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Repeat after me: promotional flyers are not obsolete.
This claim may surprise you, because a quick look around the internet would suggest otherwise. The vast majority of people believe that they are outdated and inefficient.
The arguments in favor of this claim are convincing enough. Receiving flyers is annoying. No one pays attention to flyers, they go straight to the trash. Promoting a concert on social media is way easier than passing out promotional flyers.
Don’t listen to any of that advice, because it’s bad. The truth is that using flyers to promote your concerts may be more important than ever, and we’re about to share the secret that all these other people are missing.
That secret is simple: The effectiveness of a flyer is entirely based off of the manner in which it is distributed. And almost everyone is doing it wrong.
Consider your own experience with flyers ‘in the wild’. I can almost guarantee that the majority of flyers you’ve seen were attached to poles, piled on tables and counters, or shoved in your face while you walked down a busy street.
Only people who have no idea what they are doing distribute their flyers like this.
If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be this: you’re goal has to be to develop a connection with people first. Use the flyer as a reminder of that connection.
Develop Connections, Not Litter
The approach that most people take involves accepting a very low conversion rate but playing the odds by placing flyers in the hands or faces of as many people as possible.
Put another way, people think that if they just spam enough people, some will end up responding.
This is the worst type of marketing that you can engage in. To understand why, you really need to appreciate permission-based marketing (a topic we’ve touched on before).
A simplified explanation of permission based marketing is that people are receptive to ideas when they show a desire or interest before you advertise to them, and unreceptive when presented with unsolicited information.
This is why the conversion rate of most flyer-based marketing is virtually non-existent. An unsolicited piece of paper without anything to back it up really is garbage, and there is enough of that in this world.
The Real Value of Flyering
The real value of flyering comes down to the fact that you are creating face-to-face connections with your potential fans. People crave this type of connection, especially in a world dominated by social media and loose connections.
Face-to-face interactions make people feel valuable, and this makes them much more likely to take an interest in what you have to say. When you treat people like human beings and not like potential sources of money, it is surprising how much more receptive they are!
In this way, flyers are more of a reminder than an advertisement. Once you develop a connection with someone, they are much more likely to want to come to your show, but they’re also more likely to keep the flyer and not just throw it away. This means it can very easily end up on their fridge or desk, where they’ll see it frequently, increasing the odds of their attendance to your concert.
Let me guess, you’re probably sitting and reading this, frustrated by the fact that this makes sense but you still don’t really know how to go about flyering. Keep reading, because we’re about to go over what you can do to develop the connection that we have talked about and where you should be doing it. You’ll even find out the number one time and place to give out flyers, and you’ll probably end up kicking yourself for not thinking of it sooner.
Successful Flyering 101
There are three aspects to face-to-face flyer distribution that you need to get right if you want to be effective. These three things are distributing flyers in the right places, making a good first impression, and engaging people so they develop an interest in your music.
Where to Distribute Flyers
One of the biggest mistakes people make when promoting their concerts is distributing flyers in the wrong places. Again, people approach this as a numbers game and simply try to go to places with a high volume of foot traffic. This won’t work. To be successful, you need to get inside the minds of potential fans and go where they will be.
The simplest way to do this?
Go to the venue where your show will be hosted in the days and weeks leading up to your own concert. There is no easier way to find people who may come to your show than going to the place it will be hosted and talking to concert goers.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same venue for this strategy to be effective. Targeting live music fans in general is a good idea, but you can be even more effective by focusing on the shows of bands and artists that are similar to you.
Other places to flyer…
While concert venues are the easiest and best place to find a highly targeted group of fans, you can use your imagination and come up with other places that will also work. The key is to remember to go places where your audience is likely to frequent, and this will vary based on the genre of music that you play.
Some good places to consider include college campuses and popular nightlife areas in your city. If you want to try to get a last minute boost, passing out flyers in touristy areas on the day of the show can sometimes work. While you don’t know anything specific about the people at a tourist hot spot, you can assume that they will be actively looking for things to do for enjoyment, which makes your job a little easier.
Making a Good First Impression
When performing any type of face-to-face marketing like flyer distribution, the first-impression you make is one of the most important things to get right. People will be making a snap decision on whether or not they should engage in a conversation with you, and they have very little information to base that decision on.
This means your appearance is going to play a very important role.
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go all business-like and dress in a suit. Actually, it’s important that you do the exact opposite. Wear whatever you would wear for a show, as your image is part of the act. By dressing like you would for a show, the type of people that stop to talk to you will naturally be interested in the general vibe that you put off.
On top of your apparel, you should also make sure that you are as nonthreatening as possible. Anything that you can do to appear more friendly will go along way towards increasing the amount of people who stop to hear what you have to say.
