Notes to Self... (from a DIY singer / songwriter)

Posts Tagged ‘Courtesy’

Opening Acts, Stay ’til the Bitter End!

In At the Show, Lessons Learned, Mailing List, Making $, Selling Merch & CDs on January 21, 2011 at 6:08 am

I’ve learned in the short span of time that I’ve had physical CDs available for sale and have learned the importance of PUSHING MY MAILING LIST, how important it is to stay until the END of any show you’re playing, if you want to do any significant selling / email collecting.

It is just courteous to stay and listen to all acts in a showcase (also in the case of an event where music is not the main attraction) whenever possible. And it is probably to your benefit to meet and develop a rapport with your fellow musicians after a show, perhaps discuss show-swapping if they are from another area?

But if these reasons are not enough to convince you to stick around for an extra 2-4 hours after your half-hour set, let me give you another!

A few weeks ago I was asked to play a few songs at a Cultural Change event (goconversation.org), to open up the evening. It sounded like a cool event to be a part of, but I couldn’t be sure that many people would even be interested in my music, seeing as they would most likely be attending for the main event, not to hear the unknown singer/songwriter chick play a few songs in the beginning. Nevertheless, I accepted the (unpaid) opening slot at the cool event.

I set up my EPs and mailing list signup cards in the lobby in case anyone might want to buy something or join the list. There was a 15-min intermission, where 1 or 2 people wandered out and bought EPs (AND joined the list, because I asked if they’d like to…).

At this point, I could have EASILY gone home. Its not that I wasn’t interested in the event, but selling only 2 EPs at an unpaid event was a little disheartening, not to mention the snowstorm happening outside, more ferociously threatening the ride home with each passing minute.

BUT, I decided to wait until the bitter end, and with the end of the event came 12 more album sales AND list signups, INCLUDING a Maryland State Senator. At least now I could cover gas for the 10 mi/hr ride home 😉

*By the way, I cannot stress enough the importance of ASKING every single person that buys a CD (AND those that don’t, if they express any interest in your music) if they’d like to join your mailing list. Since I started simply asking, it’s been RARE that anyone has said no! It was a rather amazing revelation, really…*

Anyway, here’s one more example: A few months ago I was asked to open for another band at a benefit concert at a bar. I played 6 songs, just me and my guitar. The band played for about 2 hours. We both had tables setup in the back, and mailing list signups. But the entire time the band was playing, I was manning my table, in case anyone should wander back. Again, a few people trickled back during the other band’s show to buy my EPs, and I asked each of them if they’d like to join the mailing list. They all did. The band didn’t have any CDs for sale, but I did notice their mailing list signup sheet, and that no one seemed to be pushing it, tsk tsk (I also DIDn’t notice anyone signing it…and I for one don’t think its because nobody liked the band. Perhaps some of them were already on the list? …).

Again, it wasn’t until the VERY end of the show that a “flood” of people came to the back to buy CDs and join the list, even though, in this setting, anyone could have easily and casually come over whenever they liked. In reality, I think I sold about half DURING the show and half AFTER the show, all at once. I sold 15 EPs total at this gig, and I believe ALL of them joined my list, because I asked. Not bad I say, for a singer/songwriter at a bar. Boy was a glad I stayed past my bedtime! And I’m not sure whether the band got paid or not, but boy, did I feel like I actually got the BETTER show slot…

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