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Any ideas on building an audience?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Axtman, Jan 12, 2018 at 5:55 PM.

  1. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    I currently play in a small jazz combo. We are pretty good and are getting better everytime we perform. The problem is that we have a terrible time getting people to come out and hear us play (for free!). Do you have any ideas on how to build an audience? Thanks.
  2. HauntedDave


    Mar 7, 2016
    Houston, TX
    Dude, that's the 86 million dollar question. So many variables involved. People are easily persuaded to like something, but they usually won't support it. Good luck.
  3. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    I thought it was the $64,000 question. I guess your are accounting for inflation. ;-)
  4. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    Move to Europe/Japan.
    (only partially kidding)
    Lee Moses likes this.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Regardless of the style of music, here's what is needed to fill your gigs:

    1. Word of mouth.
    2. Word of mouth.
    3. Word of mouth.


    On your breaks, chat up the audience members. If they have a good time they will tell their friends, some of whom might come next time.

    Use social media...post cell phone photos (esp. with you and smiling audience members) and videos. Tell your audience to friend you. Then try posting during your gigs with a message like "come on down, it's a party!". Mention the people in your photo posts: "Sue, Debbie and Jane are here and having a ball with us", etc. Encourage your audience to post, too. Create Facebook events. Etc.

    I know a singer who is a retired salesman and he packs his gigs by using his gift of gab and Facebook postings.
  6. Oddly

    Oddly Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Stop playing jazz.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.:D

    Seriously though, if you check out the 'band management' forum over on the bass guitar side of TB there's been a few threads on the subject with some helpful advice given.
  7. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I had success getting 35 to 70 people out to my events for a while, but grew tired of how much work it was. So I stopped and focused on corporate and wedding and festival work.

    Here was my formula:

    1. Get onto a Jazz meetup group on meetup.com, or start one. Post your gigs there.
    2. Print up 1/4 size flyers (even black and white, and cut them to 1/4 page). Pass them out to everyone you know. Get the band to do it as well.
    3. Bill the event as a social, and get the owner of the venue to give away a bottle of wine or a gift certificate as a raffle -- build an email list with the raffle entrants (they write out their name and email address on it for the draw).
    4. Look for ways to tap into divorcee, singles, and other groups in the appropriate age bracket.
    5. Get there early and facilitate introductions among people -- make sure they can sit together and get to know each other. Build a community. Get to know people and be friends with them. I held ice-breaker activities like 2 truths and a lie, for example. People will start to come because of YOU.
    6. Get your events up on Eventbrite, eventful, yelp, and any local, free facebook page. You can build your own facebook page. but it's a ton of work. I never bothered, preferring to build my own email list, and partnering with other people who already had one.
    7. Cut deals with people who have big mailing lists to put your gigs into their newsletter or help them in some way so they will promote your gigs -- maybe by offering your band at a discount for one of their events. Look for a Main Street program in your area or a chamber of commerce.
    8. Make sure the owner of the venue does his own promotion -- we put postcards on his tables for the event, posters up, and sometimes the 1/4 size flyers in the check wallets for his existing clientelle leading up to the vent. We're on his facebook and web page. One venue owner pays the postcards -- we get them cheap at gotprint.com
    9. Partner with a music teacher -- get one on your band, and have them hold a music recital at the restaurant. The owner won't charge to use the space if you bring people. The kids and parents will come to see the event, and then your band plays afterwards for pay. You hit your quota; get the music teacher to encourage the parents and kids to buy dinner for their family as thanks to the venue owner for letting you use the facility.
    10. Support the place personally with your own personal spending, your own birthday party, family gatherings, business meetings, and ask the owner to include it in your numbers. Refer people to the venue for their own events.
    11. Go to events already attracting jazz lovers and promote your own gigs there. But be careful if it's a competing band. A jazz festival is a good place because the event organizer doesn't compete with you. Another band's event, well attended, is touchy as it might tick them off. Be careful with it.
    12. Invite people to jam in the last hour as an open mike. Even teenagers who will bring their parents. If the place is decent and not a dive or a place that looks like its a deleterious influence on teens and others.

    I had a table of 8 once visiting from town. We ate lunch and I asked the owner to include that revenue in my numbers for the band performance in a couple weeks. He's not buying music -- he's buying clients...let him know, implicitly, he gets your business if he hires your band.

    Good luck...those are a few suggestions. It's a long haul, believe me, but fun at first. I just got tired of it after about 3-4 years.
    Lee Moses, Jason Hollar and Oddly like this.
  8. Play. Your. @ss. Off. All. The. Time. Your audience will spread the word. Rinse, repeat.
  9. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, Washington
    PaulFerro, those are GREAT ideas! Thanks!

    We do have postcards that we give out and sometimes mail to friends.
    We do post on Facebook.
    We do email announcements to friends.