Saturday, August 24, 2013

"So, where in the heck are your fans?"

I have had this question put to me several times during my "career" in music, usually by an unhappy bar owner as we both gaze upon his (or her) mostly empty venue.

Now, I use the word "venue" loosely here.  The word means a place where an organized event occurs.  In many of the joints I have played over the years, it was a miracle that anyone besides the band was in the place because the bar didn't bother to do even the slightest bit of promotion for this aspect of their own business.

Most of these place have been neighborhood bars or sports bars that have had live music bolted on to the business as an apparent afterthought.  Some floor space is allocated for a band by temporarily removing some tables and chairs in the vicinity of the restrooms or the dart machines.  Illumination is provided by the many flat screen TVs that continue to show sports programming during the band's "show."  And a dance floor?  Fuggedaboudit!

We have played at bars recently that didn't have any sort of web presence - no web page, no Facebook page, nothing at all except a couple of accidental Yelp! reviews.  A couple of places did have Facebook pages, with wrong phone numbers and long out of date event postings.  You would think these places would at least provide table tents with the current music calendar for customers to look at, but I don't recall the last time I saw one.

Now the Preachers do the following to promote our shows:
  • We let fans know about gigs on our Facebook page.
  • We post our calendar on our ReverbNation and band web page.
  • We send our calendar to our large (and growing) e-mail list every month.
  • Individual band member remind their friends about gigs on Facebook.
  • We send posters to the clubs for every gig (hard to quantify if this has any effect).
  • Readers are updated about gigs on this blog.
But you know what?  Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, we bomb at a gig anyway.  This usually happens at these places that can't be bothered to create an atmosphere that is conducive to enjoying live music, or doing their part to promote their live music events. Do bars really want to leave the promotion of the live music portion of their business up to musicians?  In some cases, apparently so. Good grief!

You can check out the Boneyard Preachers here.  See you at the nightclub!


cholowillsin said...

I gotta agree with this. When i was booking for a club in Pi-square i would do posters, emails, (back then -Myspace) and flyers and rarely would we have an empty house. So yes i agree the clubs need ta promote better as it's even easier with internet these days and for gawds sake TURN OFF THE TV's!!

Michael Lynch said...

Other pet peeves - Why hire a five-piece dance band to play your tiny supper club when there are many, many excellent small jazz combos that would love to play the gig? And outside of the greater Seattle/Tacoma area (with a few exceptions)why not just give the customers what they want - classic rock bands. Of course, nobody will come to see these bands either if nobody promotes the shows.

Ron said...

I try to put together a monthly calendar each month for a local organization promoting blues and jazz music. I email every club I can find an email address for each month, asking for input. Most clubs will not even answer emails, and with a couple of them I get "mailbox full" replies every month.

Michael Lynch said...

Yep, I hear you Ron! I suspect that this promotion business is not rocket science, but what do I know?


Michael Lynch said...
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