How to make a lasting impression, without even bringing your music into it
Music conferences are congested with 2 groups of people: bands and people that bands want to see them (i.e, industry folk). In my experience, I’ve seen some effective and not so effective ways that bands have gone about promoting themselves even if they’re not playing at that conference. Here is a list of 5 things that have worked, and have gotten me to check out a band, regardless of their sound.
1. Make acquaintances before talking about your band. The most valuable thing for a band member to accept is that they’re one in a million. By acting like a rock star, people in the music industry tend to have less of a desire to support and help you. At the same time, people won’t take you as seriously if you do nothing but kiss ass. Instead, try to relate to the people you’re talking to, buy them a beer, and begin by talking about a topic other than your band! By making acquaintances before mentioning what you want them to do for you, you’ll have a much better chance of them taking the time to check you out. You may be depending on guilt for this one, but it works and you may even get a friend out of it!
2. Give people something to hold onto. People in the music industry are not excited about a paper flier or sticker when they’re walking around a music conference. If you’re going to be giving out promotional material to help advertise your band, you’ll need to hand out something that people will hold on to. Is the festival in the summer? Buy a few cases of water bottles, slap on a label with your band information on it, and hand it out on the corner. It may only be in their hand for 5 minutes, but you’re giving something valuable away and people will notice that. Make custom umbrellas with your band name to hand out if it rains, or a custom Frisbee if it’s an environment where people can play. Even making mini CDs or download cards instead of regular CDs to hand out will more likely get home with the people you hand them to. Think about what you would be happy to receive, and have your gift ready to give when you meet the right people!
3. Be polite. Acknowledge that people probably have better things to do than see another band that they know nothing about. You may think your music is a gift to the world, but you have to get people in front of the stage or stereo before they have a chance to see that. Be polite when asking someone to check out your band, and show how much you appreciate it if they do. A thank you email would be a great way to follow up!
4. I hate to say it- but have a gimmick. It may be a cheap way to get attention, but intriguing people enough will get them to check your band out. There are many ways to physically stand out and get people curious about you, thus looking further into it. Costumes have always been a popular form of standing out. Getting a large entourage to parade around with, perhaps chanting something usually demands attention. This certainly doesn’t guarantee to get people to like you, but it’ll draw them in, and hopefully the music will take it from there.
5. Show that you’re willing to work hard for yourself. Music conferences are a great opportunity for label reps to discover bands, so you want to be ready to set yourself apart, music aside. Getting signed isn’t the end of your hard work and DIY attitude; in fact it’s only the beginning. Bands that work hard now, and are ready to work harder with a label behind them are much more likely to impress a label rep. Talk about the accomplishments that are directly related to work you put in. It is okay to brag if it’s about something you worked hard to make happen- like booking your own tour. Show your passion and enthusiasm, and people will want to share it.
Nina Chiminec is the head of New Media at SPV records and works with bands such as Motorhead, Type O Negative, and Skinny Puppy. She also spent 8 years recording and touring with the NJ rock band Avery. In her free time she is a contributing editor for BandsOnABudget.com. She can be reached at nina [at] bandsonabudget.com.