There’s no point spending years learning your craft and and investing time and money on instruments, recording gear, rehearsal studios and even booking gigs only to fall down at the last hurdle by neglecting an element as important as marketing. I learned the hard way that you don’t have enough friends and family throughout the country to support your gigs. Marketing is often perceived as an expensive frill but this article details ways in which you can effectively promote your project without breaking the bank. Obviously there’s a cost associated with producing promotional materials which is unavoidable but there’s alot that can be done for free and only requires some time and concerted effort. Compiling a comprehensive press list is an on-going process even for professionals – but is achievable by anyone especially nowadays with information so easily obtainable from the internet. Armed with your press list and using common sense and employing a bit creative flair the look of your home-grown promotional campaign can rival that some of the professionals in the industry – I know because I’ve done it myself and if I can do it so can you.
Most venues expect musicians to provide marketing assistance with promoting their gigs and it’s a measure of your professionalism if your agent (or yourself if you are booking your own gigs) can indicate up-front that you can at least provide promotional materials – usually flyers and posters – which can make the difference to your band’s being selected over another equally talented band without promotional materials. You’ve undoubtedly seen the posters – usually A3 or A2 – with the white strip on the bottom for the promoter to overprint their details. In the past I used to provide flyers with details of all the gigs for that season but invariably one or more might be cancelled or more positively additional gigs would come in after print deadline for the flyer…so the universal solution is to also have the flyers printed with a white strip on the bottom for the venues themselves to personalize – just let them know in advance that this is the case. Promotional materials are usually required by the venue 8 – 16 weeks in advance – check the fine print of your contract as this is often a legal requirement.
Don’t underestimate how long this process with take. It normally takes a team effort to produce a really polished product and it’s usually a good idea to commission different designers for artwork and layout design because they’re usually specialized in their respective fields ie a fine artist for the actual artwork vs a layout designer who incorporates the design into both the album and promotional materials. Unlike fine artists most layout designers are au fait with collaborating with printing companies and understand the various technical terms such as bleeds, gutters, pre-press….you get the gist. Nowadays the actual printing process is really quick and my advice is to source a print company that will also package up materials according to your specifications and send it out to the venues. However you will have to co-ordinate the process with military precision by providing the print company with a complete venue list with delivery addresses, contact phone numbers and their respective quantities of materials – the printing company will not drip-send the packages. It’s well worth it to organize this process because packaging and shipping promotional materials is a time-wasting pain and expensive to boot whereas the print company usually has a great deal with a delivery company and can do it for a fraction of what it’ll cost you in time and money. If you only absorb one piece of advice from this article it should be this gem (it was years before I figured this one out).
Assuming you have a comprehensive list of jazz-friendly press, radio and tv contacts draft up a press release with details of your news or if it’s an album release it’s expected release date and a list of upcoming gigs – the more the better.
Your press release should be factual – avoid flowery superlatives – let the press quotes do the bragging for you and should contain the following components:
- A snappy heading
- Two or three press quotes
- Factual description of the project including upcoming gigs
- Condensed biography including any awards or serious accolades
- Website details
- Contact details for press enquiries
Check out the deadline requirements for the monthly, daily and regional weekly newspapers that feature jazz gig listings. Radio interviews are extremely important, not too difficult to procure and help to boost audience numbers and your profile. The regional BBC radio stations are usually amenable if approached in a professional manner as are the national stations like BBC Radio 2, 3, 4 (forget 1). The folks over at JazzFM are also extremely accessible so don’t be shy. Aside from the occasional grainy biopic at 3 am television coverage for jazz is an oxymoron – the rare exception is the occasional American, quirky Japanese or European act backed by major record labels featured on the Jools Holland Show….’nuff said.
Investing in a sustained marketing programme is one of the key aspects of getting ahead in this business. Scrimping in this area is a false economy because no matter how brilliant a musician or group is if nobody has heard about your project it will crash and burn before take-off – that’s the sad reality. Promoters talk amongst themselves and the news of no bums-on-seats spreads like wild-fire. There are ways around the tricky problem of a limited markeing budget one of which is grant funding – yes there’s free money out there that anyone can apply for. Get in touch with the good people at Jazz Services www.jazzservices.org.uk/ who can fill you in about grants and everything jazz-related in the UK.
As always if you require bespoke consultation don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.