Living in Nashville, one will get spoiled by the plethora of bars and venues offering live music ranging in all types of genres. As most know, it has become a hub for musicians to flock to in hopes of catching the big break and making their dream into a career. One can feel overwhelmed and seem as if they are the little guy surviving in the giant musical pond and the challenge is to be seen and heard to build the larger fan base and become better known. No one wants to come across as that pesky car salesman type, but there has to be an creative balance between performing as an art and promoting yourself as an art.
As an artist, what is one of your top goals? Im sure some of those answered with wanting a record deal. Labels are now looking for artist that have somewhat mastered self-publicity and have done the hard work of creating their own fan base to show how marketable they really are. Let me go off topic for a minute, but I promise I have a point. Being a former bartender for a local honky tonk bar with live entertainment, I have heard and seen my fair share of the good,bad, and ugly bands singing their hearts out performing to audiences mixed with locals and tourists from all over. Many times I have been asked while working who the artist or band was playing at that particular time. Often I could glance up to the stage and recognize who it was and give a little more information to the bar patron. Sadly, other times I would see it was a new band and could not answer simply because the band did not even introduce themselves or even more, have a single piece of printed publicity material showcasing who they are or how to get ahold of them or their music! How is an artist or band to build their fan base if no one knows who they are?
While every artist should have a game plan for their image brand as well as web and social media presence, lets back up to the basics. What is the most simple and easiest way to provide someone with your contact information?….DING, DING, DING, if you said BUSINESS CARD, you are the winner! Yes, this may seem like such a simple and obvious element to your publicity plan,but it is often one of the most over-looked items to order. This is an artist’s opportunity to design a small yet creative and impactful way for fans to connect and keep up with your music and career. An artist should consider what is the most important information to include, but recommended, would be website, social media sites, and even a booking contact. A photograph along with logo and/or name should be a must to have incorporated on the card. Having touched on what should be included, there is certain information you may not want to include. keep in mind that you may be passing these out to hundreds of fans and decide how you want these fans to get in touch with you; your personal phone number and email might fall into this category.
Now that you have decided what information you are going to include on your card, the fun part is just beginning of designing them! Before meeting with your graphic designer, do a little research on your own to get an idea of how you want your card to be laid out. Think about having a two-sided card that allows for a more creative approach to information layout and overall design. Meet with your designer to brainstorm on ideas. The more innovative yet easy your information is accessible the better your chance is of your fan base building. A QR code is a great tool to use that allows anyone with a smartphone scan this code and have it directed to a specific site or set of information. These codes are easy to obtain from many online sources and some even allow for a membership to track your code and the number of times it is used and your audience. This code is a great way to link to information without using up a lot of space in a design. Some clients of ours have included a free song download link on their card to increase traffic on their site.
Business cards can be an inexpensive publicity option or one can get as fancy as their budget desires, but price does not mean you have to sacrifice creativity. Well designed cards have a better response rate. When you are looking at the price difference between black and white or color, go for color. People tend to keep a color card 10x longer than a standard economy designed card. Do not skimp on your quantity; you can see an increase in fans by almost 3% for every 2,000 cards you hand out. This may not seem like a big percentage, but that is potentially minimum 50 more fans! Mom always told me, every little bit helps.