#1
I had a debate with my friend who I used to be in a band with over playing shows (we are both 15). When I was in the band we played a few shows he booked far away from where we lived (By that I mean 50 or so minutes). Nobody showed up to any of them. We just played in front of our friend/part-time roadie and some of our parents.

He makes the valid argument that to play in front of somebody you have to play in front of nobody. But 0 times anything is still 0. Nobody random shows up to these shows at Christian youth centers unless they know anyone who's playing, which they don't. So how can you build a fanbase from playing in front of nobody.

I told him just garage shows with friend's bands and talent shows/battle of the bands instead of these useless shows that just waste time until you get the "fanbase" to perform real concerts. Anyone think different? Open to ideas from people with experience about this kind of stuff.
#2
Well if you're playing shows no one is going to, you aren't going to get any new fans. Your best bet is to record songs/video tape your band playing live and put it on Youtube, then promote the hell out of it. One of my friends did this a couple years ago, and now they're touring, playing festivals all over the place, and they're all under 20 years old.

If you can get into something like a Battle of the Bands, that would be great too, as there will definitely be a crowd to play to, and even if you don't win you might get a couple fans, and your band will start to slowly get bigger and bigger.
#3
First off, I would try to get gigs around town, because hardly anybody is going to come almost an hour away just to see you play, and since you don't know anybody around the venues you guys are playing, it's obvious that nobody is going to show.

Start getting your cyber name out there, make youtube videos, about the band, you guys doing crazy s***, anything and everything to get your name out there.


And also something I stress when I'm talking to my friends and just random people that are gigging. Nobody wants to go out and spend their $10 or so and the experience stop there. I realize that you guys are 15 and unable to party it up, legally at least lol. But me and my band mates throw down after a show, we'll buy everyone shots with what we made (get half off too, so they're like 1$ shots most of the time). even if people don't necessarily like our music, they are going to show up for the party and atmosphere afterwards. And we got a reputation as a party band and people are going to come out and join us. Point is I would try to offer something other than just a show that's going to last 30-45 minutes and then the audience is going to go home...
#4
The real question is "why aren't anyone coming to the shows?".

It's most likely because you aren't promoting them enough (if at all), and none of your friends are coming, dragging along extra friends.

Let's face it, do you go to see bands you've never heard of before? No? Well there ya go. What if one of your friends said he's going and invited you along? Yes you would. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising your band can have, but before then, you have to let people know your band exists. Force your family/friends/co-workers to come to a gig so there's as many people there as you can get. If you're good they'll tell their friends how awesome you are.

Set up a website with demos on it. Let people listen to the music that someone else told them was awesome.

Of course continued exposure really does rely upon you being good in the first place (or at least tight). If you are neither of those things, you shouldn't be looking for gigs yet.

Anyways, if you're disappointed that there isn't hundreds of screaming fans at your first gigs, just get over it. It's called "paying your dues" for a reason.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#5
The key is getting your name out there locally. I certainly agree that a cyber presence (youtube, a website, and most importantly a facebook page and email address) is important, however if no one locally knows who you are youre not going to get booked and youre not going to attract people to your shows (or get visitors to your website).

Play open mic nights; a good open mic night has a built in crowd from regulars and other bands and their fans, and if you make a good impression these could turn into your fans or even gig offers.

Approach other bands similar in style in your area (at an open mic night, their shows, via facebook/myspace, etc.) and offer to open for them for free. This is a good way to make connections with other bands, get your foot in the door at venues you might not otherwise get to play, and pick up fans that would have otherwise never have seen you.

Play charity events; benefit concerts, relay for life, random disease awareness, etc. Oftentimes these gigs are easy to get, and have a huge audience that could become potential fans or gig offers.

Play talent shows/ battle of the bands at your school or in your community. Since you are high school age this is a great opportunity. These gigs allow you to connect with other bands your own age and expose you to your friends and peers. These are the fans that are most likely to become diehard fans and come to a lot of your shows.

Play graduation/ birthday parties. When I was in HS a bunch of seniors would rent out a venue for their graduation party every year and have 5 or 6 local bands play. This is another great way to get your music out to your peers.

Basically, be creative and take any gig you can get. If you impress people you'll get more gigs, get more fans, and maybe even get some paying gigs down the line.