Be Engaging! Try Playing Some Music…
Talking to random strangers can be overwhelming, but there are simple things that you can do to make the process more effective and less stressful. To be engaging, you need to do something that captivates people’s attention.
One of the best ways to do this is to just play some music. Whether you play the guitar, sing for a band or rap, giving people a taste of your music is the easiest way to find people who enjoy it. The other benefit of this approach is that you can attract multiple people at one time, and the people who don’t appreciate your music are free to keep moving.
Doing this in the hours leading up to other popular shows is a great way to ensure you’ll get a decent audience. Play in a parking lot near the venue where people tailgate or hang out before the shows, and they’ll naturally gravitate to you (and your band, if you have one). After you play a couple songs, thank everyone for listening and explain you have a show coming up. This is the perfect time to flyer, and you’ll be guaranteed an engaged audience who enjoys you and your music.
If You Can’t Play Music…
If playing music isn’t an option, you need to find some way to get people interested in you before explaining your band. Figuring this part out is up to you, and you’ll probably need to test many different approaches to find out what people respond to.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to plan these interactions out ahead of time. If you aren’t great at face-to-face interactions, practice. It sounds weird, but a little bit of planning and practice will make you much more comfortable when out on the street, and people will pick up on this extra confidence.
The Number One Time and Place to Distribute Flyers…
The perfect time to hand out flyers for an upcoming show is so simple that it should be obvious: after your other shows!
The only way that you will ever find success as an artist is if you manage to develop real fans, not just one-off concert attendees. This means you want to work to get people coming back for more, and you should do your best to make it easy for your fans to know when and where to find you.
After a concert is the best time to do this, because you can’t get a more targeted audience than this if you tried. People love interactions with bands and artists that they see live, and going out to talk face-to-face after a show has many benefits beyond flyer-giving potential.
The Making of a Great Flyer
If you put all this work into developing a connection with potential fans, the worst thing you could do is distribute flyers that ruin all of the work that you put in. Poor designs, bad information, and low-quality print jobs can all have this effect.
In general, a simple design is better than something very complicated. Don’t let your affinity for interesting artwork get in the way of conveying information, which is the most important job of your flyers. Your name and upcoming dates should be the focus, and the rest of the design needs to supplement this information, not distract from it.
A low-quality print job, including cheap paper, is an easy way to lose credibility. You want to send the message that you mean business and are aiming to be successful, so you should take your promotional materials seriously as well.
While it may be necessary for you to start by printing flyers at home using regular old ink and computer paper, you should try to budget for higher quality materials as quickly as possible. Full-color printing and thick, glossy paper are two good ways to help your flyers stand out from a cluttered crowd of low-quality handouts.
Good Flyers Are Worth The Money
I can already hear you cringing at the thought of spending the amount of money you think it takes to get flyers like that, but before you assume that you can’t afford to advertise your music the right way, let me engage in a bit of self-promotion.
As part of Afton’s commitment to helping up-and-coming artists access the people, venues and tools they need to find success, we offer a popular printing service designed around the specific needs of bands and musicians.
Our rates are literally half what it costs to get the same type of quality from any major print shop. We can offer these rates because our dedication to musicians has allowed us to specialize and avoid unnecessary overhead and expenses. Take advantage of this and get the materials you need to get the word out about your concerts without breaking your budget.
A Quick Review of Effective Flyer Distribution
If you follow the advice in this guide, you should notice a considerable increase in the amount of people that you are able to reach by distributing flyers. Like I said at the beginning of this guide, the most important thing for you to remember is that your goal is to develop real connections with people first and foremost. Giving them a flyer is just a way for you to remind them of who you are and where they can find you again.
If you approach flyer distribution with this in mind and follow the rest of the advice that I shared, you will be one of the few people who understand how to distribute flyers effectively. Use this information to your advantage.
If you know anyone who is doing this the wrong way, please take a minute and share this article with them. Our goal is to help as many musicians as possible, but we can’t do it without your help!
If you’re anything like every other aspiring artist in the world, you probably spend a good deal of time wondering how to increase the attendance of your concerts. Event marketing can be difficult, but as industry veterans, it’s something we’ve gotten pretty good at over the years.
That’s why we decided to put this guide together that goes over online concert promotion. If you are interested in growing your audiences, developing a loyal fan base and actually selling tickets and albums, then this guide will be invaluable to you.
The first thing you need to understand is that concert promotion isn’t easy. The number one reason people fail when it comes to promoting a concert online is the fact that they assume that it will take a few tweets and a Facebook post in the week leading up to the event. This is the wrong attitude to have.
Event marketing needs to begin as soon as you know about the event. The earlier that you begin, the more success you will have. If you want to achieve sold-out shows, then you need to start taking online concert promotion seriously.
If you are ready to do that, this guide will share everything you need to know to set up a promotional system that works. While the steps we will go over today would work to promote a single event, you should be approaching this with the mindset that you are setting up a sustainable event promotion system that will continue to drive results for every show you are ever a part of.
