2) PROMOTION: The most mysterious and elusive aspect of success
Okay, I’m not sure I really have a lot of advice about this aspect in particular, but as the scope of this project began to expand exponentially the more I contemplated it, it grew to encompass four key “legs” holding up the table that supports a successful cover band: Production, Promotion, the Show, and the Relationships.
The advent of the Internet Age seemed to throw the old paradigm out of whack when it comes to promotion, with social media becoming the default, and in many cases, only promotional tool bands use today. Promotion also aligns with the Production leg because it requires an investment, mostly of money but also of time. And ultimately, at some point the responsibility for successfully promoting the show crosses over from the band to the venue/promoter. There’s only so much a band can do and it’s usually the venues in question who have the resources necessary to get the word out that’s beyond the reach of the band (i.e., radio/print/TV advertising).
But what can the band do? Social media is great, but I’m not convinced that band posters hung up at the venues weeks in advance are obsolete. It’s old school, but I think it still has value. And despite the dominance of Facebook and Twitter, I also think a solid stand-alone website still has value as well. (Disclosure: I am also a graphic designer and have designed websites for bands, but this is not a shameless plug as I avoid graphic design freelance since it’s my day job.)
True story: one of the bands whose website I designed, as well as book gigs for (I have a lot of hats) had a prospective client interested in booking the band for a show in St. Louis. We sent him the link to the band’s website, and within five minutes he called back to lock them in. His main remark was how much he liked the website. I’m not kidding. And not just this band, but another band whose site I designed has received similar compliments.
But here’s the thing: none of the sites I’ve designed (including this one that you’re reading this blog post on) are ground breaking or edgy, and in fact they all share the same basic template. They’re just solid. But here’s the kicker, they are all easy and intuitive to navigate: This is the band; this is what music the band plays; this is the band’s upcoming schedule; these are some promotional pics and videos of the band in action; and most importantly here is the band’s booking info. Apparently most bands fail to design websites so efficiently, because with the sites I’ve designed, that’s what seems to impress promoters the most. They’re just easy to get around and find the info you need. And by the way, that St. Louis gig was a very lucrative gig. In fact I’d say that a website is ultimately going to be geared towards the big money corporate type shows. Think about it. Done right, it can make your band look like professionals who have their shit together. That is HUGE for promoters and clients (and it definitely won’t hurt with the smaller bars and clubs, either).
Again, I’m really not trying to shill for my services, but think about putting together a solid website. If you don’t have the chops, find someone who does. They’re really not that hard, though they can be time consuming.
But you know what I’ve long realized the best form of promotion is? Word of mouth. Nothing else can compare or yield such positive (or negative) results. I’ll cover that later in Relationships (the final leg after the Show).