Among the pre-performance jitters, the equipment checklists, and the warm ups of show night, there’s a golden opportunity that wise musicians don’t pass up. The next time you find yourself under the hot lights, glance out at the audience throughout your set. Do you notice the couple of people who give you their undivided attention? You’ve never seen these people before, and yet here they are: tapping their feet, swaying their shoulders, and watching your every move. Meet your newest fans.
A lot of bands have a hard time translating these interested show-goers into long-term fans. As a band, how do you get these new fans to follow you on Facebook, Instagram, sign up for your newsletter, stream your music on Spotify, and ultimately buy your album? Here are a few tricks.
1. Display Your Band Name on Stage
If the audience is staring at your band name for the hour or two you’re on stage, they’re much less likely to forget your band name. And what’s in a name? A lot, as it turns out. If an audience member digs your sound and wants to look you up, it really helps if they remember your name. Display it loud and proud. Some musicians display the band name on the drum set, and others create a sign and lean it up against a monitor.
2. Live-Stream the Show On Facebook Live
A fellow musician had this brilliant idea for our last show, who held the camera during our Facebook Live video. We recorded a live video before the show to remind our fans to tune in, and then we saw a huge bump in engagement when we went live. It felt good seeing the encouragement streaming in, and people watched the video for days after, tagging their friends and sharing the video around the web.
3. Hire a Photographer for the Night
If it’s in the band budget, hiring a photographer for a show can ensure you have the marketing collateral that will get more and more people coming to your next gig. The more people show up to each show, the more friends they’ll bring, which means more fans for you. Professional (or really good) photography will help your band look legit and make others curious about you enough to follow you on social media.
4. Let Your Personality (and Your Style) Shine
When you’re just starting out, you really need the entire package. You need to sound great of course, but you also need to look the part. Wear those embroidered bell bottom jeans and the bohemian kimono, if it fits your music and your style. Don’t be afraid to be your quirky self and allow yourself some freedoms at the mic. Tell the audience what your songs are about, how old you were when you wrote them, what they mean to you, and what you hope they add to the world. Be thoughtful. Be genuine. Be you.
Your voice, style, and personality should translate over to your social media accounts as well. When you’re first starting out, you get fans not through your music, but because of who you are. You’re not just selling an album, you’re selling YOU. People need to identify with you before they care enough to seek out your music.
5. Sell Merchandise
Selling merchandise is the best way to ensure that your newest fans will remember you. It’s hard to forget the name of last night’s band if their CD is in your car. It’s like giving people a business card to take with them – one that happens to play your songs. Furthermore, fans love band tees, pins, posters, and stickers. They’ll sport them with pride, and by doing so, they’ll unwittingly spread awareness.
Ensure your merch table is inviting. (One struggle my band has is making sure someone is attending the table at all.) Is the merch table lit? Literally? Figuratively? You might need to bring your own lamp or Christmas lights. Hang the shirts on a hanger for display. Make it professional. Make it as rockin’ as your music.
6. Gather Email Addresses at that Merch Table
Once a new fan is excited about discovering you – excited enough to buy a tee shirt or album – they’ll be more likely to write their email address on the clipboard you provide at the merch table. Remember – not everyone is on social media. Sometimes the best way to reach certain people is though their inbox.
Regular e-newsletters are a great way to remind fans of upcoming shows and to tell them about new releases, press, and music videos.
7. Play Out Once or Twice a Month, and Give it Your All.
You want to play frequently enough that you stay in the forefront of the minds of local music lovers, but you don’t want to play so often that you lose draw to your shows. Furthermore, playing shows is some of the best practice you can get as a band. With every show I play with Linden Hollow, I feel a less nervous, and we gel more as a band.
Get up on that stage and put some real guts into it. You’re sure to win some hearts.
With these tips, you should start seeing a handful of new social media follows and fans after every show. That’s part of the fun – typically social media engagement spikes after a gig. If you can get your music to stick in the minds of others, you’re doing your job as an artist. It’s all about inspiring others and spreading the love.