One of the most tedious tasks in the music business is promoting. At least my experiences with promoting have become very tedious. I’m sure it would be harder if I was actually in a band, which is good for everyone’s hearing that I am not. I do help out the local music scene as much as I can or know how, which brings me to HGI.
Hoosier Guitar Idol (HGI) is a local guitar competition that is coming up this Sunday, January 30th at Max’s Place starting at 6:00 PM. The other day I went down Kirkwood putting up posters for HGI and became overwhelmed with it all. When you walk down Kirkwood and take the time to look at the scattered kiosk polls you notice that there is a lot going on… all the time. At some spots it was hard to find enough room for the flyers to fit without completely blocking out other events. There are so many spots in Bloomington (kiosks on and off campus, businesses, etc.) to put up posters that one person could take all day to get half of it done. Street teams can get a lot done but sometimes it feels like it can be a full time job. Looking at the polls definitely made me wonder if posters and flyers even work at all.
Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t as far as promotion is concerned. It is hard to see what exactly is getting people into shows; is it a Facebook event, is it the awesome poster/flyer you made or the fact you told all your friends to come? I’m sure we’d all like to think that the numerous posters we fill town with were enough to fill a venue. If that were true I’d be helping put on very successful events. This shouldn’t discourage anyone though, I’ve seen some fantastic posters around that made me want to go and see what it was all about.
What I’m about to state next might sound like a no brainer but that’s exactly the problem. Word of mouth is just as important, if not more important than advertising. Too many people tell others about their upcoming events too early or not often enough. I’ve seen it happen a few times to local bands. Talking only gets us so far; we have to remember to continue the conversation, over and over again in order to really have an impact (with a balance of course, no need to annoy people at risk of having no one show up).
A lot of work goes into promoting bands or events that aren’t established to the point where all they need to say is the date of the show on their website. A strong joint effort between physical and self-promotion makes an event happen in Bloomington. So after the next time you put up all your flyers don’t forget to tell your friends (multiple times) to tell their friends about what you have going on.