I look all around
the country and I see so many Musical Artists & Bands looking for places to play, hoping
for as large an audience as possible, wanting to be heard, wanting to
gain new fans, wanting to earn a living doing what they love to do – which is: Creating and Playing their Music.
are going to go where they can be hired, which most of the time consists
of different Bars, Clubs and other drinking establishments...
Well, in theory,
this should work pretty well; the Artist has places to gather and nurture
fans, and they're doing what they love to do - play Music. But, as I’m
sure most of you have found out, this rarely works very well, unless you're in a "Covers" Band…
Why? The 1st of
a couple main reasons is actually very simple when you really look at
quite well my pre-teen and teenage years, when I was a potential Music fan like anyone
else of my generation, and therefore I was introduced to, and developed a taste for
Music, and the Artists of that time who delivered it.
This Music seriously
affected me in one way or another in these formidable years. Music,
and the Artists who presented and represented this new music to me,
appeared as one entity. And this entity, and the other influences at
that time of my life really affected me and became a major part of my
life during this ever-important time of my life. A time when I, this
young, growing person, became ME.
That was MY Generation,
but you and every other generation living and growing socially and otherwise
through these same important preteen and teenage years, accumulated
your own tastes, including whom you are or were influenced by, etc.
You, like me, and everyone else, are attracted to certain kinds of music
and the lifestyle associated with it, and you create, and start putting
together your tastes which you associate with this very important part
of your life. Your social, and therefore your musical life, are formulated
together – by Music, and the Musical Acts that brought this Music to
So, let’s look at
the situation and do some simple math:
On one side we have:
Unsigned Acts who are usually forced to play where they can, most often
in Clubs, Bars, what have you. Clubs, in most localities,
require your potential fans to be
21 and above where liquor is served. And, of course, the establishments
want/expect you to draw lots of fans, to drink up and make them money.
The problem is,
that in these types of places, most of your potential fans, being over
the age of 21, are already pretty set in their tastes. They want cover-bands
and songs from their generation, or they go to arena-type concerts where
the “Stars” whom they associate with these songs that made up these
important years, perform.
Now, on the other
side we have: Those potential fans under the age of 21 who are stuck listening
to what ever is programmed into their head for them to hear, usually
coming from the Major Labels, or their Subsidiaries. Too many of these younger
people have no idea what they are missing because they are not given
the opportunity to see and hear some great local unsigned acts that
they could discover and call their own, because they can’t see these
Artists and hear their Music - because they’re not allowed in
Yes, there is, of
course, a seemingly obvious answer to this problem. But all-ages shows
have their own issues, and only partly solve the overall situation even
when these type gigs are available… The real answers run much deeper...
The 2nd main reason it’s hard to draw new fans revolves around the word “Perception”.
Perception includes, in part, the Artist’s perception or view of their
“job”, and how it affects the potential fans perception of the “Unsigned
problem of perception and the answers to this problem do not lie totally
on the Artist’s shoulders, but also fall on the Artists’ Managers, Venues,
Promoters and Fans, which I will also cover later and throughout…
It should also be made
clear here, that Artists should still care about attracting both the
over 21 crowd as well as the younger potential fans. For everyone, even
those over 21, there is still the need to discover something new and
different, something “to do” that people will know will at least be
a lot of fun; an escape.
And one main perception
problem I see with Artists is one that most do not think of, or have
a very narrow slant on:
“The Big Picture”.
Too many Artists believe
their job is to just write and learn songs, practice them, go out and
sing and play them.
An Artist’s actual performance aim should be to entertain people, to help people escape
from reality, that is, to help them forget about their busy and/or crazy
and/or problematic and/or boring life, to grab them and take them with
the Artist on a mini-vacation - that both the Artists and the Fans will
remember even after they leave the show…
So, I have the following
questions for you Artists:
1. “Why should your
potential fans really want to come to your shows – even if they knew
2. “When they DO
get to see you, what will make them not only want to see you again,
but also want to buy your CDs and Merchandise?” And…
3. “Will they love
you so much that they will want to tell others, via
texts, print, internet or however, “You Gotta See This Band!” ?
And, there's NOTHING like Word-of-mouth!
Yes, what are YOU,
the Musical Artist/Group/Band, offering them that’s special and really
stands out? What is so unique about you that will grab their attention
and keep them as fans.
Well folks, with
the advent of all this computer and networking technology, you’re not
only competing with a ton of other Artists, you’re also competing with
quite a few other forms of diversions, entertainment and escapism, like Video Games and countless others.
Now, let’s not forget,
there’s always the basics, because as they say, “You can’t polish shit….”
You obviously have to be talented as Songwriters and Artists…
when you practice, what else are you doing besides learning songs? Whether
you know it or not, you are developing [hopefully] your own “Sound”.
A Sound that [hopefully] makes you sound like YOU, and no one else. That when you hear the first 15 seconds of a Performance, you are not
just grabbed in, but they also know who you are!
