The principles of marketing a band and getting to the point of making actual money from shows don't really differ that much from running a business. Just so happens that this business is music.
An old saying goes something like "build it and they will come". You can tell it's an old saying because in today's world it should read "build it, MARKET IT... and they will come". Don't believe me? How many super talented people have you come across that made incredible music in their basement that never made it out of their house. It's like they're waiting for somebody to knock on their door and say "I was just passing through the neighborhood with a briefcase full of money and wanted to see if you have a great song available". It's not going to happen. However there are things you can do to get your music/band marketed and we will be discussing this in the following article.
Let's first establish what we're looking to do. We need to promote the band while at the same time making some money or at least not losing too much on the marketing costs, all this while making sure that our efforts will be rewarded in spades if done right.
Under this "umbrella" we have stuff like t-shirts, buttons, stickers and any other solid tangible good that represents the band/artist. Obviously CDs enter the picture and so do DVDs. With the advent of Zazzle and other similar services you can sell your merchandise without ever seeing it or stocking it. You simply create your design online and when it sells they will print your design onto the shirt and ship it out. The quality is very good, but as with anything that helps make your life a bit easier, it takes from your profits.
These things earn you back money while promoting your music/band. After all, some guy dressed with your t-shirt is like having a walking billboard. Try to keep in mind these simple rules as you design your products:
1. Easy to read, clear and relatively big logo. If you're a fan of twisted letters and squiggly lines you would do well to stay away from that. It doesn't mean that your design has to be bland and boring, but stay away from stuff that you need to spend time and effort to discern. If you've ever seen a shirt for a black metal band you'll know what I'm talking about. You want people to be able to read your name fast and easy. Same goes for logos. McDonalds has the yellow arches. Adidas, Nike and Mercedes are well known for their logos. Notice the logos are based on simple forms/graphics.
2. Put your contact info on just about anything. The more contact details the better. A phone nr is really great and so is an e-mail address. I know some things, like t-shirts for example, do not lend themselves easily to this end, but there's no reason in the world why the webpage cannot be present on absolutely everything.
3. Entice people to give you their e-mail address in any way shape or form possible so that you can start to build your e-mail list.
Here are some ideas for non-traditional marketing that will give you the most bang for your buck.
1. Postcards. Before you run out and do these yourself try and see if you can get a sponsorship to pay for the cards. Here's how it works: Find a business that is somehow tied into the scene you're trying to reach. If, for example, you're a rock band and even pop, a tattoo parlor or a trendy clothing shop might do the trick. You can get 5 thousand cards made for about 200 bucks. Pitch the idea as 5 thousand cards distributed as promo at your show for $200, with your band on one side and their business on the other. Don't say stuff like you're offering the back of the card, because in all reality the card has NO back, it has two faces. They get 5,000 cards printed and distributed to people that are in their market and you get your card FREE! Works out for everybody.
2. If you know other gigging bands or artists putting out albums then work together and place small footers on each other's posters. Your poster will feature a small footer with gigs/releases of five other artists let's say... Each of those artists will in turn feature a small footer of your release/gig on their poster. You reach 5 times more people on average without any extra expense.
3. Sponsorships may be a bit hard to come by until you get a footing in your market. Sponsors look for bands/artists with a following. However, if you've started to build a following then you can definitely try to approach companies for a sponsorship. Offer space on all your promotional materials as well as advertising for the sponsor at your gigs.
Hopefully this has given you ideas about how to market your band. Remember that persistence pays off, so get to it.