FRIENDS (AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE VIRTUAL KIND)
One of the most common questions people ask at our workshops is “How do I build my audience? How do I play to people other than my friends?”. To which I reply, “By playing to your friends.”
No-one likes this answer much. So we look at the alternatives.
b) Playing in the corner of a bar whilst people talk all over you.
c) Stalk happening bands asking for a support.
1. Busking is fine if you’re cut out for it. Although I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve heard of opportunities that have come to an artist through a serendipitous street exchange.
2. Playing in a bar whilst people talk all over you is like asking someone out who’s just not interested in you. Again and again and again.
3. Happening bands want to play with other happening bands.
To which people retort, “But my friends have already seen me play, after the second time they don’t want to come back.” Then perhaps it’s time to look at your live show.
If your friends don’t want to come back and bring their friends to see you, then why would anyone else? Because we’re going to assume that your friends have great taste right? Or you wouldn’t be hanging with them.
Now I know this article has tone. I can sense your displeasure. But I’m not writing this for you to like me or my music. I’m just calling it as I see it. ‘Cos you know, we can all crap on about social networking and the power of the interweb and how artists can be ‘discovered’ without ever having to play a gig in their life (and of course there are exceptions and we do hear those one in a million stories) but for everyone else, we have to write songs, find a suitable venue and then play them to our friends.
And if we’re doing something that connects – they will tell their friends.
Then you start a band. They’re like-minded people you meet out at parties and gigs. They become your friends. Maybe your brother or sister or cousin joins, they all have friends, who start coming to your gigs and telling their friends. Then you meet other bands and start playing shows with them and your friends meet their friends and all of a sudden they’re looking around the room thinking, “Hang on, I don’t know these people. Maybe the words getting out? Maybe people are waking up to the idea that my friend (insert name here) is a FUCKING MUSICAL GENIUS?”
And the other half of the room that don’t know you all go home and tell their friends about this great new band they caught in a packed room out the back of a pub. And because every time you play a show you put 100% into it and because you’re really good, more and more friends come along and bring their friends.
Then at the local community radio station, when your first ever single goes into all the pigeon holes, one of the announcers says to her announcer friend, “Oh cool, I’ve heard of these guys, a friend caught them at (insert name of venue) and said they were really good. I can’t wait to hear this.”
So before you’ve even hit the airwaves, youtube, Bandcamp – people you don’t know are talking about your music. All because you played to your friends.