With a little bit of strategic thinking, you can leverage the work you put in now so that you are able to grow into the successful artist you have always wanted to be…
First Things First: Offer Online Ticket Sales
It doesn’t matter how small you are, if you are able to offer online ticket sales, you should be doing it. You may only get a few sales when you first start. You may not get any. It doesn’t matter, because we’re trying to set up a system that will help you grow.
The reason online ticketing is so important is that it allows you to sell your tickets as soon as you capture someone’s interest. The effectiveness of online concert promotion is maximized if you can offer them a ticket as soon as they are aware of the event.
Think of it this way: How many times have you learned of some event only to forget about it until it was too late to go? This happens to literally everyone. To maximize ticket sales, you need to collect their money earlier rather than later.
Concert Promotion On Social Media
Social media is a huge asset to any artist, whether you are a punk rock band, a rapper or something in between. To effectively market a concert on social media, you need to have an engaged fan base.
If You Want Engaged Fans, Be Engaging
Social accounts are another area where too many artists think they can sit back and let their fans do all the work. It doesn’t matter how many or how few followers you have, the number doesn’t mean anything if those people aren’t paying attention to you.
And how do you get them to pay attention?
Pay attention to them first!
Respond to compliments. Respond to criticisms. Answer questions. Ask questions. This seems straightforward, but the reality is that the vast majority of artists just don’t do this.
Leverage Your Fans to Drive Early Ticket Sales
Everyone who chooses to follow you on social media has essentially given you permission to market your music and shows to them. In the marketing world, this is considered permission based marketing, and this is the most effective type of marketing in existence.
Most marketing involves advertisements that are unanticipated, meaning the people you are reaching aren’t expecting the contact. When people choose to follow you, they are indicating a desire to hear from you.
These are the easiest people to sell tickets to!
If you can offer online ticket sales, it’s never too early to start building the hype for a concert. Multiple posts about the same concert are more effective when spread out over time, but you also have to remember to not focus too much on selling…
The 80/20 Rule
The secret to selling to your existing fans is to limit the amount of time that you are simply promoting a show. If this is all you do on your social accounts, people will lose interest quickly. Music fans tend to be very interested in anything related to their favorite artists, so feel free to share away. Topics you can discuss include recordings, new songs, music video production, other artists you like and really anything else related to music.
The goal you should aim for is to have about 80% of your posts focused on these non-sales engagements, with the other 20% of your posts or tweets directly focused on marketing your albums and live shows. The ratio doesn’t need to be exact, but it’s a good benchmark to aim for!
When To Use Personal Networks
A lot of people ask whether they should use their personal accounts to market their music. When we say personal account, we simply mean whatever accounts you have that would exist even if you weren’t an artist. This network typically involves your family, your friends and work colleagues.
The answer is yes, but you need to follow the same rule as above. At least 80% of the things you talk about and share with your personal network should be unrelated to your music.
The reason for this is that if you post too much about one topic, you run the risk of isolating yourself and becoming a person that people automatically ignore for always talking about the same thing. If you think about your network, I’m sure you can think of at least one person who does this. You don’t want to be that guy!
The best things to share with your personal network are album releases and your biggest live shows. This allows your friends and family to share in your success, and also increases the likelihood that they comment and share on your posts, meaning your message will reach a larger audience.
Connect With Influencers
If you really want to expand your reach and maximize your ticket sales, then you have to start networking with influencers. Anyone can be an influencer, but for the music industry you’ll probably be looking at other artists, promoters, radio stations and reviewers.
By connecting with people like this, you are able to tap into their social audiences when you need to promote an event. The best way to do this is to connect with these people before you actually need their help.
Start by making a list of the type of people your fan base also follows. The easiest way to do this is actually go and look at who your followers also follow! You’ll likely find a good deal of other musicians that have similar audiences to you, and the cross-promotional potential with this is huge.
Reach out to these people and show interest in what they are doing. Start a relationship with them and offer to promote their shows to your audience. Before long, you’ll have a network of musicians who all can rely on each other to build hype.
Paid advertising on social media works, sometimes. Other times, it is little more than a waste of money. It’s hard to say if it will work for your event, but if you want to explore this avenue there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
The first thing you need to do is set up highly targeted audiences for your ads. The idea behind targeting is that it allows you to make sure the people who see your ads have interests related to your music. This means you need to identify people and pages that your audiences also follow, and set your ads to only display for people who also liked or follow them.
Another crucial part to effective targeting is making it location based. This makes sure that your ads only go out to people who are in the city that your show is being held. You don’t want to waste money marketing to people on the other side of the country, after all!
Another important part of paid advertising is directing it to a good sales page, ideally with the option to immediately buy tickets. You want to pay for ticket sales, not awareness.
