Really? I sent out a bunch of bulletins..?

There’s a coy arrogance flooding musicians. It’s a permeation of pride that obstructs self-promotion. Snubbing those who plaster the town with crudely illustrated posters and fill empty hands with 4 x 5 inch Xeroxes are the musicians themselves. We’re above it. Promotion is left to “someone else.” We adorn ourselves with pearl snaps, skinny jeans, and ironic mustaches. We jump around in front of hundreds in hopes that attention will be undividedly on us. Yet, we wouldn’t be caught dead facing down exiting bar patrons while attempting to hand flyers to avoiding-eyes darting to find the most direct path out. Those who do this chore are na├»ve. “It won’t get more people to your show.”

This is a prevailing attitude amongst musicians and to be honest with you, I hate promoting too. I hate passing out flyers. I hate driving around town tacking posters on every Starbucks within 40 miles of the show (actually Starbucks has magnetic boards, no tacks needed). But every time I find myself questioning the likeliness of even a slight return on these chores I remind myself, “It can’t hurt.” Well, unless you own stock in the hermit crab approach. You see, a lot of musicians view self-promotion as not only useless but counterproductive. Their self-importance and conceit is valued higher than any gain a self-promotional scheme could realize. Most promotional methods are too shameful; the risk of rejection is too high.

Some of the disapproval toward self-promotion comes with a simple truth. Promotion not from the promoted is more powerful than from, which is true. You’re more likely to trust a friend’s opinion on a product than the manufacturer’s. But when you wrap that truth in the apathetic world of indie rock with the widespread feeling that interest in one’s own success is harmful to one’s own success, this whole mess of self-promotion becomes a complex jumble of posturing and overinflated ego.

I hate spam-like emails, overused MySpace bulletins, wallpapering storefronts, and carpet bombing city blocks with leaflets as much as the next guy (and would never condone it). But musicians need to take back their right to tasteful self-promotion. There’s nothing wrong with expressing humility and asking someone to consider coming to your next show. And one way to be effective in doing this is to get flyers into the hands (or in front of the eyes) of people you don’t know. Narrowing down these people to those likely to enjoy your music is even more valuable. So come on, go out to your friend’s next show and pass out some flyers. Trust me; if you’re depending on someone else to do it, you might as well just come to terms with an audience consisting of band girlfriends and little brothers.

Read: The Perils of DIY