The Business of a Rock Band
I am not talking about the game, but an actual rock band. Not the hugely commercialized U2 but the indie bands that are still making the circuit on their home turf. They are big in their circles but relatively unknown in others.
The other day (9/19/09) was my birthday and a friend of mine (Nick R.) knew a band from his home town was coming into town. I am not a “rock” type but I had no plans and decided to go. I paid my $3 cover and settled in at a table with my friends. It is a typical club with 3 different areas so patrons can visit the area that best suits them.
Right out of the gate I feel sorry for this band because they are competing with the last night of a huge event that pulls in over $20 Million a year. There were approximately 30 people total in this section of the club. Next to the stage was their “merch” , that’s what they call their tupperware box of t-shirts and their pile of 6 CD’s they sell to help pay for coming to town.
For the “gig” the band will be paid a flat rate for coming in and playing 2 sets of music. They will sell a few shirts and a few CD’s. (I bought an autographed shirt and a CD) Usually the band will make more off of the “merch” sales than the actual “gig”.
Before the band started to play, my friends and I had a chance to sit down with the band outside. I started asking questions about their website, sources of income, future plans, and tours. The poor guys looked as if I was talking greek. Being a serial entreprenuer, I wanted to know the business side of the band where you can tell they live for the music.
Their income comes from iTunes, CD Sales, Shirt Sales, and Paying gigs. (Side note, I thought it was a myth, but clubs still pay bands in beer, I thought those days were gone!) One thing that impressed me is that at the end of their show they asked fans to join their MySpace account! Good! They also gave a plug for their website, again Good! They are trying to connect with their fans, because without fans, they don’t have a business.
When I got home (about 1AM) I checked out their website and social network accounts. Their website is really clean with links to all of their social connections.
· I would like to see a link to an online store where they can sell their “merch”. They also have a “look” where they all dress in suits with ties when they perform. Great idea but they should have branded ties that they could sell. Its their trademark look, run with it. Not only ties in their online store but their CD’s, different shirts ie long sleeve…short sleeve…colors. At the gig they only had black one & a whiteone. They could also sell keychains, they are cheap and something that every person could use, you cant wear their shirts to work but you can have their keychain in your pocket at work, a constant reminder to check their website to see upcoming concert dates.
· A link directly to iTunes so customers can buy their songs, same for Amazon music and Zune music.
· I did notice that they have a youtube account with a music video on it. They need to have more postings on their, everytime they go in to a radio station for an interview, it needs to be taped and posted on youtube. Keep it fresh.
· Twitter. They have a twitter account and link to it from their homepage, they need the widget from twitter on there so people can follow with just one click and see what is on the band’s mind. Tweet often, especiall a few days before the show and in between sets of a show. At the time of writing this they had 20 followers, in contrast I have over 19,000 followers. They can do better.
· A calendar. A calender with 12 different pictures of them but it already has some of their performance dates filled in for the person that purchases their calendar. This could be done using a print-on-demand company. This would also be a great tool to give to promoters and to venues that you play at. Every other month in the calendar, there would be the contact information so people could get in contact with them. Make sure the pictures are set for the type of fan base you want to attract.
· Adbrite. I would like to see a few banners on their website, that way everytime someone visits their site they get some ad dollars.
· A biography. Write a small paperback book about the band, each member, stories from the road, etc….. This could be done through Blurb.com POD. They could keep a few for sale at their shows but most would be sold through their online store. This could be done every year so that you always have something fresh so sell.
· Play more dates. I believe that a band has to constantly looking for the next gig, not hoping someone will call, but actively searching. Call all of the colleges within driving distance. See if you can play there every semester and sell “merch”. Many artist have started out by playing at colleges. You could play during the halftime show at a football game or even a basketball game. What a great way to expand your audience that might not come to a concert.
· Fundraisers. Call local charities and say that you would like to perform a concert. Lets say you charge $15 per ticket. The Charity gets to keep $10 from each ticket! The charity gets to raise money without cost to them, you have people out selling concert tickets on your behalf, and you still get to sell “merch”. They could also link to your website from their website increasing shoppers to your store.
· Free Advertising. Everytime you have a concert, submit the information to your local community calendar. This could be done online also via craigslist.com and Duperoo.com. Pass out flyers at locations where your fans hangout.
· An email Mailing List. Everytime you play a show, you need to let all of your fans know. The fans you bring into a venue the more money you can charge the next time you play there. Also send them an email showing off your new wares in your online store. Be sparingly with your emails so that they don’t label you as SPAM but frequently enough that they stay connected with you.
· A Brochure. Have the brochure at all of your gigs. Give them to patrons. If needs to have your website information, social network information, contact info for people that want you to play a special show for them, and a short bio about your band. List any awards you may have won or articles that you have been in. Also if you have opened for any big names or played at any really neat venues.
· CD’s. At the time of this article, the band was getting ready to into the studio to record another album. Great! Keep the music Fresh. But also don’t be scared to put out a Christmas album or if your music is Rock, how about a Halloween album? Do this every 3 years of so.
· Expand. Get your music on the shelves of larger companies. Online is great, but try Hastings or BestBuy. Tell the Store manager that you will perform a free concert in the parking lot if they will stock your CD’s and let you sell “merch” on the day of the concert.
If you want to know which band I saw you will have to click on over to my blog and see. This article is there, but so is the information about this band.