Historically, the music industry is incredibly competitive. With the rise of the internet, music sharing sites and platforms like YouTube, it’s infinitely harder to get discovered.
With the increase in competition, you need to put in the extra legwork to get your band found. These are our favorite guerrilla marketing tactics to help get more exposure for your music.
1. Social Media Presence
This should be a given in this day and age, but you absolutely need to have a presence on as many forms of social media as possible, at a minimum the main players – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not only does this allow you to engage with your fans, but its allows your fans to share your content with their circle, offering great exposure.
2. Online Music Sites
Nobody likes giving away music for free, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get yourself out there. Artists have found great success from sites such as SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Audioboom, and many others.
3. Money Stamping
Even in this day and age of Apple Pay and chip enabled credit cards, everybody is still using cash. And the great thing about cash? It changes hands. Often. So head on over to a stationery or office shop, order a custom stamp with your band’s name and website or Twitter handle, and get to work!
4. Hotel Takeover
Out on the road and crashing at a hotel for the night? Make some DIY door hangers promoting your band and hang them on all the doors of the hotel room overnight.
5. Business Cards
A band needs business cards? You’d be surprised. Depending on your target market, get yourself some business cards printed and head on over to your local library to the music section. Slip your cards into any books related to what you do, and let the interest start flowing.
6. Window Decals & Bumper Stickers
Mobile marketing at it’s finest! The best part is you can get these cheap, distribute them for free, and you have a constantly traveling marketing team now doing all the work for you.
7. Fish Bowl Lottery
Looking to make a splash? Both literally and figuratively? Team up with a local business or two (or more) where you can set up some fish bowl business card lotteries. Offer free concert tickets as the prize, and gain a ton of emails for your marketing campaign while doing so.
Yes, it’s a classic idea, but people wouldn’t keep doing it if they didn’t work right? For maximum exposure, remember to market yourself on both the front and the backs of tshirts.
9. Blood Drive Or Other Charity Work
Get your name out there, and feel good about yourself! Sponsor a blood drive in your community and put on a small show while the donations are going on.
10. Postcard Mailing
Blast your town and let them know who you are! While post cards may be a little more expensive to print, you’ll make that cost up and then some when paying for postage.
Plant yourself outside a local music shop or the central hub of your city and give away a variety of items – CD’s, posters, apparel – anything works great!
12. Viral Videos
This will take some detailed planning and execution, but if you can create some kind of content that goes viral you’re golden. Doesn’t even need to be related to your music as long as your name is somehow attached to it. Unleash the cat videos.
13. Street Art
While we don’t encourage graffiti or vandalism, it never hurts to team up with a local business and see if they’ll let you paint a mural on the side of the building. You’d be surprised at the responses – it’s a great way for businesses to catch people’s attention off the street and get them in the door, all while seeing your band’s name.
14. Movie Theater Ads
These are actually surprisingly inexpensive. Placing an ad at your local movie theater targets a super hyper-local audience and you can choose which movie to have your content play in as well!
Yes, other bands are usually competition, but it may not hurt to team up with another band of a similar style and do a promotional event – draws in twice the audience and you only pay half the cost!
16. Custom M&Ms
You can get these guys online or in an M&M’s store. Find a clever way to distribute them and the newly peaked interested will be just as sweet as the candy itself.
17. Hair Salons & Barber Shops
Think about what really goes on in these places. As a client, you sit down in a chair and engage yourself in conversation with the barber or stylist for the next half hour. If you can find a way to entice these individuals to talk up your band it’s definitely worth it.
18. Press Releases
While the chances are slim you’ll get picked up by a major network, it never hurts to try! Just make sure your press release is well written and properly formatted – tons of great guides throughout the internet to reference.
19. Go To Other Shows
Check out your competition – see who their audiences are and how they interact. If you’re in a more metro area, even offer to open for larger acts.
20. Stickers, Stickers, Stickers
Cheap and effective – get yourself a ton of these bad boys made and plaster them all over the town.
Make yourself a Wikipedia page – not only is it great for SEO and Online Marketing, it just makes you seem way official.
Hook up with your local radios stations and see what they have to offer – be it a free concert for their listeners or giving you some airtime, anything at all is worth it.
23. Charity Work
Even if you’re not in the position to donate financially, make a name for yourself and get some great PR by doing a ton of volunteer work for a charity, and maybe even recruiting some of your fans to help out.
24. Ask Your Fans
Put your fans to work! Ask if any of your fans would be willing to promote or hang posters / flyers for you.
Actively seek out sponsorships and see if you can become affiliated with a local business – even better if that business is in the industry.
26. Create Your Own Radio Station
Get yourself up and running on Live365 and build some followers through your own radio station!
