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College Campuses and Cities - Target Your Promotions

(By Richard Morales)
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How many times have you performed in college towns and become disappointed in the little crowd that turned up although you got paid well? No matter how much money may fill your pockets, if you don’t have a crowd to perform for, what’s the point of being an artist? The feeling can drag you down to the point of giving up. This article deals with how to spare the disappointment by deploying a promotional campaign that suits your target audience.  

When it comes to promotions, the burdening question for many bands would be the cost involved. Yes! You can get a professional hand to help you out, but then you may also have to pay him/her through your nose. So what’s the best deal if you are an emerging band? 

Getting on to college gigs can be a painful process at first, but once you get just one opportunity and if you kick it off with success, there will be many to follow you down the lane. Many great artists, such as Bruce Springsteen started their careers off at college campuses. So stick to the basics and target college towns at first. 

So we have just completed the first step in determining who our target audience is. Now understand the lifestyle of people in college towns. They obviously operate as a small community, so the best and most cost effective way of doing your promotions is through the word of mouth. Find a bunch of local people to help you out with this portion. Remember that it takes many people to carry out a successful promotion campaign. Therefore, it is very important to delegate work. 

Bear in mind that low-budget music marketing can be a tedious process sometimes. But you got to keep doing what you do for sometime. So consider it a long term project on your part. Dedication and delegation are the key factors here. Someone has rightly said that music marketing is like multi track recording because every layer you put down add up to the layers that are already created. So make every attempt possible to make your name, your band name, your image and sound familiar around the crowds. 

It goes without saying that distributing flyers is a cost effective way of spreading the word. You may feel that it is too traditional or primary for a band who’s trying to create hype. But it is one of the best ways to reach the masses. So come up with an attention grabbing flyer and get a few people to distribute it around the college town. You may also leave a stack of flyers lying around in the college cafeteria, library, college town music store etc.  

Earning a reputation is a good way to establish long term relationships with fans. So select a few convenient locations of your choice and get involved in social events. Suppose there’s an event organized by a volunteer society to raise funds. Make a guest performance or two in order to go in to crowds. Don’t make your performance anything short of a concert-type. Touch their hearts with your talent and the crowd will be there for you to stay! So the next time you perform in the same college town, you will already have earned loyal fans. 

Be generous as an artist or a band and contribute to good causes. If you feel that you are gaining popularity in a certain town, try to help out a band or an artist with similar talent to get on to stage. It could be a college student from the town you are performing at to whom you make an invitation to come up as a guest performer. Now acts like that will help you earn a lot of good reputation in college campuses or towns.  

When you have gained sufficient popularity and fans in one town, target a nearby town the next time. You can be rest assured that half of the previous town will drive all the way to watch you perform which is another huge plus point. Suppose you are performing in town X and people from town Y come all the way to watch you perform, then the people of town X will automatically build up what is called a ‘celebrity image’ of you.  

Remember all those T-shirts you printed with your band’s name on it which I’ve been telling you not to include in promo packages? Well, finally here’s a chance for you to make use of it. When you are performing in a college town for the first time, promote your event with the catch phrase “first 100 people to buy tickets will receive a free T-shirt”. Do this for at least 2 performances in a row. We are dealing with college students here. When they see a crowd wearing band T-shirts, they will think it’s cool. So the next time you perform, there will always be a bunch of kids waiting to be among the first 100 to get a free T-shirt. 

Not too bad, is it? The key to earning loyal fans in college towns is to become creative. So before you lay out your promotion plan, it is important to understand who you are dealing with. Then think of promotional tactics with an ‘out of the box’ approach and you and your band will surely rock the town!

Updated: October 14, 2008

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