Pack Your Live Shows & Rock Your Local Music Scene

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Admit it. You want butts in seats and feet in front of the stage. The venue requires beers in hands and lots of transactions at the bar. And the promoter needs to see bodies through the door and lots of ticket sales.

The solution to meeting everyone’s needs is simple: Get lots of people to show up and spend money at your live shows.

But the question remains: How are you going to get them there in sufficient numbers?

Of course, you can slap up fliers in all the usual places, spam everyone on Facebook, and stalk all your friends until they buy tickets out of guilt. But long term, this strategy isn’t going to work for you.

Eventually, your friends will stop responding to your emails and texts, and Facebook and fliers will only get you so far. If it was that easy, wouldn’t every show be a success? Acts that consistently draw fans do more than this.

Look at the performers in your city who are truly creating a buzz. Chances are, they are doing three things that you’re not.

1) They promote more than just themselves

Whenever they do put up fliers to promote a show, they ask how they can help first. It’s not just about them. Instead of pestering local businesses for free exposure, how can you give them back something of value? Build relationships with those who are willing to support you. It’s human nature to want to help someone who wants to help you first, especially when you genuinely like the person and they show their appreciation.

Can you offer to do some cross promotion with a local radio station or business that goes to bat for you? Maybe you could print their logo for free on your fliers, or give them shout outs at the show as a sponsor in exchange for their support.

2) They tell people about other artists’ shows

Don’t just bombard your fans with information about your shows only. If you already know they like to attend concerts, why not tell them about other great shows going on that they might enjoy? The great thing about this is, when you promote other artists’ gigs they’ll often return the favor.

It may take some time to build these types of relationships with other bands, but it can pay huge dividends in the long run. The best thing is, it doesn’t cost you anything when you promote other artists’ shows. Offer to hang a few fliers or post some updates online about other cool shows in town. Help others first.

3) They support other bands and go to their shows

This means buying a ticket and standing in the crowd – not just asking to be put on the guest list then lurking by the bar all night. Yes, support other artists the way you want to be supported. As long as you appreciate their music and like them as people, show up and support them. They may do the same for you.

If you’re lucky, they might even give you a plug from the stage. But be there as a true fan for them, not because they might put you in the spotlight for showing up.

Bottom line: Quit making it all about you. As an artist, if you help others build their empires first, many of them will eventually return the favor. When the heavy lifting needs to happen, many of them will show up for you. But you need to make a lot of deposits into your “good will account” to earn it.

I know this may surprise you, and many reading this may have conflicting experiences and beliefs. If other artist and local businesses aren’t supporting you, ask yourself when the last time was that you truly helped them grow first? Also, don’t keep score. There will be times when you give more than you get; that isn’t the objective.

Work hard to support your local music scene and the businesses that foster its growth. Build relationships that aren’t one-sided. Relationships are what lay the foundation for a thriving music career. You need to nurture and build them slowly and genuinely.

Yes, it is about who you know (and who knows you). But what have YOU done for these people? How have you helped them and brought value to their lives?

Focus on what you can do for other artists and cross-promotion partners first, and before long you’ll find more doors opening and more people coming to your shows to support YOU!

Do you agree? Disagree? I welcome your comments.

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How to Pack Your Live Shows & Rock Your Local Music Scene via @MrBuzzFactor


The image above is by Andrej Vovko and

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  1. Ss says:

    It can as well depend on the goal(s) with each connection made — You’ll always treat each other as people first (to get ahead in general and to be Human, of course) but then there is what some moniker as the ‘operational’ and ‘strategic’ emphasis — What does it entail?

    If you’re open-minded (and ended), you might passively promote any and all community aspects that appeal to you or that seem harmless enough; for me, I’m sick of the scenes being filled with ‘tribes’ of mealy-mouthed wishes and pinned hopes.

    I’m as well fatigued of the individuals/groups who claim to want to collaborate but do not follow-through.

