Tour Marketing Template-Part Two, A Promotional Time-Line
Andy J - Music Business
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As the saying goes,"timing is everything." That is so true in the promotion business. Miss a deadline, and you may forfeit an entire month's itinerary information getting to the booking personnel across the country. This could hamper the ease of future bookings. Or, if you miss the calendar-listing deadline, your photo and upcoming gig information may not appear in the local daily paper, reducing your chances for a good audience turnout. So let's get a handle on the timing and work with a time-line that will keep you on track.
Gather media contacts with contract returns -
Ask the venue to send you their local media contact list when they return your contracts. Once you have the contracts and media contacts in hand, you are able to begin your city-by-city publicity campaign. If you are sending itineraries or press releases to national media, you will have to adhere to their individual deadlines as they come up. For general promotion tour-by-tour, the following time-line will keep you ahead of the promotion game.
- Six to eight weeks prior to the first tour date - begin media contact
Make inquiries for interviews- With local media contacts in hand from the local promoter, you can begin to contact the various media outlets, print, radio, possibly television to get their specific deadlines, specialty editors and show hosts.
Send initial press packets with press release - Direct your first press release and packet to the editor in charge of the individual print media section, such as the Calendar Editor, the Features Editor, the Entertainment Editor, the Music Editor, etc. Keep in mind that one department hardly ever shares the information with another department. This may mean multiple copies of press information going to a single paper, depending upon how many departments the paper has. When dealing with radio, each station may have multiple music directors or show hosts depending on the format. College stations or community and public radio stations often have specialty shows hosted by various individuals. It is important to know the host of the show you are trying to reach and address material to that host or the show specifically.
Contact venue publicity person to coordinate promotion efforts - Some venues have very savvy and helpful publicity people promoting each date. Other venues have volunteers or one overworked staff person running the whole show. When you negotiate your gig, find out what kind of promotional help you can count on or not. Then you can work with the venue's publicity person to coordinate each of your efforts, avoiding duplication, ensuring action. If you know the venue will take care of certain aspects of the promotion, you can concentrate your efforts elsewhere. By coordinating early in the game, there is time to be creative, take advantage of publicity avenues not accessible in the short term if they exist in the market.
- Five weeks prior-
Prepare mailing to fans - If you have a growing mailing list of fans, it is time to prepare your printed mailing. Depending on the size of your mailing list and your touring radius, you might consider doing mailings tour by tour to those only in the touring area to reduce printing and postage costs. If you use email to notify your fans exclusively, then this mailing can happen at a date much closer to the first tour date.
Schedule promotional in-store teasers, signings, and events - It is never too early to notify local stores that you have a date scheduled in their backyard. The sooner they know, the more likely it is that they can schedule you for a promotional in-store, CD signing or other creative promotional event. This is also true for local radio show interviews or live performances.
- Four weeks prior-
Send tour itinerary mailing to fans - It is always great to get upcoming tour date information to your fans early enough for them to buy advance tickets and make plans to attend your event. Post card mailers make great refrigerator reminders. By mailing four weeks out, you can be fairly sure that the card will get there prior to the date. If you use a bulk-mailing permit with anything other than first class pre-sort, you are taking chances that even with four weeks; the card may not arrive on time.
Send press releases- follow-up - Now it is time to follow-up on your initial contacts with the media. Find out if they received the original mailings and if not, there is still plenty of time to re-send the information.
Send date listings to calendars - Usually, calendar editors don't want listings too far in advance, they may lose them under this week's pile of information.
- Three weeks prior-
Follow-up calls for interviews - You won't get an interview without consistent follow-up. Interviews are reserved for the newsworthy and the notable. Find an angle to pitch to the editor before calling for an interview.
E-mail tour itinerary to fans - This is a good time to email your fan base. It gives them enough time to purchase advance tickets and schedule the date on their calendar. Since the medium in nearly instantaneous, it is simply a courtesy to you fans to give them long enough advance notification about your upcoming gig.
Check on flyer/poster placement - When you attempt to have flyers or posters placed around the towns you are about to tour, you are not there to make sure the posters are up in the well trafficked areas. Therefore you need to check with the promoter to see whether they used the posters you supplied and that they have been dispersed. Some cities have strict postering regulations with specific places assigned for all notifications. Other cities require posters be placed by they city or a designated postering company. Check with the promoter for any regulations you may need to be aware of. You simply may not need to send many posters since there are not many places to post them.
- Two weeks prior-
Media check-in for listing/photo inclusions - Once again, it is time to check back with your media contacts to make sure all materials have arrived and whether the editors have decided to place your photo or press release in the appropriate sections. Don't think of yourself as pestering these editors, think of yourself as being thorough and persistent. Your timely follow-up simply gives your act a better chance of inclusion, and even a better chance of more prominent placement, especially if you have a great photo and something unique and interesting to promote.
Update check with venue publicity person - One last check with the venue publicity person will assure you that they have taken care of their part of the deal. If they have fallen down on their job, you still have some time to take care of their neglected end of the promotion.
- During the last two weeks prior to the tour-
Conduct phone interviews - Reserve times in your schedule prior to leaving on tour to conduct phone interviews. Schedule a tight time frame where you set aside a few hours in a day for back to back interviews. Depending on how many interviews you have been able to line up, you may need a few days. Some of these may need to be conducted during the tour if it is a long tour. Most interviewers like to conduct their interviews close to the time the story will actually run, which will most likely be the week of the gig.
- Two days prior to day of show-
Conduct in-town live radio/television interviews - If you have the time to arrive a day early or the night before the play date, you may be able to conduct some day-of-show or pre-day-of-show media interviews. You would have scheduled these in the early stages of the promotion time-line.
Play promotional in-store teasers, events - Now the planning pays off. All your hard work during the six weeks prior to the date is now realized. Any pre-show promotional gigs, in-store signings or teasers will be played from two days prior to the show up to the day-of the show.
While in town, get copies of any promotional preview articles, interviews or calendar listings to use in your future press packets. This will also serve as a record of what you have accomplished during your campaign.
With practice, this template will place you ahead of the promotion game. You will begin to notice a difference as you slowly get more media coverage, resulting in larger audiences and greater quantities of merchandise being sold. Eventually you will notice that demand for your act begins to shift--shows become easier to book, fees and percentages rise. This won't happen overnight, it is a slow, process requiring persistence and diligence. When you follow this step-by step marketing template, the process of marketing your act becomes more manageable and less overwhelming and the results will be significant. Good luck!
Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide To Successful Touring 2nd Edition UPDATED. She had been an agent and artist's manager for 20 years. Currently she consults with artists, agents and managers through her consultation program Manager-In-A-Box and presents The Performing Biz, seminars and workshops at conferences, universities, for arts councils and to organizations. Jeri has released a 3-hour seminar on CD-ROM, Marketing Your Act. The Seminar is set up in 5 modules with information about Marketing, Creating Effective Promotional Materials, How To Access the Media, A Marketing Template and Niche Marketing. No expensive conferences to attend-learn at your convenience to boost your career. Her book, CD-ROM and information about her other programs are available at are available at Performingbiz.com or phone (434) 591-1335 or email Jeri.
* If you would like to reprint any of these articles, please contact Jeri Goldstein for permission.