Promoting can make or break a show. We've asked Musicpage.com founder, David Codr to share some fantastic tips on getting your name out there, and making contacts in the world of shows. Read on to share in his wisdom.
Hey, have you listed any of your merch in the FNO Marketplace yet? It's free to list and you only pay a small fee when your item sells. Read more about fees here.
As always, if you have any particular topics you'd like to see covered here, or if you'd like to contribute an article to the FNO newsletters - drop me a line!
FNO Newsletter Editor
Guerrilla Promotion and Artist Development
By David Codr
Founder of Musicpage.com
After promoting or producing around 1,000 concerts, managing bands, booking tours and scouting talent, you pick up a few tricks of the trade. That's how I started doing artist development work. The gang at Festival Network Online asked if I would share a few of my artist development techniques in this newsletter.
So if you are looking for some artist development techniques, read on.
How to Get 3,000 New Fans in the Next 12 Months, For FREE
Running a web community like Musicpage.com, I get a lot of artist development questions from our artist users. When I do, one of the first things I do is ask how many fans a band or performer has. If I get a non-specific answer like "a lot" I know the band isnt doing a very good job of collecting information or growing their fan base.
Most bands have figured out how to get people to become their friend on facebook or twitter, but that's not a real fan base. A fan base is more than a list of names. A real fan base is a growing entity with its own quirks and personality.
Maybe its best to consider WHY you are trying to build a fan base. Sadly, most artists think its simply to have the biggest list. But your fan base shouldn't be about quantity as much as it is about quality. In the most simple terms, building a fan base is all about cultivating a list of your customers.
Think about it, why do you advertise and promote your shows? You're trying to reach a group of people who will come to see you play. Well if you get the names and contact info for people at your current shows, you can go straight to the source when you start promoting your next show. This is much more effective than just running ads or handing out flyers to reach your fans the next time.
Reaching out to your existing fans is your "Sure thing" while your other forms of advertising are there to add to your total. When you combine tactics this way, you will see a dramatic increase in the number of people who attend your show.
Most bands that do try to collect their fan's information have a clipboard on the front of the stage or at their merch table - and that's about all the effort they put into collecting their fan's info. But collecting your fan's information is crucial. Aside from your performance, its literally one of the most important things you will do at your shows.
Thing is, people dont like writing down their contact info on a sheet of paper that anyone else in the bar can see. So you end up with a lot of fake names or illegible emails. The clipboard also usually only gets a few names a night. So you're getting low quality and low quantity, a bad combination.
I tell bands I work with to print up "Fan cards" an old one is pictured here (click to enlarge). Fan cards are 3x5 index cards with pre-printed fields for; name, address, city, state, zip, age, birthday, facebook and myspace addresses, phone and cell phone numbers.
You always want to get someone's zip code when getting their email address for your list. This is especially important for touring acts. Having a zip code allows you to only email people who are close enough to the venue to make it out to the show (if its a single show announcement rather than a list of all upcoming shows).
If you're a touring band and every email you send your fans includes info on shows that are too far away from them, you are basically training your fans to ignore your emails. Don't be that band.
But if you colllect your fans address, city state and zip, you can sort your fan base and only send an email to people in the cities you will be playing in. You wont be able to do that if you dont ask for their location.
If you decide to use the pictured fan cards, you and everyone in the band should have them on you 24/7. At your shows for sure, but also when you are out and about. You never know when you will run into someone wearing a T shirt that indicates they may be a potential fan of your style of music.
Don't just pull the card out and hand it to someone. Wait until you are having a conversation with the person. Then at the right time, casually pull out a card and tell them you would love to tell them when your next show is. Seasoned musicians will pat their pockets first to give the appearance that they don't know if they have the card with them - brilliant!
Hand the card to the person and let them fill it out. If they dont want to answer a question, tell them its cool. But if you are casual about it, you will find that almost all of them will fill the card out completely.
After they walk away, turn the card over and write a one sentence description on the person or the conversation you just had. A short note like this will help you remember the conversation at the end of the night or later down the road. This is exactly why every profile on Musicpage has an Add Note button. Usually reading one or two small details from a previous conversation will jar your memory so you recall most of the previous conversation.
After the venue closes or when you leave, everyone in the band pulls out their cards so you can see who got the most. A lot of bands will have the person with the fewest cards be the driver that night or have to clean the van the next time, etc. A little competition goes a long way here because the way this technique is effective is cumulative.
After every show, you finish off the night by actually calling all the new fans you just made. Press star 67, then dial the fan's cel phone number. 99% of the time this will get you the person's voicemail - which is what you want.
Leave a brief message about how much you enjoyed meeting them and that you look forward to seeing them the next time you are in town. Let them know you will be adding them to your newsletter and to be on the lookout for email messages from you and the band.
Most fans are absolutely blown away that you would take the time to call them. They think you had such a great conversation with them that you are pals. This is the start of building a mini-relationship with your fans. It cements their fan-ness of your band and dramatically increases the chances of them coming to your next show. Additionally many of these new fans will bring a friend or multiple friends to your next show too.
Bands that use this technique find that not only do they grow their fan base at a much higher rate than before. They find the fans they sign up are passionate about the band and go out of their way to talk you up to their friends. They wear your T shirt, they post about you on facebook or twitter. This is how a genuine buzz gets started.
Now is time for some fun math. Lets say you have five people in the band and every time you play, everyone gets 5 fans to fill out the cards. At the end of the night you have 25 new fans. If the band plays Thurs-Sat every week, that's 75 new fans a week or 300 at the end of the month. Keep it up for a year, and you're talking about 3,000 fans you have added to your fan base! That doesn't include their friends - which many fans will bring to your next show. If you like playing in front of large crowds, this is a proven way to make it happen.
If you communicate with your fan base with regular email announcements (more on that in a future FNO newsletter), you could get a few thousand new fans every year. If half of them buy your CD for $10, and a quarter of them buy a t shirt for the same price, you just brought in 15 GRAND!
So the next time you meet a fan or music pro for the first time, remember to try to start building your own relationship with them so you can build up your fan base. I promise you, it will pay off down the road.
- David Codr
David is the founder of Musicpage.com, a secure online community built to help musicians find and connect with music industry professionals from all over the country. Musicpage is free to use, but reserved exclusively for use by Musicians and Music professionals. To create your own Musicpage for free, visit www.musicpage.com