Most of us that play in cover bands have also played, or currently play, in an original band as well. For a lot of us, the bands may be one in the same. My band, Fighting Friday, actually started as an original project. We decided to cross over into cover gigs to supplement our incomes, gain increased exposure, and to push our original music out to the audiences for which were are performing. Now we have a healthy following and on a nightly basis get requests for specific original songs (not including our wives/girlfriend). That’s pretty cool! Here are a few quick tips on how you can start promoting original music at a cover.
Have you ever tried to sell CDs or music to people who have never seen you perform before? Promoting music and selling your music be challenging. People are eager to cough up $12 for a cocktail with a half-ounce of vodka in it, but ask them to dish out $5 for a CD for a band they are enjoying, and all of a sudden they develop T-Rex arms. Like it or not, in this day and age, people just don’t shell out money for music like they used to. We can complain about it or we can work around it. I like to reference the Radiohead example or more recently, Louis C.K., whereby they offered up content at a price that the customer could choose. Both of these campaigns were massively successful. So we decided to follow this model and offer our recorded music at our shows for “free”. We give away CDs for free to anyone who wants them but make it known that we have a donations bucket that they can throw money into if they would like. We found good deals on CD duplication and printing and sleeved the discs ourselves. At this point we have distributed over 10,000 copies of our and our ROI has been about 300%. Give it a try with your recorded music!
Play YOUR music
If you are playing a cover gig, no, you can’t play an entire set of originals. But you can easily play one per set and promote the fact that it’s your song. Mention several times a set that you have free original music and make sure you highlight that a song was yours, before and after you play it. Own the song. Don’t shy away because you think it might not be exactly what people want to hear. Deliver the original song with the confidence that you deliver your favorite cover. Position your original song in the set so that it is sandwiched in between two HUGE killer cover songs. Consider doing a mashup at the end of your original into a bunch of fun covers.
After the gig
Get as many leads and names as you can! Gather emails for your mailing list, push and leverage your social media presence, and promote your original music online to the folks that frequently come see your cover shows. Keep in touch with the folks that took your music home and follow up if possible and make sure you have handouts like schedule cards or business cards to give away along with the CD's or download cards.
Come see a show and you'll see what I mean!!
I hope these tips helpful for promoting original music at a cover gig. There’s nothing better that playing your own music to a packed house and looking out and seeing people singing along. Playing originals at cover gigs can often be tricky but done right, it can give your music a huge boost.