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How to Promote Your Band with Free Stuff

I’ve had a moderately successful band for over a decade now. Nothing you would know, most likely; at this point we are mostly weekend warriors. Everyone in our four-piece band has jobs and families, so we just like to play about one show a month, make a little walking around money, have a good time and do it again the next month. It didn’t used to be like this when we were young spring chickens, of course. That’s when world domination was the plan! We had no idea how the heck to do that, but that was the dream nonetheless.

Before the internet was big (I’m feeling old right about now), becoming the next big thing basically meant playing shows in anonymity, maybe recording a demo, and hoping someone noticed you. But with the advent of social networking sites, it has become increasingly easier to get your music out to the masses. With all the “Likes,” “Friend Requests,” and “Wall Posts,” it sometimes feels like you’re on your way to superstardom. But let me tell you this first hand… Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – beats good ol’ fashioned word of mouth! You have to get people talking, and you have to get people to remember you.

Everyone knows the saying: “You can’t buy love.” Sure you can! Ok, maybe not enduring, everlasting, “you complete me” love, but you can sure buy your band some attention!

Fans go crazy for Frisbees with a band's logo!

Fans go crazy for Frisbees with a band's logo!

Nothing has done more for our band (and our friends’ bands) than all the little stuff we’ve given away at our shows – stickers, business cards, Frisbees, CDs, etc.  Instead of hearing “What was that band’s name?” we get fans on our webpage. Instead of sending out emails with links, we send out press kits with stickers and business cards. Just having something to hold in your hand to remind you of a band you may have forgotten does wonders. We just put a stack of freebies on the front of the stage and at the door for people to take, and there’s usually nothing left at the end of the night!

Of course, the time-tested band t-shirts can do wonders as well. You don’t have to sell the t-shirts either; just having them around can send a message loud and clear.

I saw a great band this past weekend (well, “saw” isn’t entirely accurate…I had no idea who they were because the bar was so full I couldn’t even see them) and I wouldn’t ever have known who they were if I didn’t see at least 15 people wearing their t-shirts around the bar. I’m pretty sure most of the t-shirt wearers were friends and family, but they became walking advertisements for the band. I went home, looked them up, and they got my hard earned cash for their music!

So, have you heard any good bands lately? And most importantly, do you remember their names?



Jeff Porretto

Recently dethroned as the shortest member of the blogsquad, Jeff considers himself to be an artist in all facets of life. Be it playing or building guitars, writing blogs with scathing dry wit, or simply finding new ways to be productive, creativity is a central focus of his day. More than anything, Jeff likes to spend time at home with his wife and 2 dogs quietly enjoying their time together. As with many other members of the blog squad, Jeff is fascinated by the latest and greatest technologies. He is also a self-professed Air Jordan addict and is willing to talk about shoes at any time. You can connect with Jeff on Google+.

Comments

  1. Brian

    Hairbangers ball, they play all over the place and all kinds of different music, very good band

  2. QLP Jill

    Good call, Jeff! Many of my favorite bands have seen immense success from giving away or selling merch with their logo on it! I’ve noticed that freebies go fast even if people have no idea what the music sounds like…after all, who’s going to pass up a free band t-shirt? I know I wouldn’t. But it’s an added bonus when you can personalize and sell t-shirts, frisbees, bumper stickers, guitar picks, pins or buttons, and tote bags in your merchandise booth for a profit! Fans get to show off their dedication to your music, and you get to enjoy the monetary benefits as well. It’s really a win-win situation! Promotional products come to the rescue yet again…

    By the way, I want a Louder Than Alice frisbee! Those look really sharp. When can I get one? :)

  3. Bret Bonnet

    I think band t-shirts are great promotional idea, especially when they are GIVEN away to members of the audience and not sold for a small ransom.

    I hate going to a show, small or large, and right next to the stage is a booth selling copies of the CD for $9.99 and then a basic white t-shirt with the bands name on it for $40.00. What gives? I’ve never understood how or why some bands think they can sell their wares for more money than Louis Vuitton! :)

    You might be good, but not THAT good.

    Jeff, what KIND of band is “Louder than Alice”? Also, who is Alice? Does she talk as loud as Casey? If so, God help us all – JK! :)

  4. Andrew Sauer

    There’s a great 70′s cover band that plays in Naperville every other thursday named PB&J. I’m also going to see a band named Rebelution tomorrow night for any of you who like reggae rock.

  5. Joe

    Very good post!!

  6. Jeff

    Louder Than Alice is A Hard Groovin’, Guitar Shreddin’, Head Bangin’ Rock Band! You can find us on Facebook and Myspace.

    I think my solo side project will be called Louder Than Casey…

  7. Scooby DOO!

    I AGREE; Getting noticed is the goal of most bands!? So why not promote your band and brand with promo products? It just make sense J-PO. T-shirts are still the number one selling items for touring bands, why? They are inexpensive, an easy cash cow for the band, AND its bragging rights for the consumer, that they attended the show. But what the consumer might not realize is that they are a WALKING BILLBOARD for that band every time they wear the shirt. Think about how many impressions you can get on google for $10 these days? Now think about how many times you adorned that DMB, Phish, or Pearl Jam shirt.

    Keep promoting!

  8. Tim G

    I agree that bands today are using the internet to try and reach a wide audience at a relatively low cost. However, I feel that one of the challenges that these bands face is that they may have trouble driving potential fans to their website. Brand spiraling is a term that I just recently learned in my Promos class. Brand spiraling uses traditional media advertisements to help drive consumers to new media advertisements. Simple promotional products,such as a frisbee with the bands website on it, has the ability to drive more traffic to the bands website which could potentially create a larger fanbase.

  9. Vernon

    Alice Cooper, Alice in Chains and now Louder than Alice. This name is more popular in music than it is for waitresses in a greasy spoon back in the ’70′s.
    A southern band called The 54 a really good opening act (sharing the album on iTunes) As much music that I… “Come across” I don’t mind paying the cover, then 15 bucks for a burnt CD and 20 for a Fruit of The Loom t-shirt of the band. In the grand scheme of things I think it works out.
    Right on post Jeff!!!

    • Jeff

      Thanks man! We got our name because the sound guy at a place we played said he saw Alice Cooper, and we were louder than him!

  10. Kyle

    Awesome post! I remember when at least half of my wardrobe consisted of band t-shirts. There’s nothing quite like repping your favorite band with some sick looking artwork or logo. I think free concert tees are such an effective marketing technique, but then again maybe I just want more free merchandise haha :)

  11. Laura Porretto

    There would be no band without the wife who puts up with band practice in her basement every week :)

    • Jeff

      Ok, so every band needs great promotions… and understanding spouses =)

      • CJ

        Every week?! Where have I been?

  12. CJ

    Where’s my frisbee? It better be free. Wait…I see what you’re getting at here.

  13. CJ

    Oh, and if you’re wondering…..check out Louder Than Alice here! Free song downloads! As stated, free is good.

    http://www.facebook.com/louderthanalice
    http://www.reverbnation.com/louderthanalice
    http://www.myspace.com/louderthanalice

  14. zenia

    I got useful information from this… Thanks for posting! :)

  15. Bobby Ricky

    When are they gonna make turkey-flavored popsicles? That’s all I really care about….not all this music mumbo jumbo. Meat-flavored snack treats are the wave of the future!

  16. E-rock

    I did see and hear a great band last weekend in Louisianna. They were called Slave tothe Day.

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