    None of this is expressed in the jaded sense, merely an observation.

    The few entities that have come through have usually not been the best-players or most starry-eyed (per my last collaborative dealings), which I guess is good and bad at once.

    As well, this is nothing new in the same respect.

    But it is weird when great players stop appearing around as much.

    Anyway, send me a message Bob or I’ll come to your house…with an Accordion…..

  2. Kim Riemer says:

    Great article Bob. I see this “not about me” through out your materials. I’ve learned that you can apply this kind of thinking in all areas of your career to create positive vibes which eventually come back to you. Thanks for the great post!

  3. Sonja says:

    Sounds cool. Doesn’t work over here in Austria though. People are too used to be selfish in here, artists included. I used to support other local bands but never ever got anything in return. Nothing. Not even a cross-linking on our websites.
    They were happy to get my support but werent willing to give anything back.
    Seems to be quite different in the US though. Here I got the mutual support thingie with many indie stations, blogs etc. You guys seem to have way more social sense luckily =)

  4. Jez says:

    There’s more to it than just self / cross promotion. It’s great fun.

    I started going to other bands gigs to check out venues, but got hooked on hearing new music in great conditions, and some of it is fantastic. (think of something like Foo Fighters in a small bar…)

    I started writing because nobody wrote about us. It’s lead to meeting some great people, and a few good gigs as a spin-off.

    But the main ereason for being in a band is because you love music. Loose that focus, and you loose your raison d’etre.

  5. chuckography says:

    My blog is six years old and one of my main themes is Support Live Music. I go to a lot of concerts (I buy tickets) and usually write about the show. I also add a link to the bands I write about. I’ve had more than 82,000 hits.
    I have received one online/comment thank you note from a band.
    I want every band that comes here (to Charleston, SC) to have a great audience so more bands will come here.

  6. Dave says:

    It’s very true, Bob. I’ve seen my wife build a VERY successful Tribe in her field as a dance fitness instructor.

    She doesn’t work for a gym — she works for herself by renting rooms at local churches.

    She always cheerfully supports other instructors and attends their events.

    She is one of the busiest instructors in the city of Toronto.
    Her classes are not only busy, but consistently busy.

    It’s the same thing with music — albeit a little “trickier” in some ways, but the same principles apply.
    Thanks for the post!

  7. Kiko Marcu says:

    Great post .
    At least I will be supporting the live music scene that I love , wich is no small thing .
    Many of us should ask ourselves when it was the last time we went to a concert .

  8. spunkyzap says:

    Bob- I agree at many different levels. Reading your blog reminded me of an ariticle I read about one of the first big time concert promoters. He was at Haight Ashberry watching a band play in the street, the street was packed and he observed that he had never before seen such a wide variety of people in one place at one time…That’s why I LOVE live music- IT CREATES COMMUNITY. In that one moment everyone shares the experience, gives them something to talk about,to share. In short it creates the seed of a relationship.

    On the more mechanical side of things I teach Strategic Marketing for an MBA program and everything that I have ever read about internet marketing is simple stated as ENGAGE and than LEAD. Give and then ask people to follow.

    Life is very short and in the end it is only the RELATIONSHIPS that really matter…. Cheers Kath

  9. Barbara Joy says:

    I was very happy to see, that of these three tips, I DO already practice #2 and #3! Now, I will get to steppin’ on #1 !! THANK YOU BOB!

  10. Thank you for this great insight Bob, I’m going to apply this right now for my upcoming show and in the future. I know it will be beneficial.

  11. DiXoN says:

    Thank you for this post Bob. I agree with you that serving others will lead to a possible increase in support from those that you serve. I just see it as more work as a part-time performer seeking to make music a full time thing. I find myself thinking and acting on what I need so much in just th time I have, that I don’t see where I have time for devoting to other’s success. Maybe full-time artists have time, but I maybe need to change my thought process on this. If promoting others so that they are succeasful will somehow lead to my own success, it’s worth applying.