This Note’s For You – A Live Limelight Feature
We have been thoroughly impressed with the amount and quality of live music from local bands in the Charlotte, NC, region. If you had asked any one of us what we thought of the local music scene, prior to embarking on this Live Limelight project, our response would have been a resounding, “What local music scene?” This is a question that we had asked ourselves, and honestly this is why we ventured into this project. As fans of live music, we love getting out and experiencing the performance, as well as talking with the musicians. We didn’t have any idea where to go to find out about the local music scene, beyond the “Soundboard” listings in Creative Loafing, and there really isn’t any resource to find out about the venues. Thus Live Limelight was born and since starting it has expanded wonderfully. We are getting inquiries from bands about how to get listed on the Live Limelight page, so to clarify, the bands listed are bands that we have seen perform and have reviewed. We are three people, two writers and a photographer (who does double duty as our web master also). If one of us is not at a show, we are not going to be able to write anything or post pictures. There are occasions where just one or two of us are at a show and that’s just because we absolutely love live music. Without the third, there really can’t be anything posted about the band. That usually means that we just have to get out and see that band again, which benefits us all. The best way to get your band listed on our site is to tell us well in advance of any upcoming shows. We’ll post that to the calendar page and you’ll see a green star signifying that’s the one we’re planning on going to as Live Limelight. Usually we like to get to one or two a week, though as John Lennon said in his song “Beautiful Boy”, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” When the three of us go to a show, that means that we’ll be there to take pictures and write up an article in our “he-said/she-said” style. If your band is playing anywhere in the Charlotte region, email us all the details to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll post it on our Event Calendar. We are striving to make this a great place to see where and when local bands are playing! Again, that’s another focus of Live Limelight – to help promote and grow the local music scene!
So beyond using our new calendar, reviews, etc., as well as other resources like Creative Loafing to find out about local bands and where they are performing, we are left with the question of how does an average music lover find out about the wonderful talent in Charlotte? This leads to another question that we wonder about, especially regarding the smaller and mid-sized venues, “How is it possible that this great band does not have this place filled?” Which is something that happens not only just to the local bands, it’s also happening to the regional and national acts as well. Seriously, it also happened to Robert Plant who did not fill Ovens Auditorium back in February of 2011. Why were there seats available for that show?
These topics often come up when we’re chatting with the band members, the audience, and even the venue managers and owners. We’ve given it some thought and discussion and have a few ideas to help improve your band’s fan base, as well as to spread the word of the great music scene here in Charlotte. With this article we hope to help cultivate the creative processes and pull in a few more folks (or, preferably, a lot more folks) out to hear some great live music.
#1 is “Promote, Promote, Promote!”
Once you get a gig it is up to you to promote the show, the venue or the other bands that are on the bill may do their own promotion, but do not count solely upon it! It is up to your band to bring out your band’s existing fans, as well as to attract new fans. This can only be done by promoting the show as well as promoting yourselves. We suggest creating flyers and putting them around town, really anywhere and everywhere (of course with permission from establishments). Make a few posters and place them in key busier traffic areas. Go to other shows of bands in a similar genre and when people are leaving at the end of the night, hand out your fliers, complimenting the band that just played and suggesting that your show will be as good. This will help make your presence known to folks that already like your type of music, which greatly increases the chances of growing your fan base and attracting people out to your next show.
Take full advantage of social networking media like Twitter, Facebook and Reverbnation. Generate events, statements and make sure you let all of your “Friends” and “Followers” know about the upcoming show. But, don’t stop there. Make sure you remind them at least one more time, if not twice, as the date gets closer. It is important to understand that social media alone will not draw new people to the show. We encourage you to use it, but we also realize that the messages are easily lost in the quantity of general notices that people get every day. Additionally, they have the downside of only being people that already know you or know about you. As our photographer has been known to say, while laughing, “If your friends don’t already know you’re playing, you suck.” In which he means that your friends should always be aware of where and when you’re playing. Realize that venues take notice of which bands promote their own shows and bring out the fans. The more folks you bring, the easier it is to get back into the same venue.
It may be wise to have one person designated as the band member in charge of promotion. That works if you don’t have a manager. Of course, as you grow you’ll need to have someone designated as your manager and it’s much easier if it is someone that is not a member of the band. Promotion is a lot of work, how can you work on new material (or performing old material for that matter) if you’re busy promoting? Even if you do have a manager, it is important for every member to help out with promotion. Seriously, promotion is that important. We do hope these suggestions help to make for a much larger fan base.
#2 – Choose the right line-up
This is an easy one. When creating a line-up of bands for a night, make sure you’re playing with bands that complement your sound. This makes for a much more cohesive night. When you’re playing with bands of the same genre or similar, you both bring your core fan base to the show and, inevitably, you’ll share those fans with each other. This opens you up to gaining new fans. This will only add more potential existing fans to your future shows. The issue arises if you’re always stuck on the same bill with another band. I know it is great fun to play along with another band you’re friends with, yet if you do it too often, then you might as well just combine bands. We know, it may sound weird suggesting both choose similar bands as well as diversify band choices. Make sure that you switch up the bands that you’re playing with, just not to the point that you’re playing on the same bill as a band whose sound is totally distant from yours.
#3 – Don’t be greedy
When dealing with a venue and setting the door charge, don’t be greedy! Especially if you’re just starting off, be prepared to not make anything off the door. You’re playing for experience and to build a fan base. As you gain experience, as well as a following, you can expect to get more from the door charge. Remember, if you’re playing a night with a $10 door, chances are you’re not going to attract anyone new that night because there is very little information available that describes each local band and venue to the general public. This is something that Live Limelight is working on changing, however, we’ve just started to get the word out to the general populace about what we’re doing. For us, it’s been best to just do it first, then let the word spread. And yes, we’re working on our own promotion so don’t throw topic #1 back at us! At $10 per person, you’re asking people to see a band they don’t know in a place they may or may not be familiar with, for about three hours of entertainment. That’s about the same as a prime time movie ticket to a show that multitudes of advertisements and critics have said everyone needs to go see. Of course, you do want to make some money when you play a show, the best way to do that is to sell merchandise. CDs, t-shirts, hats, posters, buttons, stickers, things and stuff. Make sure to always bring it to sell wherever you’re playing. Give away buttons and stickers with the purchase of something else (like a shirt or a CD). Those help market you for the future and bring more fans to your shows! You are there for the music and the fans. There are ways around making money from the door charge and still work towards making a living while performing the music that you (and we) love.
Lastly, to grow your fan base, to fill the venues and also to sell your merchandise, remember it is your music and your performance that will do it. When you get the gigs and you’re on stage, remember to put it all out there. Every night should be the best night you’ve performed so far (though we understand that technical difficulties happen, don’t let it get you down when on stage). When asked to write a good review, we respond with things like “well, do your best” and more bluntly, “don’t suck”.
See you at the show!