Finally, make sure you are tracking the results. The only way to know if you are making money off the investment you are making is to keep detailed records of the amount of money you are earning thanks to the paid promotions. Test different ad styles and markets, but at the end of the day, you should stop paid advertising if you aren’t seeing a direct increase in ticket sales.
Reaching Out To Press, Websites and Other Influencers
We already discussed influencers on social media, but there are plenty of places to reach people outside of social networks. There is a secret to this, and it’s the exact opposite of what most people will tell you.
Many music promoters will tell you to target people with huge audiences, but the truth is that audience size doesn’t matter! You may be shaking your head a that, but it’s the absolute truth of the matter, and you need to internalize that fact if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your concert promotions.
What matters is that the people you get to promote your concert are an authority figure for an audience that will likely appreciate your music. This means that people actually look to these individuals for information and advice.
Let’s say you are a rapper and are looking to promote a show in Atlanta. You only have the time to set up one promotion and you get to choose between a reporter with Atlanta’s biggest newspaper or a blogger that covers the underground rap scene. The newspaper reporter’s articles get seen by over 50,000 people but the blogger only has an audience of 4,000.
Take the blogger every time!
The bloggers audience is likely highly targeted and relevant to your music. The reporter’s audience will probably ignore the piece or find little interest in it.
Always go with a targeted audience over a large, indefinite one.
Getting Their Attention
One of the best ways to get the attention of people who you want to have cover your shows is to offer them free admission. Many people will turn you down, but you only have to find one person with an audience to have an effect on your attendance.
Create a Website and Capture Emails
If done well, a website can be one of the most effective tools in your overall marketing strategy. On one hand, it provides an excellent place for your fans to find out everything they want to know about you, including your live show schedule and upcoming albums.
More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to develop a highly targeted list of fans through email captures. Connecting via email is an often overlooked aspect of online marketing, but it can also be one of the most effective.
Collecting emails can be as simple as offering a free download of a popular song in exchange for their email. This incentivizes your visitors to share their email with you and allows you to build a list of emails that you know are people who want to listen to your music.
Abusing an email list by over emailing is one of the easiest ways to make people dislike you, so you want to be very calculated with the messages you send out. Don’t do it more than once or twice a week, and make sure to make every email interesting.
Emails don’t have to be boring or overly professional to be effective. Use whatever language your audience would expect you to use in real life to get the best results.
Add Your Concerts to Event Calendars
Our final suggestion to market your live show is to get your concert on as many event calendars as possible. The easiest way to find these is to do Google searches for “event city + event calendar” and “event city + concert schedule” (here’s an example for Portland). The list will be the same list that people who are looking for things to do get when they perform the same search, so you know these are good calendars to get on.
Most cities will have a calendar run by a tourism board, plus there are usually a handful of radio stations that run their own calendars. Figure out who is in control of the calendars and reach out to them. An added bonus is that most calendars feature links to where you can get tickets, so this can be a decent way to drive traffic directly to ticket sales.
If you follow all of the advice in this guide, you will be well on your way to setting up an online presence that allows you to effectively market and drive increased ticket sales for all of your concerts and live events. Your goal should be setting up a system that will help you market all of your live shows, not just individual concerts.
To review, your online concert marketing strategy should include all of the following:
- Offering online ticket sales
- Connecting on social media
- Leveraging the influence of others to drive increased attendance
- Using your own website to connect directly with fans
- Advertising your concert on event calendars
Remember that effective concert promotion isn’t as simple as just doing all the steps listed, you also have to do it effectively. We’ve explained the basics of this in each section, but the most important thing to remember is to actively engage your audience and don’t over promote by only discussing ticket and album sales.
If you’ve found this guide helpful, please consider sharing it with other people who may find it useful for increasing their concert attendance. Too many people are doing all the wrong things, and we’d like to help people get on the right track!
Also, please share other tips and strategies that you have for promoting your shows. We will update this guide in the future and include any good suggestions that we get, including credit of course!
“Should You Rely on Others to Make Your Band Successful?”
That is a question I’ve asked myself many times over the last 15 years. But I’ve found the more that an unsigned band or rapper chooses to rely on other people to make them successful, rather than relying on themselves to put in the work, the less successful they become.
As a local band or local rapper, you are in many ways like a new startup company. You have a product you created; your art, your music, your live show. Your goal as this new startup company is to get your product out in the world, and to sell your product so others can enjoy it.
We all know that a new startup company cannot survive if their product is not selling or if it’s not bringing in enough revenue. This is why it is so crucial for you to cultivate and develop a strong fan base. The more fans you have, the more music you will sell, the more Merch you will sell, and the more money you will make when playing live. Every successful band or rapper makes their money because they have a large fan base.
