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3 Steps to More Fans

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Posted Mar 25, 2007 by Paul
Filed under: Commentary

Michelle Crowley played a show last year with Carrie Underwood. I played guitar for her during that show. The show itself was a once in a lifetime thing – what happened after the show was unbelivable! I’m going to tell you 3 steps we took to make sure that show was a success for Michelle, and ensure that she left with more fans than she brought.

How can you raise your profile? How can you make people want to come see you play live?

If you can understand and apply these three principles, you’ll build your fan base, have more fun than you’ve ever had, and begin to get noticed in no time.

The first thing you can do is stop with the mentality that you’re “only playing another show”. Playing the same songs night after night can become boring, I know. I also know that after a while, everything you do becomes repetitive. It doesn’t matter! The people who are coming to see you didn’t see the last 45 shows where you did the same things, said the same things, and played the same songs. To them this is a brand new experience and you have to bring the best you have, each and every time.

Never in the history of all my years in music have I ever seen an opening act with only a 30 minute set, have an encore – never! But Michelle got backstage and the production guy was like “get back out there, they love you!!” and he turned her around and all but marched her back out. The band and I were about to stop playing when I hear the crowd. Without exageration you would have thought Elvis or the Beatles just came on stage. The ROAR of the crowd was huge! I could hear them from the top tier balcony screaming at the top of their lungs as Michelle passed by me and back to the front of the stage.

Playing live is based on word of mouth. Want more people at your shows? Provide a better show.

The second thing you can do is market the show right. Since every show you do isn’t just “playing another show”, make sure you hype it as an experience – I’ve noticed, just by having this site, that bands too often do far too little concerning marketing a show. They leave the advertising to the venue. They won’t pay a little extra money to make the flyers, buy ads, or make calls.

Once your mentality changes from “what do I get out of this?” to “what do my fans get out of this?” it’s time to take your marketing to the next level. Every show is an event! Not to be missed! It’s not “hype” if you can pull it off. Spend a little extra money on advertising. Buy an ad on every website you can, every newspaper, every little rag available.

We advertised the show all over the internet. We even paid $18 for a two week ad in the Pennysaver! The budget for promoting Carrie Underwood is huge! We still spent money out of our own pockets to market the show. Michelle sold more tickets as an opening act than anyone ever doing a show at Morongo. Ever! So much in fact that the show oversold by 200 tickets!!

Market a show like an event!

The third thing deals with the first and second things.

Once you can pull off a better show, you’ll have more people come to your shows. And once you market your shows in the right ways, you’ll have more people coming out as well. But how do you actually “make fans”?

I’ll tell you a story…

Many years ago I wrote with a guy, a hit songwriter, who had two #1 songs to his credit. He also toyed with the idea of becoming an artist – his voice was certainly good enough, and he had enough contacts.

One evening he called to say he was going to play at a little place in Clarksville and invited me to go along. So altogether about 20 of us went up there. Several hit writers, several other songwriters and friends – most working in the industry. So my friend gets up and does his set, comes back over to the table where we all are and sits with us. After his second set, he does the same thing. I say to him, “man, I don’t know why you’re sitting here with us, we aren’t your fans! You should be introducing yourself to everyone and thanking them for coming out.” He didn’t.

Forward 13 or so years, I read in the paper he’s having a showcase. He had finally been signed to a rather successful indie lable here in town and they were throwing an open to the public album release party for him. So I go. It was great seeing everyone (though I didn’t talk to anyone) and it was a lot of fun seeing my old friend play his show and do his thing.

What do you think he did when his set was over? You got it. At an open record release party, he came over to the table with all his friends and sat with them. What happened to his album? Yep, it flopped and he was dropped shortly there after.

After a little rest, we thought we’d head out and watch Carrie perform and let Michelle make her way to the back so that when people left, they could stop by and say hello if they wanted.Carrie was near the end of her show, singing “Jesus Take The Wheel”, and we thought that would be a good time. We were wrong. We came around the corner to walk down the stairs, but half way down the crowd got a shot of us and swelled in our direction – just a mad rush towards Michelle. So I told the security to turn around and told Michelle she’s going to have to find a new way. Go around the back or something.Michelle made it to the front before Carrie’s show ended. There was already a sizable crowd that had left the show and was waiting on Michelle. Over and hour later Michelle was still signing autographs and taking pictures with people. Sometimes having full conversations with them. A couple even bought Carrie posters for Michelle to sign (talk about surreal!). (Carrie wasn’t expected and didn’t make it out front to sign autographs)Michelle, dispite being tired from the endless day, took as much time as people needed and as much time as she could.

You’ve got to live for your fans. You’ve got to appreciate them. You’ve got to spend time with them and not be walled off, or simply hang out with your friends. You can hang and party anytime. You’ve got to sell yourself constantly – onstage and off.

Since that show, Michelle has been offered nearly every kind of contract available.

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