I challenge you to take a stroll through Midtown to look for fliers posted on poles, posts or buildings that promote local band’s gigs. How many will you find? Most likely, none.
In the mid-‘90s the city of Sacramento passed a ban on “fliering,” stating that signs or posters attached to poles, posts, fences or buildings were prohibited, and that no matter who hung them up (usually it was the bands), it was the club owner or promoter who was responsible for paying the removal costs – which according to Sacramento News & Review was $373 per flier in 2008.
This legislation is killing opportunities for a new generation of local bands to reach out to new fans, and many of these bands don’t even realize there’s a ban in place. They just know they’ve been told that they’re not supposed to post fliers.
“I didn’t even know Sacramento had a flier ban,” says Forrest Heise, a local musician and ARC student with a degree in music business. “I hate doing fliers but I have put them up before. There’s worse things being put into our environment than fliers.”
That’s precisely the argument given by the city: hanging fliers causes litter.
“What about handing flyers out?” Heise asks. “That’s legal because people do it left and right, [and there’s] more litter that way surely.”
Many local bands aren’t going on national tours. They’re playing shows here in their own backyard to friends and family, because those are the only people who know they exist.
“I listen to a lot of music, [but] I don’t know a lot of local bands,” says ARC art new media major Spencer Ulbrich. “I find new music from other people or Pandora.”
The argument could be made that with social media outlets like Facebook, promoting your band should be even easier, and it is to some extent. However, bands aren’t reaching anyone new. They’re reaching the people who have already heard of them and have liked their pages – again, friends and family.
“As far as the social media thing goes, I wouldn’t say it has made up for [not being able to post fliers]. It helps, but it’s a totally different medium,” says Heise.
Nobody has time to scour the Internet looking for new local artists, so seeing a flier on the street telling you who to check out between getting coffee and making it to class would be a great convenience to listeners, and a benefit to the local music scene.