Promote Without Fear

Who Says You Can’t?

No, seriously…who says you can’t?

Instead of starting with a specific band, I decided to touch on the other focus of this blog–helping musicians think about promoting themselves. Over the last decade, I’ve grown to know a variety of artists who approach this differently. Some have it down right from the start and others just aren’t sure what to tackle first. It’s a headache, it’s easy to get scammed–and yet, still a necessity.

Now, I didn’t fall into this kind of work intentionally. In fact, it was very different from my first goal. But it was a happy surprise and something I wanted to continue for a long time. Let’s get to the initial areas I think every musician should think of.

  1. Who are your current fans?
    1. Even if you’ve just started out, is there anyone who’s attended a show more than once. And don’t discount friends and family. If there’s a real reaction to what you’re doing–that won’t even matter. For those you don’t know, but are starting to see more, make sure to build that foundational network. Whether you realize it or not, it’s exactly what you’re doing.
  2. Who are the fans you want to eventually have?
    1. This is slightly different from the previous question. Just as you might have that venue you want to play, there are also certain kinds of fans you might like to have down the road. As you play more and get your name out there, it’ll become clearer.
  3. How long are you willing to do your own grassroots marketing?
    1. I’ve had quite entertaining discussions over this because it really comes down to skills, control and interest. Do you just want to play and leave everything else to a third-party? Do you like knowing the way your brand is presented? Do you have the time to promote and play? I’ve seen two roads artists like to take: 1) doing self-promotion until you’re signed or 2) working alongside help to always have an idea of what’s beyond the music. Neither is more appropriate than the other. Pick the route you prefer.
  4. Do you have a network, be that friends and/or fans, that are willing to take on some of the work for you?
    1. This is what I adored doing before as a street team leader. If I really built a rapport with a person or band, I’d volunteer to help with any online promotion. That meant an updated fan blog, social media campaigns, emails/mailing to labels and booking agents, etc. Those initial fans you’ve made are often the best people to approach about this. That is, if they don’t volunteer for the start. Sometimes, these people aren’t even worried about monetary perks. Helping you and building a real friendship are more than enough.
  5. Do you have, or soon plan to have, a marketing budget?
    1. While there truly is a lot you can do on a zero or small budget, cost will come into play sometime down the line. It can suck, I know. Especially after everyone takes their cut from a show before the you/your band, and then splitting it internally. But if you do plan out marketing strategically, it’ll give you more options with ways to promote yourself both on and offline.

There’s a lot more to think about, but if these questions haven’t crossed your mind–they should be. Beyond the music, beyond the goals of fame or fortune, your artistry is a business you need to protect. We’ve all seen the horror stories of what happens if you aren’t on the defense from the start. If there’s a promotion-related question you’d like me to discuss in the future, just leave it in the comments or via the artist submission form.

Until next time,



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