Remember your fan's birthdays by creating a musical birthday card you create yourself. Email them the card that is imbedded with an mp3 file of a birthday song you wrote.
Use old school psychology, (if you can afford it) send a real birthday card to each fan that has a simple chip attached to it with a sound file that begins to play when you open the card. (the technology is now available, such cards are now in many retail stores).
You will obviously have to have your database setup to include a place for your fans to give you their birth dates, but after that, at the beginning of every month simply sort out who has a birthday coming up and mail them off. Be sure to do this at least a week before the beginning of each month.
Think of how appreciative your fans will be for having been thought of, and as your career and goes on and gets more established, your past musical birthday cards will become valuable collector items.
Print up promotional "sticky notes" using the Post-It note method for upcoming gigs and send or pass them out to music fans attending live shows. Have your latest shows printed up on them, so fans can use them as reminders to attend your shows and can put them up on their home bulletin boards or refrigerators. You can also use this idea for reminders to buy your latest CD or merchandise you have for sale at your website or live shows.
Work with a local record store that carries your genre of music and ask them about participating in a special "after hours" party and special sale where you get to be the band or artist to supply the music for the event. Have them put your CD on sale at a special price during the party only. Take time to sign autographs, and get the customers to sign up on your mailing/database list. The store can add whatever added incentives they want to make the event a special sale and you get to go along for the ride.
A company called Talking House (r) has invented a unique 'broadcasting' tool It was first used by real estate people to transmit descriptions of a house that is for sale. It works like this; a small radio transmitter sits inside a location (such as a local business in your area). Prospects just tune in on their ordinary car radio, while parked out front, and hear a customized broadcast, in this case... your music... while they are nearby.
Talking House (r) can be used by restaurants, bars, taverns nightclubs, music and record stores, independent fast food restaurants...whatever. You name it, Talking House (r) can broadcast it.
For more information, call 800-444-8255, fax 920-923-6222 or visit the Web site at www.TalkingHouse.com.
There is an advertiser supported web site offering free registration of domain names. You can inquire about being an advertiser yourself and put up an ad for your CD this way. The web address is www.register.com. Pass the word around to fellow bands/artists and fans that need to register their domain names and they will see an ad for your music when they visit the site.
On the front cover of a folded card, place a catchy lyric from one of your songs. Inside, or some place other than where your traditional contact information is printed, briefly list information about your CD and other merchandise you have for sale, and where people can buy your releases (internet, live shows, mail order).
On the back get creative and list other interesting facts about yourself or your music than fans and industry people might appreciate knowing about.
Here is a unique way to fax your promotional messages and press releases to the media. Users create a proprietary media list from a selection of magazines, newspapers, syndicates, and broadcast stations. The service, called IMEDIAFAX -- Internet to Media Fax on-line custom news distribution service, can be found at www.imediafax.com.
Here's how it works: You make your selection by clicking your mouse on the industry and classification, key editors, states, market area, or circulation. Then enter your news release and click to send. IMEDIAFAX news releases can contain graphics, letterheads, logos or pictures. The cost is 25 cents per faxed page. A bonus is that there are no international phone or fax charges.
Maintain a supply of local music related businesses business cards and distributes them to likely musician and music lovers you know. Using return address labels, create a sticker that says "referred by (your name or band name here)".
Placed on the back of other people's business cards, the stickers reminds the person who you are, and you get great word of mouth name recognition over time, and you've helped a local music related business get some customers, as well as helped your music fans learn about where to get the best local help for the their music needs.
The customer is reminded of a cool business, and your name is the first one the prospect hears. ("So and so recommended that I talk to you")
On your website, (you DO have your own website don't you?) create a section where you and your fellow musicians regularly recommend other local bands and great music that you think your fans would enjoy.
The benefit of this is that you are not seen as strictly a selfish musician obsessed with promoting your own music. Your fans will benefit and thank you over time for all the cool music you have turned them onto.
On a professional level, as you recommend other bands and acts, they will get the word from others that you have recommended their music. Can't hurt when it comes to finding other artists to perform live with at various gigs.
When you create your sign-up sheets for mailing lists be sure to include a place for people to write in their fax machines numbers. Everyone is pretty hip to email these days but the good 'ol fax machine is now in 70% of homes across the country.
A few days before each gig, after you have emailed your fans about an upcoming show, send some faxes out to your fans, it is a much more direct way to remind someone of a gig coming up.
