Do you sometimes feel that your band’s draw is languishing? Are you tired of seeing the same people at your shows and want to play to a new crowd, even in your hometown?
If you’re like most musicians, you know that you absolutely can do better, that you have more fans out there than who actually show up at at the venue, and despite always receiving positive feedback, you don’t know why more people aren’t showing up. Here are some tips on building some momentum back into your tour dates so you can increase your band’s draw:
1. Find a Different Angle for The Show: It’s easier to get more people to show up if it’s your band’s first show, when you’re releasing a new album, it’s a tour kick off, or when it’s your final gig. Obviously, it’s because your fans realize those as special occasions and want to be there.
So rather than making every local show the same, find creative ways to make them more enticing: film a live music video, let fans write the set list, do special covers, play acoustic if you normally don’t (or vice-versa), record a free download of a live track, etc. In other words, give your fans a compelling reason to show up. Answer: Why will this show be different than any other? What makes this exact show special?
2. Play Less Often: It’s easy to overplay the same town. Here are 6 good reasons why you should play less often.
3. Build Up Buzz About the Show: How is your band promoting shows right now? With the occasional post on Facebook by some of the band members? Even with social media, people can read through the energy: if your own band isn’t excited about the show, why should your fans be? In addition to your band, find some fans or friends who are willing to promote the show with you by using social media, hanging out flyers, and personally inviting people out. In fact, the way to create a buzz is to get people talking: a personal invitation will do more than dozens of generic tweets or Facebook invites.
4. Make the Event Interactive: Think of some new ways to make fans a part of the experience. Maybe you can have a “frequent fan” card where they collect stamps for each show and redeem it for a free t-shirt or unreleased material. Maybe you can invite some other artists who are fans to guest perform during your set. Or maybe you can shoot a fan-made “live video” for YouTube shot entirely with Vine videos on cell phones. Whatever it is, get creative and make fans feel like they’re an important part of the experience so they won’t want to miss out.
5. Actually Promote: Don’t expect people to check your website’s tour dates on a regular basis or for them to notice the posted you hung up at the local shop. Do those things and more: issue a press release and try to get local coverage, call the local radio station and see if they’d like to give out free tickets, share information about your show multiple times over a few weeks on social media, physically mail postcards or invites to your mailing list, and more. Think about it: how do you find out about local shows?
6. Change Who You Perform With: If you are playing for the same crowd every time, you might need to change up the venues that you’re playing or the other artists who you share the bill with. Perhaps you need to change the genre of music or even introduce other types of artists such as comedians, dancers, visual artists, etc. Get out of your comfort zone and play for a new, completely different type of crowd.
If you have a great show that people thoroughly enjoy, you’re off to a great start. However, these days it simply isn’t enough. Chances are, you and your bandmates can do a little more to help bring the crowd out to your shows. A bigger crowd means you’ll have some more income, as well as a buzz about your music that can get you into larger venues.
Simon Tam is the President and Founder of Last Stop Booking, author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements, and performs in dance rock band The Slants. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at http://www.laststopbooking.com. He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam