Flyering / Postering Etiquette


By David A. Barber
Author of Gigging, Everything You Need to Know About Playing Gigs (Except How to Play Your Axe)

Your band has a gig coming up, you’ve printed up stacks of flyers and posters and now you need to get them out there where people will see them. Seems fairly easy, right? You just staple or tape up posters hand out a bunch of flyers and sit back and wait for the crowds to roll in. Right? Sure. Just be careful and avoid a few simple mistakes.

First off, never put up posters for your show at venue A inside venue B. Postering space is limited inside any venue, even the ones that let you tape it up anywhere you want. They aren’t going to be excited to see posters advertising a show at another venue. Same goes for flyering. Don’t put out free tickets for your upcoming Herman’s show on all the tables at your Dove show. Likewise, don’t plaster the restroom at the Cricket with posters for your show at the Toad. This kind of behavior is simply discourteous to the venue you do it in and likely will result in them being less inclined to book you there again.

Is there a way around that? Yes. It’s usually acceptable to mention your upcoming gigs while you are on stage. It’s also acceptable to walk around the room and personally hand your flyers to people you know or have just met, as long as they don’t immediately drop them on the floor and walk away. “Put this in your pocket.” is a good way to handle it. Also a poster that has been printed up with a month’s worth of shows can be safely hung in most venues without fear of pissing anyone off. It’s not gonna stay on the wall past your gig in that venue, but if you post it a couple weeks beforehand, it might be helpful.

Along the same lines, it’s not cool to flyer outside of most local music venues. Don’t put them on all the cars in the parking lot, unless it’s for a gig at that venue. Don’t hand them out to patrons leaving a venue unless it’s for an upcoming gig at that venue. A major exception to this rule is to hand them out as people are leaving a large concert venue. Hang on the sidewalk out in front of the Fillmore or the Pepsi center when a compatible national act is playing and hand out your flyers. It’s an excellent way to build your fan base.

Don’t run afoul of the law. In many cities it is against the law to put up posters on telephone poles, etc. A few cities even enforce these laws. You can be certain that they will know exactly what band is responsible, by simply reading the poster or coming to the show.

Always bear in mind that you promotional activities can also reflect upon the venue. If you plaster all the cars in front of Herbs with flyers for your show at the Skylark, the management of one place may well call the other to complain. Remember, venue owners and booking people do talk to each other, even while competing. Word can spread quickly, so try not to piss these people off.

Some more things else that can pis off a venue:

Duct tape: Don’t use this to attach your posters to the wall.  In addition to being ugly, duct tape leaves a sticky residue where ever it gets stuck.  This can gum up the walls or windows where your poster is hung and the poor schmuck who has to clean it up after your poster is taken down after your show just might be the booking guy.

Taping all the edges of your poster: the poster only needs to hang for s couple weeks, you don;t need an airtight seal all the way around.  Small bits of cellophane tape (Scotch tape) will probably do the job.  If nobody can get a grip on an edge, it’s that much harder to take you poster down.  After your show, your poster need to come down to make room for new ones.  Don’t make it a pain in the ass to do so.

Stickers: Stickers are an awesome tool to get your logo/name out there.  But be careful where you put them and who you give them to. Throwing a handful of stickers out into the crowd at a club can be cool, until the venue manager comes up to you later and insists that you scrape all those stickers off the dance floor, the tables, the walls and the mirrors in the restrooms before he will pay you for the gig.  Never stick a sticker anywhere in a club without asking permission first.

True Gig Story: A cool little urban club changed hands and the new owners renovated the place, trying to change it from a dive into a classy joint.  The new owners kept some the bookings from the previous owners until after the grand re-opening, when one band stuck a sticker up in the freshly remodeled Men’s room.  The new owners (who didn’t have a lot of live music experience) threw a fit and canceled all the live music on what had been their busiest nights because they were pissed off about that one sticker.  The club closed a few months later.  One less venue for  a whole of bands to play.