Something I hear a lot is how difficult it is for bands to get gigs nowadays, there’s so much competition and venues are closing or switching to sport and DJs, etc etc. It’s tough out there…. and yet whenever I’m putting together an Event or writing a promo piece about a gig I’m constantly amazed by how unprofessional (and unhelpful) most band Facebook pages are! So few bands have even rudimentary information about themselves online; no official videos, no decent photos – some don’t even give any clues as to what genre of music they play.
That’s fine if you just want to play the odd gig in pub’s where you know the bar staff, or a mate can get you in, but if you want to be taken seriously, a little self-promotion is helpful.
A logo and decent cover image on the Facebook page are as far as many bands get, but it’s important to also spend time filling out the “About” page. I’m sure it’s very tempting to give humorous answers to the questions – to show you are witty and a bit edgy – but remember that the purpose of this page is to impress the person who is thinking about booking you.
No one wants to be put into a box, but boxes and labels are helpful when someone is deciding whether you will “fit” the event or festival that they are putting together – so try and give some idea about your influences and the music you play, even if its quite hard to define. Also make sure that you include contact details and links to places where more information is available (website, youtube channel etc). Less is definitely not more when someone is on your page looking for information but not finding it… it’s just frustrating and could mean you miss out on an opportunity!
Facebook includes all kinds of “page options” which can be added, removed or rearranged as required. It is good practice to personalise your Facebook band page and in particular to make sure that the links on the left hand side are a) relevant and b) useful. Remove any section you don’t use as nobody likes clicking through to a dead or blank space, and change the order of the links to suit your band. The bands below have some good ideas…
Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
Facebook is widely used but don’t overlook other social media channels – Twitter is a great way of getting short messages and updates out to your fans and followers quickly, whereas Instagram is probably the best network for photos. It is also a good idea for a band to have their own YouTube channel, to have more control over what videos are shown when someone googles the band. Too many times I’ve tried to find a clip of a band playing, to include in an article, and all I can find are unprofessional clips recorded on a phone, with the sound of a conversation going on in the background.
Be aware of which platforms require logins and restrict access to your material – the problem with sending someone a link to a Spotify track is that they can only listen to it if they have an account, unlike SoundCloud which allows anyone access.
A lot of people, including quite a few venues surprisingly, don’t use Facebook, so a website (even if its just a simple one page site) is very important if you want your band to have a public profile. WordPress.com offer free websites (this is one of them) and have lots of free templates to choose from. Lots of other companies provide low cost options – SquareSpace.com are reasonably easy to use and offer integrated events calendars and playlists for your tracks. The main thing is to get something set up that you can edit easily yourself – otherwise you will need to pay someone every time you want a small change making.
To present yourself to venues, festivals and also the media, labels and the wider industry, eg sponsors, it’s a good idea to create a Promotional pack or press kit and have it ready to send out. This will allow you to present your band professionally, and promote your brand more effectively. Without it, selling yourself will be a lot more hit and miss.
One of the cheapest and most effective ways to do this is to set up an Electronic Press Kit, your EPK as its known. If you have a website it’s best to host your EPK there, as it will help to drive traffic to your site. If you don’t have a website then you can use cloud storage – a DropBox account is relatively cheap, for example.
[TOP TIP: It’s much better to send a single email with a link to your EPK, than to send individual files attached to the email. You could accidentally omit something for a start but also good quality files are often too large to be attachments and many promoters and journalists get annoyed about having their inbox clogged up with numerous emails and attachments.]
Whichever you use, set up a separate space for the EPK information then upload documents, photos, audio and video (see below). If using dropbox you can send a private link via email to the material when you want someone to access it. On your website the best option is to make the EPK page “private” and password protect it – you can then email the interested party with the link and the password to use. If you don’t have the option to password protect pages you can make the EPK page public, but hide it, ie don’t include a link from the website menu. (A word of warning however, Google is very good at sniffing out and listing hidden pages so this may stop most people from finding the EPK material by accident, but its not foolproof).
What to Include in Your EPK
Use the 3rd person (he/she/they) when writing your Biog and press releases as this makes it easier for journalists and bloggers to cut and paste when featuring your news on their site. Save these documents in PDF format so they can be opened / used on any device.
Include an up to date Biog with information about your band. Include the names of all band members and what they do, along with information about past achievements, track and video releases, upcoming events you are proud of, or your plans for the next 12 months. Be clear and provide the important information upfront – people will quickly lose interest and move on to another band if they have to find this information out for themselves. Revisit your Biog file every few months and keep it updated!
ii) Latest Press Release:
If you are announcing a tour, a new track or EP/Album release or some other news then a separate Press Release (in PDF format) is invaluable. Make it clear why this event/release is newsworthy and provide information that is useful and interesting.
iii) Reviews & Quotes:
Keep this to a single page and show the quotes in bold. Keep them short and impressive – 2 sentences max, but include the source information along with links to the full review / article underneath for reference.
Photos and Artwork
Make sure you give the files self-explanatory names. A file name like IMG_7249.jpg won’t help anyone, so rename files to make it clear what they are for or about, eg BoardmastersFestival2017.jpg / bandlogo.png / EP-artworkfront.png and EP-artworkback.png
Provide 4-5 good quality, well lit, hi-res photos, preferably taken by a professional photographer (include photographer credits if needed). Ideally images should be 300dpi, because if the resolution is not high enough they can’t be used for posters or for magazine or newspaper write-ups. Try to include images that tell different stories, a staged band shot against a suitable backdrop for example, as well as live performance shots from different events. Include images which can be cropped down as needed to fit an article.
Provide your band logo in an uncompressed format (png) along with any visuals for your new EP/Album if you are launching one.
Audio and Video
The EPK can include physical media files such as high-quality downloadable MP3s (320 kbps preferably) – these could be made available in the dropbox folder or streamed and hosted on the band website.
Alternatively you could include a 1 page PDF which includes links to samples of your media – a promotional video that you have uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube for example, or audio tracks stored on Soundcloud.
These tips are based on observations and reading I’ve been doing whilst working on a few events lately. If anyone else has an tips or inside information that they’ve found to be helpful please let me know and I’ll update this page.