Ah, yes. The ever-elusive expansion of the fanbase beyond your friends, family, and fellow musicians. Most bands never figure this out. All bands struggle to figure this out. We certainly do.
It’s not even remotely a bad thing to have your crew of friends and family at those formative gigs. Actually, it’s really important: it gives you a sense of welcome on the stage and a sense of confidence. I really enjoy that we know people that will consciously take time out of their schedules, and even sometimes spend a little money, to go see us play a few songs. I try to remind myself of that so I never take those people for granted. When it comes to fellow musicians, I try my best to get to their shows when I can (I have to admit, though, it’s been rough the last few months while I deal with the all-encompassing fatigue that expectant mothers experience…but I still try!).
That said, there comes a point when playing for your friends and family gets old, and not just for the band. Playing to new people and discovering new bands is part of why we do it. So, here’s a few ways you can expand your fanbase beyond your dear, crazed friends:
1. Play new venues. Especially in markets that are experiencing urban renewal, there’s always new venues opening. Get on a bill there, check it out, establish a rapport. It almost always leads to good talk around town from the promoters.
2. Gig swap. This is especially useful for bands on tour, and when you’re on tour. You play a gig in their market, they play a gig in yours. Simple. And it’s a great way of building a national, and eventually international, network.
3. Go beyond your scene. Of course, we all have our favorite bands in the scene that we love to share bills with. I think it’s important to reach out of your comfort zone, and often. Scenes are just another way of saying cliques, and I hated cliques, even in high school. You never know. Your band’s future biggest fan might be some dude who works on Wall Street by day, and not the guy who hangs out at your favorite bar and sees the same four bands over and over. So, when a band you’ve never heard of asks you to share a bill, at least entertain the thought!
4. Pay attention to what other bands are doing. Follow their social media. Where are they hanging out? What shows are they stoked about? Be an occasional bandwagoner, and at the right time, deploy the press kit!
5. Hit the road. Well, this is the old-fashioned way to do it. Book shows, pile in the van, and go. And you don’t have to go for weeks on end or anything; a long weekend is the ideal first road trip.
6. Consistently post on social media. People love to peruse social media for making friends nowadays (I still don’t get it, but…). Post stuff that may be shared or retweeted. Keep it fresh and interesting.
Anyway, these are just a few ideas. Feel free to think outside the box and pave your own way.
Till next time,
Our next show is a benefit show at Queens College, and it’s THIS THURSDAY (Feb 25), benefitting the Environmental Club. Come support a good cause! We go on at 8:30pm.