Sunday, January 29, 2012

Don't Blame Fans for Your Show's Poor Attendance

For some reason I’ve noticed a trend among independent music acts: make fans feel as if they are ungrateful and not dedicated enough by belittling them for missing events. Or overly praise the “real” fans and supporters, making sure that they are tagged in Facebook posts. Because if you weren’t at last night’s show, you obviously don’t care about the music scene. Never mind how many shows you’ve attended in the past. Or if you had to work. Or if you have a life outside of the “music scene”.

First, let’s look at the biggest error of this logic: you, as an artist or band, are a business. You are an entertainer. Your job is not only to create and perform music, but also it is to gain customers for your products. Notice I said customers, not fans. Fans are awesome, but customers are fans who buy your products.

If your customers aren’t coming to see your shows, ask yourself what you can do to change that. Don’t go to Facebook and Twitter with passive aggressive messages. Guilt tripping and bullying people into liking you isn’t going to work very well.

Sure, you’re going to be disappointed as hell when 100 people RSVP to an event page and 20 people show up. But this should be a reminder that Facebook stats can’t be relied upon.

Here are some factors that may play into why people aren’t showing up at your events: the date/time were not that good (weeknights, early in the evening, etc.); the venue isn’t that popular (not everyone wants to hang out at a dive bar); you are playing too many events too closely together (not even your significant other is going to want to see you play four nights a week forever); you aren’t promoting effectively (a Facebook event page and flyers aren’t going to compel the masses to come to your show.

But remember this: no matter why people aren't turning out to see you, it is not their fault as fans. It is your fault as a performer, if there is any fault to go around at all. The onus is on you, not on the fans.

Now let’s look at the next factor: just because someone is a loyal fan, doesn’t mean they are doing anything to support your business. How many of these fans have bought merchandise from you? (If you don’t have merchandise and aren’t working on any, you’ve got bigger problems with your business to worry about) It’s cool that the perennially drunk chick buys you a round of beers at every show, but if she never buys merchandise, never invites friends to your shows, and never tells anyone about this awesome band she likes, what is she doing for you? Other than most likely thinking it’s cool to “know” a band, she’s probably just going out to drink at a place you happen to be a regular at. She’s not going to further your career. Praising her (and her fellow bar dwellers) profusely on Facebook to snub the less loyal fans is childish and foolish.

Another factor to consider is this: by making comments about “real” fans and supporters, you are quite possibly turning away people who genuinely like your music. Putting people into groups makes it seem like a clique. Making potential customers feel like outsiders who aren’t welcome certainly isn’t going to further your brand or your business.

1 comment:

  1. You make a great point here. I've noticed some cliques in Pittsburgh and no one likes to feel alienated. I love seeing our friends at our shows, but gaining fans/customers is what it's all about. Some people like saying "I liked that band before anyone knew of them"...but who wants to be in a band nobody knows about? I'd rather focus on the fans that go out and wear your shirts and talk about your music.