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The Power of Tooting Your Own Horn
by Don Newton, Independent Internet Musician's Association, September 2006


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There are basically three types of people in this world.
 
    1. Those who make things happen.
    2. Those who watch things happen
    3. Those who stand around and ask "What happened?"

I can't take credit for that, and I don't recall who said it, so I can't reference the quote. But it is right on the money about the nature of the majority of our planet's population. You may fall in between the categories somewhere and vacilate back and forth between them, and even occasionaly jump past a whole category and land smack dab in the middle of greatness, or idiocy.

Fact is, we all do it. Depending on the day, we may find ourselves in any one of these categories. But mostly, one will predominate.That is the pure you. The natural you, and no matter what that may be, it's a beautiful thing and I would never want you to change it.

Unless we're talking about self promoting your band.

Under these circumstances, you absolutely have to step up to the plate, or you are going to need to hire someone to do this for you. Because there is one thing that I can say with absolute authority, and nobody can tell me that I am wrong.

If no one knows you exist, they cannot be your fan, and they will not buy your music.

I know that the average musician want's nothing to do with the business side of the music. But hey, it's called the "music business" for a reason you know. So I'm gonna show you some ways to make it fun, instead of it seeming like work. I'm going to show you a perfect way to get other people to do most of the work for you.

Publicity is easy to get. The news media is so lazy these days, if you call them with a story, they'll be beating your door down to be the first ones to cover it. Trust me on this one. If you want the coverage of the media though, it DOES have to be something newsworthy. They might cover your lead singer's bachelor party or something, especially if there was a donkey involved, or if the police showed up for any reason, and I mean ANY REASON. hint...hint....

Seriously though, to get major press, you've got to do something pretty major. How would you like to have that? Newspaper, Radio, Television coverage of your upcoming concert event?

One word. Charity.

The press loves charity events like a fat man loves Baskin Robbins, and the bigger you can make the event, the more press you'll get. The people love it too, and they will literally POUR OUT to your open air charity concert. All you have to do is find a charity willing to back the whole thing. What, you think that would be hard? Charities are in the business of raising money! This is where you will get most of your work done for you.

Find at least 2 other bands that want the kind of exposure we're talking about here. They have to be good, but they don't have to be as good as you, if you know what I mean Locate a charity, (preferably a local one to start with) that is hungry for some money. It will generally be the one that you always hear advertising on the radio in public service announcements and such, or having lots of different fund raising drives. This charity should have a good staff of volunteers. Don't be afraid to interview several different ones. Remember, this is YOUR EVENT. You are the promoter, and you decide who gets the money in the end.

Find a Venue. This could be anything from a stadium, to a large parking lot somewhere, but grass is better because people can sit on it. The City Park is a thought. This place should be one that has their own liability Insurance if possible. Talk to the owner, and get him to donate the facility to the charity drive. He can take his standard rental fees off his taxes at the end of the year. The charity may have this taken care of already, because they do stuff like this all the time, and they are connected.

The publicity will all be free for your event, in the form of "public service announcements". The press, and especially radio and TV are required to do this by the FCC to maintain their broadcast license. They will be happy to custom record a great spot for you, and play it about 10 times a day. The charity you will be working with has all the media contacts in place already, so let them handle it all.

Just make sure you have all your merchandise ready, and your table set up somewhere at the entrance to the event, that way you catch people coming and going. Even if you don't have merchandise yet, this is a spectacular way to get the word out about your band, and to collect some email addresses for your mailing list, so that when you DO record your CD, you have a hungry fan list just waiting for it.

Promotion is mostly about imagination. If you sit around with your band members and kick these ideas around, there's no telling what you can come up with. Heck, you may even think of some things that I've never heard of.

The important thing is to get the word out, however you can. If the whole idea of throwing a charity concert is too much for you (we do it once a year minimum) then try an open mic party that rotates around to different people's houses. You'll have tons of people there, and you won't even have to buy the beer.

----

Don Newton is the president of the Independent Internet Musician's Association. A professional band promoter and publicist, and an avid guiitar player who front's the band Starving The Dogs. The IIMA website is located at www.iimusica.com

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