Have a Vision
It’s important to know what you want to do with your music and performing. Do you want to tour? Do you want to play small, local shows? What is your goal? Having a specific vision can help you narrow down the venues that you try to play and how you go about promoting yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that any publicity is good publicity, or to think that as long as you’re playing somewhere you’re making progress. On the contrary, playing and promotion that don’t align with your vision or your brand amounts to time wasted that could have been spent working on something more important. With that being said…
Develop a Brand
Begin to make choices about how you want to be seen. Dress for performances accordingly and post on social media in a way that reflects the image you want to create. Having a consistent brand will help your fans identify you and identify WITH you, and it will make choices about t-shirt and website design, color schemes, flyers, and everything else much easier. This doesn’t mean you have to choose everything you want to be right away and set it in stone, but you definitely want to begin thinking about it and figuring out what will work for you. Think of a sentence to describe you or your band, and go from there!
Choose your Primary Connections
When connecting with fans, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the platform choices. Many musicians try to do everything, and end up unable to have deep connections with their fans. Choose one or two platforms to focus on and use them as your primary connection points. Let one of those become a hub that everything else directs back to. For example, we currently use our website to post all our information, blog posts, and music, and we use Facebook to interact with our fans and to lead people back to our website. Adding to that, I use Instagram and my husband uses Twitter, and we use those to funnel people back to our Facebook page and website.
Think Outside the Box
There are a lot of great musicians out there, so how are you going to set yourself apart? Is there a way you can promote your music that doesn't fit normal promotion standards? Is it with a unique piece of merchandise like a personal blend of coffee? Is it a signature object that you always have with you for shows or in pictures? Find something that represents you and see where you can take it!
Merchandise is a great way to connect with fans and it is a great way to advertise! Tees, stickers, mugs or pretty much anything else you can conceive of can be turned into a mobile billboard. Just make sure that you have a design that is eye catching and clear. If you aren't comfortable doing the design yourself, consider hiring a professional or even just someone on Fiverr. There isn't much point in having merch that no one wants to buy!
Give Stuff Away
It's easy to give away digital content, and it may even be beneficial to give away some of your merch. This will raise awareness of your brand, and it is pretty simple to do. You can do promotions or contests on social media and send the winner something free, you can give fans at shows (who answer a question or complete a task) a download card or sticker for their efforts - the possibilities are endless! Things like these will get people talking about you, and that is a really good thing!
Find Places to Play
If performing is something you want to do consistently, it helps to have a list of places where you can play regularly. If you're not sure where to start, try following other musicians on social media and see where they play. You can also go to areas where you live that have a lot of bars and restaurants, and see if any of them have a space for performers, and what their requirements for playing are. Another option is to see what your area’s laws on busking (street performing) are. If you're allowed to do it without a license, see if you can find some outdoor spots with a lot of foot traffic to set up and jam!
No matter which methods you use, try to stick with it for a while! Self promotion takes time and work, but it also gives you complete control over your image and products! Good luck!