Okay, so you’ve started a new band or you are in an existing DIY band and you want to contact press, blogs, radio, venues and other bands. Where do you start and how do you look like you’ve got your shit together? Well, the thing is, you don’t have to have your shit together entirely, but you do have to be respectful in your communications and any notions of developing 'Rock Star Syndrome' should be quelled immediately.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND EMAIL
It doesn’t have to be great, but at the very least have a band email address. You can organise yourself and your band with different folders for bookings, press, radio etc. If you are contacting the press to get your band out there you don’t have to know everything. It is okay to ask questions. However, it is important to know who you are contacting and what their publication is about. It is also important to be clear about what sort of coverage you are looking for and write a personalised email. Most ‘bulk’ emails end up in the spam folder or ignored in favour of polite emails.
Another big no-no is also telling a writer what to write. If you want them to write about you - let them write about you. If you don't like their point of view - don't ask them in future.
And on the subject of personalised emails and doing your research – remember to drop the 'Rock Star' attitude. If you send a self-recorded metal track for review to a publication that focuses on folk and tell the editor or writer that this is going to be the best musical experience they’ve ever had and that they should turn it to eleven – expect either a ‘pass’ or no reply to your 13 minute instrumental. If you say straight up that it’s a metal track that has some elements of folk and you thought they might be interested because it is different – you might still get a ‘no’, but at least you’ve been respectful and possibly gained another listener or audience member.
If you have a Facebook account for your band – fill in the about section. There are bio writers available for hire or you can do it yourself. If you have upcoming events, add them to your page.
Okay, so you want to play some gigs – groovy. When communicating with bookers, venues and other bands it is important to be very clear about details. Emails with run sheets are generally used or Facebook group messages for the more DIY shows. All are valid. It is very important to be respectful in these communications and where possible have one point of contact for the band that passes the information between the organisers and your band. It is also very important to have a stage plot or tech rider. Basically, the venue and organisers want to know who is on stage during your set and what they need to play the set.
THE WORD ‘NO’
You are going to hear it a lot. Don’t take it personally and for the love of Lemmy, don’t be rude about it. If someone can’t accommodate you at a show or in a publication, try again another time and remember to be respectful.
Just don’t. We all have to promote what we do, but there is a fine line between being excited and being annoying. Using your band socials and your personal socials to tell people who follow you about your show is fine. You should be excited about it. It’s awesome. Just don’t go too far into 'spamville'. Work smarter, not harder. Identify people who might actually come to your show or want to listen to your music and ask them.
Okay, you’ve got a great gig coming up – awesome. There are a couple of key points to remember.
Play to the room – don’t turn to 11 and smash your cymbals if you are playing a small room, you will instantly clear it.
Stick to your set times – if you go over time other bands miss out and you may exhaust your audience.
Equipment – it’s very important that you have everything that you need to play. If for any reason you don’t or something fails you can always politely ask another band or the venue or make do with what works. For example, if your pedals fail mid-set – just plug into the amp to finish the song. If your string breaks – just keep going. Chances are another guitarist might go and grab theirs for you to finish with, but don’t rely on it.
If a live music photographer is kind enough to take photos of your band playing live and you want to share them make sure you tag them and give them credit for their work and don’t crop their watermarks out.
You may notice that I haven’t mentioned having high res photos or a sparkly press release or a manager or a website etc. That stuff may be important eventually, but the most important thing to do when starting out or doing it yourself is to be respectful and build lines of communication with the right people. You are basically building your own little community and believe me – word of mouth is important and can have a snowball effect in your favour if you do it right. The long and short of it is – be nice and work smart.