BUT HERE IS THE PROBLEM – Many local artists think that it is everyone else’s job (not their job) to market and sell their product. This is not just an innocent misconception. This type of mindset can really hurt you in the long run. How? Well let’s think about this for a minute…
A new startup company has a product. They convince Home Depot to put their product in their stores. We can all agree here, it is not Home Depot’s job to go out and market this startup company’s product and to drive sales for this company’s product. Home Depot’s role is simply to display and house the product, so that people that the startup company markets to can come into the store and buy it. If the startup company’s product does not sell, it is not home depot’s fault. In fact – Home Depot will probably stop stocking this product if it fails to sell for a long period of time. If this startup company’s product is not selling, then the startup company is the one that needs to market better and drive sales for their own product.
The music industry works in a similar way.
Venues, promoters, record labels, managers, booking agents – all of these people help you as an artist to facilitate the sale of your music, and the sale of your live show. But these entities are not responsible for driving sales or developing your fan base for you.
This is why about 1 in 20 major label artists never sell more than 20,000 records or end up getting dropped from their label. Many acts get signed and assume the label will drive all sales of their album. Just like the Home Depot example, if the start up company (or artist) fails to drive sales and market themselves – then they are doomed to fail.
You are this exciting, innovative, amazing new startup company; and your music, your Art, your live show U your product. You are the only one who can most effectively market, drive sales, and cultivate a diehard fan base for your music. You care about your career and your music more than anybody else in the world because it is your passion, your art, and your career.
So why would you try to rely solely on others to do this work for you?
The sooner you realize this, the better off you will be because you can take control and start to rely on yourself, instead of relying on others to make you successful.
THE BEST ACTION PLAN FOR PROMOTING YOUR LIVE SHOW
“I know firsthand how frustrating it can be when it feels like nobody cares about your music. That is exactly how I felt when I started my own band. This is one of the reasons I do what I do. – Ryan Kintz, Co-Founder of Afton
I want you to know that right now, even if you haven’t played any shows, you already have what we call a “SPRINGBOARD FAN BASE.” This promo plan is based on my personal and professional experiences while booking and playing live. This is how you will easily draw more people out to your live shows. Instead of being discouraged focus your promo time on the right strategies.
SHOW PROMOTION ACTION PLAN
EQUIP EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – CARRY TICKETS & FLIERS AT ALL TIMES.
LEVERAGE EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – DAILY “TOUCH” GOAL
*If you’re a solo artist – get a few of your best friends to help.
MAKE A LIST OF EVERY PERSON IN EACH MEMBER’S PERSONAL NETWORK.
SELL A TICKET TO EVERY PERSON YOU PERSONALLY KNOW FROM THAT LIST.
GET EACH TICKET BUYER TO BRING OUT THEIR FRIENDS – ADD INCENTIVES!
START & UTILIZE THE “SNOWBALL EFFECT.”
ONCE YOU’RE AT THE SHOW – YOUR PROMO PLAN IS NOT YET DONE!
SO WHAT IS YOUR “SPRINGBOARD FAN BASE?”
You and your group members have a large network of people who already personally know you and will be interested in seeing you perform live. Every artist has a Springboard Fan Base no matter how experienced or new they are.
TURNING YOUR SPRINGBOARD FANBASE INTO YOUR STREET TEAM
This is a grassroots, personal approach that many local artists fail to utilize. Your personal network is going to be your initial STREET TEAM. They will be the most passionate about spreading your name and inviting their friends to shows, and they will be happy to see your success grow. This is how you’re quickly going to start drawing 50-100+ fans to every show you play.
STEP 1. EQUIP EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – CARRY TICKETS & FLIERS AT ALL TIMES
Make sure EACH member of your group is pro-active, involved, and doing their share of the promotion workload. Have each member carry around physical tickets and fliers everywhere they go. Assign each member specific promo tasks or goals.
Each member should invite every person they see face-to-face during their normal everyday activities to the show, focusing especially on people they already know. Don’t just hand out fliers and walk off. Spend a few minutes with them, make them feel special, and invite them to your show. When you’re face-to-face with somebody who’s interested in attending, be sure to SELL THEM A TICKET right then and there. You can easily turn a friend from “I think I’ll show up, it sounds fun!” to actually buying 1 ticket for themselves and 1-2 tickets for their friends right there on the spot. This won’t happen unless you ask!
I used to sell 10-15 tickets per week just from coming into contact with my friends and people I knew through work and other social activities. Normally, advance tickets are cheaper than door price – so you save your fans money when you see them in person! Any time that you spend doing this is an investment that will yield a high return. You’re spreading the word, making social connections, and building social capital.
2. LEVERAGE EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – DAILY “TOUCH” GOALS
In promotion and marketing, a “TOUCH” is defined as anytime you reach out to somebody in person and tell them about your product in a NON sale-sy, personal way. Learning to LEVERAGE your group members and setting daily or weekly “touch” goals can greatly impact your fan base.
