and, by having a strong connection locally, this will branch out far faster and more effectively than any online marketing campaign. No recorded demo, fancy video or clever recording can replace the experience and emotion that comes through live gigs. The connection developed through a live gig transcends technology and ignites passion in the audience.

If you consider your own myriad collection of friends, then multiply that by 100 local fans and you can quickly see the potential reach of starting locally is, in fact, thousands across the world. Listening to a track and sharing it online, saying “Hey just heard this, it was good” will have far less reach than a comment like “Oh my god, saw these guys last night, was crazy amazing, I love them”.


Ways To Start Local

Your ability to secure local gigs will depend a lot on where you are from. Inner city locations will have a wider array of gigs available, but the connection to fans feeling affinity with your band will take longer. Look out for adverts for gig nights, speak to other local bands and even approach some local pubs and bars to see if they would be interested in having you play. Find out if there is a local regeneration committee who hosts events, and ask about the possibility of playing at a festival or fundraiser.

Do Charity Gigs

Find out if there is a local charity that raises money for individuals locally or a cause that you deem worthy. Offer to provide your musical talents to raise awareness and you may find they already have some established events they arrange. Being seen to be part of the local community will also greatly increase the likeability of your band.

Host Your Own Gig Night

If there is a lack of local music activity then do it yourself. Someone has to get the ball rolling so why not be that person? Gig promotion is easy work, involving getting bands and advertising. Advertising does not have to be laborious - a few posters in selected spots and an onus on band self-promotion is the best way to achieve a good turnout.

Local Radio

Ensure that you are featured on the playlist of all local radio stations. Providing royalty-free music for them to play is a sure fire way of getting wide exposure. Also, if you contact specific DJ’s they may invite you to play and be interviewed on live shows. This will be great practice for media relations as your band grows.

Merchandise Locally

Have your band’s merchandise prominently displayed in a local shop. Ensure that you have t-shirts, hats and CDs for sale in a shop on the high street. This may seem like a minefield of issues to a non-retail minded individual, but it is as simple as this:

  • Approach a shop which you think would be a good place to host your merchandise (not a chain store, ensure they are an independent retailer)
  • Ask if you can provide stock on a sale or return basis (you give the stock - only getting paid when the stock sells)
  • Agree to a fair percentage (the usual percentage would be that they get 50{cb11fcc023a7235c940295f864ca26ce88af4cc22ecd87de716518c7393125a7} of the RRP).

It really is that simple and you will find that most shops, if they deem the merchandise appropriate, will bite your hand off, as times are tough and free stock is hard to come by.

Featured Image: Shark | Photo: 
bryan scott photography /Flickr/Creative Commons License

Music Promotion Insiders
Music Promotion Insiders

About the author 

Steven Hill

Steven Hill is a music writer at VinylPuppet and organizes charity gigs for local bands in the East of Scotland. He is also the owner and designer of customized merchandise printers based in Dunbar.

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