Sound makes up one integral part of your overall “Image”. And, your
image is a major point to consider and develop, especially nowadays. Your image could be
described as: What you play, the way you play it, the way you "come across" to people, and the way you look.
although during practice music is usually the main area of concentration,
there are other just as important considerations that most Musicians
don't think about. For example, does your Group look “wasted”, dead,
or very much alive? What does your equipment look and sound like?
What kind of relationship do you wish to develop with your audience? Are you just Singing and Playing - or Performing, communicating with your audience and drawing them in to you?
put, what will affect your potential fans perception of you? Where once
they know you exist they will talk about you to no end...
there’s one more very important Perception Factor that must be overcome
that is necessary to draw your potential fans out of the closet, so that
you actually have the chance to give them a chance to get to know and
is the most obvious step that comes next in most people's minds. Artists promoting themselves, telling their fans and potential fans
that they're playing at this venue or that venue.
But my question
to you is, "What is it you're actually promoting?" That is, when you're promoting yourself, what will be your potential
fans perception [what they think] of what you're promoting? Will you just
be one more "amateur artist" playing somewhere?
Let's step back
to that "Big Picture" we discussed earlier and take it a few steps further.
What is the perception that your still-in-the-closet-potential-fans
will be expecting that will make them want to come out to see you?
playing at so & so's club or bar or venue." In other
words, "Come out to our gig".
Let's face reality,
if people have never heard of you, why should they come out to see you?
What are you offering them that a thousand other unknowns can't [or
don't] offer? If you perceive your appearance as "just
a gig", what do you expect your potential audience to see it as!
It's useless spending
lots of time, energy and money promoting something if people's preconceived
perception will be, "Oh, why should I go there, never heard of
them, no one's talking about them, so they must be boring, a waste of
time - forget it."
My point: When you
go out to see a favorite star performer in the big arenas, are you going
to their "gig"? Or, are you going to, what is perceived to
be a "Can't-Miss EVENT???
Now, it is
up to the Artist, for one, to make it appear as one! And to appear as
one, it should BE one! And it CAN be one, WHEN the Artists perceive
it as one!
at every venue should be thought of, and looked at as an EVENT, a SHOW,
a SPECIAL OCCASION, an EXPERIENCE, an important reason for people to
leave their house, put gas in their car, pay the cover charge, etc.,
and come see you.
You must start thinking
of your performances as if you were performing at a scaled down arena
show. You have to take those "extra steps" ensuring people
that your performance and your "show" are special,
and that you're not just another band getting up in front of a microphone
and playing and singing. Lots of people can get up there and sing
and play, but most of those Artists will get nowhere in today's
Unless you've been
in a cave over the last few years, you've noticed that this is a Visual
Society, inundated with multimedia that is competing with your band – and people often don't have to leave their houses anymore to be entertained.
"Hey man, I'm
a serious Artist. I'm not selling out for no one!". Hey man,
yourself, I'm not asking you to give up any integrity! I'm just asking
you to come ALIVE! I'm not asking you to be anyone but yourself.
I'm just asking you to look at this performance as a fun and rewarding
event. And if you don't see it as one, how do you expect anyone
else to think it's one?
All you need to
do is wake up, make a slight attitude adjustment, and take whatever
extra steps that you can conceive of and can afford that fits your image
and makes your show stand out.
Now, it is not up
to just the Artists to make your shows stand out…
Hey, Artists' Managers,
street teams, representatives of every sort: What are YOU doing
to help? Are you looking at each performance as a special one,
and are you being just as creative on the biz and promotion end as your
artists are on their music end? And are you making sure the Venues are
on the ball?
Hey, Venues & Promoters: What
are YOU doing to make people's perception be that you're the "In
Place" to go to be entertained? And, are you being just as
creative on the biz and promotion and public relation's end as the Artists
are [or should be] on their music end?
To sum it up, the
Artists, Managers, Promoters and Venues must work together to create this perception:
an event that people will be coming to that will be extra special!
But we're wasting
a lot of time here unless everyone involved understands and takes the
steps to ensure that everyone's perception doesn't become just another
let-down. You can't, and shouldn't even try to fool your audience. You
actually have to make this event be not just another event, but
an event to be remembered! And, you CAN!
The Day has come.
The Artists/Bands, Promoters, Venues are all ready to stage an EVENT.
An EVENT people will talk about - a “Night to Remember.”
“So, I guess we
really need a 'Gimmick'…” NO! Gimmicks are basically useless because
people can see right through them, and they are needless as well. "Gimmicks" are looked at as Gimmicks; “Great shows” are looked at as Great
It is true that,
just like all songs need great “hooks”, your show can have a hook, but
it should be a natural hook. Some examples being a CD release party,
a guest performer, someone’s birthday party, and the like – and there’s
no harm in coming up with one each show.
One of Professor
Pooch’s Laws: “Be Just as Creative on the Business Side as You or the
Artist is on the Creative side” fits here. My favorite hook? Three
or four Great Bands with Great Songs and Great Performances!
