It's Warped Tour season again, which means your favorite band you never heard of will be hustling amongst over 100 other bands in parking lots all across the country. Since I was on the beloved tour last year on a side stage and sitting in with various kick ass bands like BallyHoo! and Captain Capa, I have learned that this place is the best world to figure out your own DIY tactics.
Since I have been hangin' out with my homies here and rejoicing like the middle school dances we never had, I need to shed some light on the ultimate hand to fan combat. There are some really good people out here.
Here are a list of 12 things bands/brands are doing to stand out!
1. Sell it for $1 dollar. - Why not sell something for $1? Everyone wants something to take home. If you sell it for $1, you work an exchange of income and they also remember you selling something for $1.
2. Have a little boom box stuffed animal named Pickles - MC LARS is crushing the game with his future kids show, and if you ever get to see someone with a stuffed animal rapping, or even skunking on stage (the ska version of dancing). If you don't have a stuffed animal make another make shift device that grabs people's attention. I would probably have a stuffed animal pickle named Kosha Dillz Jr. or something. But mind you, the youth really attract to soft and cuddly. I think we all do.
3. BE HARD CORE and Make More - Mac Lethal doesn't even have a big tent. He is a fighter and a hard core simple tent person. Screw a fancy tent with flags of freedom and beautiful design. Be a punk rock pancake rapping bastard and sell everything at real #s. All bands should take notes.
4. Shock value NOW=WOW - The Self Made tent is responsible for the shirt "fuck hipsters" which everyone will eventually believe they are not one and buy the shirt even if they want one. They sell tons of these shirts. And everyone gets them. Make it bright pink and your aged range is now 14+.
5. Offer them $1 to make a holler - Not to say how many people are converted into vegetarians, but to pay people $1 to watch what happens in 4 minutes to animals will make you not want to eat meat ever again. I ate a burger afterwards but I appreciate a good kosher burger when I can get one. Imagine if I gave everyone $1 to rage out for 4 minutes and shot a free music video. Imagine if I gave away 50 cents for a Facebook like. You'd make a lot of new fans.
6. Sponsor somebody with $$ - Have you ever decided to have your name in a big place? Spotify did and is the sponsor of an entire stage. You can bet your ass that there is a crap load of new people using Spotify. Best thing is the more people use Spotify the more money they earn back.
7. Play a Game and Entertain - Outasight is not the best tic tac toe player but he sure does play that with his fans at his merch table. What is cooler is that his fans get to play tic tac toe with someone who has had a #15 pop song. People want to interact. I once played Ping Pong with RZA.
8. If it's for free, it's for me - FOUNTNHEAD is a band that is playing live via the lets rage booth directly in between sets of Spotify stage. Although they aren't advertised, they play on the ground level and give out a bunch of free cds out, and the crowd stays. After the show, you can buy some of their other cds. If you are on the grind, have enough things to give away for free, and then be able to sell other things like shirts and albums.
9. THE BEST NATION IS DONATION - I remember using this slogan in 2008 for my CD the Spare Change Tour. The market we live in wants to play tic tac toe with you and not buy your merch. They don't want to purchase a cd for $10 but want to donate $15. Social media has enabled us to become so close, from the food we eat to the comments on the latest horrifying performance of Ginobli in the NBA finals. I see various merch people with signs like "need money to grow mustache" or "cash for surfing lessons". If you need the cash for a good time, it's understandable. G-d forbid it's your living! The Warped Tour people want hugs and real emotion, not stock investments and financial boasting.
10. GUEST LIST=YES LIST - It's hard work being on the come up. You probably have a small list and with that being said, you need all the gel you can get. If you have 5 people on your list, make sure during your set you get them to be the excited one. "I love your stuff!" Make your guest list, be your YES LIST. Get them so pumped, ready to make signs, scream real loud and be the person who grabs the attention. We all need people on the YES LIST. For the days I have been there, I notice a lot of guest listers are also helping out.
11. The Tour manager enforcement of PICTURE LINE/AUTOGRAPH time - I noticed my friend Stuart who TM's for @matisyahu also was at Warped Tour with Forever the Sickest Kids. I just noticed how they make a big line to do autograph sessions. If you are good looking (not all of us are, let's be honest) the longer the line is…it's always amazing. Take pictures of the line. Even if its a small line, ask everyone to line up! (even if its 5-10 people) This shit will help and give you proper time with each fan. It just looks really professional. Taking pictures and autographs are the best. My buddy @spliffhemmingway gave his first one on Warped Tour. If they don't ask for it, offer it! You might not know it yet, but you are the next big thing.
12. The Megaphone - nothing works quite like a megaphone. The Warped Tour crew uses it to sell 50 bands for $5 at the end of the day and other merch people call it the secret weapon. Nothing works as good as calling someone out on a megaphone. Don't we all love getting put on the spot?
In the end of the day, it's a long hustle. Isn't that what life is all about? The megaphone works well for the final Warped Tour compilation cd and everyone hustles till the end of the day in their own way. Rosedale plays in the parking lot every day and have a legit set up. Itch is currently the guy in the wheel chair.
Wherever you are working right now, you will be remembered for working in a certain way. What way do you stand out and bring that specialness? Would love to know anything else I missed and anything you would do in the comment box below.
Currently on tour in Europe. I'm not sure if I'll make it back...but until then...do check out my latest videos: