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low turn-out for gig

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by RiffwRiter, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. RiffwRiter


    Aug 23, 2016
    Memphis, TN
    Just did a gig last weekend that was really fun but few people showed up despite a lot of effort to promote the show. We went old school and put up a bunch of flyers around town as well as bought an ad in a local weekly paper that has good readership and features arts & entertainment events. We bought a couple of ads on facebook to promote the show. None of this seemed to have done any good. We had a few faithful friends come out and a handful of regular patrons of the venue, but no more than what we could have done without spending a dime.
    We're going to record some original tunes in a month, and I would love to expand our audience. Finding and reaching new listeners is a challenge I'm willing to work to achieve, but I don't think I know a good way to do it. I don't know what works. There seems to always be a lot of events on any weekend so people have a lot of options for entertainment. Any suggestions on how to effectively promote our band?
  2. The best way to promote your band is with good music.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  3. twinjet

    twinjet What does God need with a starship?

    Sep 23, 2008
    Mailbox flyers. Just slap 'em onto random boxes. Someone in my neighborhood did this for a lost cat. Haven't seen any more flyers around, so I assume it must have worked. Probably will for music, too.

    Don't be a felon.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
    mexicanyella, getbent and RoadRanger like this.
  4. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Besides being a felony - good idea LOL.
    comatosedragon, Sixgunn, 40Hz and 6 others like this.
  5. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    What "works" around here is multiband shows - if five bands bring five fans each there's twenty to forty new people that might hear your music (or will probably leave right after "their" band finishes).

    Did you play covers, originals, or a mix? Please post your setlists so we can see if those are the "problem".
  6. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I have had killer advertising programs fail because there was just too much going on at the time of my event.

    Also, the venue has to be right for the crowd. Check that.

    Finally, constantly be on the lookout for ways of getting groups of people to come for reasons in addition to the music. I like to use a concept called Anchor and Twist. The anchor is the music. But then you appeal to certain audiences that will come for the twist. For example, I had "celebrating women with jazz" where my jazz band performed, but the first 30 women got a sweetheart rose, and the piano player was ready to back up anyone, male or female, that wanted to sing a jazz song. We also gave a way door prizes for the women.

    That really sold. On another event, we billed it as a "Jazz Social" and had a trivia contest. Once, I had three different twists -- one for my linked in contacts (business networking), one for my church crowd (church trivia contest) and one for the jazz crowd (jazz social with ice breaker activities).

    Each had its own little marketing plan, and that filled the place.

    The other thing that worked, if the venue is family friendly, was to hold a piano recital of all our KB player's music students before the gig. The owner counted that in our numbers and then the people stayed to hear our band perform. Kids bring a couple parents and stay for dinner.

    Just some ideas...
  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    @RoadRanger has great advice, especially for original bands. Teaming up

    1. Let's you all bring people to help fill out the crowd.
    2. You can combine to backline the gig so bands can get on and off quickly.
    3. Allows you to only play a short set of your best songs.
    4. Let's you combine to pay to rent the hall.

    mexicanyella and waynobass like this.
  8. RiffwRiter


    Aug 23, 2016
    Memphis, TN
    This was a multi-band show, and one band did a great job bringing people. Others tried promoting on FB and brought a handful like we did. Our big local draw I was pleased to add to the bill was a big disappointment in that they did almost nothing to promote it and brought 2 people (I have been to a couple of their shows with packed houses). I didn't go into this in the original post because its an easy answer on that front - be wary of inviting that band again to anything.

    Unfortunately, this does happen a lot, but usually a few music lovers hang out to see other acts.

