Months ago I wrote a blog about How To Support Your Band and I was pretty content after I did. Maybe even a little smug. I felt pretty darn good about giving some solid tips on how to help out those hard working musicians in their quest to become the next big thing. Since then I’ve wondered why some super-talented favorites (cough, cough Dreamers, Coast Modern) aren’t picking up traffic at a lightning pace like they deserve. They’re creating solid music, pounding the pavement on tour, being adorable in fan pictures, and engaging regularly in the Twitterverse. And while they’re picking up a steady following along the way, I worry the world is still missing out.
Sure, some of it is luck where Oprah picks them as her favorite thing. Lightening in a bottle if they’re featured on a crazy video that goes viral. Or maybe they scored a deal with the Devil? Obviously Twenty-One Pilots must have sold their souls to go from people saying “Twenty what?” to sold out stadiums seemingly overnight. Since there really isn’t a way to quantify selling your soul, I’ve tried to look a little harder at what works towards a band’s success. After considering the band’s efforts, I turned the microscope onto my brethren — Fans. And when I did, I have to say I saw some apathy and selfishness.
Don’t get me wrong out there, Fans. I love you. I love you like no other kind of love in this world. You have a passion so deep the darkest oceans can’t compare to your band commitment. However, what do you do with this love? Do you picket the streets with their new album release? Cold call strangers to try out their latest single? Stand outside the local mall and hawk digital downloads? Nope, I didn’t think so.
That’s the thing. As fans, we bask in our own love. You may tell friends in passing they should give your new band a shot. You might even put a sticker on your car and get a question or two at the gas station that you happily answer with over-information. But we rarely step outside our comfort zone to really support the bands we adore. Maybe we’re scared. What if they get so big they won’t love us back? Oh, dear fan, that’s a risk we all take. And honestly, it will happen. But our selfishness shouldn’t stop us from helping our favorite musician taste success. (Hint, this is how more music gets made.) Or maybe it’s because we feel too small to really make a difference. We don’t have the same platform when we only have 72 Twitter followers. (Hey if you’re on Twitter, congratulate yourself. Bestie still can’t figure it out.)
You’d be surprised the difference you can make when you really put some work into it. Don’t know where to start? Here are some tips on how to help be a great fan to your band:
Tweet, Facebook, Instragram, YouTube, or Snapchat the shit out of their releases.
It doesn’t matter which social media platform you use, you’re reaching a wider audience. Be creative. Make up your own fan art to highlight. Or if you lack creativity, share what the band’s putting out. You may have an old acquaintance from high school who is constantly looking for their next favorite band. They see your messages and give it a go. Soon they’re telling their friends about it. Do you see how amazingly influential you are already?
Get everyone you know, in every city, to see their show no matter what you have to do.
Okay, so some of your friends and family can be duds. You hear their million excuses to why they don’t go out and know it doesn’t do any good to suggest they try something new. Why not entice them to get out there? I’ve been known to use a cookie delivery (with a treat for the carrier too) to get some people to shows in their area. For support, they brought some friends of their own. Four new bodies primed to be lifelong fans. Not one yet has come back cursing my name. In fact, most planned to check out the band again without prompting.
Buy all the merchandise you can stuff in your arms.
Who says you have to only buy a single shirt for yourself? Your friends don’t have to attend the concert to be a walking billboard for the band. Sometimes, a new item in their wardrobe encourages them to give the music a go. They listen so when asked by a stranger about their cool shirt, they have a stronger answer than “Oh, I don’t know, I got the shirt from a friend.”
Remember folks, ticket and merchandise sales are some of the biggest money makers for the artists in this age. The more coin you drop at their merch booth means more tunes your ears will enjoy in the future.
Tell every single radio station in the country how you love them.
Okay, so you’re broke and don’t want to sling any money when you can’t even afford to buy a large pizza for yourself. I get it. Then let your fingers do the work by contacting your favorite radio stations to work them into the rotation. With on-line streaming you can listen to any station in any state in this country. Listener feedback is becoming a staple in creating station playlists. The more you request, the better chance the station will pick them up.
Caveat: Don’t be a dick. Don’t spam the station or tell them they’re stupid if they don’t love your band as much as you. This will actually do your band a disservice and probably get you blocked.
Encourage friends to follow them on social media.
Yep, numbers matter. The more followers on social media, the more seriously someone is taken. People assume if fifty thousand other people like a band, they must be good. If nothing else, media outlets will give them more credibility. Encourage everyone you meet to like your band on the social platform of their choice.
If they’re the concert opener, talk to everyone in the place about them before they hit the stage.
I know this one takes some extrovert courage, but it pays off. Most concert attendees don’t give too much attention to the opener even though every great band started there at one time. Instead, attendees check their phone, talk with friends, or get more drinks from the bar while they wait for the main attraction. You get out there and pique their interest by telling everyone you came for the opener! If you do, they may give your new favorite band a chance. And that’s all you want. Then your band needs to deliver, which you know they will because you love them.
I can hear some of you now, “But that’s a lot of work.” Yes, it is. But we’re talking about a band you love, right? I ached for years as I watched how my favorites, The Airborne Toxic Event and The Limousines, worked relentlessly and baked a cookie or two. But that was it. And a band can only take working hard with minimal reward for so long. Then they have to make decisions about whether the investment is worth the return. Trust me when I say you don’t want your band to weigh out the pros and cons.
And before someone out there gets righteous — yes, I do these things. If you doubt it, ask anyone I work with, see at a bar, or stand next to at a Dreamers or Coast Modern show. I can tell you first hand there’s been a few new fans picked up here and there. There are days where I think I’m not making much of a difference and other days I want to wallow in selfishness to keep them small. Those are the days I crank up their songs, remember how they’re good people, and get off my ass to find them more fans.