TrueDIY Buzz: How to Throw a Release Party

It’s always a good idea to support your efforts around any type of release with various on & offline initiatives. Doing so will broaden the awareness of the release outside of the standard run of flyers, free single downloads, and other common promo items. Throwing an advance listening party for an upcoming music release or a screening party for a music video or DVD is a great way to engage your fans and create additional press-worthy buzz around the release.

While listening and screening parties aren’t terribly easy to pull off, with some foresight, hard work and solid promotion they are more affordable and beneficial than you might think.  Most recently, we held a screening party for a documentary that we (Sidehatch Entertainment) produced for the band Piebald and pulled it off in under 20 days. Ideally we would have given ourselves more time to plan and promote the screening, but even with the time crunch we feel it was a great success.  For this episode of TrueDIY I’ve compiled a list of tips highlighting how to best execute your very own listening/screening party with topics ranging from acquiring sponsors to generating buzz around the event.

Step 1: Choose A Venue
The first step is to find a venue or cool hangout to throw the party in. If you have friends who own cool shops, support them by throwing the party there. Anything similar like an art gallery, café, or bar will suffice.  Your venue choice should be based on your genre and the number expected attendees, but think outside of the box!  In our case we used our office in Charlestown because we’ve set it up to hold events like these. It’s a blank slate that can be transformed into almost anything, has free parking, and is T accessible.  Most importantly, it was big enough to bring in a projection system to show the documentary. Since we knew where we were holding the event all along, this wasn’t a major concern, but venue choice can make or break your event!

Our office transformed for the night

Step 2: Decide On A Day & Time
We decided to hold the event on a Thursday night from 6-9PM for a few reasons.  To avoid competing with weekend activities and shows we decided Thursday was our best night.  We decided on 6pm to 9pm so people could come after work and it would be over by the time most area concerts started. That night we actually had some friends playing across town, so to respect their shows we ended our event before they began.  Most importantly, choose a time and day that works for your fans.  If you have no idea which day works best, put some feelers out on Facebook or Twitter to see if people have a preference on the day.

Step 3: Involve Additional Activities
The second challenge we faced was getting the band involved. Most active bands won’t have a problem here, but because Piebald is, for lack of a better term split up, we had to improvise. Half of the members live in LA and the other half in and around Boston, so we knew that having them all here for the event was going to be a challenge. To remedy the situation, we decided to harness free technology and streamed Travis and Aaron live over Google Chat where they played a medley of Piebald tunes on piano and guitar. This was the pre-curser to the DVD screening so it really got everyone excited for the movie. We took the streaming one step further and hung a video camera from the ceiling and streamed the entire event live on USTREAM for those unable to attend.

This was the first double-live-feed media experiment I had ever experienced and it was an idea that we thought would be cool and unique. Plus, anyone who wasn’t able to make it out to the event could now watch it from the comfort of their homes. The best part? IT WAS FREE!  For a little added fun, we put together a foosball tournament with giveaways to keep people entertained throughout the night.  If you have any technical difficulties or other hold ups these activities can help to keep people distracted while you work out the kinks. Depending on the venue you could also put out board games or anything else that will engage your attendees.  Just be creative!

Step 4: Create a One-Sheet for the Event
At this point we knew the date, time, and had a plan for some unique tie-ins. The next step was rounding up sponsors so we could include their logos on promo materials and draft a press release right away. In order to land sponsors, you need to make a one sheet for the event. A one-sheet, or “fact sheet” to some, is the blueprint for the event. Something in bullet points that outlines what is going to happen and why a brand would want to be a part of it. It needs to look cool, tell a story, and make any potential sponsors feel the need to be a part of it. Make them feel like they’d be missing out on a terrific opportunity if they weren’t part of it. You don’t need to lie or fluff things up, but be real. They want to know things like: How many people are you expecting? What’s the demographic? Can we get our logo on your marketing materials and get mentioned in your blogs and social networks? These are all things of value to a brand.

Step 5: Reach Out to Sponsors
To get started on the sponsor outreach use your network and see if anyone knows representatives from various beverage companies or restaurants. These companies are always looking to be involved in anything that gets their brand into the hands of potential customers in a non-invasive manner. These types of parties are the perfect place for brands to sample to new consumers on the cheap, so do some research and befriend these reps stat!  In our case we were able to receive the generous support of Magners Irish Cider, Vitamin Water, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Each one of these brands provided product so we didn’t have to spend a penny on drinks. Lastly, we also teamed up with great local businesses like Bean Snowboards and BLVD. Both companies provided some cool giveaways and promoted the event in their stores and on their social accounts.

Product Sponsors (Local companies, drinks, food)

Step 6: Promote! Promote! Promote!
With only 10 days left before the screening, we quickly designed a poster, flushed out a press release, and started promoting all over the city. We put together a “hit” list of press and blog accounts to contact and went for it. The Boston Phoenix was kind enough to support us by writing a blurb about the event in the music section, but unfortunately we were a bit late for some of the Boston music blogs.   Nonetheless were very happy to have gotten Boston’s biggest weekly publication behind the event.  In TrueDIY 6 Adam Ritchie provides some great advice on attracting the attention of traditional press and blogs. Take a look if you would like a bit more info on the subject!

Step 7: Capture Your Audience

Artist: Alvin @ Acoma Art

We made a facebook event page and an eventbrite RSVP page so we could retain some of the email addresses for future e-blasts. (Both services are free!)  We leveraged our sponsors and had them post the flyer on their social accounts, websites, and asked them to invite their friends. This way you maximize your reach with very little overhead! We hung posters at all area colleges, retail, and lifestyle accounts as well. Last but not least, we tied an art showing into the event by having the Acoma Art studio across the hall open their doors to our guests. All of a sudden, our event had been blasted to over 50,000 people in the greater Boston area for very little money. This not only greatly increased exposure, but also validated our efforts and brought a lot of attention to us as a brand and the product we were promoting.

All said and done, the DVD screening party consisted of the documentary, a live performance from Travis and Aaron in LA, free refreshments and snacks, an art showing, AND a foosball tournament with giveaways. And don’t forget, everyone outside of Boston could tune in live via the web and be a part of it from wherever they were. Our event contained many more activities than a typical screening event, but it was all done for about $100. You can do this too by being creative and thinking about ways to leverage relationships you have with friends and area businesses.

You don’t need a cool office or art space to do this. Events of this nature can be hosted at a neighborhood bar, a friend’s house, or even in the desert if you have some generators lying around. The point is to get something heard or seen in an environment that’s cool, unique, and worth talking about, because in the end, it’s all about generating added excitement around your music.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments post them below!


Pictures from the Piebald screening party!

  • darlene

    Thank you, thank you ,thank you! This is just the info I needed.Starting with you look out for my first artist POdubl”pronounced P-O Double a.k.a.POP SOUL/G.O.D.SEE b.k.a.Poppy

  • Anonymous

    Glad we could help!

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