In early 2017 I packed up my 1999 Toyota Rav4 with my clothes, music biographies, record collection and a blow up mattress and made the drive from Sydney to Melbourne with a jar full of money I’d saved up and not really anywhere to go. Thankfully I landed on my feet thanks to the connections I’d made through the Australian heavy music scene and landed comfortably in a haunted mansion in Melbourne’s West full of other weird musicians and 2 cats named Axl and Marmaduke.
Coming from Sydney where venues were constantly closing down, Melbourne seemed like a wild and progressive landscape of bars, cafes and venues, and the bands playing every single night within them. The live scene here is definitely booming.
But as I got more acquainted, I noticed that while Melbourne bands could play more often, had more venue options and could draw a really decent crowd compared to any other Australian city, their fan bases weren’t actually growing. As such, many bands were plateauing, unsure how to break through the glass ceiling and start getting the attention of the music industry and potential fans in other cities.
It’s no secret that the main way music fans are discovering new acts is no longer by seeing them live – it’s usually through a friend or through playlists, whether that be on Spotify or YouTube.
It’s also no secret bands do not get discovered by A&R reps in bars anymore. Furthermore before a band is signed, labels usually want them to have already built a substantial, highly engaged following on their own as to minimise the financial risks for the company.
With these things in mind, assuming their music doesn’t suck, the number one thing killing a band’s audience growth is… playing too many live shows.
But before you start sending me hate mail, let me explain!
Supply & Demand
It a basic economic principle which you can read all about here. But to put it into relatable terms, if you’re playing a gig every single month, you are basically over supplying the market and in turn decreasing demand for your ‘product.’ We all know a band that plays SO often, but who we’ve only caught live once, if at all, because we know there’ll just be another show in the near future.
Further, if a band is playing too often, they probably wouldn’t be able to put in adequate time or funds to promote each show. Promo for shows (or anything else a band has going on i.e. new single) shouldn’t overlap because this will be confusing for your audience. In marketing terms, you always need to make your CTA (Call to Action) super clear for your customers/audience.
Not Enough Time to Work on New Material
In an age where consumers want everything here and now, bands need to be putting out high quality content consistently. This means that the main focus within a band can’t be playing live. It has to be a balance of playing live, writing, recording and releasing new material and constantly putting out content online. That could be new songs, behind the scenes photos and videos, interviews etc.
If you’re an emerging band who’s been together 2 or more years and feel like your following as plateaued, hit me up! I’m now working with heavy bands to uplevel their marketing and planning on and offline and start getting the attention of new followers and the industry.