Musicians, let’s come clean about something: When most musicians think about marketing, the first things that usually come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, other social media accounts, your cool new website that just launched, and maybe, just MAYBE, a flyer designed for your next gig. Without a doubt, these are important aspects for marketing your music, but they aren't the only pieces of the puzzle.
Guest Post by Jack McCarthy, contributing writer for SplashFlood.
The goal of your marketing efforts is to get your music into people's’ ears, and grow the attendance at your shows. However, one aspect of marketing that many musicians often forget about is their live show itself. If you are half-heartedly promoting your gigs, showing up, playing your set, getting paid (or not), and leaving, then you might be missing out on some critical opportunities to seriously turn some heads. Here are a few ideas about how to make your shows another piece of your marketing initiative.
Come for the music, stay for the party.
If you are just starting out playing shows, many seasoned gigging musicians will tell you about the importance of spacing out your shows in one particular region. If you play the same venue or string of venues consecutively within a short period of time, there is a good chance that you will kill your draw. Why is this the case? It is simply a matter of supply and demand. If you are supplying the market in one area with a lot of shows, the demand will decrease because your audience will see no novelty in your shows, since they are occurring so frequently.
Instead, try to plan a timetable for your shows to capture your target market in a way that creates demand and builds buzz. You can do this by branding your show around some kind of auxiliary event, such as your record release, a birthday party, a themed show, or a holiday show. If possible, coordinate your marketing efforts with the venue’s promoter to make him or her aware of how you are branding the event. This type of promotion brings your show to a new level, as performing at these types of events can often draw in new audiences that may not have attended a “regular” show.
For example, The Wonder Years, a Philadelphia based pop punk band, teamed up with popular clothing company Glamour Kills to host a pop-up shop in celebration of the release of its third full length album. The pop-up shop was open for a total of four days and featured acoustic performances, meet and greets, food stands, limited edition merch, and more.
Make It Easy
In a culture immersed in social media and instant gratification, it is important to give your fans fast access to what they need. Make sure that fans can find out where to purchase tickets for your shows. If the ticket sales are through a broker such as Ticketmaster or Eventbrite, be sure to share the ticket URL with your fanbase often. You can use Bandsintown, a free tool to sync your events to your social media networks, to conveniently accomplish this task.
If you have presale tickets to sell directly to fans, you can create a new listing on your online merch store and ship tickets out to fans after the transaction is complete. This not only makes it easy for fans to get tickets, but saves you and your band members the hassle of traveling to deliver tickets. If you don’t have an online merch store, you can set one up for free using Bigcartel.
Make It Special
Merchandise is an important part of a concert experience, and not only because it brings in revenue for you or your band. When a fan takes a t-shirt, sticker, or CD (you know, those shiny silver discs) home with them, they are keeping a memory of your music and brand. It may seem obvious, but it is so important to always have something to offer at your merch table. Whether it is stickers, show posters, or even bootleg copies of your new single, make sure you have merch at every single show you play. Better yet, offer something to fans in return for a signature on your mailing list or a follow on Twitter.
One great way to make your merch table stand out is to offer something unique to a specific city or show. Paramore did just that on its “Self Titled” tour by offering a limited pressing of this t-shirt design, featuring the date and city on the back, for many stops over of the duration of the tour.
(Source: Paramore Online Merch Store)
However, you don’t need to break the bank to do something similar. You could create unique flyers for each show, sell behind the scenes polaroid photos, or even peddle the shirt off your lead singer’s back. (Disclaimer: Think long and hard before using that last suggestion).
Don’t Just Sing, Connect
Your actual performance also hold the moments where a crowd of people can be transformed into an audience of fans. Focusing on image during your live set can certainly help you or your band stand out. Although you may not have the luxury of pyrotechnics or a fancy light show, you may have seen artists perform with stage banners as a backdrop, to give audiences a visual of their brands. Get creative about your set. Find something to make your set unique and use that aspect as a distinguishing visual feature.
Make every show a fan experience. Connect with the audience in between songs. Ask them to Tweet or Instagram photos during your set, with a hashtag to get your performance trending. British rock band Koopa, got really creative and once asked its audience to download its new single via text message during a live performance. This brilliant marketing stunt helped the band earn a position in the UK Top 4 Singles Chart.
These are just a few methods to consider when looking at how audiences react to your live shows. If you have a great online presence, and clever marketing elsewhere, then leveraging your live shows as a branding effort, rather than just a performance, might be the next step in marketing your music. If you have tackled some creative marketing ideas at your shows, feel free to share some ideas in the comments section!
Jack is a singer and songwriter living in Philadelphia, PA; though you may have more luck finding him in the studio or on the road. He has worked with many artists, producing and playing on a variety of tracks.