COLUMN: MuBiz with Dr. Kenneth Love
How To Maximize Your Income Potential
When a highly publicized and well-paying performance opportunity comes along that is a great payday, performing musicians can become so concerned with the performance aspect that they largely ignore their own importance of promoting their appearance at it. They assume (and, in part, justifiably) that it is the sole responsibility of the sponsoring organization to promote and publicize the event.
But performing bands should extensively promote and publicize their appearance at these major types of events because, regardless of how well paying the gig or show is, they unknowingly and potentially lose a tremendous amount of peripheral income in the process. And, allow me to show you how *not* to do so…
The next gig that you have that is in a fairly decent sized metro area or is a major event and is open to the general public, consider contacting any remaining retail music stores in the area plus any unrelated music businesses that may be interested in carrying your music, in the interest of adding more income to your opportunity. For a list of unrelated retailers who may greatly assist you with music sales in your particular genre or style of music, please go here.
Additionally, you could do an in-store performance on the day of your main performance, in a store that allows for such and would welcome it as an attractive added feature to their normal traffic. And, it would certainly go over well with the music-buying public, not to mention serve as a perfect opportunity for you to introduce yourself while selling additional CDs, even before your performance.
The Steps to Take:
Let’s say you are a Kansas City-based act, but have just gotten a gig in St. Louis, which is a few hours away.
1. Contact a retail store (music or otherwise) in the St. Louis area.
2. Try to select a store that is centrally located (usually in the downtown area) and that will allow for equal access for all potentially interested attendees. Or, try a store in the most populated area of the city.
3. Call up the store manager, informing him or her on the date and time of your main appearance, and ask if you can arrange a prior in-store performance on the same day (an hour-long performance or so, should be good enough).
Note: If you manage to secure a store gig, don’t drag in the same amount of equipment that you normally require on stage. Use the ‘bare bones’ amount that you need, in the interest of the store’s smaller space and acoustics.
4. Inform the manager that this will be a no-cost performance to both the store and its customers. Offering a free performance, along with offering a percentage of your music sales, will dramatically increase your chances of a store performance, as well as allow the manager to promote a FREE performance to his customers. And, as human nature readily subscribes to “free,” you will naturally draw a larger audience.
5. Give the manager your web site (which, hopefully, you have your music in “streaming” format) so that the manager may listen and review your material in advance.
6. Offer to send out a press kit, in the interest of product credibility, so that the manager can see that you are a “real” artist with a commercially released recording, and not simply an artist with only music files, and no actual product (hopefully, you also have a bar code on your CD for the store).
7. Offer to send fliers that are customized for the store performance, which include the store’s name, address, telephone number, date/time of performance, your own web site address, small versions of both your CD cover and photo, and any additional information that might be important.
The fliers should be simple 1-page 8-1/2 X 11 hand-outs for the store’s customers. Consider sending a couple hundred or whatever amount the store manager desires. You should be able to easily design these on your PC, and then have a master copy duplicated at a copy shop if you do not also have a color printer.
The good thing about the flyer promotion is that you don’t now need to rely solely on the store to promote your appearance. It will also eliminate any additional work on the store personnel, as customers can simply pick up a flyer from the counter on their way out.
Be sure to plug the event where you are playing at the bottom of the flyer (again, as long as it is a public function and not a private one). As people are busy, or tend to forget, doing so will give them two opportunities to see you perform.
8. Again, ask the manager if he or she will consider making your music available for sale while you are performing, in exchange for a commission or percentage of each sale.
Most likely, the manager will have no problem in doing so and your resulting performance, audience reaction and sales might also lead to the store desiring to carry your music on a regular basis.
If you can afford it, have a counter display made of your act’s photo (usually, these are 1-2 feet cardboard cut-outs that outline your photo silhouette), that can be placed on the store’s counter as you perform. This display will allow your audience to make the “visual” connection in large music stores.
9. On the chance that the manager will be interested in carrying your music, be prepared and ready to do business by having your own consignment form with you for the store manager to sign.
There is a chance (depending if it’s a music store) that it will carry its own consignment form. But, whether it does or not, having your own form will present you as business oriented.
10. If time and the event permits, consider contacting television stations, radio stations and press publications in the gig area, in the interest of having them either review your in-store appearance, event performance, or both. Local news coverage will further serve to help you sell even more music, and for a longer period of time in each of such gig areas.
11. In addition to any offline media promotion and publicity, also promote and publicize extensively, particularly, on FaceBook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. IMPORTANT: Be sure to LOCALIZE your online promotion and publicity as much as possible to reach the online members, friends, and connections who are located in the area where you will be performing.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Kenneth Love is a Jazz musician, recording artist, and writer/author. More details about him may be learned at http://www.1waypr.com and http://www.kennylovejazz.com, respectively.