414 Flyers finds new success in old-fashioned promotion
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In an age that finds Facebook event invitations being cast impersonally into the abyss, the time-tested act of hanging a flyer has become exceedingly rare. Still, Milwaukee’s telephone poles and bulletin boards aren’t totally devoid of photocopies and printed posters with essential event info for any literate passerby to see. Part of that is thanks to Myles Coyne.
In February, Coyne launched 414 Flyers with the help of longtime friend Eliot Sell. The small Riverwest-based outfit specializes in promoting events in and around the city. Sell serves as the designer when the customer doesn’t supply images, while Coyne focuses on the legwork of hanging and distributing the flyers and obtaining orders. Though Coyne considers flyering to be “a really simple, old-fashioned way of promotion,” he still believes it to be a valuable source of instilling a presence in the community.
“If you want to promote something and it’s not hanging up at Alterra or on the street or at the grocery store, how can you say you’re part of Milwaukee?” he says.
414 Flyers’ radius usually blankets businesses and other pockets of the East Side and Riverwest, and touches parts of West Allis and Bay View, depending on the type and location of the event being promoted and the client’s requests.
For Coyne, the act of paper promotion is nothing new. The 23-year-old routinely hangs flyers for the five local bands he plays in, a laundry list that includes U.S. Male, Temple, Animals In Human Attire, The Zelda Routine, and, fittingly, Myles Coyne And The Rusty Nickel Band. With 414 Flyers, he’s made speed an early point of pride. “I try to work fast,” Coyne says. “When someone calls me, the minute I hang up the phone, I just get up and do it.”
Using a handmade map that charts flyer-friendly and high foot traffic area, Coyne strives to complete orders in a one- or two-day window, primarily on foot and by bike. While self-imposed, Coyne takes the timetable seriously. “When I make an album, I want it to sound good,” he says. “When I play a show, I want to have fun. In business, I’m not just going to say I can do something, then not live up to it.”
Living up to his word translates into Coyne putting in an estimated 30 hours a week (on top of his day job) between printing, promoting, and seeking clients for his upstart business. “I didn’t go to school for business. It’s a very DIY style [of business],” Coyne says. “It’s been really awesome. I’ve had a lot of great response and I learned a lot of interesting things within the first three days of starting the business that I would’ve never learned [otherwise].”
Early clients include venues such as Mad Planet and Riverwest Public House, The Fatty Acids (primarily promoting shows band members helped book for out-of-town acts) and Young Holidays. The rag-tag outfit has also worked with area restaurants and environmental organizations in its brief existence. Plus, Coyne is open to the occasional unorthodox assignment, having once agreed to distribute unlabeled CD-Rs of industrial music for an unidentified musician. Prices start around $40, but are set on a case-by-case basis that varies based on the volume, size, and color specifications of the order.
Even though Coyne’s various projects play out frequently, he has little issue posting flyers for other shows the same night as his, as his interests extend to the local music scene as a whole. “I love music,” he says. “So part of me isn’t really worried about that. To me, it’s really an attempt to make music more of my life.”
The young outfit and its motivated primary proprietor are still developing, learning, and navigating their way toward success in an increasingly obsolete format. And while Coyne’s goals are modest and his motives are respectable, he would love to see his involvement in a shrinking practice expand. “I could see the promise of it going somewhere,” Coyne says. “To me, if I could make this a stable enough job to pay my rent in my cheap, crappy house and continue to have my band life and my three-legged cat, that’d be so cool. Especially from something that’s so simple and such a simple idea.”