Increase attendance at your shows
As a relatively “new” musician, have you wondered why it is difficult to get an organizer / event manager to sign you (or your band) for gigs – be it for weddings, college annual days, at pubs, hotel lobbies, or even other festivals?
You may give a damn about all this, if your parents are funding you for life. Otherwise, in today’s times, each one of us has to work harder than expected! And musicians have to also end up becoming their own marketing agents!
This blog / article is not some “How to market yourself for dummies” kind of a write-up. These are just some thoughts penned down after attending a few concerts recently. In here, “you” also stands for your band of musicians as a team.
Start at small functions
It’s a given that every parent likes what his or her child does. Whether she sings or plays or dances. Their feedback alone cannot be relied upon to build a career. However, it is crucial that you start performing at family functions initially in order to gain confidence, and also remove stage fright to an extent with that. Perhaps an acid test would be to ask your own neighbours if they like your music. Well, wear a helmet and go to them if you are not sure 🙂 Bad joke.
Playing at school or college events, and inter-college contests will also give you more experience and confidence to go on and grow as a musician.
Do you play too often?
I attended a young sitarist’s show twice in the same city in a span of 2 months. The first time I was blown by his band’s performance. So I went to attend for a second time. But guess what? They played the exact same playlist! Well, though the two events were a little spaced; but the music could have been different since there was repeat audience being in the same city.
Highly marketed shows ideally should have different content, as they raise expectations of the audience. My business partners, Salim-Sulaiman, perform at various kind of events – private gigs, corporate events, weddings, college shows, etc. But then their content gets changed in terms of the playlist, the arrangements, etc. depending on their audience. That is what has kept them in-demand for so many years now.
It is very important that if you play often (which is a good sign), do change your style of presentation for the same songs you may perform at your concerts. Else, the audience gets easily “bored” and they also end up bad mouthing your show.
Make your shows “interesting”
Continuing from the point above, artists should remember that today’s audience is a well-informed one. They have got exposure to various kinds of events, venues, and ofcourse – music too. A show can be made interesting or new by the band members themselves, and one need not depend on the organizers or event managers to do so. Audiences love innovation. And innovation does not cost money always. You can begin by simply keeping an innovative title! A recent programme was titled, “Sense of Sufi”, instead of typically calling it “Sufi music” or “Sufi night with…”.
How you dress-up, make-up and perform also adds a lot of value to your concerts. However, bad singing or playing will never get past the audience. Never lose focus on the music itself or try to innovate a presentation just for the sake of it.
Don’t depend on the organizers alone
Keeping everything in the hands of your event organizer is not a good thing to do. Each musician in your band would have a social media account. Don’t depend for the success of your show in terms of the attendance on the organizers themselves. Use your own social media networks to reach out to the audience, friends in the city you are performing in. However, before inviting people online make sure your invites go to people living in that city. It becomes annoying after sometime when we get invites for events that are not even in happening our own country! And you may get blocked for irritating your own fans.
One obvious thing that happens in India is our network of relatives or friends in almost every city. Chances are high that you will get calls from them asking for VIP passes… for FREE. Well, get these before hand from the organizer in case you know how many to oblige. But then make sure you make them work for it by helping you spread the word and hopefully get more people to buy the regular tickets. For all you know, none of these free passes chaps will show up! So give away only after due consideration to the right people.
In my recent converSAtion with Kuldeep Desai (who managed the late Jagjit Singh for almost 3 decades), he used to hold onto some VIP passes and walk in the waiting area before a concert began. And if he found some people (especially youngsters) desperately looking for a ticket, he used to give these to such “true” fans. Later, he used to take them to meet Jagjit-ji in the green room and they used to be awe-struck and thrilled 🙂
This is one way in which your own managers / colleagues can get your fans or followers to attend, who actually want to listen to your music.
Be seen at other shows too!
Many musicians complain that they stopped performing due to poor audience turn-outs. But that’s also because no one has seen them! Its good to have a face behind your name and be seen at other events too. Not only will you learn a lot by attending various other shows, but others too will know you better. Its good to get out of the 4 walls of a studio or a rehearsal room and interact with others.
In my converSAtion with Lesle Lewis, he shares about how he used to attend concerts of other musicians in order to support a colleague and also learn from such events in order to improve his own musicianship, etc.
Whatever the turnout is, make sure you put in as much energy on stage. It will show.
…working towards building a healthy music community in India.