Congratulations on booking a show at the hottest club in town! Now what?…
Have you ever wondered why the club that so enthusiastically booked you, at least that is what your manager told you, is not doing much to promote you? Here’s what life is like on the other side of the table and how to get more promotion from your venue’s in-house promotion team.
First, a little background. I work with three of the hottest Latin music live performance venues. I have to keep up with programming entertainment three days at one venue, two days at another venue, and four days at our newest venue. As you can see, I am programming entertainment for nine different days for every week. We book up to three bands per night on some nights. On a typical week, we have to advertise for 3-5 bands, and often even more.
My clubs each have 500+ people capacity, so you would make serious money if you sold out our venue.
The bands that get promoted the most are either repeat bands that I personally liked, new to me bands whose music I liked in the first two minutes of researching them, or those who provide me with a pre-written copy and an electronic press kit.
Since you are likely to be the third option (although it’s likely that I’ll like your music too), this article is for you.
Elements of the ideal electronic press kit in order of importance:
- Contact info for the band’s acting publicist (essential)
- One-paragraph bio about the band in English (priority) and whatever other language you sing in
- Five printed 8.5×11″ posters with corresponding digital versions
- Direct links to the band’s two best quality Youtube videos
- 4×6″ digital flyers in both portrait and landscape
- Digital file of group photo of the band in print resolution
- These are are nice to have
- Technical requirements rider
- Digital 11×17″ poster
- Band logo in print resolution
- Headshot of the band leader in print resolution
This may seem like a lot, but I really need all these elements as they comprise my ideal electronic press kit. Anything that is missing from this list is something I have to either create or skip. Unless I have an added incentive, I will simply skip it.
Some of this order may seem unusual, but think about it from my perspective. I am trying to get you promoted with least effort on my part. I need to be able to reach you to request additional materials.
This is what I do to promote your show: I tell my staff to post your posters on my walls, copy/paste some text my event listings on Facebook, ReverbNation, and my ticketing provider, insert your horizontal 4×6″ flyer into my website slide show and link it to my Facebook event listing, attach your vertical 4×6″ flyer to my Facebook event listing as a cover image, and attach your Youtube videos to my event listings. Boom! I am done with your band in 2 minutes and I love you even if I am not in love with your music!
The headshot, the group photo, the 11×17″ digital poster and so on are nice to have if I want to produce a combo 11×17″ poster for my club, but most of my promotion is electronic.
Anything that I skip is a missed opportunity for your band! Most bands do not have posters on my walls, for example.
I want to spend no more than 2 minutes on promoting your band
Remember that my goal is to copy/paste and not let my time go to waste.
I don’t want to spend my time writing an original article about you, figuring out which of the 20 mediocre Youtube videos is your best, looking for a good high resolution image of your band (I spent 2 hours looking for a good picture of my $30/ticket headliner this week and finally gave up, which motivated me to write this article), or doing graphic design.
My role is to introduce my existing club patrons, who are not your fans, to your band and to get them excited about seeing you perform live. Unfortunately, I also have many bands that need to be introduced. Therefore, your job is to make my job as easy as possible.
Most online EPKs are not fully sufficient for me to create my event listings. They are great to introduce your band to fans and prospective bookers, but not all of them are very good from the perspective of a venue promoter. However, just about any of the online EPK providers would make my job much easier. I’d much rather ask you directly, using the contact information in your online EPK, for the missing bits instead of having to rely on Google to find information about you.
I split my review of online EPK providers into a different article as it was getting long.
Get to know your venue’s in-house promoter
You, as the band leader, should insist on getting the contact information for the venue’s in-house promoter. It’s probably not the owner. Your booking management rarely passes along the information we need to make your show more successful.
You need my
- Phone number
- Email address
- Facebook profile
- Preferred way to communicate with me (Emailing me is not the best option, by the way. Chat with me on Facebook for fastest response)
Time is of the essence! Send me the press kit as quickly as possible!
Immediately after you are booked, email someone like me directly with all the elements I mention in this article. Just send me an email message with the text of your bio and other text elements of your EPK as I describe them below, links to your online presence, and attach the image files directly to your email message. Advise me if you sent printed posters so I can alert my staff.
