Customer Stories

6 tips for growing your music promotion/management business

Dolores Gibbs Melomane, founder of Stone Street Entertainment, shares her tips for building relationships and creating an authentic fan experience in the music management industry.

Customer stories with Dolores Melomane

Dolores Melomane started Stone Street Entertainment (SSE) in 2016 with two neighbors. Dolores, a retired federal government logistics manager, affectionately known as “LoLo Melomane,” realized that her neighborhood would benefit from quality local entertainment. She knew that the talent was there and that people would attend performances — if they were promoted well.

Dolores and two of her neighborhood friends, Stacey Dunton and Wanda Underwood, decided to take action. All avid music lovers and retired federal government managers as well, the trio got together, figured out the logistics, and started their own music promotions/management company. 

SSE’s client base is diverse. “I grew up listening to all genres of music — country, soul, R&B, bluegrass, rock, jazz — which is why I wanted to give all kinds of artists a platform to perform,” Dolores said. She believes in uplifting her local community, which is located in the Washington D.C metro area. And since the pandemic, she’s taken on a number of international clients, including acts from Europe and Africa. 

When it comes to promoting her company and finding clients, Dolores applies a multifaceted approach to finding promising artists and growing SSE.

Dolores shared the strategies that work best for her: 

1. It’s all about quality partnerships

In the music promotion business, everything is about the contacts you make. You have to actively reach out to people to get your artists the recognition they need to grow a loyal following. That’s why SSE’s mission statement is “The Collaboration Between the Artists and the Fans.”

For Dolores, this involves a lot of face time with potential partners. She routinely uses her music industry connections to help make this happen. “Recently, I was at an economic development meeting in the neighborhood, and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to get the word out about SSE,” Dolores said. So she approached the other attendees and told them about the amazing artists she knew who were looking for a place to showcase their talent. She shared information about her upcoming concert and left business cards at each table so people could contact her later. 

A few days later, a venue owner reached out to Dolores by phone and offered to do a collaboration with her. One thing led to another, and SSE ended up organizing a happy hour, which featured Lil Maceo, a national performer that Dolores was working with. 

Dolores also occasionally brings her clients together to create a holistic and enjoyable multi-act experience. For this particular happy hour, she also brought onboard a local DJ that she had previously partnered with.

Networking at events helps Dolores find new partners and organize incredible shows for her artists. Her advice to other businesses looking to secure partnerships is simple. “Just keep aiming higher and higher,” she said. And of course, make sure the other person knows how the partnership will help them win.

2. Build relationships with your clients

To Dolores, clients are like family. She genuinely wants to see them succeed and does everything in her power to make it happen. 

Prior to the pandemic, an embassy representative from the African nation of Eritrea reached out and offered SSE hosting collaboration opportunities. SSE began hosting a Cocktails and Key’s Dance Party Happy Hour and Dolores says the partnership has been intoxicatingly educational. In addition, she has developed some personal relationships that have presented additional business opportunities for SSE.

“During the pandemic, we did a bunch of virtual fundraisers to support the families of our artists,” Dolores said. When you do something like this, you create a meaningful relationship that goes beyond business. This sort of personal connection facilitates a system of cooperation that makes promotion a lot easier and more effective. 

When Dolores and her artists work together, they’re able to create a holistic marketing campaign, which helps everyone succeed. “The artists hand out flyers and we all work together to bring people to the shows,” Dolores said. 

In the past, Dolores had several experiences where artists made zero effort to help promote their shows. This made her job incredibly difficult because it limited her reach and negatively impacted event attendance. The music is the most important part of the collaboration, and she

is an avid believer that “Character should come before currency.” A great collaboration requires

character and it also requires effort on both parties’ part to ensure everyone wins. It doesn’t matter how good an artist is if they don’t have followers willing to support the show.

Now Dolores makes sure that the artists she partners with understand what they need to do to contribute to their own success. This commitment from her artists has enabled Dolores to raise awareness and market shows much more effectively. 

When approaching new artists about working together, Dolores adopts the same approach — everyone contributes so everyone benefits. She has honed a pitch that articulates what she has to offer and what the benefits to the artist will be. “I go to bars, open mics, you name it. I make sure to engage with the artists and let them get to know me,” Dolores said. She tells them that as long as they have the talent and are willing to perform and help with promotion, she’s going to make it happen for them. 

In the past year, Dolores has also signed on a couple of international artists. She accomplished this by researching small bands and musicians around the globe and then reaching out to them via email. A few artists have reached out to her first. “Artists are always looking for a global reach, and breaking into the American music scene is a big goal for them. So it’s never difficult to convince them to join us,” Dolores said. She tells these artists to let her know when they want to perform in the States. Once they’ve settled on the dates, she gets to work booking shows and building audiences. 

3. Create an experience for the audience

For an artist, the dream is to have a sold-out show – a sea of people to perform for. And that’s what Dolores tries to achieve. She also applies a number of strategies to deliver an amazing musical experience. 

