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Getting people to come to your show - frustrating!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by spectorbass83, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Does anybody else find it difficult to get a fair amount of people to attend your band's show?

    Obviously the local scene will differ from city to city, but around here people just don't give a Cover your profanity COMPLETELY! ~Mod.

    Usually when I promote a show, I will get the same replies -

    "I might come" - which usually means they will not
    "I can't make it to this one but I will try and make it to the next show!" - which they never come to anyways

    I'm just a little frustarted and am losing hope with all the empty promises that people, who are supposed to be my
    friends, make about attending a show.

    Anybody else wanna share?
    Do you care to share some ideas that you have tried which braught in a big crowd to a show?

    I know many people will say "Promote your show!", but lately I am finding that this is not enough.
  2. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    If your friends aren't coming to your shows it's because they don't like your music. Friends will show up to one, maybe two shows out of obligation but after that you can't really expect them to keep coming if they don't like your music. Try opening up for more established bands who already have a good fan base. Maybe you will win over some of their fans.
  3. Jeff Martinez

    Jeff Martinez

    May 10, 2005
    Denver, CO
    Simple math I've learned about friends:

    You ask 20 to come to a show.
    10 say yes
    5 say maybe
    4 will "forget"
    3 will have other plans come up
    1 MIGHT show up.
  4. The bottom line is that you can't rely on just friends to show up. People have a lot of stuff going on in their lives. If they don't make it to a show, don't take it personally. Stuff happens.

    Put up fliers, plug the show on local websites, etc. Get the word out to as many people as possible, not just friends and family.
  5. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    It's tough to get people to commit these days.
    Do you play covers or originals at your gigs? Originals are a LOT tougher and a whooooole different ballgame than playing covers in regards to bringing in people if that's the case. Even if your stuff is great, the same people arent going to keep coming to shows week after week, you need some new twists to bring in new blood.
    Play both - take song requests from your friends, hook up with other bands that bring in a good crowd, find clubs that have a good regular draw. You've got some killer tracks on your myspace - get some local airplay if you can and advertise your gigs there. Dont get discouraged, just get creative in how you do things, that's all. Easier said than done of course but not at all insurmountable.
  6. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Play music people like or create a scene people want to be a part of -> people come.

    It's pretty simple really. The only problem is, you might not like what most people like. I gave up years ago. Now I play to a packed house almost every night. Sure, I'm playing disco covers, but I have fun with it.
  7. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Thanks for the kind words.
    We play all original music. We do throw in a cover tune or two just to mix it up.
  8. shooter_mi


    Sep 29, 2005
    I think there's a trend of people really not wanting to hear original music right now, at least here in mid-michigan (stone's throw from you, border or not). I notice people getting big crowds when they play covers, or even originals that are heavily "in the style" of famous bands. But even the touring acts that come through Lansing are pulling in squat for people. We just had one venue for original music close down and when I go out to others, there really aren't many people around. Last summer, on the road with my band, we sold more merch and played for more people on Monday's and tuesdays than we do in Lansing on Friday or Saturday.
  9. Dude Windsor is full of Hardcore Screamo bands.

    I can't help but notice your band is not one. So if you want to do a show. Von Tango is ready, willing and able:D

    I'm pretty sure I just seen the bald guy at L&M today.
  10. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    Trying to get friends to your shows is advertising to the wrong people, and frankly won't get you anywhere.

    Even if you sound great, your friends still won't come unless they are the type of friends that go out to shows regularly.

    You should be promoting at the place you are actually going to play at.

    For instance if you have a show at some club, promote their every weekend at least a month before. Or at the very least make sure you keep posting flyiers in the joint. then if you kill it those people might show up again next time.

    This way the people that actually go to that club might come.

    It's a lot easier to get people to go somewhere they already hang out, rather than asking them to go somewhere out of their way.

    One show we had happened to be in a past bass players neighborhood. He'd been bugging his buddies to come to shows for over a year. Like two of them did. When we played this place it was packed. we filled the place with about 150 people. Friends of friends, on top of promotion at the gig. They all liked us, and we got a lot of complements.

    After that show, none of them bothered driving out to shows that were far from where they lived.

    Once you get past high school/ all ages shows, very few bands under a professional level actually have followings that will follow them to every show, for small clubs and bar gigs.

    why drive across town to drink and get a dui, when you can drink at a bar close to home.

    Most people go to clubs to be social and drink, the band is secondary. Of course a bad band/sound can empty a bar that's full too.

    the real trick is to find places that are already happening and have some sort of crowd even without a band and just promote to all the regulars.

    If you are just starting out get opener gigs and do jam nights and kill it so you get known.
  11. Ever try a mailing list?

    Word of mouth is a start but probably the slowest way to start a following. Back in the day we use to do actual snail mail list. Once a month the band would cut a rehearsal short so we could do our post cards. Thank God for email!

    Works the same as word of mouth, just on a larger scale. If you tell 20 people two may show up. If you email 200 people 20 people will show up. Hopefully and probably more.

    Your same 10-20 Friends won't show up to every gig, but at least 20 out of 200 mailing list will show up because it's not always the same 20 people out of the 200.
  12. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    You're the 2nd person from Windsor I ran into here on Talkbass, pretty cool :smug:

    This Friday (tomorrow) we are playing at Chubby Pickle, then we have no shows booked after that. I added you guys to our Myspace, maybe in the future we can set something up:bassist:

    You probably did see the bald guy at L&M yesterday, thats our drummer. He was renting a PA for our Leopard's show.

