The frustration of trying to get punters through the door to your band’s shows is a feeling we all know too well. In fact, this dance combined with one too many gigs with a disappointing turnout is one of the main reasons I see musicians out there getting fed up and losing their passion for music altogether.
We’ve all done shows over the years that could have gone better attendance-wise. Here are some key components to consider when reflecting on why you didn’t get a good turnout to your band’s shows. And they are nothing to do with the music!
1. You haven’t promoted the show enough
Perhaps this is the most obvious point, but definitely not the only factor so calm your farm, Steve. You need to heavily promote your shows a month out and especially ramping up the fortnight and week prior to show day. You may have read about the 7 touchpoints in my post How to Not Annoy People On Social Media By Promoting Your Bands Shit. Essentially this marketing principle states that it takes someone to come in contact with whatever you’re promoting 7 times before they’ll take notice or internalise the message and decide to take action.
But as the aforementioned article suggests, posting 7 times merely from your band’s Facebook page, for example, is not enough because the algorithms only show your posts to 2-10% of your followers. You need to be mixing it up between your personal pages, band page on all social media platforms. If you can get a press release out, even better! Too many bands rely solely on social media to promote what they’ve got going on and this is a huge mistake.
If you want to learn how to contact press the right way to get traction on your releases and shows, you need to check out my PR Course as this will absolutely take your promo game to the next level.
Also, list your gig on online Gig Guides and speak about it to your network (and send personal and genuine reminders the week of to ensure they remember). In regards to doing a physical postering campaign, I don’t recommend this unless you know you’re getting paid enough from the show. Reason being, posters are really untargeted so it’s a lot of money for little gain.
2. The show doesn’t fit easily into your audience’s schedule
Simple things like playing a venue that’s difficult to get to or too far from your core audience will impact your attendance. There’s no point getting up on our high horse saying things like, ‘people should support the local scene!’ Hardcore fans will travel, but do you currently have enough hardcore fans to fill an entire venue?
Likewise, playing on a Tuesday night probably isn’t going to be a massive drawcard. Be selective about where/when you play and you maximise your chances of pulling off a killer crowd. If in doubt, don’t play the show.
3. There’s no incentive for people to go.
As touched upon in your first point, there’s really no use trying to get people to go to your gig by saying things like, ‘Support the scene! Don’t kill live music.’ Guilt-tripping people into coming to your shows never works. However, giving them an incentive does. These can include:
- Pre-sale tickets – Selling pre-sales is the number-one way to pretty much guarantee attendance. Make your audience commit in advance and it’ll make a massive difference.
- An awesome well-known headliner – If you can’t fill a room, play with another band that can!
- A celebration of some kind – Someone’s birthday, single/EP/album/video launch, etc. Each show should be an event. This not only pumps the audience up more but also pumps you up as a band to sell the shit out of the pre-sales we mentioned earlier. Again if you can tie in a PR campaign to go with this, that’s perfect!
4. You play too much
I’ve spoken about this a lot. If you play every weekend, you’ll dilute the demand for your live show. If your people are used to seeing your Facebook events constantly popping up in their notifications, they’ll be trained to ignore them because they know they can probably catch you another time soon.
5. You don’t go to local shows yourself
Support the scene and they’ll support you. This is something else I’ve spoken about a lot. When you’re a musician you’re on the path to becoming a public figure. Therefore your reputation as an individual affects your whole band. Yes, even on a local level. In fact, ESPECIALLY on a local level! Go to shows, stay until the end, party afterward, be rad to work with. It’s that simple!
Any points I’ve missed? Leave them in the comments below!