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How to promote your band on the cheap

One of the most frequently asked questions at Mill Hill Music Complex, is how bands and artists “break through” and what bands have to do to get into the public spotlight. What are the secrets to promote your band without breaking the bank. This blog discusses what unsigned artists with no budget can do to help get the message around.

There are many forms of social media that can be used to good effect and are free. The main ones at the moment are Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Many bands make the mistake of thinking that simply by opening an account on these sites and posting a few things, they will get exposure to millions. It doesn’t really work like that. Once these accounts have been set up, they need to be kept up and work needs to be done to use them to push your material into other areas.

The more savvy bands will join forums and networks of fans of well known similar bands and crosspost links. Most people are quite shrewd so simply logging into a greenday forum and saying “This band rocks” and posting a link to your facebook page will attract no interest. You need to become an active participent in forum debates and get well  known before even mentioning your own band. Once you have built up an on line profile, then people will take more notice.

Bands also have a trendency to big themselves up. This isn’t always the best approach. If you post a message on a forum and say “this is my band and we’re great” with a link, most people will ignore it, thinking you are not being objective. If you post one which says “we are really big fans of ….. and they are our main influences, what do you think of our video/song/etc” people will be more inclined to looka nd also give you feedback.

The next thing to consider is how you will get people to attend your gigs. Until you are well known, this will usually be your friends. When a new band forms, their mates are usually keen to see what they are like. After three or four gigs, it becomes harder to get people along. Bear this in mind when scheduling gigs. If you book three gigs in London and one is in Barnet, one is in Central London and one is in South London, if you are based in Barnet then it is unlikely anyone will go to a south London gig if the have easier or more attractive options. As such you are better off concentrating your efforts on the local gig and the central London gig. If the South London venue has a regular crowd and the promoter likes you, then by all means do it, but don’t promise fans that won’t come.

Gigs at college bars and free to enter venues is also a good way to go. It can be worthwhile leafletting if you play a specific genre, but only give the leaflets to people who look as if they may come along.

Another thing you want to do is get radio play and other exposure. Gary Crowley on BBC London 94.9 runs slots for unsigned bands. These sort of slots are your best chance to get a play and so make sure you send your music to such shows. If Gary Crowley plays the track, then that gives you some credibility and increases the chance of A&R interest. In this day and age it is not worth doing  this unless you have some sort of web presence on social media sites. A&R will look at these sites first. Make sure your contact details are on it.

One final word about web and social media. It only works if it is constantly updated. If you just set the stuff up and never update it, people will stop checking it out. Music fans are often information hungry, so if your band isn’t up to anything, then post about gigs you’ve been to or tracks you are listening to. This may attract fans of these bands to you as they google search for their band. Reviews etc of bands you like on your site is a grat way to build a presence. Write a review and then tweet it. That will bring lots of people along to you site and some will like what they see.

Of course the hard bit is actually writing and playing music people will like, but if you’ve done that, record it and then get it out there.

Here are a few more tips

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