How to promote your gigs
Due to the vastness of this question I will keep my answers succinct and to the point, there are endless ways to promote, in this article I will cover some of the most important and effective methods of gig promotion but don't stop here, always be looking for new and inventive ideas.
How to promote your gigs will most likely vary depending on the type of gig and the reason for your gig.
One of the first ports of call with your gig promotion will be the venue itself. If you are working with a booking agent or promotions company, you might assume they will advertise your gig on site, be sure to check with the venue first as this is not always the case. Visit the venue in advance and look for posters or flyers detailing your gig. If there are none on show, ask if they are happy for you to supply some for the venue then create your own, this will ensure the regular visitors know there will be entertainment on the night of your gig and help to get your name on the local music scene. You might also take these to your local shops, post office/ coffee shop/ record store and ask if they will allow you to put a poster in their window or flyers on their counter.
Social Media as usual is a great tool, create a facebook events page and invite all your friends, look for cheats online to allow you to invite all your friends at once (it saves a lot of time) keep invitations open and encourage your friends to invite people they know are into your style of music. Look for facebook groups promoting gigs and leave details of yours, maybe message people who seem to be into the same music you are, if they are a member of the group they will be happy to hear from you. Garner support from your musical friends, if you have other friends in local bands, ask if they can share details of your gig on their wall in return for helping to promote their next gig. This is an exceptionally useful tool if they are the same genre as you, between a group of you, you may be able to increase your fan base and exposure by working together to create a scene of your own, allowing you to host your own gigs.
If you have a Twitter account, tweet personal @username comments with a link to an invitation or event details themselves, this often encourages retweets as a band / artist has mentioned them personally. Alternatively, send your followers a message with an invitation to the event and encourage them to bring a plus one.
If you are in a band, make sure each member goes through these steps to ensure maximum exposure. If you are a solo artist maybe you could gather some best friends or family to take an hour or 2 out of their schedule to do the same for you with their friends.
If you are looking to promote your gigs with a view to getting signed or management, it may be best to wait until you have a few gigs booked up or a mini tour to prove that you can pull in a crowd. Your next greatest tool in this case would be your copy of 'The Unsigned Guide' this is available instantly online with an option of subscription methods and regularly updated throughout the year. Be sure to go through the companies thoroughly and make a note of the ones most suitable and likely to be interested in your style and genre. Once you have dates and venues confirmed go through this list and contact them in their preferred method, with a copy of your press pack or EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and invitations to your upcoming gigs offer free entry and ask for RSVP's. Make sure you know who they are and what they look like so you can take the time to introduce yourself on the night and get their feedback.
If you are a cabaret or theatrical singer looking for an agent, you may be wanting to promote a showcase you are taking part in. If this is the case instead of 'The Unsigned Guide' be sure to have your latest copy of 'Contacts' to hand and instead, research and contact musical theatre agents as above, sending copies of your CV and headshot with an invitation to attend your showcase or performance.
Newspapers are another great way to promote your gigs. Papers like NME include gig listings you can submit to online. Local newspapers will also include a lifestyle and entertainment section, contact them to be included in their listings. If you are able to email directly, include your press pack, information on any new releases or competitions you have ongoing and any stories or exciting news you feel may interest the public. If you are lucky the editor may be interested in your news and decide to include you in an article or even include a gig review in their next issue.
Look at your favourite bands and see how they choose to promote their gigs. Do they hold competitions? How did you hear about their latest tour? Look for other types of promotion as well, as a creative type you are bound to find inspiration in the most unlikeliest of places. The more obscure and inventive the better!