Now that Radiohead are redefining music and music promotion as we know it by allowing people to pay whatever they want for their new album on download and then offering an $82 boxed set for those who like to spend $82, it's time that YOU, yes YOU, thought about how your band is going to stick out in the overcrowded crowd.
With all these newfangled ways on the Internet of getting your band out there and your music heard, it's become easier to actually get lost in the iPod shuffle. Everyone has an MP3. Everyone has a video. But who can draw a crowd at a live performance? That's where you can really impress. Look at Kiss! Their songs are horrible! They can barely play. But boy, can Gene spit blood and breathe fire. And for that he gets his own show on the television!
But that's now been done. You probably don't have much of a budget. So while advertising Free Drinks! might seem like an immediate draw--and it is--it will lead you to bankruptcy court. Yes, every band sounds better after seven or eight Margaritas, but unless your bass player has a trust fund, forget it. That goes for Free Food, too. Sure, you could advertise it and then put out a disgusting veggie spread for a couple of bucks, but all that'll do is give people something to throw at you when as they stand there sober they realize how "un-good" you are.
Put these catch phrases on your next flyer and you will see your audience grow ten-fold. Unless your band has a really stupid name. Then no one can help you.
Air Conditioning!: It's a summer tour. Make sure whatever venue your playing has air conditioning. Pick the right hot humid day or night to play and you will pack the house. Oppressive heat makes people angry, violent and much more likely to go see your craptastic band if you provide the cooling.
Door Prizes!: This doesn't have to be elaborate. Surely, everyone in the band has some junk in the garage they've been wanting to get rid of. Never advertise what the door prizes are. Everyone likes the IDEA of winning something. Being a winner is important to most people. Why else do broken Polaroid cameras sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay? Because someone wanted to be a WINNER.
Rides!: OK, this is where you're stretching the truth a little. I'm not sure what "ride" you provide beyond maybe giving a couple kids a lift home. Hopefully, between the air conditioning and the door prizes people will forget about the promised rides. But it SOUNDS like fun. If pressed, you can apologize and say the drummer broke the go-cart, but maybe next time...
Win A Chance to "Join" the Band!: It's nearly everyone's dream to join a band. And winning that chance is even better because, as you now know, people love to win things. Now whether you end up letting this person bang a tambourine, shake the maracas or let them near a guitar is up to you. If your winner seems really lame, you can try and convince them to be a "roadie" and let them haul all the heavy equipment back out to the van. For this reason, you probably want to fix the raffle, so the winner is actually a very cute girl who can help you draw more people next time.
Which leads us to the most important offer:
Win a Date With Our Pretty Girl Bass Player!: If you haven't done so already, find a cute, pretty female bass player. If you're already lucky enough to be a woman in an all-female band, add another. And if you're a bunch of dudes, figure it out. NO one wants to watch a bunch of ugly dudes whine into a microphone for 45, 20 or even 10 minutes. But add a cute girl on bass and other guys will show up. They'll all tell your bass player how great the band is and if they think there's even the slightest chance (and I mean even the slightest) that she might be available, they'll come back. Depending on how cool this young lady is, you decide whether or not to let her know that at the end of the night you're going to hold a raffle and one lucky guy is going out to the Steakhouse with her sometime in the near future on a DATE! If she protests, let her know that everyone has to sacrifice for the good of the band.