The TLP Network

Sharing the Hate, Spreading the Pain: Engage Your Audience

by on Jul.26, 2007, under Articles, Sharing the Hate

The following passage is an excerpt from a four piece series on Stage Presence. From time to time, I will post one of the pieces.

To sum up all the pieces in one sentence: Your audience is WATCHING you while you play, and the local scene is friends play to friends.

Stage Presence:

1. Engage your audience
2. Stage Theatrics
3. Lighting and Effects
4. The Posse

Engage Your Audience:

There have been countless shows where I appeared, I hung out, and I went home lonely. That is one of the privileges of working in radio, and having my face as a picture of a Gopher Tortoise.

You would think bands would be curious in the least bit about me as a fan, and try to get me to buy merchandise, or solicit me to attend a future show. You think they might try to talk with me since I just watched them play. If they were smart, they would talk to me before they went on stage giving me an excuse to stick around for them. I might not be there for them later in the evening.

For the most part, these bands are either at the bar talking with each other, or at the patio area sitting outside with their friends and family. The band should play a BBQ or a house party and get out of the venue. They do not belong on a stage.

This same band probably did not promote their show either. They may have used bulletins on friend boards, and they wonder why only 5 to 10 people are in the club to see them play. Using a bulletin on a friend board is not as effective as sending them a personal invitation message, and not an e-vite. People want to feel needed, not counted.

There are only three types of audiences at your shows:

A) The Friends and Family
B) The Bar Regulars
C) Music Lovers and Band Members

The first category is the personal Friends and Family of one of the band members. If these people realize that they could just donate $10 to your band instead of seeing you play when you invite them to a show would do it. Let us face it, your friends and families are sick of your band, and even sicker of your show. How many times can you watch the same Television show back to back? I am talking about a single episode. That torture is what you are putting those people through only they have to pay to do it.

The only way these people hang around is if your band hangs around. They will try to get you to leave, so they can go home. Once you leave with your friends and family the bar, the other bands, and everyone scouting your band immediately notice. You have just made a bad impression about yourselves to us all. These people hurt and do not help your reputation.

The next category is the Bar Regulars. They are a great asset to your band. These people have either have not paid to get in the door, or are drinking at a discounted rate. They will show up regardless of who is playing, because they like the venue and trust the manager. You should not try to drag these people elsewhere, because they will loose their discounted drink prices.

The easiest way to get a bar regular to like you is to TALK to them BEFORE you play and AFTER you are done. Your stage show is irrelevant to these people. They trust the manager to make those decisions for them.

If you engage these people in conversation before you play, there is a good chance that they will buy your merchandise after you play the second time there. Band members have a stereotypical stigma of being very egotistical and unsocial lot. The bar regulars are the polar opposite always looking to add people to their bar regular crowd, and they look to talk to new people. They are your gateway to going over well.

Yes, that means you have to show up early to the show right around when doors open, and stick around until after the last band finishes. After your set you should continue to talk to the bar regulars and find out what they thought, liked, and did not like about your set. These people are treated differently by the bar, and you should treat them differently too by selling your merch at a discounted rate away from the table.

Why are these people so important? They will promote your band inside the venue to others in casual conversations. They will say they saw you play, your music was good, and they are good people too. Word will spread in that bar about your band, and that will lead to more shows.

The last category of people is the music lovers. These people include other band members, fans, and people who come out to see shows on the weekends. Unlike the bar regulars, these people will bounce from venue to venue and look for good bands to pair up with for an evening. They might even follow bands around town, because they love that band.

You also need to TALK to these people BEFORE you go on stage, and AFTER you are done. These people might leave because they are not there for your band, but if you talk to them, they will stick around for at least three of your songs. Do not try to steal fans from other bands, just look to add those fans to your own.

If you talk with these people, you can invite them out to future events. Many of these people will not show up every time, but if enough of them show up at once, your numbers will continue to grow. Start with people who like your genre of music and move on from there.

These fans also have an influence on who books with who for shows. If the fans of a band start to like you then that band will think to your band when booking a show. You should trade/give a 2 or 3 song demo to every band you play with that lists your contact information. The band will probably keep that CD in their car, occasionally listen to it, and have your contact information handy at all times.

You already have a relationship with the fans of their band, so booking together is a logical next step. In return, you do the same for them. The fans of each band start to meet each other and form friendships and you have just started building a street team for a couple of bands in the process. The fans will drag each other out to both bands’ shows in the future. If you get three more bands involved then you have just formed an independent label without realizing it.

Wait, you are thinking there is only one of me, how can I talk to so many people at once? Well, you are a 3 to 5 piece band, and at least 2 of your should be talking to others the whole night.

Congratulations, you just got training that baby nationals signed to their first label learn about being in a band. The entire evening is part of the show, not just your set. Go out there and be engaging with your audience.

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