10 Tips to Get Real Fans (not friends) to Shows

This is a guest blog post by Madalyn Sklar. Madalyn is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social media maven and fearless leader at GoGirlsMusic.com. She has spent over 15 years working with a wide range of independent musicians as well as music industry professionals all over the world. This blog post offers advice on how artists and bands can get more real fans to their shows. Enjoy! How do I get real fans to come to local shows and not just my friends?

I get asked this question all the time. The answer is simply get out and hustle. Just because you’re playing a show, it doesn’t mean the venue will pack itself. There are many things you can do both online and offline to attract fans.

1. Update your website calendar. There is nothing worse than a bunch of outdated gigs listed on your site. It’s a turn off and will give the impression that you are not out playing shows. As soon as you book a show, go update your website.

2. Shoot an email blast to your mailing list. You have a mailing list, right? Use it! This is your most valuable tool in your arsenal, yet I find so many bands are under-utilizing it. You can easily manage your list and send out messages through ReverbNation or Fanbridge (or Bandzoogle too!). Be sure to collect email addresses at your shows and from all your websites.

3. Set up a Facebook Event. Invite your local fans and friends. Don’t waste your time inviting people from all over the world. They aren’t coming! Make a friends list – log into Facebook >> click FRIENDS (left side column) >> + Create list >> it's that easy! Go through your friends and add the local peeps to a list and call it Local Fans. Every time you make a new friend/fan in your local area, add them to this list and watch it grow! You’ll set this up once, add people to it as you become friends, then every time you create a FB Event you’ll invite people from this list.

4. Tweet your show information. Be sure to post a link for more details. Put in Please RT! at the beginning of the tweet. This will encourage people to share it.

5. Use ReverbNation. They offer great tools such as the popular Facebook Band Profile application, FanReach to manage your mailing list, Event Calendar to manage your shows and so many other valuable tools. And I love how it all ties into your Facebook.

6. Get out to the venue 10-14 days ahead of time and poster it up. Talk to the door person, the bartenders, sound guy. Get to know the people who work there. Buy them a drink, hang out, give them a CD. Be likeable and they’ll tell everyone about you and your cool band.

7. Make your shows memorable. The best way to get people to your show is give them a great show. Get people talking about you. Word-of-mouth is very powerful.

8. Be realistic. Don’t place high expectations that you’ll get instant results. It can take time. But be consistent with it.

9. Make it a habit after you show to talk to your fans. Walk around with your mailing list in one hand and your CDs in the other. Talk to people and encourage them to join your list and buy a CD. You’ll be surprised at the results if you just ask.

10. Get invited back to the venue. Do this by thanking the venue and its staff on stage throughout the set. Thank them after your show. Send a Thank You card within a week of your show. That will get you noticed. It makes you memorable. You’ll stand out from most of the bands because it’s rarely done.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Getting more than just your friends out to a show takes some time, work, dedication and consistency. Follow my tips and you should see real results. Feel free to get in touch and tell me about it. I can be reached at http://www.madalynsklar.com or madalynsklar@gmail.com.

