Posted tagged ‘audience’

Starting a Music Series

October 25, 2010

Have you ever wanted to start a music series – a Coffeehouse series up the street from your house, a regular singer-songwriter night residency with your favorite venue, or maybe a ticketed house show that’s known for quality music, good food and company? Fall is a really good time to do this. I recently had a friend email me for suggestions about starting a series and here are some things that came to mind…

It’s a good change of pace
Picking one thing and doing it well is a really great idea. Maybe the idea of booking X number of shows in X number of places exhausts you. If you think about it, doing one show at the same place is much easier and will definitely help you build a solid fanbase. It might limit you to a geographical area, but it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to focus on this approach and take the occasional show elsewhere whenever its offered.

Don’t do it too often
Once a month. If you want to do a show well, give yourself time to promote, host, rest, and then do it all over again. A monthly series will stick in people’s minds. Every 2 months is a bit too infrequent and every week will wear you out. Some things don’t take much preparation (i.e. weekly open mic…etc) but to do a show and really do it well, you need time, strategy, and rest so you don’t burnout. note: also remember that location has alot to do with how heavily you’ll have to promote. Maybe you could get away with a show ever two weeks if you’re at a central location with alot of walk-ins.

First time is a charm
Promote that first show like your life depends on it. Do it up so big and get the biggest turnout you can. If the first one is a success it will do all the work for all shows to follow. A good first show means people will come back. It means people will tell others. It means people will make Facebook comments about how much they enjoyed the first one and can’t wait for the next one.  I’m convinced that the key to the success of a music series is the very first installment and the maintenance of that vibe…which leads us to the next point.

Establish the vibe and stick with it
Pick a good name for the music series.  Make sure the space you’re hosting the show matches the type of vibe you want your event to give off.  Pick the most important aspect of your series and never change it. This is what will keep your core audience coming back.

The wonderful thing about hosting a music series is that you can bring in so many different artists over the life of the series, you can make yourself the resident musician (if you wish), and you can build a fanbase for the series and for yourself. Its like killing two birds with one stone.


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Learning Your Listeners

September 20, 2010

The saying goes like this: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Occasionally, when I’m at a show, or shortly after a show, I notice how various audience members respond to my merchandise table.  Here’s what I’ve observed…

Type A Listener
This individual likes what they hear. They buy the album immediately, sign the email list and pick up a card so they can go out of their way and check out your website when they get home. Type A is excited and fully committed to supporting you from the start. They’re the person who will tweet about you from their phone the instant they hear your music. They’ll share you with their friends, and come regularly to your shows. They’ll buy your album for friends and attend a few shows each year.

Type B Listener
This person likes what they hear and will likely stick around for your whole show. But Type B isn’t sold out on your music…at least not yet. It’s important to realize that you will almost have more Type Bs than Type As in your audience. Type B will sign your newsletter and will probably do so without you asking because they want to keep tabs on what you’re up to. They’ll go to your show, not because they need a fix of your music, but because it’s conveniently in their neighborhood. Make sure you get Type B’s email b/c even if they don’t buy your album, they will show interest in your music on special occasions (CD Release/major show) , and consider buying your album when you have a sale (maybe a Christmas discount).

Type C Listener
This person isn’t particularly interested in your tunes, but might just pick up your business card off the table at the very most.  In other words, because they don’t have your music, and haven’t given you their contact information (for your newsletter), it’s completely in their hands to stay abreast on your career.  They don’t hae any regular reminders, so your engagement with them will be slim-to-none.

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Less is More: Keeping it Simple On Stage and Off

March 11, 2009
Ben Hardt & His Symphony

Ben Hardt & His Symphony


My old college professor, Lloyd Corder (check out his marketing site), says “the best writing in the world is on the back of a DVD cover.”  Why? Because the writer basically has 1 paragraph to convince you that the DVD is worth renting or buying.  This is so true! 

If you can’t be accurately and effectively summed up in a few sentences, then maybe its not worth saying.  This same principle can be applied to alot of things.

Less is More on Stage
If you have a 30 minute set and you have to decide between 6 or 7 songs, go with 6.  It’s better to leave your audience wanting more than having them grow tired of your set.  Read your audience and determine whether they are bored. Even if they’re not, think about ending while your audience is still 100% in tune with your music.

