View Full Version : How do YOU keep people coming to see you every week?
05-27-2010, 11:37 AM
One of the bands I play in just became the house band for a really good downtown bar every Thursday. It's not an easy gig to get by any stretch, but we made a good impression with our first showing there, drawing 60+ people on a Thursday night for a 9:30 show and keeping them there drinking all night.
I'm a little concerned we won't be able to keep that rolling all summer long. Fortunately, this place is real close to the new Twins stadium and there will be home games usually 2x/month, so that'll get us a chance to play for some pretty full houses that we don't have to pack ourselves, but for the other weeks, we were told that some nights they were so dead (without a band) they were closing up by 11:00 or so.
This is a general problem I've had for a while though - I'm feeling if anything a bit overexposed. This will be my third weekly music thing, and the other two are a church gig and a blues jam. I don't really try to get my friends to come see me play the church gig, and people come out from time to time to hang at the blues jam, although that's not really my gig to worry about (thank god). But there are other bands I play in that are also working quite a bit, and it's kind of tricky to get friends to come out when they know if it's not super convenient one night that there will be tons of opportunities in the near future. I'm finding that those people never really end up coming unless you twist their arm, and while they always enjoy themselves once they get there, I don't like the idea of having to do that to get them there in the first place.
05-27-2010, 11:57 AM
Well, the obvious is: don't suck. Then there is the famous: get the girls to come and the guys will automaticaly be there. If you let people sit in, that gets the musicians to show up. Don't forget to invite folks.
My mind set has always been to make our shows an event. The place to be. You know, if all your friends are there, you are gonna be there too.
Keep plugging away. It ain't easy and can take some time. It's the band that hangs in there that will reap the reward.
05-27-2010, 12:01 PM
free tequila shots.
no. I'm not kidding. I play a steady Thursday gig where toward the end of the night, the leader sings one of his songs titled "Another Shot of Tequila" and buys everyone who wants one a shot.
They do come back for the music, though, too. He writes good songs (and has a great lead player :o ).
05-27-2010, 12:23 PM
Continually add new songs and announce it in your invites. "Hey folks, we look forward to seeing you again at such-and-such. We've got some great new songs worked up and are ready to lay them on you!".
05-27-2010, 12:24 PM
The only way I can see to really keep people coming to see me are:
1) Be the doorman
2) Be the bartender
05-27-2010, 12:29 PM
Have good vocals that come through the PA well.
Play dance covers to get the girls dancing. That keeps the guys interested.
Play songs that people know and love.
If you are playing regularly, rotate different songs in your sets.
Listen to your audience and give them what they want to hear.
Keep it entertaining.
05-27-2010, 12:30 PM
Make them your friends - introduce yourself during breaks, know their name...hey good to see jimmy back out here tonight, this one's for jimmy.....hey karen you gonna shake it again tonight, just kidding she didn't shake it last time..yada yada - Make it PERSONAL to them, like they matter....Then they feel the need to come back & bring some friends cause you know, the band knows who I am, we're friends :-). Works for me.....sometimes :-)
05-27-2010, 12:54 PM
As someone that loves to go out to see live bands.....
Energy. Kick out the jams, mutha #rucker!
Be on time.
Don't take 30 minute breaks between sets.
Have an extra set or two to rotate in.
05-27-2010, 01:08 PM
We play only our own compositions and they are heavily improvised so each performance is unique. We spend time in between sets and after a gig hanging with our audience, showing extra love to the regulars. They bring newbies, who then bring newbies...
05-27-2010, 01:27 PM
ya it is tough sometimes. i was doing a steady Wednesday night jazz/funk/fusion thing at this wine bar, cool gig. Alot of friends would come out int he beginning and it was looking good. We would play some safe stuff, bossa novas in the begining, Smoothjazz, Benson...then venture off into some Herbie, Freddie Hubbard. If we did a jazz tune like footprints or something we we would funk it up, or Round midnight (reggae) so it was "safe" for the civilians. we had the gig for awhile about 6 months... of jazz, what a shock. then it started to dwindle and the writing was on the wall, but it was a good run..! But ya talk to people and thank them for coming out etc etc... everyone pretty much covered what to do...
05-27-2010, 01:32 PM
... if this is a bar where people dance, if you get them to dance, that's good. If not, things will die out after a while.
05-27-2010, 01:44 PM
Stay after and talk to the crowd.
This is so important.
The crowd will then tell everybody what a cool band you were, regardless of whether you sucked. But I've heard you and you don't suck, so you're all good.
I have gone to more shows of no-name acts based on "they were totally cool, the guitar player took a minute and showed me what was in his rig" or "the singer was in the crowd watching the opener and thanked us for coming after the show" than "they rip!"
05-27-2010, 01:50 PM
Where you playing at?
05-27-2010, 01:55 PM
Keep the set list varied. Befriend folks in the crowd so they'll come back to hang out with their new friends. Play well.
05-27-2010, 01:56 PM
Got to get strangers to like your music. Friend base only lasts so long. Some longer than others. Get women to come. Remember Greazy Meal at the Cabooze? Every sunday for what seemed like forever. I know a lot of off duty strippers would go to that gig, and it was always packed.
