A Plastic Rose on self promotion

Blog by Louise Dodgson under Creative & Branding, Live

The dust has settled on the A Plastic Rose led charge for grassroots music that was the You Are festival. It began as a set of small gigs situated in bars and venues all across Northern Ireland, and with a minor setback of the finale from the middle of December to January 27th, due to the decidedly epic fall (fail) of snow we received, it eventually reached the pinnacle of its force last Thursday in the Mandela Hall, Belfast.

A self-induced undertaking with the help of their friends and colleagues, the month long (which technically stretched out across two months in the end) promotion of a series of interconnected local music events was a push to raise awareness not only of just the sonic-wares that local bands had to offer, but primarily was there to make a statement about doing it yourself.

Over the weekend, and given the time to relax and collect their thoughts I caught up with David Reid, Ian McHugh & Troy Heaton of A Plastic Rose for a few brief words on just what sort of work went into undertaking such a project; one which allowed them to finally grace the stage at Queens University’s premier music venue.

TH: “To promote the Mandela Hall gig specifically, we went out on the town handing out flyers and sticking up new posters every night; including massive ‘day-glows’ and extra ‘You Are’ posters that we paid for ourselves. Outside that, constant plugging on social network sites, and then some Buckfast to rest up with after. Hard work pays.”

DR: “Interviews with local press and radio stations and yeah, we were just plugging the absolute crap out of it!”

Enthusiasm runs rife here in bands, both young and old, but this current crop of musicians are not scared to stick the foot in, shout out at their prospective audiences and in some cases give them a rough nudge with a little bit of force. It’s not unwelcome, but can be a scary idea to approach for bands unsure of their standing. A confident group attitude is perhaps key, and something that we are, in my opinion, blessed with as a result of any number of combined influences – not least of all, the work ethic of what some would call the previous generation of bands to graduate from here. We have plenty of friendly alumni to follow in the footsteps of, and who deserve to be held in such high regard. Case in point, And So I Watch You From Afar.

IMcH: “Don’t wait for anyone to help you. Book your own shows; do what promoters do, but better. Contact the venues directly, get your own posters and paint the town in your colours. Contact local and online press directly. Get a good demo and make sure it gets into everyone’s hands. Brainstorm about unique ways to promote your shows and put your ideas into action. Not tomorrow. Now.”
Strong words, and in some cases, taken as a leap too far for bands wet behind the ears. The ability to work as a unit, spreading the cost (creatively, emotionally, financially and physically) is perhaps glossed over in the modern presentation of music. We’re shown the workforces behind the big players without the context of exactly how that actually takes effect. Advertisers, managers, promoters – a team behind you is all well and good, but the ground work for the most part is there to be taken hold of by grassroots musicians.

TH: “The importance of this…I think, is that we got Belfast together in one room to go buck mental. I’m proud of that.”

DR: “It was important for us to do this, because it gave and will give other aspiring musicians from the local community a hypothetical spring board to jump off of and give smaller acts the confidence to say “If they can do it, well then so can we”…”

Perhaps, in standing up on a stage the one thing to keep mindful of is that not only is the audience paying attention – but that they may in fact be looking towards you for some sign, some small reminder that they too can reach out and try. Be it in music or in another discipline.

To echo the sentiments of Two Door Cinema Club, a band which has genuinely strode out from these shores across the planet and back in the last year – “Do you want it all?”

…well then take it.

A Plastic Rose website

Image credit: Matthew Alexander Patton


A Plastic Rose, Belfast, PR, Social Networking, Promotion, Gigs, Venues


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