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Fan Mailing Lists
Fan mailing lists are an important aspect of your career. These are the people who have attended your shows, brought friends and spread the word about you so they should be the first to know what you are up to...where your next gig is, your new record, a new t-shirt, web site, almost anything that will hold relevance.
To start a fan mailing list, (1) place a visually pleasing or interesting card on all tables and bars with room to fill out names and addresses.(2) Bring a guest book and have people sign it on the way out or pass it around during the breaks. (3) Introduce yourself to the people you do not know...this personalizes your show and it makes the people attending your show feel that you appreciate them coming out to see you which can enhance the overall "vibe" of the show in a positive manner.(4)During the coarse of the show mention that your are assembling a fan mailing list to keep people informed about your upcoming shows.

Media Lists
Media lists are another way to communicate news and events about your band. Typical outlets are, newspapers, magazines, organizational newsletters, community bulletin boards, storefront windows, radio and television.
You want to put together a list of names, phone numbers and addresses of all the people responsible for listings, reviews, interviews, stories, airplay, talk shows and any other outlet you may have in your area.
To get all of the information you can go to your local library and sift through the magazines, and newspapers.Call your local radio stations and find out if they
have a show or format that is suitable for your music, find out who the hosts are and the Music Directors name. Send them a copy of the CD and see if you can
get them to "feature" it or play it. Give them at least 2 weeks before doing the follow up call after you have sent it.Also check out the local local talk shows (cable access) and locate the shows that might do an interview.

For newspapers in larger cities there will be several music writers, find the one who visits the clubs. Read their work and try to find out their biases - every
writer will have them...this could work for you or against you so be sure to find
out who biased in favour of your style of music. When you approach them it will help if you know their work, it adds a personal element; like you enjoy hearing positive comments about your music, a writer enjoys hearing about his writing.
You can also request a media kit from the local T.V. and Radio stations. A media kit will include all relevant information about the station: listenership,
advertisers and rating and other handy stuff.
A great contact to have is the names of the freelance writers who are involved with several magazines and newspapers. They compete for space in these mediums and are always on the look out for interesting events, side-issues and other related happenings.
Most radio and television stations feature special events as a community
service and the listings are usually free. To be eligible you'll have to find out who is in charge of the listings and what the "lead time" is. "Lead time" is the time frame you have to get your information in to a listing.
Track down any organizations that have a newsletter that is distributed to their members. The organizations may focus on Blues, Jazz or anything else. They already have the mailing in place and if your music is relevant then you should approach them to get a listing of your next gig, CD release or anything else.

Standard organization of a media list should be as follows:
Events Reviewers, Record Reviewers, Freelance Writers, Feature Writers, Program Directors, Television Talk Show Producers, Event Listings People.(Some may not be applicable for newer bands/artists but will eventually so keep them handy)

Another list to utilize to aide in establishing your name is a B List that includes: Club Owners, Concert Promoters, Booking Agents, Managers, Entertainment Lawyers, and Record Company Executives.
More than likely they will not attend a show when you begin sending it, but by remaining persistent and keeping your name in their mind, eventually when the time becomes necessary to contact them they will already know who you are and that your band/act is active.

PRESS RELEASES
When the time comes in your career to announce an upcoming gig, CD release, tour or anything that you want the public to know will undoubtedly be in the form of a "Press Release". The press release is your way of telling people about events in the hopes of attracting more fans to a gig, creating a buzz about the band, or anything else, so it is critical to know how to write a proper press release and know who should have it. This month's DIY Tips focuses on writing and executing the press release.

WRITING THE PRESS RELEASE : DO'S & DON'TS
Press releases offer the reader the facts relevant to the event you are writing about. A good press release will anticipate basic reader questions (who, what, where and why) and provide the answers. Organization should consist of the most important facts first to the least important facts. You are trying to communicate your information to the reader in a way that will entice him/her to read on and encourage them to attend or pass the information onto someone else who will attend or take notice. If your press release is thrown together halfheartedly it will most likely be destined for the waste basket. A poorly organized release demonstrates that minimal effort is all that has been put forth...so why should a reader put the effort and time into reading it? A simple statement, but one that is often overlooked and can distinguish your band as something less than professional.
The most important thing to remember is to AVOID ALL HYPE! The people you will be sending your press release to receive hundreds each month and many of them say the same thing..."(BLANK BAND) are the hottest thing to come out of (S0-and-SO) since sliced bread and know how to create unique and inspiring music that is greater than even The Beatles could have written! Oh yeah, our music is so unique and we are so against labels that we can't even define our musical style"...
An intelligently written release has more of a chance of being noticed in the pile than "History's greatest band takes center stage at the local donut shop..." release, and you will earn respect as a band/artist that takes alot of pride in how they are perceived.