I also think, and this is my personal opinion, You need to just play because you love it.
Work hard, invite folks, promote it like crazy, and just love it with all your heart, and the rest will take care of it self.
If there is any problem with any music scene it is the old fear that what if all of my fans get sick of me? Think of any band that you really love and you will see what I mean.
I used to go see bands I liked everytime they played,( I am much older now so I tire more easily).
Anyway good luck. Maybe I will come and check you guys out.
05-27-2010, 01:57 PM
Gluek's, every Thursday, all summer. Should be a great gig.
We worked our asses off to get it ready, the set list is pretty much all danceable sing-along-able type stuff. We brought in a ton of people our first night there and the sound guy personally texted the owner that night to tell them we should be there more - we were really tight, we had a good set list, lots of background vocals and cool arrangements that went over really well with the crowd, and people loved it. They actually demanded an encore, which we weren't quite prepared for, but it worked out well nonetheless.
It's a relatively high profile gig - the house groups for the other nights have some pretty dedicated followings - and we're in the slot Hookers and Blow used to occupy, which I remember seeing a few years back and it was always quite packed. I never knew if they drew that whole crowd themselves, but they were at it long enough for people to start talking, so hopefully we will be too.
We're pretty switched on to what people want to hear at a place like that, so hopefully we'll continue to grow this thing, but it's kind of tough because the awesome first showing was friends, and we figured we'd have a few more shows like that spaced out to really dial everything in. The singer freaks a little about set lists and wanted to run everything the same for a while till we were super comfortable with all of it and we know to improvise with it a little more. We had a band meeting on Monday and decided we'll probably have to start shifting things around from gig to gig to keep it fresh, and we also went through song by song and discussed the reaction/performance of each one. Some of them will probably be relegated to back burner/filler stuff that only see the light of day once in a while, and others are being identified as stuff people will remember or dig.
I'm thinking a good way to try and get people engaged further beyond just the show would be to take a ton of pictures from the stage and post them to facebook later in the week, and tell people they should look for us so they can find the pictures and tag themselves in them. Sure, not everyone will do it, but I bet it gets us a few more "fans" on the page, which then subscribes them to the updates and invites of other stuff we do outside of Gluek's (as there will be plenty of that too).
It's just a little crazy, because we've been preparing for a long time, kind of haphazardly (thankfully much more focus the last few weeks to really tighten it up), and then we do one gig and suddenly the ball is rolling FAST. Probably faster than we were ready for it to be rolling just now.
05-27-2010, 01:58 PM
We've been slowly building a steady following for our "Chicago Blues Tuesdays" weekly show in Madison. By featuring a different special guest from Chicago every week, it keeps the variety in the show... I think quality and variety help a weekly show. You simply cannot do the exact same show every week or people will tire of it... it is a real challenge for sure, and some weeks are better than others
I upgraded the show by hiring a pro bass player from Chicago every week (Mike Morrison, he recorded with Buddy Guy, toured with James Cotton & Luther Allison, and currently tours with John Primer) and that helped the show tremendously. (Again, the "quality" component)
If you can give people a show that they cannot find anywhere else in their city, you can make it work. Otherwise you have to rely on gimmicks and that gets tricky
05-27-2010, 02:03 PM
Got to get strangers to like your music. Friend base only lasts so long. Some longer than others. Get women to come. Remember Greazy Meal at the Cabooze? Every sunday for what seemed like forever.
Mick Sterling played every Sunday at Bunkers for like 5 decades.
05-27-2010, 02:07 PM
Mick Sterling played every Sunday at Bunkers for like 5 decades.
No kidding, but my roommate plays with him now, and sometimes it's sad to see how few people come out to the stuff they do. The most depressing gigs are usually the ones at Bunkers. That place has seen better days - nobody goes there anymore unless they like the band.
On the other hand... Dr. Mambo's Combo is what's hip there now. For the better part of the last decade, they've filled that place up every Monday and most Sundays with people. Whenever I go there and it's NOT a band like the Combo, it's pretty dead. So at least they're smart enough to keep the doors open and the Combo booked there. Otherwise there probably wouldn't BE a Bunker's anymore.
Stupid that it's all on the band, because if bands stopped playing bars, bars would actually have to start promoting and advertising to stay in business. It's amazing what some of the stupider musicians will put up with for a gig, and how many of them are out there (apparently enough to justify the way things are now).
05-27-2010, 02:14 PM
VERY cool thread. For different reasons, my band has the same needs and issues in pulling and maintaining a crowd. We have some other fundamentals that may be broken and require fixing, but once that's settled, there are a lot of good ideas to latch on to here.
05-27-2010, 04:09 PM
Where you playing at?
YES, to expand on that....make it EASY to find out when and where you are playing. I don't want to wait for your 700 friends to load on myspace. I want a basic website with examples of songs you play, and your schedule.
And you know on myspace where you can list your website. I hate it when that just links you back to the very same myspace page.
And it helps to get good new fans if your band name gives someone a good idea of what kind of music you play.
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