One of the most inspiring, and overwhelming, aspects of the internet is that with it anyone can become a successful band or artist. The prospect of having a song or recording go viral and generate a fan base overnight keeps people producing content at a rapid pace. But even without this viral following, the internet makes music more accessible and provides artists with an easy medium to show and share their work with people. Because of this, acts pop up every day, gaining new listeners and looking for shows to play.
The problem this influx of talent causes a band or musician arises when their following plateaus. The reality is that people booking venues are checking the Facebook pages of bands who send them inquiries and when they look, they look at the number of likes the performers have. And of course they are. As business owners they want to make sure, when they are bombarded with inquiry emails, to book an act that not only sounds great for their regulars, but will bring in a crowd for their company. So when a musician or band gets stuck in that high hundreds to low thousands range of Facebook likes, they find themselves stuck in competition with the thousands of other bands whose Facebook pages all have a similar amount of likes.
So what’s a band to do? If they don’t want to spam their followers or use an expensive promotional company, then the options become incredibly limited. But rather than focusing on pulling in new followers, perhaps it’s more important to focus on the followers they already have.
If a band only has 150 likes or “fans”, but a majority of those fans are downloading their recordings and turning up for their live shows, then they’re going to be more financially successful than an act with 500 likes that only has a handful people show up when they play and even fewer people actually buying their music. The best way to grow is from the roots up, so for the frustrated band with the 500 likes, rather than straining their resources to reach 1,000 they should concentrate on reaching out to the 500 individuals already following their page and motivate or incentivize those people show up to gigs and support their music.
Not only the quality, so to speak, but the diversity of fans is important to Indie bands and musicians. If a band has a following of a couple hundred people who are actively invested in their music, that’s grounds for a small tour, especially if those two or three hundred people are spread out across a single state or a few states that are close together. A band doesn’t need a huge following to tour, as the indie movement has shown, but when embarking on tours it becomes the responsibility of the band to gravitate toward the places where they have a following rather than having the following gravitate towards them.
Admittedly, the difficulty with these ideas is showing potential venues and booking agents that this small number of fans are diehard enough for the band to have a turn out. Realistically the best way to showcase this is to post content such as videos and photos that make a point to exemplify the support the band has. Another idea is to foster interaction, if a venue scrolling through a Facebook page sees posts that consistently have likes and comments, have a back and forth between band and fan, then that shows a strong and active audience that the booker will be more open to take a chance on.
It’s important for self-supported musicians, and artists of any discipline, to think outside the box and remember that the number of likes inside of it, whether higher or lower than you might want, is representative of a group of people who care enough about your work to get updates about it. Show them some love and chances are, they’ll show it back.