EXAMPLE: THE POWER OF LEVERAGE
If a 4-member band each commits to 2 touches per day, that means 240 new people will be invited (in person) to your shows, given a flier, or sold a ticket each MONTH. Making a habit of this will result in 2,880 new touches each year. The best part is, the more you practice this, the better you get at it. Now imagine if you really took this seriously and each member made just 5 touches per day. That’s 7,300 touches per year.
How many more fans would you make if your group accomplished this goal? Set a touch goal for each member. What if some days you don’t see any or many people in person? Use your touches by texting, calling, or messaging someone about your show.
3. MAKE A LIST OF EVERY PERSON IN EACH MEMBER’S PERSONAL NETWORK.
People that personally know you are MOST likely to buy a ticket to your show, bring their friends, and be a part of this grassroots Street Team. Your personal network is the foundation of your large and ever-growing fan base.
YOU PERSONALLY KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE.
Research has shown that the average American knows about 300 people. You collectively have A LOT of social capital in your personal networks. Sit down with your group and have each member MAKE A LIST of every person they know in your area. Go through your phone contacts, email contacts, and list of Facebook friends. Make an actual list that will be your starting Springboard Fan Base.
I’ve always, wholeheartedly, believed that virtually ANY local artist can draw 15-20 fans at the VERY least. Truthfully, I believe most local artists can and should be able to draw 50+ people per show. All you have to do is focus on smart promoting with tactics that yield results rather than blindly wasting time passing out fliers to complete strangers. START with your personal network. Utilize your social capital! This is how my own local band went from drawing 0 fans per show to 100-200 fans per show in Portland, Oregon – which was over an hour away from where we lived.
This action plan COSTS YOU NOTHING. Just be smart, work hard, and focus on the people who are most likely to help you succeed.
4. SELL A TICKET TO EVERY PERSON YOU PERSONALLY KNOW FROM THAT LIST.
Your fans and friends are more likely to purchase tickets if they buy them in advance, and they will do so sooner if you communicate WHY they should buy. Be creative and direct. Nobody will buy tickets early if you don’t give them a good reason to. Some ideas are:
- Advance tickets save you money (If promo code discounts are active they will save you even more).
- The sooner you buy, XYZ happens for my band (more pay, better time slot, longer set, the club/promoter will be impressed, I’ll get more shows or be rebooked if we have impressive ticket sales, once you buy Dave, Brian, & Sam will get their tickets, etc.).
- This show is important / means a lot to me for XYZ reasons.
- This show is special (B-day show, CD release, amazing venue or lineup, new songs, etc.)
- You can offer fans INCENTIVES (free CD, 1 free song, signed poster, song dedication, pre-show party or after show party invite, etc) if they purchase tickets early or buy tickets in group bundles.
PERSONAL INVITES. AVOID MASS MARKETING BLASTS.
The more personal you are when you reach out, the more effective your promo time will be. Email blasts and Facebook Event blasts at this point yield very low results because people are numb to notifications and mass marketing. A person “Attending” on a Facebook Event is way less likely to show up than a person who buys a ticket in advance. Social media and Facebook Events give a false illusion that a bunch of people are coming to your show.
A great way to keep track is to cross names off your list as friends/fans say they cannot attend, and highlight or circle friends who have bought tickets. This way you know WHO TO FOLLOW UP WITH! Ask friends who bought tickets if they can bring along more friends and carpool.
ALWAYS GIVE A “CALL TO ACTION.”
Always give a “call to action.” Here’s what I mean by this. During your personal 1-on-1 invites, ask the person to do something or respond with an answer. This way the person feels engaged and feels like they need to reply back to you. Here are some “call to action” examples I have personally used:
“If you buy a ticket by X date I can get you a FREE CD. Do you already have a copy?”
“I’m trying to keep track of who can go so I know who I can count on. Are you coming for sure? I don’t want to keep reaching out if you can’t make it.”
“If you bring 3 friends to my show I can possibly comp your ticket or give you a free merch item. Would you do that if I could make that happen? Or are you busy that night?”
“Do you know when you’ll buy your ticket yet? I’m keeping track so let me know.”
“While you’re deciding if you can go, can you SHARE my show poster on your FB page?”
“Let me know if you buy your tickets, and if so which songs would you most like to hear?”
Anything that is a call to action and asks for a response or for a decision to be made is going to yield much higher results. This also puts you into a 1-on-1, back-and-forth conversation with your friends and fans. Even if a friend cannot attend, you can still ask them to post about the show, invite their friends, or put you in contact with anybody they know who would like your band!