For all of the above make sure you have a banner, business cards, announce who you are. Even if youre amazing, if no one knows who you are they wont come to your future shows.
This brings me to another key point; make sure you are well prepared for every gig. You have to impress people if you want to win over fans and future gigs. This is kind of a given but its amazing how many young bands jam for 30 minutes and are not good enough to keep it interesting; in other words if you only have 30 minutes of material down to perfection only agree to play for 30 minutes for the time being (with many of the aforementioned ideas this will rarely be an issue, except perhaps charity events).
Last edited by jim_smith at Aug 11, 2011,
#6
My band formed in May 2011 (I was with my singer working on music for about 6 months before then, but we didn't get everyone together until that month). We found the pieces we wanted in one night of auditions, and played a show the next friday that 50 people came to (mainly friends, family, etc.) and made a good amount of money from it, despite the fact that we weren't as tight as we could have been. A couple weeks later we played a show in another town at some first friday event and not a lot of people came but a good amount of people stopped to watch. Two weeks later we played a show at midnight on a friday night at some piece of shit hole in the wall bar that had almost no one in it and I think that was the most depressing show we'd ever done. My singer was really down on herself after that and it was a very bad weekend. We decided we needed to do a lot more promoting so we did and since then each show we've played has had between 30-60 people coming. Our next show is a battle of the bands contest being put on by a local radio station at one of the biggest venues in town and the winner gets to open for Blink 182. We've sold almost 100 tickets for this one. The point is, promote, know what gigs to avoid (pay to play, buy ins, just avoid most promotion companies in general), make good music and be patient. Patience is key.
#7
A gig is a gig is a gig.
Just keep playin em, it gives you a chance to craft sets and perform your work- regardless of who shows up. Yes, empty shows are a tad demoralizing....so promote them extensively.

Edit: Just read an above post about open mic nights. My new band has played 2 open mics now to relatively dull crowds, but the first time the staff offered us to play at a festival they were hosting, and the second time some guy wanted us to play with his son's band at another festival. No matter where you're playing or what you're doing...put on a good show. That creepy guy chillin in the back could be more important than you think.
Last edited by its_alive at Aug 12, 2011,
#8
In truth, you have no control over how many people will show up at a gig 50 minutes away. I don't care how many of his friends he invites, he's 15, and his friends are probably not much older, and parents may not always or at all want to drive their kids to see you. Plus, this happens to bands touring all the time. Not everyone or even anyone will have heard you in the next state over if it's your first visit there, so there's some promotion that isn't always under your control.

Find local shows, anywhere. Open mics can be lame, but if it's all you have, work it. Tell anyone to go and promote the shit out of it.

Also, live experience is live experience, even if it's in front of no one. Even more popular/ experienced bands play to 10 people in a basement show one night and 100 people in a club the next.
#9
At The Drive-In got their big break playing in front of seven people, all of whom worked for a fairly powerful indie-label (or something like that, don't quote me exactly).
#10
Quote by AlanHB
The real question is "why aren't anyone coming to the shows?".

It's most likely because you aren't promoting them enough (if at all), and none of your friends are coming, dragging along extra friends.

Let's face it, do you go to see bands you've never heard of before? No? Well there ya go. What if one of your friends said he's going and invited you along? Yes you would. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising your band can have, but before then, you have to let people know your band exists. Force your family/friends/co-workers to come to a gig so there's as many people there as you can get. If you're good they'll tell their friends how awesome you are.

To add to this, who else are you performing with?

It sounds like you're playing random shows with no other bands on the bill. That's a mistake, because other bands will bring their fans along and you can get some of them to become fans of you.

You won't get bigger by playing shows unless you're playing to people who haven't seen you yet. That's why local bands play shows together; they get to cross-promote to each other's fanbases.
#11
A friend of mine saw No Doubt back before they were well-known, when a booking error meant that they had ZERO of their fans show up.

He was one of 7 people who just happened to be there. And they put on a kick-ass show. You can bet that the next time they were around, he grabbed all of his friends and said "you guys HAVE to come hear these guys."

The problem is, it sounds like you're not promoting yourself very well. Look, if you're playing a Christian Youth Center that's 50 mintues away, you need to think of how to tell all the kids who are at that center about your show. Are you putting up flyers a week in advance? Can you get one of the people who works there to announce your show to the kids who are there? You can't drive yet, so it's got to be hard to make two-three trips to flyer the place in advance, talk to the right adults, but you've got to do that work.

Another good thing to do is to make friends with other similar bands. So maybe you'll open for them on one of their local gigs, and they'll open for you on one of yours - and your fans will hear each other.

Play open mic's. Have an email mailing list. Get a web page up - something! But before people can look for you online they have to hear you, so you need to figure out how to reach the people for whom its easy to get to your shows - the kids who live within easy walking distance of your venue. That's going to mean getting out there with flyers, talking to the right adults who can mention your show, etc. Chances are some of those kids are bored and looking for something to do - so you've got to make sure they know about you.

It's legwork. It takes time and effort. And until you can drive yourself, that's going to be a challenge. But you need to do it to get people to your shows.