27. Host After-Parties
Playing a concert or a small gig? Host after-parties to meet and greet your fans, have autograph sessions, and more. This is a great way to build loyalty and get people talking about coming to your shows.
28. Secret Shows
If you won’t be hosting an after party, consider holding a secret show for a small, select group of fans at a location nearby to the headlining event. Pluck out a few acoustic tunes for an intimidate night sure to build lifelong concert-goers
29. Build Your Snapchat Story
Snapchat stories are a great way to give fans a behind the scenes look at your lives while you’re not on stage. Great for promotions of after-parties or secret shows as well!
30. Develop A Groupie Name
Your fans are great, and the life of your band and brand. Show them you care by awarding them a name related to your band and encouraging them to turn it into a hashtag for maximum social impact.
31. Flash Mob
This one will take some planning, but can have a huge impact if done correctly. Host a flash mob set to your latest single, and make sure to capture a high quality video that can be shared throughout the internet.
32. Treasure Hunts
Lead current or potential fans on a treasure hunt throughout your city with various prizes throughout. If done well, interest will peak from onlookers asking those involved what they are up to.
33. Door To Door
An oldie but a goodie. There’s still something personal about the idea of taking the time to go door to door and truly presenting yourself and your work to someone. It’s time consuming for sure, but with the right audience and pitch can definitely pay off.
34. Free Hugs
Very easy way to grab attention and make someone’s day. Create a ‘FREE HUGS’ sign, but modify it to say that they are from your band. These signs are a huge hit on Instagram, and with your band name on them, you’ll get some great attention.
35. Music Video
Create a killer music video – publish it to Youtube with some effective keywords and share the thing until your fingers fall off. If you get enough views, your video could even become monetized.
36. QR Codes
QR Cods are a great way to brew interest and drive traffic. These small little icons can be placed almost anywhere, even as a sticker, but they offer no further information. To see what the QR code is, a user must scan it using an app on their phone, which directs them to a website of your choosing.
37. Reverse Graffiti
Know of a really dirty wall or walking surface? Take up some reverse graffiti and clean certain sections to portray your logo, text, or other message. This one is sure to catch attention and last for quite some time.
38. Send Birthday Cards
Whenever you’re collecting contact information for your fans, be sure to get their birthdays. Sending out hand-written birthday cards will not only make your fans feel special, but you bet that they’ll share that card with your band name on their social media.
39. Plaster The Bathrooms
Similar to the barber, when us humans are using the restroom, we are usually staring at a wall or the back of the door for quite some time. Perfect place to stick a sticker or poster!
40. Get Off MySpace
Hopefully you were never even on there, but it’s 2016 and time to say goodbye to MySpace and hello to more modern social media and music websites. You don’t want your fans to find you on MySpace.
Everyone knows when you go to a concert you get a wristband. Did you know you can actually purchase custom wristbands for dirt cheap, and donate them to a local concert venue? Even if someone isn’t there to see you, they’ll see your name on their wrist all night long and have no choice but to check you out.
42. Facebook Events
Create Facebook Events for EVERYTHING and invite EVERYONE. Not only do these serve as reminders to those that are interested in attending, but when someone chooses to attend an event on Facebook, the fact that they are attending then also shows up on their friends news feeds.
43. Offer Backstage Tours
There’s something about seeing a tour bus, dressings rooms, sound/light boards, and even just backstage that fascinate people. Host a competition amongst your fans with a backstage tour as the reward, and be sure to take a picture with them to promote future competitions!
44. Offer Audio E-Cards
Take some time to record your band “singing” popular card messages for major holidays and events, and offer them as free e-cards for your fans to send from your website.
45. Create Secrecy
Nothing like saying you have a big announcement or secret to reveal. Turn it into a scavenger hunt of sorts to get people to engage with you on a variety of different social media channels, and cap it off with an in-person reveal. Works great for new album announcements.
46. Go Back To Your Roots
Go back and play shows to wherever music first became a part of your life – high school, colleges bars, etc.
47. 24 Hour Play-A-Thon
This one may be a bit physically draining, but set up shop in a very public and prominent venue, and engage on a 24 hour non-stop music playing adventure. Be sure to publicize this ahead of time and it could yield some great results.
48. Food Carts
Live near an area with food carts? Similar to wristbands, order some custom hot dog holders or paper cups with your information on them, and donate them to a food cart vendor to put his or her product in. A true win-win for all.
49. Get Your Own Covers
Seek out amateur musicians on YouTube and tell them you’d be honored if they covered one of your songs. This is great for getting the song out there and building a YouTube audience, as well as SEO.
50. Be Creative!
Think of what catches your eye, and what wild and wacky ideas you can come up with. Can you take your band name and spin it into a sponsorship or other event? Entice fans to talk you up and do marketing for you? There’s no wrong answer when it comes to getting your name out there and promoting your music.