Survival Guide To Lean Times For Musicians, Part II: Your Fans

Many of the people that purchase your CDs and attend your shows may be feeling the pinch of the sluggish economy. For many, the last thing on their mind is your band, or their own self entertainment. It is at times like this that bands can loose the most fans and audience. Having less disposable cash on hand means people are going to look for the best value when spending on entertainment. You can set-up yourself or your band to be that best value. Here are some tips for setting yourself up as the best deal in town.

1) Lower the price on your CDs - If you are selling your CDs for a few bucks less than every other band out there people would be more inclined to purchase something from you. You can even have incentives like discount savings if they buy two of your CDs at one time.

2) Lower door fees at your gigs - Door fees at your gig is a stickling point for many would-be attendees. If they have to pay $10 - $15 at the door of the bar or club just to get in, it holds them back. They don't even know if they are going to have a good time. They would rather not chance $10 on the unknown. They can go to the corner bar for free and listen to the jukebox. You'll have to talk with the club owner about keeping door fees down. Fans would be more inclined to spend $5 at the door. Ideally if you could arrange with the club owner to have free admission at the door that would be even better. The club owner could pay you a flat fee or a percentage of what the bar takes in.

3) Add more value to your live show - Set up gigs with more bands doing shorter sets. This is the basic idea (with a proven track record) of all the "Fest" concerts (Ozzfest, Palooza, Warped Tour, G3, etc.) Set the gigs up with a solid theme to hone in on a core audience. People will pay a little more for that because they will see more of the style of bands they like for a package price.

4) Add even more value to your live show - part B - If someone has to pay $5 at the door to get into your gig but, in return, gets a free T-shirt just for showing up, that is a good deal for them. It doesn't have to be a T-shirt of your band. That would add unwanted expense on to your budget. You can talk to local businesses and see if they would like to contribute something of a promotional nature to your gig. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, mugs, and key chains are items many local businesses are eager to have spread around town. Even restaurants can get involved by providing some "hors devours" in exchange for the dispersion of their business cards or menus. Naturally, that would only be a good idea if the club you are performing at does not serve food themselves. Either way, items or food, more value means more attendees.

5) Play closer to your core fans - The less someone has to drive the more apt they are to attend your gig. Make it easy for them. Play in the area that you have the most fans and send invites only to those local to that gig. If you have fans spread out through wider areas set up more gigs in different areas providing them with the same "less travel" benefit. I once played a whole bunch of bars and pubs, ones that didn't even usually have bands, just to play very near to pockets of fans I had throughout the NY area.

6) Sell your CDs as a theme package - If you set up a real 'theme show' gig with several like-style bands, (four instrumental bands, or four progressive bands, etc.) then it would make great sense to sell your CDs as a theme package also. Get together with the other bands and decide how to sell the CDs as a box-set for the night of the show. You might want to tape them together with some clear cellophane packaging tape or just rubber band them together. Make better pricing for fans to purchase them together than to buy them separate. Think low, low price for the attendees.

Keeping prices down and giving fans the most bang-for-the-buck is crucial to weathering the economic storm. Fans and potential fans will remember and appreciate the steps you have taken and this will strengthen their loyalty to your band. Once again, good luck and best wishes to you all in the year ahead.

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Michael Knight is a composer and guitar player from Floral Park, NY, who has released several independent CDs on his own label, Knight Music Productions.

His latest CD is entitled "Electric Horrorland", another musical descent into the darkest depths of the abyss.

Michael Knight