    We mostly play originals and sometimes mix in a fair number of covers. Covers we do are: "One Way Out" - Allman Bros. version; "Wondering" Widespread Panic; "Fire" - J. Hendrix; "Whiskey River" W. Nelson; "Don't Think Hank..." - Waylon Jennings; "Milk Cow Blues" blues standard & occasionally another one or two. For this show we did all originals. Here are some videos of some of those:
    -- YT channel : Accidental Field Trip
    Maureen M, Oddly and SOUTH PAW like this.
  9. RiffwRiter


    Aug 23, 2016
    Memphis, TN
    Great advice! Thanks.
    vulturedog likes this.
  10. SaucyJackBass


    May 6, 2009
    It's sad, but people have so many entertainment options at home these days, the cost and risk of DUI keep people from attending shows. What time did the show start? I can't figure out why venue managers haven't figured out that shows that end at 1:00/2:00 am are no longer a thing.

    Watch touring musicians. Opener goes on at 7:00. Main act at 8:00, show over by 10:15. Why do bars think that pattern is only for well known bands.
  11. Stop trying to figure out "how" to get people to your shows and start thinking "why" someone would come to your show.

    Marketing is all about thinking like the customer, not like the business.


    Jan 25, 2005
    Des Moines, IA
    Probably because they'll have 3 hours after the show to try and sell alcohol and if everyone leaves......
    2cooltoolz and Nephilymbass like this.
  13. RiffwRiter


    Aug 23, 2016
    Memphis, TN
    We started early at 6:00 and planned to have folks playing until 2:00am. The best crowd was there from 8:30 to 10:30. It was dead at midnight and the last band didn't even play.
  14. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Agreed - most of the shows we play start at 9, some even at 8. Few places are busy after midnight.
  15. back4more


    Aug 11, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    It can be tough building an audience. My view is that flyers are pretty good for getting your name out there, but not that good a drawing people to a show. People don't go to see an unfamiliar band because they see a flyer. People go see an unfamiliar band on someone else's recommendation. My advice is try to find bars with a natural draw. Find places where people go to drink and hang out because it's the neighborhood bar, regardless of what band might be there. It is much harder building an audience if you only play clubs that depend on the band to draw the crowd.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
    Spectrum, Gearhead17, waveman and 2 others like this.
  16. funkymonk13


    Aug 22, 2014
    Social media. Make a band Facebook/instagram. Create new content weekly, get people engaged, show photo or clips of people having a good time at your show.

    Get people to write about you also.

    Multi-band show is a good idea to expose a larger or more diverse audience to your music.

    I've heard mixed things about fb ads, but a lot of people say they aren't efficient because people quickly scroll past them and it still counts as a view/impression.
    Flyers and newspaper ads are pretty old school. Could work depending on where you live, your target audience and and how good those flyers are....but a strong social media presence is the way to go.
    RiffwRiter and GSPLBASSDC like this.
  17. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Play music that people want yo hear.

    My friend's uncle had a restaurant-- he did not like mayonnaise, so he did not serve mayonnaise.
    The land that the restaurant was on is now part of a department store parking lot.
  18. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    Original music is a tough sell. As others have said there are too many other options for peoples time.
    Tony B. Filthy and RiffwRiter like this.
  19. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    Give people the music they want to hear at a good place that is easy to reach and has parking, and put on a professional show. if you violate the above, you get what you get.

    To me, there are too many band ads on social media such that even "old school" attempts do nothing. People are overwhelmed with music invites. Even I am. I pretty much ignore them all. I think the best way to promote is what I said above, and build a following. it takes time. Playing music that isn't typical for your market will never get you there. if your market is big on covers, do covers. If you're doing originals, you've already impossibly narrowed your market anyway. Most people don't want to hear it, except in certain markets. Or...If your market is not big on death metal, and you do it, it won't work. etc etc. The market dictates the demand. Playing stuff that is obscure, narrowly-focused generally won't build you a big following. Playing 50 miles away in a smoky bar often doesn't help. etc etc.
  20. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    it just takes time and patience. keep playing around town, keep promoting, keep improving, and one day you'll be surprised to find an audience waiting for you to start.
    vgbassman and RiffwRiter like this.