Whether you're setting out on a country-wide tour or simply playing a show at the next town over, knowing how to break into a city you've never played is an invaluable skill as a DIY artist. Here we look at three essential ways in which you can boost your presence in a new city before you play a show there.
Guest post by Patrick McGuire of ReverbNation
Whether you’re a weekend warrior playing in a regional city close to your hometown or embarking on a long national tour, being able to promote shows in cities you’ve never played in is vital for bands trying to find momentum and new fans. But getting the word out in a new city isn’t easy, especially for new and unestablished bands. Here are three tips to help promote shows in places you haven’t played before:
Pitch your show to local press and radio outlets
Being the literal new band in town can be a benefit if you play your cards right. By pitching your show to local press and radio outlets as your “debut (fill city name in here) performance,” you’ll have both a reason to ask for coverage and an angle to frame it around. Blogs, newspapers, and magazines need stories to write about, and your band’s debut show could be that story – with the right pitch, that is. Talk about who you are, why you’re playing in town, and why the public should know about it. Pitching to local radio stations is different, mainly because most stations require physical CDs when considering what music to play. When reaching out to local radio, send CDs through the mail a couple of months in advance, and follow up later through email. If you can, try promoting the show by setting up on-air interviews, performances, and merch giveaways.
Run a targeted ad campaign over social media and local blogs
If you’ve got money to invest, consider running targeted ad campaigns in the new cities you’re playing in. Ad platforms are creepily specific these days, letting you reach potential fans by location, age, and even music preferences. Rather than trying to reach massive groups of people, your best bet is to narrow it down to the people you think would most like your music, and to put your ads in front of them. This tactic is especially impactful when a band is getting local press and radioplay in a new city.
Submit your music to local and regional playlists
Playlists are massively important in 2019, but you already knew that, didn’t you? But spending all your time trying to get placements on popular playlists means losing out on some big opportunities, especially when it comes to show promotion. Seeking out and pitching to small, city-based playlists is a great way to get your music in front of music fans living in the city you’re playing. These playlists are often curated by local blogs and music fans. Specific playlists to look into are ones featuring music from touring bands coming through the area.
Playing in a new city can be a rough experience for a band, especially if they aren’t big enough to draw a crowd. But the fact is that if your band is small, new, or unestablished, no one is going to promote your shows other than you. Making a real effort to introduce your music to the new cities you play in is your best chance at bringing audiences to your shows.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.