    Keep in touch man.
  13. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I've decided music is dying. Nobody comes to ANY shows anymore. Turnouts for popular shows around here are weak.
  14. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    My band was in a similar situation, where getting people to show up to shows was hit-or-miss. Some of the solutions that I've come up with are:

    1. If it's an all-ages show, book a high school band or two. Odds are you'll be better than them (though I've seen a few really good ones), and they'll bring their friends to the show and will probably have them stick around.

    2. If you're in a small town (like we are), book every show you can with out-of-town bands on tour. Around here, they always draw at least a bit better. And if nothing else, it's good to swap business cards for any tours that YOU are going to do.

    3. Grab a couple of acoustics and a big stack of handbills. Stand in front of bars that you're going to be playing at and do quick "guerilla" acoustic sets while somebody hands out show flyers. Be sure to put on a SHOW while you're doing this and not just stand there playing and singing. Run around a bit and get some attention. It worked for the Matches (now on tour with +44).
  15. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    All good responses above.

    I play with two bands, one is a power fusion trio doing covers (well, sort of) of non-mainstream music (Tribal Tech, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, etc) and the other is a classic rock trio doing very commercial covers (CCR, Johnny Rivers, ZZ Top, etc). Both bands have big mailing lists, but the commercial Top 40 Classic Rock stuff is dramatically more popular.

    The power fusion trio has some very technical chops and some very talented cats in the band. It's fun and challanging and I enjoy it quite a bit. We make almost no money and have a very hard time getting booked into popular clubs in the area.

    The rock trio guys are nice guys, really very good friends of mine, and we have a ton of fun. No pressure, no ego trips, highly organized. The band is booked a lot, for pretty darn good money in some nice places. We have a good following, and it's only getting better. I find almost no challange in the songs, but I'm having fun and getting paid to fund my musical habits and I can even throw some decent cash into the retirement accounts.

    Bottom line, people want to be entertained and enjoy themselves. They'd rather be able to sing along with the song than listen to the band blowing a unison 32nd note riff at nosebleed speeds. Originals (or other non-mainstream tunes) are tough, covers are easy. No matter how hard you try, chances are much greater that the broader appeal of commercially viable music will bring people in, while the other routes are a tough road .....
  16. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    All good responses here.
    I guess the bottom line is that it takes time to build a fanbase, its not gonna happen overnight. I'm not planning on giving up on the people :D
  17. shooter_mi


    Sep 29, 2005
    That a quote from Mo Better Blues, the Spike Lee flick. PE (or the Roots?) sampled it because its a great movie.
  18. morf

    morf Banned

    Feb 17, 2006
    You know what it just might be The Roots I'll have to check! Havent seen that movie will also have to check that out
  19. Spoiled Grape

    Spoiled Grape I <3 Darkstar

    May 29, 2003
    Riverside, CA
    Here is a barrage of random thoughts and ideas.

    1) Promotion. How are you promoting? Don't talk to friends. Someone mentioned going to the club itself. That's a good start. Promote at the actual club ahead of time, promote at shows of the other bands you are playing with, promote at shows of the other bands that have the same people that might like you.

    2) Scene. With local stuff, it's all about the local scene. Are you involved in it? Are you just some outsider who has never gone to a show before and now expects people to go to yours? If you are involved in the local scene, promote to that crowd. You should know all the local bands, all the regulars, and most of the promoters. Get to know them and all the local clubs. It's worth it.

    3) Hand demos out at the club you are playing after shows. Chances are out of 100 people, 30 of them will actually listen to it, 15 will like it, and 2 or 3 will go to the show. Is it worth it to you?

    4) Looking at yuor myspace, you are already on the right track. You are booked at a CD release show for another band that plays a similar style of music. Ride with them as far as you and they can.

    5) Get play on local radio shows, college stuff, etc. You'd be suprised at how easy it is.

    6) Develop connections with fans. You aren't rockstars yet. Know them by first names. My band isn't huge, but we can pack a place, and I can probably put a name to almost every single one of them.

    7) Get merch. Give it away until people will buy it. Shirts do the trick. Scenesters wear shirt, people listen to band. It's stupid people psychology my friend.

    8) E-mail lists. MySpace Bulletins. MySpace Messages. Cell Phone Texts. You get the idea.

    9) Make sure people keep coming back to your shows. Don't dissapoint them, and promote for your future shows while still on stage, behind the merch booth, and in the crowd.

    ADVANCED: This is a little bit more advanced.

    1) Plan your shows to your crowd. Don't play a college crowd during finals.

    2) If your crowd is mostly all ages, don't book a show headlining a bar. If your crowd is mostly 21+, don't book a show at a venue that doesn't serve alcohol.

    3) If you want to pack a show, don't book another show around the same time period, for less money. Two years ago, we had planned to headline a bar for some cash. A few weeks before the show, we got offered a spot on a really attractive bill with well established touring bands, it was all ages, AND it had a lower ticket price than the show we were goign to headline the following week. I'm sure you can guess what show most people ended up going too.

    I'm all outta ideas right now. Goodluck.
  20. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005

    These are all great ideas, thanks.
    I am involved in the local scene, but not as much as I would like to be...I definitely want to take more time to promote at local shows, hand out some swag, demo cd's etc.. people love free stuff.

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