This is the year of the monkey, and I can't think of a better way to kick off 2004 than by flingin' poo at my fellow simians. Since most of us are still basking in the afterglow of the holidays, however, I thought I'd focus on an entirely different primate: the guerrilla -- marketer, that is.
Finding innovative ways to promote yourself is priceless -- especially if you have more talent than money. A lot of musicians rely solely upon their Web sites and fliers to get the word out, but nothing beats old-fashioned, face-to-face, word-of-mouth marketing. So here are a few ideas that any monkey without a modem can utilize.
Almost everyone loves doing karaoke, but only in that tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink sort of way. The next time you scribble your name under whatever bygone anthem you choose to lampoon, don't be chagrined; be calculating. Bring a box of CDs with you, and when you get that "You should really be doing this for a living" response from someone in the crowd, hand him a disc with a flier for your next show and say, "Now that you mention it..."
Along those same lines, perform an abbreviated set as a busker before your next gig. Take your guitar, banjo, tambourine or whatever and hit the streets. In addition to potentially making you a few bucks, it's a great way to spread the word. Hell, if it worked for Mary Lou Lord, it can work for you.
Instead of bemoaning the fact that this is a sports town, embrace it. Yes, there are four major sports franchises in Denver, and that's a good thing -- or at least it can be, if you work it. A venue filled with sports fans is the ultimate focus group. Where else can you reach thousands of entertainment-minded people at the same time? Stuck, entertainment-minded people. Take a portable disc player and a box of your discs to the next game, and as folks exit, let 'em have it. Assuming you don't suck, a few people are bound to like what they hear enough to take you home with them. (Just hope it's not the cops.)
Sadly, no matter how good your music is, some of your CDs are likely to turn up in a pawnshop. So here's an idea from the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" file: Take a few stacks of your release to area shops or used-electronics retailers and suggest that your disc be used as a "tester" for audio equipment. Folks always want to make sure that a player works before they buy it; why shouldn't they listen to yourtunes in the process? Leave a few extra copies so that they can take the disc if they like it.
Monkey see, monkey do.
Upbeats and Beatdowns: On Friday, January 2, Plastic Parachute hits the Gothic for a CD-release party with Strange Condition, Redline Defiance, Rubber Planet and the Commodes.
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