Very often the in-house promoter will not be told about you until the week of your show. In fact, you should assume that no one told me anything about your band until the last minute and gave me absolutely no information about you. Seriously, that is the truth about almost every band we feature on our stage. It really can be that bad in this business.
Please use Gmail to send this as then you can have a message up to 20MB in size and large graphics will definitely increase your message size. Other email providers sometimes have smaller message limits.
Here is what I really need from you in order to effectively promote your show:
Band’s promotion point of contact (your acting publicist)
This is typically not your booking manager who has too many bands on his hands and is primarily focused on booking and finding new venues. His job is to book you at my venue. Promoting the show is secondary. He is simply too busy to interact with someone like me.
My suggestion is to pick someone from your band (must speak English and be available after 5pm) to interact with venue’s promoters and take charge of the overall promotion effort by acting as your publicist. Why after 5pm? We, the nightclub promotion people, are nocturnal species.
- Cell phone (that gets answered after 5pm)
- Preferred method to communicate with them
Full listing of your band’s social media presence in order of importance:
- Youtube channel
- Facebook page
- Facebook profile for band leader and perhaps other band members
- Online EPK, if you have one
- Non-EPK profiles on Reverbnation, SonicBids, and similar…
- You will notice that I don’t care about your website!
One-paragraph “Bio” about your band
This should be ideally in English (priority) and Spanish (if you are a band who plays in Spanish). You would be surprised how often the promoters do not speak your language.
However, the word “Bio” here is misleading! Let me clarify what it means in this context.
What I want from you as “Bio” is primarily the answer to a few key questions
- “What is your band famous for today?”. I am asking about any music awards and critical acclaim your band received in the past. Examples would include Grammy nominations, MTV music awards, how many CDs the band released, opening for national bands, links to articles about the band, etc – no, I am not kidding about any of this and we’ve featured bands who released 50+ records and won various high caliber awards.
Go big here and don’t be afraid to brag, I need to grab people’s attention.
- “What is the latest single?”. I need to know which of your songs is getting most promotion today.
- “What is your biggest hit?”. I also want to know about the previous singles that did very well.
- “Where is the band leader from?”. I want to establish heritage and and affinity with my patrons.
- “What is the band’s primary genre?”. I want to know if you are merengue, salsa, reggaeton and so on.
Any other information is irrelevant. I don’t care about your life story, but I am happy to link to it. Help me sell your band to new fans.
This point is very important, so I will repeat it twice. I really need your “Bio” information in English for our Latin bands!
Here is what I would say about Fulanito, whose music I personally enjoy and whom we featured multiple times, as a skeleton for his paragraph:
Fulanito is a Merengue artist who released 7 albums and comes from Dominican Republic. He is a two-time Grammy nominee for “Best Latin Album”. You heard his hit singles such as the mega-hit “Guallando” and the most recent single “Take it off”.
Can I write a lot more?
Sure, for Fulanito I can spend extra time on research and write a magazine article if I really wanted to.
However, that paragraph tells you about the band’s biggest hit “Guallando” and their most recent hit “Take it off”, where they are from, and what they are famous for. That, coupled with some hot videos, is enough to get someone’s attention.
You can send me a longer story, but I need a one-paragraph version with answers to my key 5 questions that I can simply copy/paste in addition to whatever manuscript you choose to send me. Put your one paragraph intro at the very top of your bio. I really don’t want to edit down your life story if I can simply copy/paste one paragraph of text.
If I have to edit your life story and it takes me more than 2 minutes, I am more likely to skip it entirely. I can’t include a multi-page life story for each of my 3 bands in my Facebook event listing and some info about my DJ and a page of info about my venue specials, amenities, and policies. Who is going to read all that?
Ship me some posters
Ship me 5-7 pre-printed 8.5×11″ posters that I can put on my wall with some space on them to write down the date of show. I’ll put one on my front door, one or two on my club walls and patio doors, one in each restroom, and one by each bar. While it’s nice to have 11×17″ posters, 8.5×11″ are a lot cheaper to print and would be equally effective inside the club.
This is very important: if the poster is good enough to not make the club look ugly, it will probably get posted by someone even before I see it because any club staff member can do this unlike the rest of our promotional efforts.
If I don’t have to print it, and most clubs can’t print an 11×17″ poster in-house so they have to make a trip to a copy store, it will get posted faster. Here is a scan of a wall poster that was on my club’s wall. Someone simply added a date with a Sharpie on the 11×17″ posters. On the digital copy, a few days later after I finally got it, I added the date with my editing software. Both actions took mere seconds and so this event got a lot of exposure at our clubs. You will notice that prints were posted first!
Since the promotion company did not give me a digital file, but they gave me plenty of prints, I had to scan this 8.5×11″ poster and so the digital quality is not optimal. Therefore, if you are shipping me some prints, please also include a copy of this file on the CD in your package.
Add a QR code to your poster
By the way, I would add a QR code to your poster that links directly to your main online presence (Website, facebook, youtube, reverb whatever). Just go to http://bit.ly and shorten your main URL. Then take the resulting link like one of my links http://j.mp/zedumg and add a .qrcode to that. Now your http://j.mp/zedumg becomes http://j.mp/zedumg.qrcode and that will have an image file of your QR code. You can track every scan of that code, by the way.
I would do this for both digital and printed posters.
Direct links to two of your very best Youtube videos.
Ideally, these should be your biggest hits with professional sound. I will link to them directly from my Facebook event listing that I will send to my club’s 5000+ friends and the objective here is make them fall in love with your sound. It must be Youtube because it will be directly embedded into your Facebook event listing.
Remember that I am typically not your fan, at least not until I heard you on my stage, and it is very likely that never even heard about your band. I can either choose to scrounge Youtube for your videos and try to find one where you both sound and look good, or I can do something more fun like spend more time on the dance floor with some hotties. Guess what I would rather do?
If you send me your Reverbnation EPK (electronic press kit), that is still not enough. How am I supposed to know which are your very best songs if you send me 20 videos? I don’t have time to view 20 videos.
If all your videos have terrible sound, link me to some Soundcloud tracks. Whatever audio/video you choose to link to must be directly playable on Facebook.
Oh, and I really hate those self-indulgent intro videos that are recorded with booming radio DJ’s voice. I will never link to those.
Digital 4×6″ flyers
An image file of a professional-looking 4×6″ flyer complete with your show date information and my club information or enough space where I can easily add my showtime information as I’ve done on Julio Bravo’s flyer. I can print a copy of that on 11×17″ and call it a day. I can also include that on my website as part of my slideshow and you will stand out from my other flyers.
I need a vertical “portrait” flyer for your “Facebook Skyscraper” – the image that gets seen at the top of the event listing and usually works best in vertical orientation.
I need a horizontal “landscape” flyer for your website slideshow and for your Facebook wall photo.
Pre-printed flyers would be nice, but they get expensive. If you are printing something, print me some posters instead. That is going to cost you a lot less and will still get you a lot of exposure.
Here I added my blue club logo, my contact info, and the date. The rest of the flyer was provided by the band.
Compare it to my in-house flyer. Notice that my in-house flyer focuses on promoting the night rather than the band itself.
I can give you a tip to maximize your investment in pre-printed flyers. You can pre-print a bunch of flyers and leave an area of them white. You can then run them through a laser printer (this is commonly done with envelopes, so look up how to print envelopes with a laser printer) and add showtime information specific to my club.
I am very happy to leave a stack of these flyers on my flyer table. Most other bands will not do that, so you will get a lot of attention. Be sure to include your information similar to what you see on the Montez image in the previous point. You want your new fans to be able to find you quickly.
That is exactly what I do with my in-house flyers in order to track the efforts of my outside promoters, but most clubs do not have someone who knows how to do that. Ideally, you would have both a vertical (portrait) and a horizontal (landscape) 4×6″ flyer. I would use the portrait flyer on my Facebook event listing and the horizontal flyer on my website slide show.
One good high-resolution group picture for your poster
One good high-resolution picture that I don’t have to edit other than to add my club logo, date of show, and my club contact info. I want to simply print it 11×17″ and post it on the wall of my club as quickly as possible to maximize your exposure. If you have nothing else, send me a high resolution file of your CD cover or your proposed CD cover.
