Guest Blog: "Killing Them Softly: How To Put On a Killer Release Show" by HereComeHere

Bands and artists out there, this one's for you.

Hailing from Cincinnati, genre-bending band HereComeHere blends rock, alt rock, and pop together to create a wildly unique high-energy sound. The quartet recently dropped their thought-provoking 15-track sophomore album Chernobyl and celebrated with an outstanding release show in Covington, KY. Today HereComeHere's lead guitarist is here to tell you all about how to put your own album release show together from start to finish and turn it into a success.

By Joshua Smith, Lead Guitarist of HereComeHere

Hi there, we’re HereComeHere and we’re putting out a new record.  For that new record, we’re throwing a release show in our hometown of Cincinnati (Covington, Kentucky – part of the Greater Cincinnati area to be more specific).  Those are the basics, and even though the places and names are different this could just as easily be you for your next release.  As a completely independent un-signed band, we are now embarking on the release of our sophomore album, as well as chronicling its release show and the process by which we are putting it together.  Our aim with this blog is to show you what goes into a release show, and maybe put a few things in your mind that you may have not thought of or might be unsure about.  By the end of it we’ll have shown you how to put on a killer release show.

Booking the show

In any production, regardless of medium, what happens in pre-production can make or break the entire project.  It sounds simple, but I cannot stress enough the importance of planning ahead.  The sooner and farther out you can schedule the show, the better.  Not only will the venue appreciate the lead time, but it will give you time to make changes when something inevitably goes wrong.  For a release show in early April, we started booking in mid-February; and there are people who believe even that is cutting it close.

First and foremost, make sure you will actually have the physical release ready for the show – whether it’s a homemade EP or a full-blown album, you better have it in-hand to sell at the show.  That means scheduling the show far enough out to give yourself whatever time you need to get all of your physical assets in order. 

When selecting a date, there a few things you can do to make sure the one you pick is a good one.  Look at the concert schedule for the area around that time, try to avoid any national acts or other local shows that might hurt your draw or make your friends have to choose between you and somebody else.  Obviously it’s not possible to help things that are scheduled after you’ve locked in your date, but taking a precaution as easy as doing a quick search can help your numbers.  With nothing else happening that night, you’re more likely to get additional promotional considerations from the venues and local media outlets.  Ideally you want to be the only show in town that night for fans of your music.

Supporting acts

Schedule your support acts early, and make a healthy list of alternate artists before you do.  In a perfect world, you’d be able to call the best bands you have in mind for the show and get them on it – but in my experience that dream lineup rarely ever works out.  Everyone has their own schedules and commitments, and dropping everything to open up for you may not be their highest priority.  Unless you aren’t worried about your support acts’ ability to draw, be sure and take a look at their show schedule as well – oversaturation kills crowds. 

Now get promoting!

Ok so you have the date, the venue, and the bill locked in.  You have your CDs on order and your digital release dates set.  Now what?  Draw up a flyer and find some press.  Some of this is show promotion 101, but there are a few extra things that the build-up and impact of a release show can afford you.

With the ease that online promotion offers, it’s easy to forget or underestimate the power of old-school guerilla marketing.  No matter what, don’t forget to tag the area with some physical show flyers.  If absolutely nothing else, give a stack to the venue so they can promote at other shows (again the earlier the better, more time means more eyeballs).  A few dollars at your local copy/print store can get you some decent quality poster-sized prints, and as an added bonus you can save a few and sign them to sell at the show.  It might not seem like much, but somebody will buy them and it can help recoup your printing expense.

Find some music blogs or local music sites to promote on; a lot of these online publications are always looking for something to write about so pitching an interview about your release show won’t be a tough sell.  In Cincinnati we have an awesome online music community in that is the go-to resource for promotion and music news, if you can find something like it in your home market it’s never a bad idea to try and cultivate a good relationship with them.

If you have some money to throw at this release, hire a publicist.  We’re trying a brand-new tactic with our latest release in the form of a PR campaign.  The advantage of this is that you are able to get word of your release out in more than just your home market, and to more people than you might be able to reach yourself.  Ideally, this will help grease the wheels of anything happening locally and get you some national attention to aide in digital sales.  We were originally approached by Angela at Muddy Paw PR for an earlier release but didn’t have the budget at the time; we decided that to give our latest album the best chance of catching the attention it needs we would fork up the cash and reach out.

The lead up to the release show

In the weeks leading up to our release date, we launched our first single and an accompanying lyric video on Facebook with a sponsored post.  We picked the song based on how representative it was of the album as a whole, and because we thought it had the catchiest chorus.  It drummed up a lot of interest in the album and helped spark conversation online among fans and friends.  After that, we started writing guest blogs for online publications (like this one!) and had both interviews and reviews scheduled, courtesy of Muddy Paw.  We released a second single as an exclusive to approximately three weeks before the album release.  Our third single debuted on another music blog (Kill the Music) with a subsequent interview within two weeks of the album release.  Meanwhile we continued to circulate sponsored Facebook ads for the show and engage fans about their expectations; even doing a live Q&A session with fans.

April 8th was the scheduled release show, with a digital release date of April 9th.  The week leading up to our show was a busy one – promotion both online and person-to-person was constant, the Thursday prior had a live interview on the New Music Inferno podcast, Friday was a day full of rehearsals for the show and also included a Skype interview with another music blog (which was unfortunately rescheduled at the last minute), and for the entire day of Saturday we commenced an Instagram takeover of the Musical Notes Global page to chronicle our day and offer a behind-the-scenes look at the show.

After all the hard work and planning, our show was a success.  The attendance figures were right around what we expected, and the crowd was fantastic.  We sold a large amount of merchandise and had one of the best crowds we’ve ever had the pleasure of performing in front of – including a lot more new faces than we had anticipated.  But that’s the idea - to get in front of a fresh audience and convert them into dedicated fans.  One thing I cannot stress enough about capturing an audience and convincing them to come back the next time you play is to find a way to make them emotionally invested in the band.  Go the extra mile, talk to everyone you can, sign everything (no matter how trivial it might seem), take pictures, do anything and everything you can to make an impression on your fans.  As soon as we finished our set and I was tearing apart my pedals to pack up, a young lady came up to the stage and told me that she had waited over a year to see us and that the wait had been worth it.  We made sure she didn’t leave until she had guitar picks, signatures on everything, and a picture with the band.  That sort of relationship can’t be cultivated online, and it can’t be bought with advertising.  To me, that is the absolute most important kind of fan and we as artists should do everything in our power to make them feel appreciated and keep them coming back.

Well there you have it, HereComeHere’s tips to a successful release show!  In short, plan everything ahead, be prepared to change those plans, and make sure you stay late and stay humble.  Now get out there and launch that record!

Chernobyl follows HereComeHere's two EPs and debut full-length album Pants Were A Bad Idea. Get it now on all major digital music platforms, or order a physical copy via Bandcamp here.

The band broke Chernobyl down track by track, exclusively for Musical Notes Global. Check it out here. For all of HereComeHere's latest news and updates, follow them on social media:

Twitter: @HereComeHere


Instagram: @herecomehere