START PROMOTING EARLIER
I’ve been talking with some folks who are just starting down the path of band leadership lately and it’s reminding me of all kinds of little tips I wish I’d known in my early days. I’ve said this blog is a journal but more and more, I’m trying to be helpful instead of just cathartic.
One thing I wish I’d been better about in my early days is promoting my event/release earlier. Not just planning it earlier, but specifically promoting it earlier. (Often those became the same thing in the end anyway)
When The Invincible Czars started playing bigger non-club shows, the gigs were often booked much farther in advance. Even as much as 6+ months. That was a big leap from clubs that were usually 3 months ahead at most.
Prior to that, I always wanted to make sure our show was good so I’d focus on having the show ready and then do the promotion last. All of the sudden it was two weeks before the show and I hadn’t even made a poster, written a press release or done anything to make anyone aware.
Working WAY ahead with these bigger event planners required me to have enough faith that the band/show would be ready in time* to allocate MORE time to preparing my promotional materials early. Of course, often they were doing the promotion and they wanted high res photos, posters and graphics in all sizes, start and stop times, bios, etc, etc, 6 weeks ahead.
This was really helpful because then all that crap was done way ahead of time and off my mind. It also had the profound effect of making me think about what outcome I wanted to try to achieve from the show. Was this to be a big promotional splash or a show where we hoped to really sell tickets or merchandise or… what? Once I was forced to establish that, I could communicate and plan it better.
Then I was able to really focus on the performance (mostly) unfettered for the last couple of weeks, which also worked out for the best because I could hit an un-distracted stride musically. It was around this time that I noticed that theater companies operate the same way! They do a concentrated burst of group rehearsals 2-3 weeks before the shows and spend all their time prior to that creating, planning, developing and promoting the thing. They essentially promote their vision and then work like hell to realize it.
Do it like that and your performances and promotion will be better. It seems unintuitive but it works.
*having so much lead time helped calm my nerves on that end but sometimes I was committing to things that were scary. “uh… I guess we can have an entire brand-new silent movie score ready in 2 months right around the same time we’re doing a 2 hour holiday show in a different city… “