When you get an important gig, or get some substantial radio airplay, think about saying thank you the old fashioned way... with flowers. I can only remember a handful of times over the decades of being in the music business when I was thanked with flowers or candy for having done a favor to help a musician.
Believe me, sometimes the corniest ideas are the best ideas. People like getting thanked in this business, and no one would be upset getting a bouquet of flowers or a box of delicious candies... you will be remembered for your kindness and your consideration!
Almost every new and small record label struggles to gain credibility and recognition.
So, use a 'Suite' address, and not a PO Box, or an apartment number when you create your business cards, and letterhead stationary, as well as your envelopes.
Also, list your title as Promotion Manager, Sales Director, Publicist or something of a similar level, rather than more imposing titles like President, Chairman or CEO titles.
Street Teams are the way to go when you don't have a lot of money or time to promote your music. They can be recruited to write articles and reviews about your releases and live shows, and they can be used effectively to get the word out on the street. With your supervision, let them write up press releases, design posters, and get them put up around your city of town. Thank them with free CDs, merchandise, and tickets to your upcoming shows. They will be happy to help you, and feel a real sense of pride in having helped spread the word about your muscic.
Be sure to make all submissions your property if used and gain all appropriate publishing rights.
In addition to providing a simple sign-up sheet for your mailing list that you can have available at all your live shows, consider buying a fishbowl. You know, those road bowls you have seen on the counter of restaurants, where people can drop in their business cards. Do the same at your live shows... Write up a nice sign that mentions you will do a drawing each night for a winner to get your latest CD, if they would drop their business card into the bowl for you.
Remembering your image, and who your fan is, research hotels and motels in the areas that you are going to be touring and arrange with the appropriate lodgings to have free copies of your CD put on the pillow of the quests who are staying there. This is especially important to do when you are going to any of the many music industry conferences and seminars that are held around the country.
This is a great idea because it costs the hotels and motels nothing, and depending on your budget, you have just exposed your music to potentially hundreds of music lovers.
Create a part of your website that has links on it for other interesting music related web sites. Plug it in your fan newsletter and in your promotional materials. Ask your fans to recommend their favorite music web sites, and create an exchange of ideas with your fans. Perhaps give a free CD to the best link suggestion of the month.
I am a big fan of selling CDs at live shows, but for those of you just starting out, and doing your first gigs, perhaps the way to go is to announce from the stage that you are giving away free CDs to the first 25 people that sign-up on your mailing list. That way you get the fan's name and contact information, and they get some free music of yours to listen to, and hopefully tell their friends about.
Contact a favorite local independent record store, and ask them to donate a few gift certificates. Tell them that in exchange, at concerts you will promote their store as a supporter of local music and even pass out circulars for the store at your live shows. On the back of the gift certificate include your own offer for a buck or two off your CD. This works, I know... I use to own a independent record store and I loved doing this type of local promotion with favorite acts because it got new customers into my store, and it got the band another fan. We were both winners.
Contact local high schools and colleges and donate copies of your CD to the school libraries. If your schools have music programs, donate copies to them as well to be given away to the students.
(Musicians worry to much about making money from every promotional opportunity they think of. My idea is that just like those supermarkets that give-a-way free samples of crackers and cheese and sandwiches, you have to give away your music at first so people can hear what you sound like. After you create a fanbase, then you've got 'em hooked and they will be more willing to buy future releases, merchandise, and tickets to your shows.)
Get a copy of Chase's Calendar of Events (buy the book by email: Bookserve@aol.com) to discover all sorts of holidays and "awareness weeks" that apply to almost any business. The idea is to scan the list and see how many of these events you might be able to use for a charitable gig, a networking opportunity, or sources for paid performances and promotional parties.
On the left hand side of the dial from 88.1 FM to 91.9 FM you will find a lot of college radio stations, and other non-commercial broadcasters. Check them out. Most of them have dozens of specialty music shows and certainly a few of those will be playing your style and genre of music. Instead of just begging them for airplay, approach a specialty show host and tell him or her that you want to promote their show on your website and other promotional materials. Tell them how much you enjoy their show, and give them a copy of your music, but without any pressure to play it... let that happen organically. As they get more listeners and feedback on how people heard about their show, you get some of the credit, and have begun a real relationship with the show and the station.
Also, don't be afraid to ask if they are a listener supported station. When I was the station manager of a college radio station in Seattle, during our pledge drives we had many artists and bands donating a percentage of their live show performance fees to the station. Why? Because smart musicians realize the value of supporting their local non-commercial stations.
Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.
Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.
He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".
Send comments or questions to: