By Thomas DeVoy
Creating a following for your band is probably one of the hardest things you have to do as a band. But it can also be one of the most important if you want to be successful. Here are five steps to gaining a following as a band.
1. IT STARTS WITH A PERSONAL ASK.
The first few fans you're going to have are your friends who just want to support you. And that's a great place to start. Creating a positive environment for them at every show is crucial to making sure they come back to see you again, but more importantly you are going to need to personally invite every single person to your show if you want them to show up. Posting a flyer on social media is not going to cut it. You will need to work really hard to get everyone you know to come out. A personal ask means calling or meeting each person individually. No mass texts or Facebook group chats here. This method of advertising will be something that you will ALWAYS need to do. As you meet new fans, keep a list of everyones contact info and make sure to extend the invite personally. This is extremely important and probably the most effective way of establishing a following. People are way more likely to attend your show if you personally invite them then if they randomly see a show flyer on Facebook. Even if they like your music.
2. MEET EVERYONE YOU CAN.
From the moment you set foot in the venue to load in, to the moment you walk out at the end of the night, YOU ARE ON THE CLOCK. Every single person in the venue is your target demographic. Make sure every band member meets as many people as they can and make friends with them. Thank them for coming out, ask them what bands they're into, talk about sports or Magic the Gathering. It doesn't matter as long as you are actually taking an interest in them. Use the opportunity with every person to get their contact information so you can invite them to future shows. As this list grows, so will the amount of time it will take to personally invite them. Yes it's hard and yes it takes time but it's the most effective thing you can do. Who knows? You might meet your new best friend.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING.
After you have extended a personal invite to everyone you know your next step is to CONSTANTLY REMIND PEOPLE THAT YOU EXIST. That means actively posting on social media and creating an email list to send out upcoming shows and news. Set a schedule with all of the band members so each one posts once a day. Remember, the punk "We don't care" attitude should be left on the stage. Every successful band has worked hard to get where they are and I believe any band can do well if they work hard enough. Zach Micklea from the Oakland Underground and I go into greater detail about social media marketing in this video:
4. PRESALE TICKETS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND.
I do not believe for a second that promotors or venues should require a certain number of presale ticket sales for a band to play the show. That's something some promotors do to take some of the risk off of them and it's wrong. You will never have to meet a minimum to play a UG show, I promise. That being said though, That does not mean that there is no responsibility for bands to promote a show well and sell their tickets. Presale tickets are a huge tool for bands to lock people into attending. On top of that the more people working together, the less each person needs to do individually.
I think about it like this: If the promotor is working alone to sell out a venue that has a 200 capacity, that single person needs to sell 200 tickets. That's just not possible for local music events. But if those tickets are split up between each band member, promotor, and street team members; now there's 40 people selling tickets and each person only needs to sell 5 to sell out the show. I think this is something that is currently lacking in the Michigan music scene. It is not a competition between bands. Instead we need to all work together as individuals if we really want to see the local music community strengthen and grow.
5. EVERY LOCAL SHOW BENEFITS YOUR BAND IF YOU'RE PERFORMING OR NOT.
If the local music community is strong, then more people will be willing to come to your show. If they had a good time at the last local show, then they are more likely to come out to your show even if they don't really know any of the bands. That's why it is important to be active in the local music scene and attend shows even if you don't know the bands. Chances are there will be bands there that you will enjoy seeing anyway so invite your friends to just come hang out with you.
At this point in the local music scene people are only going to come to a local show if they know someone in one of the bands or a friend that knows one of the bands. WE CAN CHANGE THAT. But it takes more than just posting a flyer on social media the day of the show. It takes hard work. Think of your band as your part time job, schedule yourself to get some of these things done and then SHOW UP TO WORK. You will only get out of it what you put in. There's no such thing as an overnight sensation. Behind the scenes of every great band is years of practice, promotion, networking, and being personally involved in the music community.
THOMAS DEVOY is the Creative Director at Urban Geographer. Connect with him on social media @THOMASDEVOY