Festival season is about to kick off big time, and when you consider the fact that some of the smaller ones have been and gone, then it’s already well and truly underway. If you’re in a band then it’s a time to catch some of the musicians who have influenced you most over the years, a chance to perhaps meet some of your idols, and most likely, to get drunk with your like-minded friends.
But are you going about it the right way? Festivals are an amazing opportunity to connect with your target audience – other music fans. After all, if they’re there to see other people’s bands, is it so hard to imagine that they’d like you guys, too? The only difference between you and the bands up on the stage is that they had a bigger fan base behind them, perhaps encouraged by some extensive promotion. If you believe in your talent, it shouldn’t be hard for others to see - so why not convince them that you’re the next big thing? There are going to be plenty of people with the same ideas, so here’s a few unique takes on this one…
Hand out flyers, sure, by all means. But isn’t it a little tired – not to mention, environmentally unfriendly? Flyers may be cheap, but it can be really soul destroying to see them carpeting the floors of an otherwise disgustingly muddy porta-potty floor. Why not think outside the box a little? Anyone who’s anyone wants a lanyard at a festival (seriously, they’re like the ultimate statement of importance…) so why not get some branded up with your band name? No matter how wasted people get, they’ll happily keep them around their neck or clipped to their skinny jeans, and you can even pop one of your beloved leaflets in there (with your details in, of course). You can grab them from Lanyard Makers. If you’re lucky enough to be able to sell things at the festival of your choice, then you could even get a little card USB made up. They may look like debit cards, but they double up as awesome USB sticks, so they’re great for storing some tracks! Resist the urge to get a Kit-Kat printed on them and get some band promo pics on there, and you’re good to go.
Manners are so important. It’s what your mother always taught you, but it’s true, in pretty much all situations. If you want to get talking to a group of people, the best way to go about it isn’t to waltz up and interrupt them mid conversation. A simple ‘excuse me, please’ will suffice, and compliments would go a long way too. Don’t be creepy though – never be creepy. If you’re trying to get people to do something for you (like vote in a contest or ‘like’ you on Facebook), make the person who you’re talking to feel important. Like you value their opinion. Which leads us on to…
You’ve probably got a lot in common with your demographic, similar interests, and plenty to talk about (you’re at a festival, after all!). Bonding, finding out a bit about them, who they’re there to see, and where they’re from is a must. Finding out this sort of information will help you figure out if they’re likely to want to hear your music. Plus, we’re not saying that you should exploit your new pals, of course not, but you know, take what you can get. People in the music scene are often known to name drop, and if they’ve got some pretty cool connections, try and get yourself introduced or on board. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. With that in mind, try and get yourself on board with collaborations. Many alternative brands are keen to endorse bands, as it can be mutually beneficial – for example, clothing lines like Big Deal Clothing and Hard Times Clothing have both done this. You can reach new fans when they post about you wearing their clothes, and you’ll bring new customers to them because everyone will want to be as cool as you! (Or something like that, you hope…)
Walk Around With Headphones
This one might seem a little lame, but it’s all the rage in America, and the Americans know how it’s done! With such a big country, they have to really go hard with promotion, or literally go home. Whilst the fans over there might be more easily swayed by big gestures, if you’re a little bit cheeky and charming, you can get people to listen to your band on your IPod (or a Walkman, because you know, batteries…). Just a tip – pick places where people are in a long line already, like the ATMS… food stands … ‘bathrooms’, basically anywhere at a festival where they’re not watching the action - they’ll be glad of the distraction. You’ll get a conversation going, and hopefully they’ll remember your band.
This one involves all of the clichés, but sometimes they work. Dress to impress. Be confident. Be charming, and be memorable. The extent to which you’re willing to go to depends on the type of people you actually are – some things will work for some people, whilst for others, they’ll come across as false. Some bands choose to walk around with a picket board advertising their band. Other bands might dress up in ridiculous outfits, or have their model friends parade around in their merch. You could give a whole new meaning to a flash mob, by giving impromptu performances, and if you’re really clever, you could improvise songs about your crowd, right there on the spot. Just try not to be the guys and girls who got so drunk or rowdy that they had to be escorted from the site!
Remember, whilst this offline type of promotion is certainly not a dying art, it needs to translate. The more fans you gain on Facebook, the more shares, comments and hashtags of pictures and videos of you and your bandmates as you can get on your social media, then the more people will ultimately talk about you. Then they’re more likely to check out your stuff, come to your shows, and buy your T Shirts. This is called conversions, and the more return you can get on any and all investment you make in these areas – the better.