DO include any favourable reviews or quotes.."this CD has got all the qualities necessary to really make it!"...these are the type of legitimate "Hype" pieces that can enhance your release.Always include the source name and company.

FORM
The press release should be double-spaced on your letterhead paper. On the upper right of the page, type the words, "For Immediate Release" and underneath include the date. The upper left hand corner should have the contact person, name, address, phone, email, so people will know who to get in touch with for additional information.
All titles should be directly linked to the central focus of the release.
"(Band/Artist name) CD Release Party"
The body of the release should contain the essential facts (as noted above) and be as quick to the point and informative as possible. It may take several hours to write a great press release but once you have, it will serve as your template for future releases.You can use the same template for virtually any announcement you may need, be it about the addition of a Xylophone player in the band or a tour, or any other relevant information.

The press release generally incorporates a personal letter, photo and bio and any other graphic that you have, such as stickers and posters. All of the components of your release should be placed into a folder that is plain or can contain an imprint of your logo. (This is your press kit)

Also, another great new medium of sending your press release is via email. Many internet site contain links to industry and key media people, BUT do a little research before sending it out to everyone on the list, find out if your press release is suitable to what the people are involved with. Sending out a release to a "Broadway play" reviewer will not do much but probably annoy them. Because you are dealing with people and not unseeable industry machines, add a personal touch to all of your material,it makes a difference.

ACTION & TIMING
Now that you have put it all together and are ready to send out your press release, where do you send it and when?
You've done your research and compiled a comprehensive media list now it's time to execute your mailing. Mailings to press people are crucial, many newer bands/artists believe that media people scour clubs and buy CD's trying to find the next big thing but the truth is that most only go out a few times a month and are deluged with press releases and CD's each week so the reality is that they don't have to go anywhere, it comes to them. As mentioned in previous paragraphs, media people tend to focus on larger name acts that are already famous, which leaves only a little space for writing about your band/act, so you need to make sure everything is together and well presented. The more time you spend putting together an overall professional package the more likely a media person will open it. A CD stuck together with just a scrap of paper saying who the band/artist is will probably be forwarded to the "Don't Bother" pile, don't let that be yours.

PRINT MEDIA
Most newspapers and magazines have community sections bands can mention new line-ups, new records and gigs, which is a cost-effective way to publicize yourself. These same listings can add to your ammunition when approaching critics, writers, club owners and record people.
Another newer form of spreading the word and creating a buzz about your band is through the internet. Because the internet is not limited by costs such as paper, distribution and corporate red tape, the "playing field" is open to everyone to say, think, and do what is on their mind and share it with other like-minded people, so thousands of bands/artists have created their own web pages that provide an "online" bio, press releases, mail order, photos and other information such as upcoming gig listings and even sound clips....in other words a bio pack. It is a great way to start fan mailing lists online where people can be kept up-to-date via email about new events; the great part is that you can expose your band/act to a global audience.

Bottom line is that you can never have too much publicity AND any exposure is good exposure

TIMING
About 3-4 weeks before a performance, CD release or relevant event, mail out a press release and bio to everyone on your media list and B list. Wait for several days once you think they have arrived and follow it up with a quick call.

  • Start plastering posters and flyers in key areas where the gig will be.
  • Send your press release, bio and CD to the local radio stations that are suitable (Indicate a track you want them to consider for airplay). Include a personal note formally inviting them to the show. On the follow up call, ask if someone might be interested in interviewing the leader or key member of the band.
  • Gaining momentum by the 2-3 week mark, you should send out the same release and and other graphic material. Now is a good time to include a sentence or two of HYPE to help attract their attention and tell them why you think it is important for them to come the show.
  • Send postcards to your fans.
  • Replaster your posters and flyers to ensure visibility. And of coarse make all of your follow up calls.

    On the day of your show make sure that the invited people are on the "guest list". If you have any reviews by this time, include them on your letterhead, mailings, and press releases. Every positive piece of information you receive should be recycled and used on all future (where applicable)mailings, web pages, fan mailing lists and of coarse press releases. Like the old adage..."Hype breeds Hype". It is a cycle that is powered by one of several elements that you are trying to achieve which tend to be: Radio, Print and T.V. Media. If you are generating "Radio" airplay the next step is to use that information to approach "Print" to write about and review the CD which leads you to "T.V. Media" to talk about about it and enhance the buzz which leads back to square one "Radio" which will use the "Print" and "Media" information to Hype your CD and so on.
    All of this will generate more interest from the people you are seeking to establish a rapport with: Radio, Managers, Record Labels, Print Media etc. and your fans.

    This is the basic template to use over and over again, persistence always pays off. It may take 8 shows to notice any effect or it may happen the first time but either way keep plugging away, it only leads to more opened doors.

     

    Written By: Jesse King

 

   
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