As life slows down and people stay indoors due to the COVID-19 virus, many musicians have seen their live shows evaporate. Luckily, technology enables us to keep doing what a lot of working musicians do: move forward, adapt day by day.
A huge part of making a music career work despite being locked down at home, or needing to keep a distance from your bandmates, is engaging your fans.
We’ve talked about how to ask your fans for support during the coronavirus pandemic - now, I thought it would be inspiring to take a look at how some Bandzoogle musicians are moving forward, and connecting with their fans in this time of crisis.
Along with local, recurring gigs, many musicians are facing the reality of cancelled tours, and a major loss of income. But as most musicians know, you also have to look ahead, thinking about marketing opportunities and reach. Plus, music is putting a smile on the faces of many people right now.
So while live music isn’t happening, consider planning a virtual tour, allowing your fans to take in a show, and support you from the comfort of their own home.
With all of their upcoming tour dates cancelled, folk-Americana duo Hudost decided to create a ‘virtual world tour,’ featuring weekly live performances from different rooms in their house. They chose different social media channels and set up times and dates for each.
To make the dates more appealing to their fans, they wove in some personal touches - such as a cooking lesson along with a stream in their kitchen.
They created a poster with their times and dates, making sure all of their fans know how to catch their shows. They created a video speaking to their fans, and giving details about their shows, plus their new fan subscription service.
To cap it off, they sent a newsletter to their fans, letting them know how to watch their upcoming performances, and how to support them.
Nowadays it’s easy to grab a phone and hop online to present a livestream to your fans. With some planning and careful consideration, you can maximize a livestream show to connect with lots of people who are stuck at home and looking for things to watch and do online.
Harpist and singer Calvin Arsenia has set up 3 different streams, to reach people on different platforms. Each has its own vibe: Monday is mindful harp music on Facebook Live, Wednesday is vocal warmups on Instagram, and Friday is a StageIt streamed show, titled ‘Love Lounge.”
Each show plays on his strengths, and offers something different for his fans. He encourages people to pay what they want, and gives options from PayPal to Square for donations.
Promoting a livestream will differ for every artist, and it’ll depend on what platform you are using. Calvin uses multiple ways to let his fans know about his streams, where to catch them, and how to support him. He uses a video of himself playing guitar to point people over to the StageIt link where he’ll be playing, for example.
Photos and videos are also more likely to provoke engagement than just plain text, so keep that in mind when promoting a livestream show. Plus, more comments will help get your Facebook posts more widely seen - so as Calvin has done, remind people to share your post, encourage comments, and ask for requests.
Online listening party
Got new music scheduled to be released right about now? You’re not alone. Celtic-rock band Enter the Haggis has a new album slated to come out, but of course, their release dates will have to be postponed.
In the meantime, they decided to hold an online listening party. Creating a Facebook event to promote the stream, they will be hanging out and sharing stories, video clips, early demos and alternate mixes: everything that’s helped make their new album what it is. They also plan to listen through their new album, "The Archer's Parade" together with their fans.
The beauty of an online listening party is that fans can comment, ask questions, and the band will be able to respond in real-time. This access will likely be valuable to many fans and supporters, and will hopefully encourage them to buy the new album.
Spelling out ways to offer support
It’s tough to ask people for support right now. Many are hurting, ill, or helping family members. Many have lost their sources of income for the foreseeable future. In this time, music can help bridge the silence and darkness, bringing glimmers of light behind closed doors.
Even though you may feel selfish or not great about asking people for help, the truth is, many people are seeking out ways to support local businesses at this time of need, and that includes musicians. Coming right out and communicating how to offer support is a simple but effective way to let people know how to help you, if they can.
Folk-roots duo The Small Glories simply put a message on their Facebook page, with 5 suggestions on how to support musicians. This leaves things open to their fans if they are able to buy music, offer expertise, or hold onto a ticket purchase for the future.
They mention plainly that all sales via their website are commission-free and they provide their store link. This is like a call-to-action, pointing people in the right direction if they are able to offer financial support.
Along with this, they mention simple ways to support them that don't cost anything: ask fans to follow your page, watch your videos, and boost your social media following. Encourage people to promote and share their favourite artists with their friends.
The more ears listening to your music, the better. This should also help in the future when grant institutions or bookers look at your social media following, or your videos.
This time of crisis is a chance to grow and learn. While not everyone is able to jump online and pull off a polished performance, trying things out, asking for help, learning, and creatively adapting is something that many musicians excel at. Keep on keeping on, and your fans will follow. Much love and music to you all.
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