5. GET EACH TICKET BUYER TO BRING OUT THEIR FRIENDS – ADD INCENTIVES!
Your fans & friends care about you. They WANT to help you. You just have to ask, and you need to use the right incentives. I keep a list of every person who buys a ticket. That way, I can reach out to them and ask them to bring friends AND tell them about my incentives if they do so.
The fans who already bought tickets ARE 100% going to your show, so the next step is to ask them to BRING THEIR FRIENDS. Nobody likes going to a show alone, right? If a couple is coming, don’t they have 2 open seats in their car?
Start treating your existing fans like VIPs. Create some EXISTING FAN DEALS with incentives if they bring people to your show who have never seen you perform live. Investing $0.50 for a fan to bring you a new fan OR $5 – $10 in free stuff for a fan to bring you FIVE new fans is completely worth it! This is how I pitch my fan incentive deals, but be creative in what you offer and how you word it.
The (Your Act Name Here) Bring Friends Deal:
Bring (1) friend who’s never seen us perform
= FREE Sticker + 2-Song CD Sampler
Bring (3) friends who have never seen us perform
= FREE Sticker + FULL LENGTH CD
Bring (5) friends who have never seen us perform
= The Above + FREE T-SHIRT + I’ll buy your 1st drink!
Bring (10) friends who have never seen us perform
= All Above + Song Dedication + WE’LL PAY FOR YOUR TICKET
THE BEST PART ABOUT FAN INCENTIVES
Once you start doing this, some friends/fans will end up bringing you 5, 10, 15+ new fans over just a few shows. Eventually you’ll run out of free merch/stuff to give them. But they are going to keep bringing new friends to your shows. Why? Because they’re going to start seeing how big of an impact THEY are having on your success and how happy that makes you. Your friends and fans WANT TO HELP YOU – they just need a little incentive push to get started.
FOR THE FULL ARTICLE ON OFFERING FAN INCENTIVE DEALS FOR BRINGING FRIENDS: http://aftonresources.com/fans.html
6. START & UTILIZE THE “SNOWBALL EFFECT.”
If you build the foundation of your fan base by starting with your personal network and people you already know you can then leverage your social capital in a big way. You can work outward from the people you DO know into the networks of their friends and people you DON’T KNOW yet. This type of grassroots strategy creates what we like to call the “SNOWBALL EFFECT.”
THE SNOWBALL EFFECT – IT GROWS & PICKS UP SPEED.
- You’re constantly utilizing your personal network to get fans/friends out to your shows.
- Each fan attending is inviting friends from THEIR personal network to your show.
- Your existing fans vouch for you, talk you up, and connect you to their friends.
- When your fans bring friends they get INCENTIVES and rewards for helping you out.
- The friends THEY bring will now be offered INCENTIVES if they bring their friends.
- Suddenly, friends of your friends’ friends are bringing people to see you play live.
Before you know it, your best friend’s >> girlfriend’s >> brother’s >> 3 best friends are attending your show. Now you’re 4 levels outside of your personal network. It starts to grow and grow and grow and every new fan brought to your show is meeting you personally, seeing you play live, having a fun experience, and being added to your mailing list and offered those same INCENTIVE deals, which in turn will get them to bring their friends to your shows.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:
Your best friend “Tom” brings his two drinking buddies to your show. You’ve never met them before… Now you personally meet these two guys and get them on your Mailing List.
At your next show, best friend “Tom” CAN’T make it out… But this time his two drinking buddies show up (because they met you & signed up for your Mailing List last time). This time, they each bring their girlfriend. So, you meet their two girlfriends and get them on your Mailing List.
BAM. Your best friend, within 2 shows, has introduced you to FOUR NEW FANS. In this example alone you went from: (1) Best Friend Tom >> (4) people he knows that you DID NOT know.
This is how things start to snowball and really take off, and this is what you want. It’s VERY ACHIEVABLE for you to be drawing 50, 100, 200 people per show within the next 3-6 months.
7. ONCE YOU’RE AT THE SHOW – YOUR PROMO PLAN IS NOT YET DONE!
Many artists think their show promotion ends once the show starts. This is NOT the case. Your promo action plan for this show does not end until the SHOW ITSELF ENDS.
You’ve worked so hard to sell 25, 35, 50+ Tickets. You now have, for certain, a large crowd of people showing up. They all know you and are excited to cheer you on. Think about how impressive that looks to every other fan and band in the venue on the night of the show. Everyone else has a sparse, barely clapping crowd. But you, due to your excellent promotional work, are going to have a densely packed crowd up against the stage shouting and cheering you on. THAT is going to turn heads and immediately make other bands’ fans stop and take you seriously.
This is where you are going to MAKE NEW FANS out of the other bands’ fans. First impression? You’re a band with a buzz because you have an impressive crowd. The room is not awkward or sparse. It’s now easier to get other bands’ fans to move forward, join the crowd, and engage in your live performance.
