Building your fanbase in London is a really difficult process and unless you actively search hints & tips and activilty involve yourselves in progressing your music carreers then you don’t stand a chance.
The general public, rarely go to see unsigned bands for the sake of seeing live music, especially bands they haven’t heard of. London is spoilt for choice for entertainment, and there are always known bands touring London. I think it’s partly also because when that whole wave of ‘its cool to be in a band’ mentality got worse a few years back, every man and their dog started playing lo-fi indie pop, or high volume low talent death metal, and an army of shit ‘hobby’ bands were born, ruining it for those who were serious, and giving the unsigned scene a reputation for being audibly painful! (Rant over!)
If you’re in a band just for fun (and that’s a great motive) then probably don’t waste your energy reading on – just enjoy playing where and when you can but don’t blag about expected turnout just to get gigs as that basically screws it up for everyone – other bands, promoter, venue…. Just don’t!
The only way to make your fanbase grow is if your band is 100% committed to actively promoting yourselves. No promoter can magic up an audience for just any band, try as they may, and when you’re unknown people certainly don’t come flocking at free will by accident.
Every member of your band must ALWAYS be encouraging and incentivizing people/friends/family/fans to come to your gigs. The only way to get them to keep coming back, and bringing their mates, is if you are incredibly strategic with your bookings. DO NOT INVITE EVERY FACEBOOK FRIEND – see Facebook Event invites article.
Focus on one every 6-8 weeks in the same territory, no more. If you play too often it becomes increasingly harder to convince people to come out and see you, it’s simply over kill. Spread your performance dates out so you only play the same city no more than every six or eight weeks – MAXIMUM!! Infact really, why play the gig without a purpose in mind.
When booking gigs make sure that you’re on a well suited line up, playing with bands who you know have an active fanbase and who are dedicated to their own promotion. You don’t want to be on a line up with bands who think its OK to bring 5 people to a 400+ capacity venue. It completely defeats the purpose of cross pollinating your fan base with similar genre bands this way you can aim to pick up new fans, people who are there because they already love live music, so make the most of it.
Offer special deals leading up to a gig, for example:
- Buy 2 tickets and get one free
- Bring five mates and get a band t-shirt
- Buy 2 tickets and download a track for free etc.
Gimmicks can also be fun (everyone likes cheesiness!) so maybe come up with some kind of loyalty bonus for example:
*Come to 5 shows in a row and you’ll get free entry to the next gig or a free album and a t-shirt.
At every gig give away something but make sure you only trade a freebie in exchange for an email address. Get some street team kids, students studying music jump at this, can collect email addresses from the crowd by swapping CD’s/stickers/pins etc. Compile these email addresses into a mailing list, then month by month ‘drip feed’ your fans with links to download new tunes, watch your videos, links to new pictures, etc. DO NOT give them everything at once, do it bit by bit to keep everyone interested and make those links come back to your website, Facebook and other networking sites you use. Aim to get your likes and follows up by posting interesting material, including other exciting new bands (who will hopefully reciprocate). Avoid constant posts trying to sell tickets to your gigs.
Find and follow music influencers – not just mainstream journalists and industry. You are more likely to strike up rapport with independent bloggers and music enthusiasts initially.
WEBSITE/Social media platforms/EPK
Make sure that you only put strong tracks up, and ensure your information about the band is not a rambling biography. NO ONE IS INTERESTED. Instead, keep it short and focus your info on:
- Quotes from press, promoters,
- Major accolades – support slots with well-known artists, radio/TV interviews etc.
- Style, sound, influences written in journalistic style
Send your strongest track to all internet and small radio stations. There are quite a few that focus solely on unsigned rock, and majority of the producers/dj’s are enthusiastic still! Once you have had airplay, work your way up and aim for the next level Kerrang, Total Rock etc.
Send your videos and live footage (if it’s of good quality) to Sky music channels and web based TV shows that focus on live music. Rockworld TV is supportive, and there are many others. Start with the small ones, and then work up.
Request track or live reviews from local press. Again start small. Chances are if you get a good quote from a small local rag, the bigger ones will pay attention next – as long as you tweet / post.
Get quotes from industry and compile them into an electronic press release to send to more industry. One strong review or quote from a reputable source can make others pay attention. See if you can get a reputable source (a promoter, venue, or mate’s label) that can contact industry and press on your behalf. Sad but true, being ‘represented’ looks good and professional.
Don’t waste your time with shit venues and hobby promoters. Find avenues that will build strong working relationships with you, rather than just playing a gig – find out what the promoter can actually do for you to elevate your exposure (outside of just booking you to play). Don’t expect promoters to perform miracles either – it’s YOUR music career – own it 100%!!
Network yourself. Talk to people after a gig, you never know who is in the crowd that enjoyed your set. Playing quality venues like 100 Club, Scala, Borderline, etc., you will no doubt be playing to the other bands managers, even the stage crew there have industry contacts and if you’re good enough they’ll get your details and pass them on (everyone wants to make a buck after all!). Promoters talk to other promoters, and someone will always recommend you if you’ve put yourself out there and made yourself memorable.
Support other quality bands at nights run by promoters you trust. Bands that stay in the radar of quality promoters will more likely be offered advantages. Anyway – afterall – your are immersing yourself in the music scene aren’t you??!
Go to music conferences, listen to seminars, and go to a couple of music networking nights. These places are FULL of enthusiastic industry professionals; they wouldn’t be there if they were not looking to expand themselves in the business.
Get involved in festivals, even the smaller ‘community’ based ones, don’t snub your nose at anything that involves the outdoors and beer, no matter how insignificant it sounds – these kind of days out are all about people wandering, watching, drinking, and there will always be kids in the crowd who will ask mum and dad to buy your album/t-shirt!
I’ve got a great list of promo companies that do amazingly priced merch/flyers so if you need anything like this let me know.