Going on tour can certainly be an exciting prospect, but becomes even more so if you know people are going to actually turn up at your shows. As with so many things in the music biz, properly publicizing your event and reaching out to fans is key ensuring your time on the road is a success.
Guest post by Kevin Penney of Soundfly's Flypaper
Your band is going on tour, and that’s exciting! But do people know about it? One of the biggest challenges for any tour is getting people to show up to your shows. Your band needs to publicize and reach out to your fans in each location.
In order to successfully market your upcoming tour and put on a great show, it’s important to think from a few different perspectives. There’s the actual tour you want to promote, but a lot more goes into that than you might initially think, especially if this is your first tour.
Think about your brand, and the image you want to convey. Most importantly, think about your music and why you’re doing this in the first place. Before embarking on your tour, you’ll want to make sure you:
- Design a killer website and keep it up to date.
- Leverage your social media platforms.
- Make a variety of band merchandise to sell.
- Create a tour poster.
- Write a press release.
Ready to put on your marketing thinking cap and explore ways to promote your tour? Let’s dive into each of these awesome strategies!
1. Design a killer website and make sure it’s up to date.
The first thing you need to do to promote your tour is design and/or update your website. Your website communicates to your community who you are, what your music sounds like, where you’re going on tour, how to buy tickets, and how to contact you. A website both makes you look legitimate and professional and collects your story in one accessible place. Your image is key, and if you want to book more gigs in the future, it’s important to come off as a band that is talented and reliable.
If you haven’t already set up a website, there are a few key pages you should include:
- Homepage: This introduces your visitors to your band and allows you to direct them to an action to take on your website. This is a great place to emphasize your upcoming tour. Brand your website to match your tour poster aesthetic to keep things cohesive and help visitors know they’re in the right place.
- Songs, store, and placement pages: Include samples of your songs, links to where visitors can purchase them, and any placements you’ve had on TV, film, etc.
- Merch page: Help your fans find their new favorite t-shirt that supports their favorite band with a merch page featuring your band’s collection of custom t-shirts or other merch.
- Booking/contact page: Having a booking page or general contact page allows people to get in touch with you if they have any questions or want you to book a gig with them.
- Tour info or events page: List your tour dates and locations, with links to where tickets can be purchased online.
- About page: Show off your band’s accomplishments, your mission, and a few images to show who you are. Make sure that the text easy to digest.
Part of keeping up with your fans is keeping up with your website. Update it as often as you can (whenever you have news or other exciting things to share). And take advantage of a mailing list, so you can get back on people’s radar when you need to. If you need to start designing from the ground up, check out Soundfly’s free online course with Bandzoogle, How to Create a Killer Musician Website.
2. Leverage your social media platforms.
Social media is a huge part of promotion and brand building in any industry, and touring with your band is no exception. There are several platforms you can use to your advantage, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and SoundCloud.
Consider the following platforms and ways you can use them:
- Instagram: Keep your Instagram up to date with photos, videos, and stories of your band with fans. The more you engage with your community and offer a glimpse into the making of your music, the more excited they’ll be to come see you perform live.
- Facebook: If your band doesn’t already have a Facebook page, it would likely be a good idea to make one. From there, you can create Facebook events for each show of the tour and upload videos of your band playing to hype it up. Create a cohesive look to the events and your page alike by creating imagery for your tour promotion and keeping it streamlined in your postings.
- Twitter: Live tweet a rehearsal or share updates showing that you’re excited to visit the cities on your tour schedule. Post updates as you travel so fans can follow along your journey and see if you’re nearby. Twitter is a great way to reach out to local press in upcoming cities. Be sure to share any press you get along the way and thank the publications and authors.
- Snapchat: Snapchat is a great platform to use if your band has an audience in the high school and college age groups. Share fun photos and videos of your band as a way to keep your fans engaged and updated.
- SoundCloud: SoundCloud is an online audio platform that allows you to upload and promote your music. Upload your tracks to this platform for the chance to gain exposure to millions of listeners each month.
Keeping your social media channels updated is a must for any band that’s traveling and promoting their tour, but there are many ways to be creative and interact with your fanbase on those platforms. For a bit more on how to get the most out of paid social media engagement, here’s an article on using Facebook’s boost algorithms.
3. Sell a variety of band merchandise.
One of the most surefire ways to promote your tour is by selling merchandise. Selling apparel is a great addition to CDs and records, especially because they can get you some free publicity. By expanding your band merch ideas, you can widen your audience, because someone who might not want to splurge on a record or t-shirt might decide to buy something smaller. And fans without CD or record players will still want a way to support your music.
Other items you can sell include:
- Tote bags
When you have a choice of items available, you will meet the needs and wants of your fanbase, no matter what they’ve come to your show wanting. Spend some time designing your merch and make it count!
4. Create your tour poster.
While you might not have thought of it this way before, your band is a brand. You want to have a representation of your band that is recognizable, sends you traffic, and most importantly, resonates with your fanbase.
Part of pushing your brand means creating a poster for your tour. It’s a great way to share a visual that will catch people’s attention, and also let them know you’ve got some events coming up. When putting together a poster, consider the following tips:
- Include the necessary info: Be sure to leave space at the bottom so you can share details about the shows; or create a brand new poster for each show of the tour. Interesting visuals relevant to your band always go a long way.
- Do the work: Send out copies of your posters to all the venues you’ll be touring in advance. Once you get into town, look for other places to hang posters (coffee shops, indie bookstores, etc.).
- Create both physical and digital copies: Having printed posters is great, but they’ll only reach the audience in the places where you hang them, so make sure there’s a digital copy that you can send to press and post to your social channels. Always remember to make designs specific to the dimensions of the use case. For instance, the dimensions of a graphic used for Instagram is going to be different from the banner on your Facebook page.
Having a tour poster is a great step to take in marketing your band and raising awareness about your tour. It’s one of the first ways people will come across your name, so it has to make an impact.
If you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, try hiring a freelance designer from 99designs or Fiverr. These sites are great, because you can read reviews on the designers before selecting someone, and there are plenty of options to choose from without having to pay a fortune.
5. Send out a press release.
Part of marketing your tour relies on doing the legwork in advance. Get down to the nitty-gritty and create a press release and a promo package for your tour. Doing this can help you reach out to more promoters if you send the press release early enough (about three months out).
Your press release should include:
- A header: This what gets your recipient’s attention and introduces them to your band.
- The news: Provide the name of the tour and album, popular songs, and anything else you think is relevant.
- The info: List key tour dates and direct the recipient to your website for the full list. Include your website (obviously), but also share your social media links.
- A closing: Offer up a contact person for the recipient to reach out to if they’re interested in interviews or more info.
Send your press release, along with a larger promo package (with artist bios, a demo CD, etc.), to local newspapers and radio stations. Mention if anyone in the band is available for an interview leading up to the show, as well. The important thing to remember is to be proactive and follow-up. This may be the least enjoyable part of marketing your tour, but it’s a necessity.
Now that you know what it takes to get your tour some excellent promotion, it’s time to try it out for yourself! Your heart and soul may go into your music, but your brains go into your marketing. Be strategic about it and you’ll be on your way to getting some great publicity.
Have you had success marketing past tours? Share your advice with us below, or help educate the rest of the DIY touring community by joining and posting in our free online course, Touring on a Shoestring.
Kevin Penney is the CMO and co-founder of Bonfire.com, a company that’s reinventing how people create, sell and purchase custom apparel. He loves solving difficult problems, working with the Bonfire Product team, and hockey. He has over 10 years experience in digital media, design, and technology.