Following my post earlier this week, I had a question on my Facebook page asking how often a band should play their home town? My post was commenting on the success of my first gig of the year and reflecting on that fact that I only play each town or city (including my hometown) once per year.
The scarcity of our appearances provides a ‘must see’ experience if we come and play in your area. And yes, people can forget about bands if they are away for too long however my use of social media and mailing list to keep an audience ‘warm’ means they aren’t likely to forget about me in a hurry. But, if you are an up and coming band or a band who has yet to cement a large fanbase how often should YOU be gigging your hometown?
Well, let’s delve a little deeper. Where I live, most independent bands play shows with about three other bands on the bill. Each of those bands should be accumulating new fans from the ‘new’ people in the audience at each show, right? Well, if this audience building strategy worked then these shows would result in a fan base which accrues and expands exponentially the more shows the bands play.
In reality, it doesn’t work like that. I think the ‘quality’ of the audience at a lot of these shows doesn’t help. The audience often consists not so much of music fans but of friends and relatives who have been ‘cajoled’ to attend as a mans of support (hey, you’re a band and you have tickets to shift!).
In some respects they’re not a proper gig going crowd. They are ringers if you want to look at it that way. In earlier times I’ve played shows where the majority of the audience are friends and family who wouldn’t be there if they hadn’t been asked!
Think about it this way, most DIY bands play only ‘local’ gigs because that’s the only place where they are known. If you have a strategy which exposes your stuff to appropriate music fans in major cities across the country nationwide, with some ‘online graft’ you’ll build a fanbase there and can play there…you won’t need to keep playing local shows.
I’m not going to say that saturating your local area with shows won’t build you an audience (it’ll improve your stagecraft if nothing else), but I will say that it’s not the most effective.
I’d suggest actioning a marketing strategy that involves you releasing singles, music videos, videoed performances and other engaging content, having a strategy which exposes that content to a new audience in the local and surrounding areas (some well executed Facebook ad campaigns), engaging that new audience to turn them into fans, creating a community and then doing your live shows and getting that audience to the gig.
In order to do that effectively in your home town or local area perhaps three to four times a year max would be suitable. You can also make each event special by giving each appearance a special ‘theme’ with material that will only be played at each show.
If you’re a new band and you are just starting out, you can’t rigidly employ a ‘scarcity’ tactic too soon. You need a few gigs under your belt to build up your stagecraft etc. At the very start you also need to be seen to be ‘out there’ as it were. In addition, you’ll need some live shows so you record yourself at gigs for use in online promo.
As a new band, for your first twelve months or so I wouldn’t object to a show once every eight weeks however keep an eye on the fact that your true audience building etc will come online and as you progress there should be less of an need to constantly draw from the local ‘pool’. Remember that if you get some nice looking, good sounding video footage and use some money to show that to a well targeted audience on Facebook, you can reach a hundred times more people than you can at a local show.
Got any questions about this post or how you can better market yourself?