How To Get More Music Fans To Your Music Gigs
By Tom Hess
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Are you frustrated because you aren’t getting as many of your music fans to come to your music gigs as you want?
Getting ‘new’ music fans to come to your music gigs is not even the main music career challenge for most. Because even most of your own friends and music fans usually won’t come to your music gigs regularly.
This fact makes it harder to get bigger and better music gigs that pay more money. (And this makes it hard to grow your music career.)
If your band plays 25 music gigs this year, how many of your friends (or music fans) will come to see more than 4 of these to support your music career?
Answer: Only a very small percentage of your music fans will do that.
It’s not you, it’s them. Let’s find out how and what you can do in your music career to get more of your music fans to come see your music gigs.
Think through this music career challenge:
If you ask your friends (and music fans) to come to one of your next music gigs, what are you REALLY asking them to do? Are you asking them to listen and watch you perform your songs?
Not really. (Even if that is the only thing you care about as far as your music career goes.)
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Then they will be surrounded by intoxicated people (who may or may not be your music fans) who yell in their ears because the music is too loud to talk, pay for overpriced drinks, stand through an opening band they probably have little or no interest in, then wait again an additional 15 minutes while the stage changes from one band to the next, then finally they get to stand through 90 minutes of your band’s cool songs in a room that is booming with muddy bass frequencies because the sound man does not know how to properly mix bands in a room that was never acoustically designed to have loud music played in.
After the gig they leave the club and drive home with their ears ringing and a bad headache.
Like it or not: that's how (at least some) music fans view your music career.
So if that’s what you ask your music fans to do (in the name of your music career) the FIRST time they come out to see one of your music gigs ...
...What are you asking them to do the second time?
And the third time?
The same thing of course.
Compare going to see your band’s music gigs with staying at home and watching TV, listening to music, surfing the internet, or a long list of other pleasurable, easy and convenient things your music fans can do instead of coming to see you perform at your music gigs.
Are you seeing now why growing a music career is so hard for many musicians?
The point is this: even your most hardcore music fans have easier, and more convenient alternatives to have fun next weekend besides coming to see you (or any other band) play live at your music gigs.
That's why many bands struggle to build a successful music career.
We have a lot of work to do in order to get our music fans off their butts to see your band’s music gigs.
Your friends and music fans really need to know if it’s going to be worth all the hassle described above before coming out again to see basically the same show a second, or third, or fourth time.
You first need to create a better and more unique experience for your music fans from each of your music gigs to the next. It's good for your music fans and good for your music career.
But what do most bands do?
Some bands change the songs they play from one of their music gigs to another to appeal to their music fans.
Not a very wise music career strategy.
Changing the set list does help a little bit, but you need to do more than that to really change what your music fans will expect to experience.
Here is another music career idea some bands try: They focus on being different from other bands.
Here is the music career reality:
You don’t need to be different from other bands, you need to be a good band that puts on music gigs which are often unique from each other! (This is the only music career strategy that works long term.) Your music fans need new reasons to come back to see you again and again.
Sometimes bands look for other ways to get their music fans to come to their shows that don’t normally come, they try to attract ‘new’ music fans by playing music gigs in new venues in new cities.
Another thing many bands try is offering free shows to their music fans. The idea here is to make their gigs no-cost events for their music fans to have more incentive to come.
The reality is, free shows do little or nothing to bring more of your music fans to see your music gigs.
Do you really think your music fans ask themselves if they want to come to one of your music gigs based on a price of $10, $5 or $0?
Of course not. So, this is a bad music career move.
Free shows are not a ‘significant’ tool to bring more of your music fans to see your band play live. All it does is take money from your music career bank account. Playing music gigs for free ‘sparingly’ might be a nice addition to other music career things that you offer your music fans, but the price of the show alone won’t do much on its own.
(Neither for getting music fans to see your music gigs, nor for other areas of your music career.)
While these basic music career ideas are good, they typically won’t help your band until and unless you have a secure base of music fans at home that is consistently following the band from one of their music gigs to another.
Once you have that piece in place and the performance and promotional music career ‘skills’ to make that happen in your home city, it will make things much easier for your band to create new success in new cities.
But if you can’t get the job done in your home area, you probably won’t get it done anywhere else either.
Think about what your band can do to make your music gigs unique from each other (that would appeal to your music fans). Then, once you have ideas in place that will make the next one of your music gigs more special for your music fans, you need to clearly and strongly communicate this to your music fans.
I’ll give you 2 great examples by comparing two rock bands I know. I’ll show you how one of these bands totally packed their next several music gigs full of music fans and the other band missed their opportunity to do the same by making a critical mistake.
Band 1: The first band put together their own gig and instead of teaming up with another band, they hired a small group of (very attractive) women dancers to perform on the stage as the opening act. (The idea was to give their music fans another reason to come to their music gigs than just to hear the music.)
It was announced (before and during) the gig that these women and the band would be hanging out with the band and their music fans ‘after’ the show at a nearby hotel lobby. As you can imagine, most of the music fans enjoyed the gig and the activities that followed later.
The key piece of success for the band was that they heavily promoted the event as ‘special’ from their other music gigs and promoted the dancers (including embedded dancer videos on the band’s and club’s website) in as many places as possible. This is an example of what music fans want to see to be motivated to come to your music gigs.
The band worked very hard to promote the uniqueness of this gig and told their music fans very clearly how ‘this gig’ was better and more special than their previous music gigs. It didn’t take long for the promotion to go viral in the area. (Their music fans told each other about the gig.)
The final result: The club was packed!
During the opening song and the band’s final song the dancers came out and danced on stage, then moved into the crowd (where the music fans were) for a while and danced there too. The dancers were smart when they had the idea to integrate their act with the band's act on and off stage (and engage the music fans into their act).
They made real connections with the crowd of the bands' music fans as they mingled with them at the gig and also afterwards. Both the band and the dancers did something really good for themselves.
Instead of just putting on a good show and making the audience have a good time, they put a strong desire in the minds of many of the bands' music fans to come see them again and again.
This band did similar music gigs with these (and other) dancers as well as comedians and other acts (both musical and non musical) to keep their music gigs different from each other so that their music fans would not only get off their butts to come to see the band for the first time, but also for a second, third, fourth, fifth and more times.
Band 2: I recently saw a second band play in Chicago. Their gig also had other ‘acts’ that were not bands, including a pair of very attractive fire eating women who the crowd went absolutely crazy for. The only problem was there were only about 100 of their music fans at one of their music gigs that I saw (the club can hold up to 1,300 people).
The band knew their music fans would love the show, but they failed to promote it well and differently than how they promoted their past music gigs. So at the end of the night they had 100 music fans who might come back to see them again.
Had the gig been promoted and organized more similarly to the way the first band had done, they would have several hundred people coming back to see them again at their next music gigs which would then almost be a guaranteed success (at least on the local level)...
It’s very important that your music gigs are unique from each other and not necessarily unique from what other bands do.
In addition, the most crucial lesson to be learned is all of your ‘promotion’ needs to highlight each of your music gigs as unique, different and special events. It’s not enough for your gigs to actually be unique, you need to always communicate that uniqueness to your music fans in all of your heavy promotion.
When putting together your own music gigs, you might consider getting other bands to join you. That idea is of course ok, but it’s important to think about much more than only ‘who to get’.
You need to also ask who can you get to join you that will make THIS gig ‘special’ (for your music fans) compared to your other music gigs. You do not want a good band who won’t promote the gig in a big and special way that shows how THIS gig is different, unique and special for your music fans. (Vs. all your other music gigs.)
Do not ask another band to play with you until and unless they are committed to make the gig special and are equally committed to promoting that uniqueness to their fan base.
So what about your band?
Well, I’m not suggesting to simply copy what the other bands did above. I’m suggesting for you to think a lot about what your band can do to make your gigs more unique and special for your fans.
So talk with your band mates and brainstorm new ideas that may work for you.
To learn more about how to build a successful music career, read this page about music career training.
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