a) The name
The name should project the image you want to impress. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid. The name should be easy to pronounce and look good on a sign. It would not hurt to be clever so give it some thought.
Pictures are still the easiest and cheapest way to present yourself to an agent or a club owner. Keep the band well informed of all photo shoots and to ware stage clothes. Black and white photos still work very well. You can do so much with today’s digital cameras yourself. But to do it use a pro photographer. Have him take several shots with different lights and backdrops. Choose from the best test prints for enlarging. Again try to project the image and style of your project.
Poster can easily be printed for you by enlarging the same promo picture. And then sell them for cheap to recover some on your picture costs. Don’t charge too much for any of your promo CDs, T-shirts or whatever. It is better to get some help with your cost of advertisement than none.
Video must be well rehearsed before shooting. It is a lot different from recording a song and much more planning is needed before shooting starts. A video is a great way to get more and better jobs and is becoming more popular than just the audio alone. Thank you MTV.
If you can, hire a pro video company to shoot an entire nights performance. Then take the raw footage into the video studio and find your best footage. Edit the best of what you shot into a shorter “slice of life” of your band. No one will watch the whole show but they will look a few short segments. If you can, try to mix live performance and shoots in the studio. It makes you look even more involved in the business.
A cheap and easy way to get yourself onto video is to offer your services to a local college video department for a class project. Offer to let them film your band. Allow them use of the video for whatever and however they want. All you need is a copy on a CD. That way you can make all the copies you would need. You can sell some of them off stage again to cut your marketing costs. Or you can give them away to get people on the dance floor. “The next couple gets a free CD”.
e) Printed set list
Printed set list lets your listeners know what songs your band can play for them. Taking requests allows you to monitor your best songs and find out what you need to add. A folded paper called a “table tent” is a clever way to present your request list. This advertisement has the name of the band and a picture on one side. On the other side or inside of the tent, is the song list. At the bottom you include an easy to fill out mailing list form. Ask for name, email address, and phone number that sort of thing. Also include a space for suggestions. Asking them to rate your band from one to ten lets you know how you are coming across.
Then once a month write a form letter and email it to all your fans. This will inform them where you are playing next. This really works ! You would be surprised how many people will come to see you regularly with this personal invitation.
f) Fan club
Fan club members are added every time you receive a filled out table tent. Every break, try to get as many people as you can to fill them out. Then all the names you collect every night are added to the mailing list. Each new member gets a first time introductory letter. This will inform them of your bands history and future bookings. Once a month they are sent your form letter emailed.
T-shirts design must be readable from a distance. The people who wear them are a walking bulletin board. They advertise your product so make it easy to understand.
Here is a good way to get professional art work. Go to the art department at the local college and see if any student is interested helping you design a logo. Students are always looking for a different project that they can have fun with, and get a good grade. Once you have a good drawing you can have them printed or print them yourself. Silk screen printers will make a reusable screen from your design. They have all the things you need, colored ink and cleaner. Then as you travel buy t-shirts in the local school colors. This makes a good selling point to the locals. When I played the Holiday Inn circuit we printed shirts in our room in the towns school colors. Then we sold them night. Again T-shirts are a good “give away” to get people up dancing .
Most home PC’s and software will make a nice quality CD good enough to go get a job at the local club or bar. Use what you have to keep the cost down. The Mane St. Live CD was just that a live recording mixed down in the studio. All the art work and packaging was done at home. It was a lot of work but the cost was affordable. If you have plans of exposing yourself to a greater market like radio or TV do it right and go to a professional Digital recording studio. They are so far ahead of anything that can be done on a home PC. It will cost more but if you get a good engineer you will get so much more back for you investment.