Once you’ve booked a show, the most stressful part is making sure people will actually show up to hear you play. In fact, it can be the most nerve-wracking part of the entire ordeal. While there are no guarantees, there are smart ways to play around so that you do everything in your power to get people into your show:
Invite Another Band
Unless you’re participating in an American Idol type of deal, don’t view other bands as your competition. Doing a show with another band is a great way to expose your music to an entirely new fanbase without doing extra work. Think of it as unpaid advertising. What’s more, having another band be part of your show, means you’ll have other people promoting it. And when it comes to promoting your gig, it truly is a matter of the more the merrier.
Flyers, Flyers, Flyers
Yes, you need a flyer. You’ll need a flyer for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and literally every other social network where you have set up a profile. It will need to be distributed in the band’s profile and in your personal profiles. And even that won’t be enough. You’ll need to get out on the street and get the flyers on your local coffee shop, at the venue, in the streets, at clubs. Your entire city needs to be sick and tired of your flyer.
The key here is repetition. You want people to familiarize themselves with the flyer in advanced. Just be smart about how you do it, since digitally is really easy to come off as spammy. A good rule of thumb is not to promote your flyer more than once a day.
Set Up a Press Kit
Every band should have a press kit ready. More often than not, it’s a short .pdf briefly explaining the origins of the band, saying what they’ll do next, and offering all the important links to the songs, or albums, plus a few pictures. A press kit should have all the information a journalist might need in case they decide to write about the band.
While it might seem like a lot of effort for a small band, it makes them look professional when contacting the local media or specific writers. Which you should definitely be doing before a gig. While big sites like Pitchfork are not going to care that you’re playing at your local club, a local magazine who’s just starting out, might be more interested and willing to attend. That’s your chance to make a great impression, sent out a press kit, offer a spot on the guest list, and start a relationship.
Sometimes, even if you have great material and promote the hell out of the gig, you might still come up short. That’s when offering something else of value comes in. Whether it’s a free beer with the ticket, free merch, signed singles, or a giveaway. It doesn’t even have to be “a thing”, it can also be an experience. You can invite an unexpected act to perform after you, have dancers over. Whatever you can come up with to add value to your show. Just make sure it’s something people will care about and that you clearly let them know what it’ll be beforehand.