MANY LOCAL ARTISTS show up and expect their music and live performance to win over everyone in the room. It might… But usually it takes more than that, some type of personal connection or crowd engagement.
BEFORE YOU PERFORM
1. Make a point to introduce yourself personally and MEET as many of the other bands’ fans as you can before you go onstage.
2. Tell them which act you’re in and what time you perform. If they’re not super interested move on, if there’s a connection chat a couple minutes.
3. Tell them that IF THEY STAY for your set you’ll give them XYZ FREE MERCH at your merch table if they come talk to you.
4. Carry around Mailing List cards while you do this, and ask if they’d like to be on your mailing list in return for XYZ Free Merch.
Now when you take the stage 50% or 100% of the room will have already MET a band member personally and will know their name. People will know your group goes onstage at X:XX PM. Some people are excited to get your FREE XYZ offered merch after you play. That is how you set things up to “wow” other bands’ fans and make them your new fans.
AFTER YOU PERFORM
Get 1 band member immediately to your merch table to talk to people, give out any free merch you promised, and collect or get mailing list cards. This is your chance to again talk to the other bands’ fans who liked your set and to thank your fans for coming.
WE’D LOVE TO HEAR ANY OTHER PROMOTION IDEAS THAT WORK FOR YOU!
If you have any tips or strategies that you’ve found successful I’d love to hear them and share them with our artists. I make no claim that this is the “only” way to draw fans to your shows. But I firmly believe in this and have seen it work firsthand better than any other promo tips I’ve seen or used. I hope something in this helps you and gives you some ideas to achieve what you want to achieve. – Ryan Kintz, Co-Founder of Afton
WHAT EVERYONE IS DOING IS NOT WORKING!
The majority of local artists are already using traditional paper fliers. Yet, they are not seeing significant results from the fliers they put up. Acts are giving out hundreds of paper fliers, and NOT seeing many new faces attend their show as a direct result of the fliers distributed.
If putting up fliers is so effective, and every local artist is already giving out fliers to promote their shows, WHY ARE THEY NOT WORKING? Why are hundreds of fliers going out for these shows without much of an increase in attendance?
IF you are NOT experiencing the ineffectiveness of fliers that MOST local acts experience, there is NO NEED to read further.
If what you’re doing works for you, keep doing it. BUT, if what you are doing is NOT working, it’s time to change your strategy.
YOU PROBABLY HAVE EXPERIENCED THIS FIRST HAND
Most local musicians have had the disheartening experience of spending hours and hours giving out hundreds of fliers. Then the night of the show, they are disgusted to find that all of the time they spent downtown or at the mall only ended up getting out maybe 1 or 2 more people to their show. Spending a lot of time giving out HUNDREDS of fliers, only to get a couple extra people out to your show is a crushing feeling.
WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THIS?
Most local acts are spending hours of their time giving out fliers to the WRONG PEOPLE.
The WRONG PEOPLE are the people you have no personal connection to, complete strangers, such as:
• People walking through the mall
• People you don’t know at the skate shop, at a show, or at a club
• Random people on myspace or facebook who you’ve never met face to face
• People walking around downtown or that you see on the street
The reason most local acts are spending hours of their time giving out hundreds of fliers and seeing little return is because they are giving fliers to the WRONG PEOPLE. It is 10 times harder to convince a complete stranger, someone who has no personal connection to you, to take the time to pay attention to you and your music or go to your website, let alone convince them to spend money to see you play. That is why fliers given to the wrong people usually end up in the trash.
THEN HOW CAN I GROW MY FAN BASE BY USING FLIERS?
Distribute your fliers to the RIGHT PEOPLE.
The RIGHT PEOPLE are your existing fans and the people you know and have a personal connection with:
• Your existing fans and mailing list
• People you know from school
• Anyone else that you know or have a personal connection with
The BEST way to grow your fan base, and ensure that the time and money you spend on fliers is not wasted, is to send out your fliers through your fan base’s network of personal connections!
Your fliers will be much more effective when people you know, and existing fans, get your fliers out to people THEY know and can “vouch” to their friends that you are worth checking out. Word of mouth, through personal connections, is the fastest way to grow your fan base. This is WHY giving fliers to the right people is going to yield far better results than giving out fliers to complete strangers.
STOP spending hours of your time giving fliers to the WRONG PEOPLE and getting little to no results.
INSTEAD get your fliers out to the people you have personal connections with, so THEY can get fliers into the hands of people in their personal network.
The goal here is to distribute your fliers through a network of personal connections, so that each flier someone receives is coming from a source they trust!
You have limited promotion time, and your time is valuable. So MAKE SURE you are spending your time on the promotion strategies that will yield you the BEST RESULTS. If you distribute your fliers to the RIGHT PEOPLE, you will yield far better results than an act that gives out their fliers to complete strangers and people they have no personal connection with.