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Wilton Said...
Posted by Wilton Said... on Aug 8 2012 5:48 AM
Great points. It's amazing how many artists don't do the simple ones like letting people know about the show. I've played shows and booked shows with other bands just to find out that a few weeks before the show they haven't put any info up on their site, haven't mentioned anything on Facebook or other sites. While this isn't the only way to get people out to shows, it's a start, and if a band isn't even doing this, then it makes me think they don't care about the show. Wilton
Dave Cool
Posted by Dave Cool on Aug 8 2012 8:51 PM
"if a band isn't even doing this, then it makes me think they don't care about the show." Yup, exactly! Glad you enjoyed the post. Cheers, Dave Cool (Yes, that’s my real name) Director of Artist Relations Bandzoogle
Posted by Revenant on Aug 8 2012 9:11 PM
She says it all in the sentence "Get out and hustle". In Denver, a lot of musicians think that it is the venue's responsibility to get an audience in the door. In a perfect world, that might be the case. But in this world, musicians gotta hustle! I'll advertise gigs well in advance - I never understood waiting until the day before or the day OF a show to invite people to it on Facebook! And I recently caught a show by The Symbols, a Fort Collins band. They had the same view that I have - play your best whether there's 3 people or 30,000 people in the audience. The first set didn't have a lot of people. By the end of the night, they'd attracted more of a crowd because they played well and were having fun from the first song and that kind of attitude catches people's attention SO much more than the attitude of "I'm a musician. I'm GODLIKE on the guitar. You mere mortals should feel honored to be in our presence!" I've seen bands take a break and go to a table and send out KEEP AWAY vibes. The Symbols did everything right. They had great songs, the delivery of the songs was good, they mentioned their website a few times during the night and actually ASKED the audience to buy their CD! Imagine asking someone to buy your music instead of just waiting for them to come up and ask if you've recorded any CDs! If you haven't seem this group yet and you have the chance to catch their show, GO!! And buy their CD!:D Disclosure: I'm not a member of their band or a booking agent or manager for them. But I AM a fan.
It's All In The Mind
Posted by It's All In The Mind on Aug 9 2012 1:24 PM
These points should be common sense, but I haven't even considered half of them. Going to start working on those. I've been working on some free handouts like stickers and cards that I can leave on tables or at the bar, as well as a banner for on stage. Anything that gets your act's name remembered. Nice post. Keep them coming. :o) Mark
Ric Harris
Posted by Ric Harris on Aug 9 2012 2:09 PM
"Don’t place high expectations that you’ll get instant results. It can take time. But be consistent with it." This one gets overlooked more than any other.
Dave Cool
Posted by Dave Cool on Aug 10 2012 9:35 PM
@Rhythm Mission: "play your best whether there's 3 people or 30,000 people in the audience" Exactly! Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed the post. @MDStallard: Glad you found it helpful! @RicHarris: Indeed it does! Cheers, Dave Cool (Yes, that’s my real name) Director of Artist Relations Bandzoogle
Pretty Visitors
Posted by Pretty Visitors on Aug 11 2012 3:51 PM
This is a GREAT article! Our problem is we are doing everything we can think of to build that fanbase. Locally things have been going great, but regionally we've kinda plateaued. We really do hit all the points in the article, talk to the fans, etc. Unfortunately, while the booking agents and club owners seem to really enjoy us, every time we return to a club, it's the same audience, same size, same people. We can't for the lives of us EXPAND that audience. Would love some tips on growing a regional audience if anyone has experience with that. Even the bands we've shared the stage with we keep in contact, and have actually done several joint shows with many of them. We are all willing to work as hard as possible, so will accept ANY suggestions :D
Posted by dwoaction.com on Aug 11 2012 5:07 PM
all of these points are great and 99% of them can be used in more entertainment forms then just music gigs we use a LOT of the same methods in getting fans to our wrestling events. We just hit a huge snag though we got steady crowds in our area but have had to move to a new location in a different state and are having a hard time getting the crowds even to a quarter of what they were. Much like what it sounds like Prettyvisitors problem is once we leave our core area we are struggling any suggestions on what bands would do because i am sure it might transition well as well.
Kingdom Krunk Music Group
Posted by Kingdom Krunk Music Group on Aug 16 2012 5:58 PM
This was a great post. I am a Christian Rapper I have been rapping for about 9 years and out of those 9 yrs I probably all of that that was in this post maybe like twice. I made a note to give to the rest of my record label thnks for the post!
O Som Do Jazz
Posted by O Som Do Jazz on Aug 27 2012 2:42 PM
Another idea to expand your base is to incorporate a benefit into your show. Connect with a non-profit organization and make a proposal to give them a percentage of the admissions. Share the marketing of the event. You will have many new faces in your audience and if you make a good impression, they will follow you.
Austin's Leading Recording and Multimedia Studio
Posted by Austin's Leading Recording and Multimedia Studio on Sep 14 2012 12:09 AM
Awesome i will definitely Keep This In Mind. :agree:
Mayan Fox
Posted by Mayan Fox on Sep 14 2012 9:40 AM
This is all fairly obvious when you've been doing it a while but it's the stuff I wish I had understood better in the beginning:) It's also a timely reminder as we prepare to hit the live circuit again after a short hiatus. Thanks Madalyn.
JR Frans
Posted by JR Frans on Jun 15 2014 4:43 AM
IT's so obvious and still silly how so many bands don't update their websites. They might update one thing like FB or maybe Twitter...without taking to time to realize that on another person's IP those pages might not show up. Best to update them all or delete the ones they're not using. It just looks amateur when you google a band and dont see tour dates, yet they may be passing through town in a week. My band tried these guys called groupie finder and built up like 5000 fans online and their fans started posting shit everywhere for them. It wasn't cheap but it worked. Good heads up tool for anyone looking for next level stuff! http://www.groupiefinder.com/
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