Don’t Send a Book

What do your pitches look like? When you’re trying to impress a venue booker, are you telling them every notable accomplishment you’ve ever had or are you sending a short email with need-to-know facts about yourself and your music?  Are you telling them everything on your website or are you sending them a simple link to your website?  Make sure to check out the ”How to Score Reviews of Your CD” post for more tips on keeping your emails simple.  Believe me, email recipients will appreciate and be more likely to respond to your email if it’s to-the- point.

Quality Is Better Than Quantity

I have a friend of a friend who spent $20,000 on a 10-panel insert for his CD (paying someone to do the artwork, and spending the$ to print the booklet).   I still haven’t wrapped my brain around this.  Try every single method possible to keep things as cost effective as possible.  If you can do a 6-panel or 4-panel insert, you wanna go that route.  (Hint: make the lyrics smaller…duh!)

The same idea goes for your band. If you have  3 people in your band, you have fewer people to make sound good.  You don’t sound bad b/c you need another guitarist or keyboardist. Work with what you have and make it tight.

The same also goes for playing out.  If you are only booking 1 show a month (as opposed to 10), you need to make sure that one show is a great show.  For everyone who’s been waiting a month to see you,  they need to know that your one show is worth the wait and they need to get their money’s worth.  Pittsburgh artist Ben Hardt does this quite well. Even with the fact that he is based in Pittsburgh, he probably only does one show every 4-6 weeks. And he always bring it with a full band and a full string quartet.  Its that one quality show that everyone goes to b/c they know its gonna be good.


Hope these suggestions helped.  Feel free to offer your own.

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Making the Best of a Bad Situation

February 25, 2009


the ideal audience

the ideal audience...i think

Having just played a couple shows in the last week where thing didn’t go 100% as expected, I thought I’d write this post.  Here are some ways to make the best of a bad situation:

When there are only 5 people in the audience
Obviously your promoting did not pay off. This has happened to all of us at one time or another (and it will probably happen again).  Having a small audience is definitely a downer…especially when you’re expecting 50 but there are actually alot of perks.

  • 1.] Fewer people to please:  Engage in an ongoing conversation with the people who did care to come.  Take requests if you can. Play “Free Bird” 🙂 .  Take time to tell the stories behind your songs.  This is often hard to do with a huge audience.  I find that people like my songs better when they know the stories behind them.
  • 2.] Remember: Don’t punish your attendies by giving them a crappy show.  Small crowd should never equal crappy show.
  • 3.] Create Energy: It’s easy to be pumped for a show when there are tons of people.  Make sure to keep the energy up and never give off the impression that you’re boring yourself. 


When the sound system and sound guy are terrible
Sounding good on stage is such a huge deal.  Even if your CD sounds good, people will judge you based on your live performance.  You’ll also make less (or no) money on CD sales if your liver performance is a disaster. So first apologize to your audience and just mention that you’re having technical difficulties (don’t call out the soundguy on stage). If you can’t eventually clear up the situation, let you audience know where your next gig is if they’d like ot hear you under better circumstances.  Basically don’t let people go home thinking you’re a terrible performer simple b/c you didnt come off as sounding good.

Here are a couple things you can do ahead of time to prevent the above from happening:

  • 1.] Do your research: Stop by the venue ahead of time to check out the PA.  If you don’t like what they have, bring your own setup.
  • 2.] Come prepared: If you can’t stop at a venue prior to your show, consider having your own quality microphone. I know several musicians who travel with a personal mic.   Your vocals can make all the difference at a show…even if everything else sucks. Come with an amp. If a venue is small enough, just use your amp instead of going through the PA. Ya, the sound might be smaller but if the PA sucks, go for the better sound.


When the audience doesn’t seem interested in your set
Feel out the audience and environment.  If you’re at a bar, you probably won’t be successful in trying to make people listen to you.  If you’re  at a venue and most everyone is sitting in the back of the room, ask them to move up.  Distance can make all the difference at a show. In this case, make engaging your audience your biggest concern. If the room is out of control, change up your set list a little and work in a song that requires crowd participation.  Most of all, realize that there are three types of audiences

  • 1.] Active listening audience: Listens to you intently and is engaged
  • 2.] Passive listening audience: Most likely a bar scene or restaurant scene.  You’re basically wallpaper music 
  • 3.] Active-Passive listening audience: Zones in and out. Listens sometimes. Talks other times.   


Hope this helps.

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