On Wednesday 25/6/14, I attended a free for members event organised by the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) titled ‘Marketing Your Live Gig 101‘.
Due to afternoon/evening private teaching commitments in previous years, this was my first time attending one of APRA’s events. So before I outline the night, let me just say how happy I am to have a service like APRA available for the Australian music community. As I mentioned above, this event was completely free for songwriters registered with APRA (free membership) – including beers and finger food prior to the actual Panel Discussion. Good form APRA.
The night was made up of 3 unique industry players:
Drummer and key organiser in Sydney-based ‘The Crooked Fiddle Band’. These guys are completely self-managed and have done huge things as an independent act over the past 8 years.
An industry all-rounder, Adam has been a long running FBi radio presenter, venue booker and gig promoter, as well has having significant experience in A&R , media and communications, music writing and DJing. Adam is currently the full-time Booker for Goodgod Small Club on Liverpool St in the Sydney CBD.
A music veteran of over 17 years, Nik has owned and operated his own independent label and is currently working as a manager and publicist. His credentials are pretty huge. For more info, look him up.
The Event as a whole:
The event in total went for 2 hours, with 1 hour for networking, free beer and snacks beforehand and the second hour for the discussion. I would highly recommend attending future events for the entirety of the 2 hours as I met and traded contacts with some great people. I see this as a hugely important ingredient to success in any industry.
The Panel Discussion:
The speakers that APRA organised for this discussion brought some great knowledge to the table and I found myself leaving the building with a stronger understanding in this area than I had walking in. Each of the speakers answered questions and points raised by Greg Morrow, who coordinated the flow of the discussion, openly and honestly. The only area that I thought could have been elaborated on a little further was the actual process that can go into marketing an independent artist’s gig (or more specifically – tour) campaign on a very low budget. When I asked a question regarding the use of a checklist, the speakers (Nik directly) responded that there ‘was no simple checklist’. I was pretty skeptical. Surely there was some protocol that you could follow to guarantee heads at the door, assuming your music is any good and you have some descent recordings. I guess this is something that you have to figure in the end through experience.
Resources by Joe Gould
The point from above did get cleared up later by Joe, who mentioned a fantastic eBook by a NZ artist called Blink. The book is called ‘DIY TOURING THE WORLD‘ costs whatever you’re willing to pay. I’m just about to start reading it, so I can’t vouch for how great it is just yet. However, fellow panel speaker Adam also raved about the quality. If that’s enough for you…
Joe, as the legend that he is, also mentioned a page that he made on his website with some fantastic resources. Among these is a checklist style spreadsheet, which can be used as part of a marketing campaign (just what I was looking for) and some other useful links.
I highly recommend this page: Joe Gould from The Crooked Fiddle Band’s Resources
The Importance of Quality Engagement:
A strong recurring point being raised amongst the panel was the importance of engagement in various mediums with the community that your music exists inside. This means going to gigs and making contacts relevant to your genre or style and following them up digitally as well as physically. This is the main area that I plan on resolving with my own music career. I mean, how can you expect to build and grow an audience without some performer loyalty and reliability. From today onwards, I will go to at least one gig per week. I am going to meet people and become a frequent and active member of the Sydney Music Community. While I did feel this as important before, APRA’s event has cemented my feelings.
Another related area of engagement that the panel emphasised, was the weakness of the Facebook Like. The speakers wanted to make sure that the audience understood that all marketing campaigns must make use of various mediums and Facebook is no be-all, end-all solution. Nik even brought up the point that while one of the bands that he manages, ‘Regular John’, had sold more than 20,000 copies of their previous record, they only had 2,000 Facebook Likes. Following this fact, Joe jokingly put forward the idea of messaging every one of his Facebook Fans (The Crooked Fiddle Band) and telling them all to Unlike the Page if they weren’t actually emotionally invested in the Band’s musical endeavours. While his idea of ‘cutting the fat’ from the area of social media engagement sounds tempting (my thoughts on the ‘Like‘ is pretty much in agreement with Joe), I dare him to follow through. No matter what anyone says, Facebook Likes still look impressive. And perhaps if there was a better way of personalising the gaining of a Like, it’ll carry more weight. What if fans were contacted directly once the Like occurred? Would this be too time consuming for the artist? Or perhaps too pushy from a Fan’s perspective?
Marketing Your Live Gig through Blogs:
While a simple google search can yield some great results if you’re looking to start pushing your music out to the tastemakers of the industry, Nik Tropiano mentioned a fantastic website resource that is so good that I’m kicking myself that I hadn’t heard of it before. It’s called Hype Machine. This site is an aggregate for a number of influential music blogs out there. It tracks song plays across these blogs and can work as a database to find a musician’s niche audience. The blogosphere is definitely an area that I am looking to get my music out into.
The Importance of a Mailing List
The final point that this Panel discussion pushed, which is one that I’ve only recently been trying to improve myself, is the use of a Mailing List. If there is one thing that someone can take away by reading this post/reflection or attending the event, it’s that the Mailing List is the only true way to directly engage with fans on a digital spectrum. From my experience, Mail Chimp is the best one around.
Be sure to Sign Up for mine on the right —>
I hope that my reflection on Wednesday night’s APRA event will be of some benefit to other artists looking to get their music heard and people at their shows. I believe that Marketing Your Live Gig is an important step towards a successful career as an independent musician. If you have any extra thoughts on some of the topics that I’ve discussed, feel free to share them below.
A Big thank you to APRA for continuing to be an awesome part of the Australian Music landscape.