Times are hard right now
True. There is not a single person who has not felt the effects of a shrinking wallet over the last couple of years. Times ARE tough. Every time we go to the gas pumps or grocery store it is always the same situation; more money for less product. However, that does not mean that there are not ways to help support the local music scene.
Before the internet became the main mode of communication, bands used to rely upon word of mouth. Expecting their fans to spread the news about them to their friends and thus creating a larger fan base for the bands. However, in the age we live in you will be hard pressed to find someone who does not have his or her own profile on some social networking site. This has become the age of communication and we have embraced it wholeheartedly. These social networking sites have become hosts to bands as well. The bands rely on these sites for communications with promoters, booking agents, venues, merchandising companies, and their fans. Some of the most popular networking sites for bands to be active on is Facebook, MySpace, and ReverbNation. Bands still rely upon the word of mouth theory to help promote their music to the masses, but these sites just made it easier for them; as long as their fans follow through.
Bands are all the time posting show dates, new songs, links to videos, online ticket sales, or other sites that they are active on as well. This is where the social network comes into play. If you happen to be one of those social networking butterflies who have acquired some three thousand friends on one of these sites, sharing the links from these bands just let three thousand other people know about that band. It’s free to do, and the bands do notice and appreciate the extra promotion for them. Even if you are personally not able to attend the show that the band is promoting, for whatever reason, by sharing the link on your profile might bring in some people who are part of your network of friends to the show. This does not mean that the band will expect you to become a promoter for them.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the three main sites: MySpace, Facebook, and ReverbNation. First, let’s look at MySpace. MySpace is quickly becoming an obsolete site. Not that MySpace is a bad site for bands; it is easily accessible for fans and allows bands to upload music to their profile much easier than Facebook. However, as times change, it seems that MySpace is being left behind in favor of the new fad. Facebook, on the other hand, seems to be where bands are going. It has an easier to view layout and comments from fans are easier to view. ReverbNation is a site that is more geared for bands. ReverbNation is one of the greatest sites a band can be involved with as it has more direct contacts to managers, venues, promoters, other bands, and fans. Registering as a fan on ReverbNation helps bands to advance in local national and global charts. These chart positions are important for the bands when they are sending out booking inquiries to venues. Venues take a look at the charts and base their decisions upon them heavily. If a venue is looking at two possible bands to fill one slot, they are more than likely going to choose the one with a higher chart number. By becoming a fan and interacting with the band on ReverbNation, you help that band achieve a higher position in the charts. By posting on other social networking sites about the band and sharing a link to their ReverbNation profile you can help attract other people to become fans, thus bringing the band even further along on the charts.
But it’s not all about numbers …
Attending shows is a no brainer when it comes to supporting the local music scene, and probably the first thing people think about when the music scene is mentioned. However, there are a few things that people don’t realize that are proper “etiquette” when attending a show.
We all have our favorite band or bands that we love to see perform live. The worst thing that a person attending a show can do is show up for their favorite bands performance and leave immediately after they perform. Not only is this unfair to the other bands that are performing that night, but ultimately, it is unfair to the person leaving the show. Even though you came to see one band, that does not mean that the other bands are not just as impressive, if not more so. It happens.
Do not constantly ask the bands to get you in for free. This bears repeating: Do not constantly ask the bands to get you in for free. Bands are not truly being supported at the live shows if they are getting their fans in for free. Bands usually don’t mind getting people in the door every once in a while, but this can get out of hand. Bands only have so many people they can get in as a guest, and getting fans in as a guest limits the amount of possible future business contacts they can get in, and , when it comes down to it, it is a business for the band. That is why it is called the music business.
The fact that it is a business often times gets overlooked by the fans out having a good time at the show.
Also, something that needs to be considered about attending a live show is that if the bands you like do not get a decent amount of fans to their shows, venues will not book them to play. This has nothing to do with how good or bad the band sounds or performs, but is a basic business decision on the venues part. If the bands do not bring people into the venue, the venue cannot make money from their bar sales. To the venue, it is all about the money coming in. If a band cannot provide a decent draw, the venue will no longer book them. If you are an out of state fan of a band, you can usually purchase tickets online. This may seem like throwing your money away, and in a way it is, but it is a way to support the band and venue at the same time.
Merchandise is available from most bands. T shirts, CD’s, stickers, and much more can usually be purchased from a bands merch table. Supporting a band by purchasing some of their merchandise not only helps put a little money into the bands pocket, but it also serves as a promotional billboard for everyone to see. A sticker on a bumper or a shirt on the back lets others know that you support this or that band. Local bands are not likely to charge an expensive price for their merchandise. The reason for this is that most local bands would rather get a t shirt out where the public can view it, and maybe check them out, rather than put a large amount of revenue in their pockets. It’s all about promotions. However, all this merchandise is not cheap for the bands to obtain, and a lot of bands sell their merchandise with a minimal mark up. Bands set the price for their merchandise based upon the overhead they have to reach in order to not go in the red. Merchandise for the local bands is not so much about the money, most of the time, as much as it is about the promotion.
There are many ways to support the local music scene; these are only the most common. Attending shows and purchasing merchandise helps out the bands and the venue both. However, if you are unable to attend a show, you can still do your part as a fan and support the bands on the social networks we are all plugged into in a somewhat zombie like state. Bottom line is that the music scene is thriving all around you; become a part of it and it will become a part of you.