Business cards are compact, cost-effective networking and branding tools that no artist should be without. From a basic ‘contact details only’ card, right though to swish-looking, glossy cards offering downloads, freebies and more – you really cannot afford to dismiss the potential of the business card model.
Business cards are infinitely cheaper to produce than physical CDs so, carrying business cards with a link to listen to and/or download your music online via Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Spotify or whichever solution you favour is going to save you time, space and cash. Business cards are also easier for your audience to tuck into their pockets at a gig, rather than try and cram an entire CD into their jacket or alternatively hang on to it in their hot, sweaty hands all evening.
Fact: CDs bought at gigs are probably going to be used as coasters far earlier than you would have anticipated.
Obviously, it is favourable to offer a choice if you can though and if you are able to afford CDs then you should have them available as well; there are always folk who prefer something more tangible to have and to hold. We (Braver than Fiction) do have physical CDs for sale and we do bring them to our gigs but we more frequently use our business cards to give away free downloads, such as our début single “Your Little Fantasy” and also to enable on-the-spot digital download purchases of our live EP, King of Crows.
Carrying your brand forward onto your business card is a smart move, with endless possibilities available for creating a quality product yourself. You can take the typical approach (solid colour card, logo on one side, contact details on the reverse) or step things up a gear and have a screenshot of your website or the artwork for your latest release and then superimpose your contact details (and any important information). We created our King of Crows EP business cards to look like playing cards, depicting our “King of Crows” on one side and then all of the details for downloading the EP on the back.
Your business cards can be given away at gigs, slipped into CD cases, included in physical press kits and even placed in those local stores/venues that encourage bands to leave flyers. If you are in a band, every band member should be packing a handful of business cards in their pocket, purse or wallet at all times and distributing them liberally.
However, whilst the music business is a crazy, creative cosmos where individuality is encouraged and boundaries stretched to snapping point on a daily basis, you might want to resist the temptation to stray too far from the ‘standard’ size business card to begin with. Anything larger than a credit card is not going to fit into the business card holders many people carry and something too small and/or bulky is likewise going to be discarded very quickly. The UK norm is approximately 85mm x 55mm; you may find that these dimensions fluctuate by a couple of millimetres.
It would be more advantageous to get creative with the colour, design and additional purpose of your business cards at the outset. As we use ours as download cards, the business cards we give away have a QR code on the back for an immediate download of our single “Your Little Fantasy”. If you haven’t got anything to give away, try adding a useful component to the reverse of your business cards – calendars and conversion tables are popular or, what about a great photograph of your band or a killer lyric from one of your songs that would pique interest?
You’re the wings on my angel, the cards upon my table
The moral in my fable, the wind that rings my chimes…
“All You Have to Do” by Braver than Fiction
Essential components of your band business cards are:
- Your band name and/or logo
- Your official website/social media URL[s]
- A short description of who you are and what you do (or the purpose of your card)
- Contact details for your manager/agent/promoter
Our business cards always attract positive feedback; they are quite the talking point at gigs and one time, a passing street magician even swiped a pack of our playing card themed King of Crows EP download cards to perform an impromptu magic trick – much to everyone’s delight! You just never know how or when one of your business cards might be used.
We recently sent a bunch of our free “Your Little Fantasy” download business cards to #TILLbrand Apparel to distribute with their t-shirts. Our vocalist is a big fan of their rockin’ clothing range and every time she places an order, it arrives with a lucky dip of stickers, flyers, pin badges and so on, from a random selection of bands – small promotional items that do not increase the shipping costs but do increase exposure for the artists who have sent them to #TILLbrand Apparel to distribute – free of charge. Now that’s sharing the love!
You can even track the performance of your business cards; use an online URL shortening service like Bitly for any links you print or embed into a QR code on your business cards and you will be able to track how many times those particular links are accessed.
We are often asked where we get our business cards from – here’s the skinny:
- Braver than Fiction’s “Your Little Fantasy” download cards are from Vistaprint
- Braver than Fiction’s King of Crows download cards are from MOO
Both companies, from our experience, provide patient, knowledgeable and helpful customer service along with a host of tips, ideas and products that you may not have initially considered. MOO in particular are a rather innovative bunch and have featured many of their customers’ quirky ideas for business cards via their ‘Inspiration Gallery’ which is a great resource to browse.
OK, nobody’s perfect and everyone’s experience might not be the same but for us, these companies are darn close and on the very rare occasion that something just hasn’t gone ‘right’ an adequate solution has been offered extremely quickly.
MOO and Vistaprint‘s websites embrace technology which allows you to design and proof your business cards online and then order them securely with just a click and a smug smile, as you pat yourself on the back for your brilliance. The quality of the products is excellent; they look professional and from our point of view absolutely do their job when it comes to promoting our music.
Finally – don’t stress when your business cards end up hitting the deck. It is inevitable that while you are at a gig you will find one of your beloved creations on the bathroom floor, sporting a giant footprint. This is going to happen and you need to get over it – it’s part of the deal. Yes, some of your precious business cards are going to be tossed away like trash but, they are recyclable so your conscience is clear. That said, if you are playing a show and are among the last to leave (let’s face it – the bands usually are the last to leave) there is no shame in collecting up any business cards you have left on tables, that have survived the night in pristine condition, and re-using them for the next show. It’s polite to leave a venue as tidy as you can and besides, the cleaners will probably just throw your left over business cards away so you can rescue them to live another day.
We’d love to hear about your creative use of business cards, any notable experiences you have had; feel free to comment below with any other pearls of wisdom you may have relating to business cards for bands. If you’d like one of our free download business cards, come along to a gig and grab one or drop us a line and we’ll mail you one!