Your Gimmick should
simply be providing a Great Event with Great Performances.
Simply put, you need Artists and Venues that create a Great, Natural
Vibe that hypnotizes the audience into wanting to come back to that
Venue and/or to see that Band!
every Gig should be treated as Special. And if Everyone
is in a great state of mind, and if Everyone is prepared, and if Everyone
gives their all, your Events will be remembered – and in a positive
What the Artists,
their representatives and the venues are [or should be] trying to create
is "word-of-mouth", because excited word-of-mouth travels faster and better,
and with more integrity, than any other form of promoting yourself to
the masses. You are directing it to the people who matter – the fans
who like you, who know people who will like you and what you bring into
Now, let’s break
it down into roles:
[and Artist Managers]: Go out and see one or more of your
favorite, successful Recording and Performance Artists and watch their
show very carefully. A Great, Successful Band knows their songs
are Great Songs, and the right songs to play at that Venue/Event,
and the songs flow really well together.
Why/How do they
know? Simply put, a Great Band is prepared and takes care of all that
beforehand, usually at rehearsals. The only thing on a Great Performer’s
mind when they step on that stage is, “This is gonna be a Great Show!” And they Make it one!
In short, Every
Performance at Every Venue should be treated as a Special Event! Great
Events must become a Habit!
Here’s a true story
- and an important lesson:
I was out to see an unsigned Band at this
Club several years ago, and I met a friend there. It was early in the
night and we were the only two customers.
To make a long story,
short, the band played a basically disinterested set. After my friend
left I went up to them and asked them, “Hey, You guys are much better
than that – what happened?” They responded with “We were warming up
and there were only a couple people there, so...”
And I told them, “Well, you just blew a great opportunity – that person who just left
was a Senior Vice President of Columbia Records!”
Actually, it doesn’t
matter if my friend was Joe Shmoe. If the Artist had put on a great
performance, Shmoe might’ve loved the band and gone out and told others.
And never forget that the Bartenders and Waitresses are people, too!
People who love music! People who might spread the word! Great Performances
must become Habit Forming, and nothing else is acceptable!
Are you ready
and prepared to deliver a Great Show? Were you ready early in the day,
or did you wait until the last minute to get everything together? Nothing
like that rushed feeling for setting you up for a rotten mood. Be prepared
early so that you’re relaxed and ready to give it your all!
How tight is your
set? Does it move right along without your musicians just standing
around? People have a verrrry short attention span nowadays, and there
can be no delays trying to figure out which song to do next, checking
to see if everyone’s ready, or whatever.
Your mind should
be totally on your audience, not yourself, and you should be expressing
how you feel, communicating with them through your body, mind and soul.
And besides treating
your fans to a great performance, you should treat your fans really
nicely before and after the show. And, not only your fans, but also
the Venues, Promoters and their staffs. If you treat them really well,
wouldn’t that make them want to treat you very well, also? And want
to have you back again?!
The way you act
at every event creates good or bad “PR”. PR stands for “Public Relations”,
which is not the same as Promotion. Promotion is hitting someone
over the head with flyers, ads and the like, and Public Relations is
how you spread your name every day of your life by the simple, normal
means of being yourself.
[and Promoters]: The Venues are just as responsible for a successful
event as the Artists! Besides being known for the quality of the acts
you book, you, the venues and promoters, too often depend on the Bands
and their Management and/or Street Teams to handle all the promotion,
etc. You should put just as much into pushing the Event and should
be just as well prepared as you expect the Artists to be.
And how do you treat your Artists, let alone your customers and your own staff? Are
your Bartenders and Waitresses friendly, sociable and “up”? Is your
staff ready for, and looking forward to a fun night ahead - instead
of just going through the motions? Do you have a Venue that your staff
feels is worth talking about to their family and friends? There’s
that “word-of-mouth” again.
should also have the same fun and friendly demeanor, with the only exception
being if and when they may have to “switch hats” when needed to keep the
atmosphere, safe. Ambience, “vibe”, the “feel” of the club, call it
what you wish, is reflected by all the people working there,
and this will help determine if all your visitors feel comfortable or
not. Just doing print or internet ads doesn’t create a great Vibe – happy, sociable employees create a great vibe and make your Venue a
fun place to be.
Also, most venues
do little to spruce up the “room atmosphere”, when a great décor, specials
on drinks, special finger food, special whatever will also really help
you bring more paying people in. It benefits you as well, having your
place be the Venue to hang out over all the other places.
To sum up it all
up, when all the Venues, Promoters, Artists, Managers and Street Teams
treat Every show like an EVENT, you all will then have done your
part in creating “A Music Scene.” The “In Thing” to do which will help
all the Artists be seen and become successful. Which will, at the same
time, help the Venues be seen and become successful. Which will likewise
make the fans come out of the closet and want to become part of this
Scene - because they know they will be Entertained! Entertained
with the help of the Universal Language…