Whether you’re a headliner or local support, promoters put a lot of effort, time, and money into getting people out to your performance. Often, this is at the risk of losing money or not breaking even. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be upset with promoters who do bad jobs, but respect that they’ve gone out of their way to book you.
See, most promoters I know, “big time” or not, don’t make their living off of booking, especially for bands like yours and mine. If you’re a local artist, thank everyone who allows you onto their events and try to maintain a good relationship with them. Do your best to get as many people out as you can and promote yourself to the best of your ability.
If you’re from out of town, be grateful that someone went out of his or her way to get you in front of people. Whether you have a draw or not, there’s still work that goes into setting a show up. A promoter often books artists on chance their show will be profitable, not a guarantee of it.
Everyone you play with is your equal
It’s natural to talk about other bands behind closed doors and to dislike their music or their personalities sometimes. But as a musician, a performer, and an entertainer, they're your equals. If you’re a local band, every other local you play with is part of your local scene. They're your peers whether you like it or not.
It's my belief that you should try to catch at least part of each artist’s set. You, in all honesty, are a part of their draw and their audience. If you can’t do that or are leaving early for some reason, at least try to talk to them a little bit or grab some merch.
If you’re on a touring circuit, I’d argue the same actions are good, even though they're not always essential. It can be draining to watch a local band every night for two weeks in a row, especially when they often aren’t very good. And, of course, you could have been driving for eight hours and haven’t eaten since last night, so you’ll want some food before you play. But at least thank the locals for playing and for bringing people to see your sorry self. You’re not any better than them because you’re from out of town, and they showed up to help you have an audience.
Fans and showgoers are the fuel for your career
People who watch you and buy your music are the ones who keep your career going. You could be the most talented musician ever, but without people to watch you or buy your music (i.e., no demand), you’d just be playing for your stuffed animals forever.
How many venues have shut down due to people not coming out to shows? How many tours have been unsuccessful because people weren’t buying merch or sticking around to watch the bands? Fans and showgoers are just as important as the artists they go to watch. So when they’re watching you, thank them for coming out and say it like you mean it. Showgoers being there isn’t something you deserve – it’s something you’re very lucky to have.
To the self-entitled musicians: do you see yet that there's no room for your ego in this game? Every player contributes and is essential for a win. Everyone offers the scene and industry something valuable and necessary to keep it going.
Building a dedicated fanbase is a vital part of sustaining a music career. Every person who shows that they truly believe in your music will make a difference in the long run. However, many bands often make the assumption that once they gain a fan, they’ve automatically acquired a lifetime’s worth of support. This is not the right attitude to have!
The top mistake bands make right after gaining a fan is thinking they don’t need to work to keep that fan. It takes a lot of effort to keep your fanbase consistently engaged, especially when you consider how many different artists the average music fan listens to.
It's essential to spark a potential new fan's interest at the right time in order to push them to the next level of fandom. The best way to accomplish this in the early stages is by simply interacting and showing that you care about them. A lot of nurturing must go on between the point of a fan streaming your single for free to buying your album, so get perfectly in tune with what your fans want out of you and deliver it on their behalf.
Take the time to personally thank your fans for coming to your show. Send them something special, like a free download, for joining your email list. Respond to their comments on social media. Remember that it's a two-way street – you need to deepen the relationship and give something to your fans before you ask for something from them.
No matter what stage of the creative process you're in, you need to keep your fans constantly involved in order for them to maintain interest in you as both an artist and a person. Run a special promotion on social media, do interviews with journalists who will ask the right questions, perform at well-curated showcases, collaborate with similar artists, and come up with cool concepts for merchandise.
Ultimately, do whatever it takes not only to garner that initial spark of interest, but to get fans directly involved with your art. By keeping fans engaged on a daily basis in a natural way, you will solidify the strength of the people who matter the most in helping your career progress.