The Hills Are Jumping with African Vibe
The location was a quiet little town along a winding road through the hills to nowhere in particular. Although the permanent population numbers in the low three digit category, this is not a compelling reason to assume a small local music event lay ahead.
I’ll admit to being a liar if I told you I feel completely comfortable booking and playing gig’s in small rural Australian towns. It’s that initial fear an entertainer can’t help feel, that perhaps nobody will turn up!
Yes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the great community spirit that exists in small towns. Although this doesn’t always translate into “booked out” shows from word of mouth.
If you’ve ever had the interesting pleasure of playing to an audience of 3 on a full blown East Coast Australian tour, in a remote town you’d have trouble pronouncing, then you know the fear I’m referring. It definitely makes you question your choice of career.
Finger On the Local Music Event Pulse
Well, this was not one of those shows. The event seemed well organised by a couple of local music appreciators with a finger placed firmly on the live music event pulse. “They’ve done this before” was my first thought, and it showed.
Managing to pry an established Afro Beat band away from the lure of guaranteed numbers in larger cities was not the only strategy. In addition there was a food van on location, along with a music related vendor offering goods and Band Merch to attendees. Excellent job! This extra touch added to the music theme vibe and made you feel you were attending an event in addition to a music gig. Just lovely.
By the time the music kicked off, It had become abundantly clear that someone or ‘something’ had been getting the word out. Again a reminder that rural music nights do not automatically equal “low numbers”. There were well over 250 in attendance, and by my calculations almost outnumbering the entire local population!
Post It and They Will Come!
So what made the little event performance “up in the hills” successful? Was it an assortment of cross promotion ideas? Die hard fans of the band travelling far and wide? Websites and social channels posting?
Well, online advertising can be an excellent way to cross-pollinate your event exposure efforts. A great way to spread the love and a huge advantage in this day and age. But artists need to think outside the box, utilising every promotion tool offered at their disposal.
It’s easy to follow common crowd common practice and assume your band can throw a couple of posts up on Twitter, Facebook or even Instagram and assume that the hordes of live music going public will flock to the event. But this would be unwise and I’d suggest avoiding that approach in isolation like the plague. Making one single social channel (eg Facebook) the only ingredient in your overall promotion strategy would be like sticking an exclusive Porche car advertisement poster in a sub way tunnel that nobody ever visits. Probably not the most effective strategy.
Get Your Gift Cards in Order
You need to be thinking of alternate ways to get word out about your event or gig. And they certainly don’t have be ones which align directly with your music pursuits or overall goals. A few suggestions could include:
- Inviting local business’ to display your event poster. Maybe you could offer them a music ‘gift card’ with the download link printed on it to access your music. Effectively this could benefit you in twofold.
a. You could potentially expose a previously unaware audience to your music. And they may subscribe to your email list.
b. The shop owner may mention the event to their customers or attend the event themselves. Fantastic hey!
- Ask the local supermarket if they have a community notice board and print off some ‘rip tabs’ (yes people still look on bricks an mortar notice boards).
- Brainstorm an interesting newsworthy story about the band or event that you could pitch to the local newspaper of the town where your event is being held. If it has a point of general interest, the local rag will almost always be willing to run it. I have done this before with good success. Just remember to send a good selection of non-branded promo shots in your email. They will steer clear of running the article if it has text written all over it (ask me how I know?).
- Finally, you could visit the local Secondary School and ask if you may have them display some posters for the event in the school hallways. Or perhaps ask if it’s possible to include this “local music event” on their schools website or the parents newsletter.
Wrap It Up and Deliver
I hope this gives you a few ideas and inspires a little creative thinking about putting on your next show or event. I’ve tried to bring a few ideas to the table which I have used successfully myself. Please remember your mileage may vary.
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