Industry Insight

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!

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!