As a local musician, we all struggle to build a following. People pay exuberant amounts of money to see their favorite band live, but it's hard to get them to see a local band with the same amount of talent. Building a band is the same as building a brand. To build your brand, having quality recordings, merchandise, media presence, and band image, is nessacary to
reach a certain level of success. All these things are vital in marketing and are key attributes of successful bands. Although, these things are secondary to the music itself. We're selling music, a lifestyle, a dream, to those who enjoy music but never dreamed of writing and performing. Before we can step out onto the stage, we must spend hours writing, arranging, and practicing songs. The better the songs, the more rehearsed we are, the better chance we have of impressing people with our music. Once we've built a solid amount of material and have rehearsed these songs to the point of boredom, we are ready to perform live. So the question becomes, how do we get people to our shows?
1. Promotion: Grassroots Style
Putting up flyers on every corner, market store, music store, in a 20 mile radius along with word of mouth is an admirable approach. Seeing your band name everywhere they go helps build awareness.
2. Social Media
Using the power of social media to help promote your shows is a good way to connect to your key demographic. Your Facebook friends can even aide in this process by sharing your bands posts, tweets, and so forth. Paying for advertisements is another tool allowing you to target your key demographic, but can become expensive. It may pay for itself, but most likely, you'll have better luck promoting the old fashioned way; face to face.
People love drink specials. Speak with the club's manager and work out an arrangement for drink specials. Promote the specials during your set and encourage people to tip the bartenders. The venue will love you.
Maybe even work out an arrangement for a food truck to park for those who might like a bite to eat during the show. With festivals being popular, why not bring a festival environment to your show? Of course, you'll have to work this out with the venue. Most people remember the experience. They'll forget about your music before they forget about the experience. Leaving them with an enjoyable experience builds trust. If you continue to use incentives for all your shows, people begin to talk.
4. Performance Gimics
People love a good show. If you're not into costumes that's okay. It works for some people, but it's not for everyone. I'm talking about creating a show! When I was touring, we played to tracks and a click. Throughout the entire show we programmed interludes, buildups, bass drops, etc. I pressed play and the energy never stopped. Each show we played was similar in some regard.
Take this another step and program a light show. Regardless of the venues sound and lighting restrictions, touring with a small lighting package can take the show to another level! Programming a lighting show to a click is relatively easy if you have any prior knowledge to production. Most of us have friends who work in production. Pay them a little to help build a light show.
When booking your own tours, some of the venues won't be as glamous as others. Having a little in-house production will help create a sense of consistency to your show. People enjoy consistency. I mean, come on; Starbucks is everywhere!
5. Presale Tickets
This approach takes a lot of hussle but can have great results. Everytime my band sold presales, we had at least 60 people show up. We averaged around 90 people over the few local shows we played. Get creative when selling tickets. Offer free stickers, buttons, CD's with each ticket sold. We also had 70/30 arrangements with presales. We took 70% from each ticket sold. If tickets were $10, we made $7. If we sold 100 tickets, we made $700. The more people that show up, the more likely you will sell merchandise. I've had the best results from presales.
6. Great Music and Performance
The most important element in building a great band is based solely on your music and performance. If you're missing great songs and great performances, people won't really care about incentives, gimics, how well you promoted, or anything else about your band. Again, everything else is secondary to the music itself.
Make sure you have great songs before implementing these ideas or any other ideas you may have about your live show. The more polished your set, the more likely people will walk away with an experience. They may even become avid listeners of your band. If they become die hard fans, they'll begin to promote you to all their friends, grassroots style. A kickass song along with a kickass show is the key to building a successfull band. I believe, if all these things are implemented, you have a higher chance of gaining new listeners. Think of it as giving back to your supporters. People are taking time out of they're busy lives to come see you play. Give them an experience they'll remember forever!