Let me show you an example of a very good promotional image that I used to promote this show. Montez de Durango projects the image of a successful band. Notice the band’s logo, clear shot of all band members, interesting background, the band’s official social media pages, and plenty of space at the top where I can add my own graphics.
Reverbnation RPKs do not let us easily download hi-resolution images unless you specifically upload “media” photos.
One good headshot of the band leader
It’s always nice to have a headshot of someone that can be used as part of something we are making in-house to help promote the show.
Reverbnation RPKs do not let us easily download hi-resolution images unless you specifically upload “media” photos.
Your band’s logo
This is important if I decide to promote you on Facebook and do presales. Since I have a very limited amount of space, I will use your logo, not my club’s to feature in your ad. I’ve done that for Fulanito and Montez.
What the sound engineer needs to know (technical rider)
I put this in the end as this is not strictly for me (although I know my way around the mixing console), but it would help us to better prepare for your show. Think of me as being in the twilight and the sound engineer being in pitch darkness about your band. I can at least look you up online, hear what you sound like, and so on. The sound engineer’s job is to rig you up ready to go live in a matter of minutes based on zero information. I’ve seen them look up band pictures to try to guess what technical requirements the band might have. It is a very stressful task!
Your sound engineer will treat you like a rock star if you can provide him with this information and I will certainly share it with him in advance.
Ideally, you would simply send me your “technical rider”. If you do not yet have one, it’s a very good idea to create one now. You should assume that the venue did not share with the sound engineer your technical rider you submitted when they signed your contract. I know this may sound absurd, but I am telling you directly what you need to know based on reality.
Here is what we really need to know:
- Total number of band members, their names, and what instruments do they play. Please list all of the instruments and special configurations like drum mics so we can properly mic your drums and accommodate multiple keyboards, acoustic guitars, harmonicas, etc.
- Total number of microphones and direct boxes required per show.
- Does your singer require a special mic? Most will sound great with a base Shure SM58 but some singers absolutely require a high sensitivity mic like a Sennheiser e840 or a Shure Beta series mic to be heard properly. Please be sure to let us know in advance if you are planning to use a condenser mic as that can create some additional challenges if the venue uses mic splitters.If we don’t know about your special mic requirements, we can’t make you sound your very best. If you are one of the people who has special mic requirements and we hand you a regular mic, your voice will sound like a muffled AM radio and the instruments will drown you out further.No one will enjoy that performance. I am personally very annoyed when I hear that, especially when the instruments sound great, but by that point it is simply too late.
- What are your monitoring requirements (how many monitors, how do you like them positioned, what instruments do you want in each mix, and so on). If I have 2 monitors on my stage and you require 4, we are probably not going to have an easy time with your show, right? We can’t always accommodate all monitoring requests, mostly for budgetary or technical reasons, but it doesn’t hurt to let us know what you prefer so we can try our best to meet your requirements.
- What are your preferred channel allocations? This is optional, but could be handy.
Your in-house promoter is like a (very lazy) music journalist
Think of me as someone who writes articles for music magazines. These writers typically get a press kit sent to them by the band’s publicist. Some of my listings were republished as articles with little modification, and some I sourced from various magazines as well.
The less original research I have to perform, the more likely your story will be more complete and you will receive more promotion from the venue. I want to be done with you in 2 minutes.
If I am not your fan (I doubt I am Hunks’ target demographic…), but I have all these elements, I am happy to copy/paste all this into all my various places where I promote my events and move on to the next band. Our articles (event listings) do not have to be perfect. In fact, there is no requirement for there to be an article and I can skip over writing anything about your band, which I do most of the time if it starts to require too much research. There is no editor to whom you can appeal my event listing.
Therefore, we are lazy. Do our work for us and we will happily promote your band to everyone we know.
Lastly, I am going to refer you to a very good graphic designer. It is crucial to work with someone who truly understands this business. His name is Brian at Elite Design Works and he does exceptionally good work when it comes to flyers even if you do not know what you want. You will also like his rates.
By the way, if you are not booked yet, if you walk in with all this into my club, in addition to your demo CD, you are probably going to increase your chances of being booked.