As someone who puts on occasional promotions, I’ve been trying to put myself in the shoes of an artist, and in what way I can give artists pointers in securing gigs. As you can probably appreciate, I get lots of artists contacting me about appearing on a Belles and Gals promotion, so unfortunately, I literally can’t cater for everyone who contacts me – there’s not enough days in the year. So, it got me thinking – what is it that makes me want to put someone on a show (which I guess is the same for many other promoters). On a personal note, I could also extend this to – ‘what makes me want to feature an artist on the Belles and Gals website, a playlist, or a particular feature.’
The first thing you need to do is stand out. That’s not an easy thing to do in this industry. Lots of people send me emails and messages, and if I’m completely honest, I don’t get the chance to read them all. Belles and Gals is a relatively small operation in comparison to others, so if I don’t get the chance to read all of my correspondence, you’re even less likely to be noticed if you’re aiming for larger events.
So how do you stand out?
One bug bear of mine is that on any given post I write, the only support we would usually get surrounding the post is from the artist themselves (it’s a massive bug bear of mine when the artist themselves doesn’t support it, but that’s a whole other story!). We’ve featured more than 500 artists on Belles and Gals so far, but I could name just three artists who regularly ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘comment’ on posts about other artists. It’s no coincidence at all that those three artists have all featured on Belles and Gals gigs and will continue to do so. As someone who runs a website and puts on gigs, we need promotion as much as the artists do – if an artist is giving me that promotion, they’re the guys I want to work with!
It’s perfectly natural that I want to find out more about these artists – these are the people whose emails I will always open, and I will always listen to their music. They are helping me, so I want to help them.
Let me give you another couple of striking examples, which will show you why I make the decisions I do.
A couple of months ago we put on a Nashville Calling show in Essex. The gig was a fun one and an artist named Louise Parker came along as a fan. I’d seen Louise a couple of months before playing a gig and she’d already struck a chord, but by her coming along, we were able to talk about her and her music. She also happened to mention that she’d be available at short notice if ever I needed her for a gig. Just a couple of weeks later I had an artist pull out of a gig with illness a day before a gig, and Louise got the call. On the back of that stand-in performance, I made immediate moves to become Louise’s manager – she was incredible. If she hadn’t come out and supported the gig (where she wasn’t playing) none of this would have happened.
Louise Parker at the Water Rats as a late Stand-in
I’ll give you another example. Back in April, we put on a gig in Manchester, our first one in the city. We had a pretty decent crowd turn up and one of the people that turned up was an artist named Emily Lockett. Once again, an artist supporting the event without playing. Is it a coincidence that the next time we play Manchester (August 10th, the Castle Hotel – a shameless plug!) that Emily will be playing? No. The first thing I did when I got home from Manchester was to take a listen to Emily and I thought immediately she would perfect for a spot in the next Manchester event.
Obviously, I can only talk from a personal perspective, but I would imagine other people in the industry feel exactly the same way. If you want to play for a certain promoter, head along to their shows and strike up a relationship. If you want radio play, like, comment and share on the radio show’s social media posts, even when you’re not featured – they’ll pick up on it. You want to be featured on a website? Share the content of the site on your own feed and you’ll jump to the head of the queue of artists they’ll want to check out.
Go that extra mile and it can (and will) pay huge dividends.