“We keep our ticket prices low so money isn’t a factor for attendees. We also partner up with local radio stations so they can create hype about the show for us,” Dolores said. At the actual show, Dolores keeps the audience active and engaged as much as possible using “on air” personalities as emcees. The emcees keep things lively by inviting members of the audience to the stage to sing a song or participate in a giveaway drawing. This ensures that attendees get more than a show: they get an experience they will always remember.

Dolores also makes safety a top priority. “Especially since the pandemic, safety is an important concern for people. We want everyone to feel safe at our shows and so we ensure masks and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) — and anything else we need to do,” she said. 

Other strategies Dolores applies to make her shows unique include:

  • Custom decor for the venue
  • Hiring local caterers to serve great food
  • Reaching out to local vendors who come to sell their wares. Dolores ensures that the items are on theme or related to the music industry in some way
  • Gift bags for attendees
  • A transportation service to and from the venue.

4. Distribute flyers at every opportunity

Flyer distribution has been Dolores’s go-to marketing strategy since she launched SSE. “We want to go out and engage with the community, and let them see us. So we routinely hand out flyers around several neighborhoods,” Dolores said. She loves, loves, loves using PosterMyWall to make all her flyers. Using PosterMyWall has enhanced her knowledge about flyer design, which has improved her ability to market her clients. 

“We go to places where our target audience hangs out — gymnasiums, shopping malls, etc. We don’t just give people the flyers — we talk to them, and tell them about ourselves so they understand us,” Dolores said. She also asks the people she meets to spread the word and to bring their friends to the shows — because word of mouth goes a long way.

Dolores doesn’t have a set schedule for flyer distribution. She and her friends hand them out when they have an event coming up, starting about three weeks in advance of the show. She also posts the same flyers on her social media feeds up to 90 days before showtime. They share the flyer via email to their subscribers list. And they gather additional email addresses at every event they host. PosterMyWall’s animated flyers are her favorite and have helped her gain a ton of engagement online. 

Dolores has a pretty straightforward design process for her flyers. If she has a jazz show coming up, she’ll design her flyers to convey a jazz ambiance — darker colors, maybe add some props like a jazz fedora or a saxophone. Similarly, if she has a rock show coming up, she’ll create a more exciting poster — more photos, flashing color, and crazier fonts. It all depends on the theme she’s creating. For her social media feed, she sometimes creates video flyers and adds a clip of the artist’s music to give people a feel for the artist’s music. 

Video template: 

5. Expand your reach on social media

With social media, Dolores is able to spread the word about her business, her artists, and her shows very quickly. She gets a ton of engagement online, and a lot of people share her content — which helps her musicians expand their fan bases.

On Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, SSE hosts regular live interviews with the artists they’ve signed. This lets fans build a personal connection with the artists. “With our YouTube content, we want to show the world that there are so many talented people who put their heart and soul into what they do — and they deserve recognition for it. Our goal is to help them shine,” Dolores said. The interviews are extremely informal conversations where the artists talk about their music journey, their fans, and what inspires them. 

Dolores is often on one social media site or another, constantly looking for ways to raise awareness of her artists. She goes live on Facebook at least once a week to promote upcoming events or to take questions from her followers. She also live streams all her shows on Facebook and Instagram. To create hype and build SSE’s following, she live streams a portion of her shows on Facebook and Instagram.

Her favorite part of social media promotion is watching people engage with her flyers. “I just love designing flyers on PosterMyWall. I get a ton of people asking me how I made a particular poster. I always introduce them to the PosterMyWall editor and help them figure it out. Sometimes I’ll even make the flyer for them because it’s so easy and fun,” Dolores said.

Dolores’s personal favorite way to promote is through Instagram and TikTok. “On TikTok, I post animated flyers from PosterMyWall. Sometimes I post clips of shows or of my artists,” Dolores said. She and her artists often work together to think of new and interesting ways to increase TikTok engagement. 

6. Increase local awareness through newspaper coverage

Newspapers are a great way to get the word out about your business. When SSE first started out, a local newspaper did a story that helped them land multiple partners and clients. For new businesses, Dolores recommends reaching out to local papers and magazines via email or phone calls to introduce yourself and tell them about your business.

“We maintain a list of newspapers and their contacts. We reach out to them when we want to put out a press release about an upcoming event,” Dolores said. She recommends partnering with a few key local papers. This way, you don’t have to pitch your business from scratch every time you want to get something in the paper.

Dolores has big plans for the future of Stone Street Entertainment. She wants to take on more clients, build bigger partnerships, and provide people with authentic, quality entertainment. 

Dolores says that standing out from the crowd is crucial to building a successful business. Success doesn’t occur overnight and it takes a great deal of time and effort to grow your brand — so she advises her artists to be patient. “Whatever you do, you have to be authentic and unique to make sure you create enough engagement online to get people interested in what you do,” she said. 

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