I've been getting into this band promoting thing lately, and it's rather fun. My problem is that I'm losing a lot of money. (I'm not in it to GAIN money, I'm doing it for the sake of bringing bands and a scene to the city for enjoyment) I don't know wether I'm promoting right or not. Or if it's the fact that people don't really care about touring bands that aren't part of a record label (which would be lame). I plaster posters, facebook event, handouts at other shows... Any other ideas or tips/hints?
Some previous posters:
I walked away from putting together shows in my city....it wasn't that I wasn't making money....or losing a little money...
It was losing good sized amounts of money and feeling continually frustrated. My last show was a big local bands only show that ended up getting raided and shut down by the local police's organized crime unit! I had already walked completely away from putting together regular events at that time and had gone to organizing one off events. My only motivation for getting into that sort of things in the first place was purely selfish...I wanted to go to the sort of things that I (and in some cases, some truly wonderful other people and I would co-organize/promote). Happily, I found there were actually still a few souls left in this city that had like minded interests. =) Unhappily, I found most of them wouldn't pay a cover....and that was long after I finally figured out how to get them to show up in the first place.
What sort promoting do you mean exactly? Promo'ing can mean a lot of different things....Are you just trying to get new bands exposure to a new listening audience? Are you trying to set up shows with touring acts in your city? Are you trying to attract people to shows others are organizing? It is hard for me to know what experiences I've had would be most useful to you.
The reality is you are going to have to spend SOME money....marketing is a strange little beast in that manner...the adage, "You gotta spend money to make money" is somewhat true no matter what sort of promo'ing you mean. However, it doesn't have to be lots and lots of money to pull of some effective tricks. When was first learning, social networks weren't as popular as they are now....the advent of them made a big difference in how you reach your targets in a cost effective manner.
One of the ways I learned most of what I used to put together shows was by working as a "promo girl" or "spokes model". And the term model is really mis leading....For one thing, I'm 5 foot 4 and even a decade ago my body was and is not the typical fashion model type. I basically would push anything for a pay check...The hours worked with my course load as I could take the jobs I wanted since I was working as an independent contractor. And the pay was better than what the going min. wage was at the time. However, in trade for acceptable shift hours and good pay for a college kid, I did many unglamorous promo jobs such as Spam Girl. I got paid $16 an hour (and this was almost a decade ago) to hang out on an RV made to look like a giant can of spam and hand out little mini spamwiches in front of a Wal Mart. I also got neat gigs where I'd be on a military base handing out vodka samples. Many of the jobs let me keep a lot of their 'swagg' - the freebies they give out with obvious logo placement. The more people see something, the more likely they are to not only recognize it as familiar, but will likely form a positive association with the brand because they got some piece of plastic crap for "free". So I when I got around to putting together the shows I wanted to see, I learned that post card multi color flyers are amazingly cheap to mass produce, I had several talented artist friends.....so have really awesome looking flyers and lots of them....hand them out as early as possible as often as possible...people will keep them because they look neat...which means they are more likely to form a positive association to the flyers image...and if you've timed it all right and the weather doesn't suck and the bands have a pa because the venue's pa blew out yesterday and the cops don't raid the show.....yeah....you see why I got out of the game.
I often took gigs for a certain major credit card company before the rules on credit cards all changed here....I hated the gigs, but what I was doing (convincing people to fill out an application to apply for a credit card with said company and then giving them a "free" t-shirt or bag or whatever they gave me to give out) the company was making so much money of handing out these "free" shirts at things like biker ralleys and really weird trade/speciality shows that they often did not want to pay for me to send the left over free crap back to them...it was mine to "destroy properly". So those t shirts and things often ended up in the hands of more talented friends who would home made screen print their bands logo onto....this sort of networking is important...the credit card company kept me hooked for more gigs with them even tho they were some of the worst promo jobs....i was able to make good networks with local bands here by passing what was boxes o' crap to me on to them to put to entertaining, if not good, use.
if you're doing the school thing, you might also consider a few marketing classes....I ended up with a minor in marketing thanks to the promo gigs getting me interested in the whole sheebang to begin with...not all of that stuff was really practical on a small independent scale...but some of the theories were useful in helping me make things come together.
I wish you luck! It is a difficult, thankless, and frustrating endevor.....However, I have memories (well, fuzzy ones towards the wee hours...) of nights I helped make happen. I'm glad I did it for a while. =)