After attending a countless artist showcases through the years as a former talent booking agent with the William Morris Agency, I've decided to touch on some practical ideas that will help promote your artist career and give you an increased chance at a possible record deal. After exploring much of the information available online, I determined to stay with easily grasped concepts and ideas that would help artists avoid some of the common mistakes.
First let's make it clear that not every act describes an artist showcase, at least not in the light of pandering to record labels in an ongoing campaign to secure a record deal. If you've read any of my articles, you know I try to tell it like it is and so once again, I will not shy away from the truth that not every artist describes an outlet to showcase their "talent." The reason is not simply because the band is no good, but because maybe there is not a maturity or serious quality from the members or a definite goal in place that everyone is rallying around. Other reasons may include lack of a unique playing quality or an act that is simply playing cover tunes. Let's talk about cover tunes for a minute.
Do not play cover tunes unless they are specifically asked for, or otherwise you are a cover band playing wedding gigs, etc. If you are really looking to get a record deal, then showcase your own music. This notification that your audience can relate to you and your band simply because you are playing music that everyone knows is false and misguided logic. Would you have cared, the first time you heard one of your favorite groups, that you knew any of the material – I bet not. You were so into the music and groove you wanted to hear more and buy the record. You think of big groups today that at one point were nobody, and just imagine hearing them for the first time, would it have mattered? – I bet I'm right again. Moral of the story, play your own music.
Before you begin to look at the possibility of a showcase, look at your objectives. Each showcase does not necessarily have to be about the record deal, but that should certainly be your ultimate objective and therefore, everything that you bring to the tableought to encompass and revolve around that goal. For example, you might showcase a particular groove and set of songs, which you would like to take out on the track and test. Is the audience really digging it or is it not you. Likewise, you can showcase for a lesser goal, but still an important stepping stone to a record deal signaling like pushing upcoming events or visibility to obtain additional bookings, etc.
As you start planning a showcase, who will attend? – Friends or will music industry personnel be present? Each artist showcase bought to be driven by a marketing approach. Do you have an artist logo, professional bios, pictures and press kits made? These can not be a "friend of the group did it for us," looking press kits. They have to shine and look pro like music industry individuals are already in play and are looking at your act. Do not overlook these elements. You may look out artist press kits, bios and press blurb writing at ReelMusician.com.
How will you go about promoting your showcase? You have to look beyond stapling flyers to telephone polls, etc. Have you thought about creating a jingle or station ID or local radio personality piece for free in hopes that you will get some radio and TV exposure? You bought to look at local radio stations and write a mix according to the style of the station and your band – see if you can not get some promotion that way. Cable TV advertising is fairly inexpensive. You may consider going in with everyone in the band and buying some advertising from cable or local TV stations.
If you do not already have it, and I'm sure most do, get your web site up and going and make sure that you have a page for upcoming events along with pictures, bio, contact page. Websites do not have to be expensive. You can get your website hosted for $ 5 – $ 10 a month. You most likely will not get a lot of traffic, but you will get credit with the public and within the music industry crowd – This will prove to be invaluable later on down the road.
What will your showcase consist of and what can you do to stand out from the crowd? Your act needs to look like they've been at this for years with a comfort level exiting from who the band is. How long is the showcase? You've heard the old expression, always leave the crowd wanting to hear more. Far better to do a rather short showcase with knock out tunes then a lengthy, drawn out, can not wait to get out of there, gig. Work with your song lineup and tweak the number and length of your set at rehearsal until it feels right. Have everything figured right up front. Who's going to speak when and try to hit all of the "what ifs," as much as you can. You want this showcase to "wow" the listeners and create some momentum and energy.
Re-think your image and make sure that it matches who you are. People are not that stupid and can almost immediately recognize when an image is forced and manipulated and not natural to the group. Better to have a natural image, true to who you are, than an image that you think just has to go with your style of music.
In closing, make each and every showcase count, with calculated marketing and a thought through line-up so when the music industry execs start showing up, they have something to go back to the office with!