By Chris Carr- http://thekiltlifters.com
I’ve often been asked by other musicians how our band manages to survive as a genre band. These same guys are usually pretty shocked to find out that it’s pretty much the same as any successful act: we know our audience. If there’s one crucial thing that I can never stress enough, it’s the importance of knowing who your audience is. It quite literally *should* be a determining factor in decision you make. Let me give you a few examples:
Choosing your timeslot
Our band is a Celtic folk/rock band. Our audience is generally more mature, and they turn in early. We know from experience that the later we play, the smaller our audience. Believe it or not, our most attended shows start between 3pm and 5pm! With St. Patrick’s day being the exception, 7pm is the very latest we can ever start and still expect to have any audience at all. We put on a two-act event last year that ran from 5pm-9pm. I scheduled our band in the 5pm-7pm slot, when I knew we’d have the highest attendance. We played to a full house. By the time the second act was done, the only people left in the establishment were those of us who were putting on the event. Now, if we were a punk band catering to a younger audience, we’d want the latest show possible. Knowing who you are reaching and their preferences and lifestyle can help you negotiate the best timeslot to get the most reach for your music.
Choosing your venue
When you’re booking your gigs or creating your own events, it’s important to target appropriate venues for your specific audience. Someone playing children’s music is going to have a rough time booking a biker bar. Where does your audience like to go? What type of events do they like to attend? For the music we play, cultural festivals, schools, libraries, and retirement homes are our primary targets. If you know that there’s no way your audience will pay a cover charge, you know better than to do a ticketed event. With a good understanding of who your audience is, you can book gigs and create successful events that broaden your reach and bring you more fans!
Choosing your merch
When we release an album, it’s pretty much always going to be an EP. Why? Because we know our audience is happy to pay $10 for 4-5 songs. If we recorded a full length album, we could charge $15. That would mean that we would be doubling our production costs for 25% less return. We are currently recording enough material for an LP, however, we’ll be releasing it as 2 EP’s, because that’s what works with our audience. We also know that download cards, codes, USB sticks and the like don’t work with our less tech savvy audience, where it might with a younger fanbase. I can give download cards away for free to our fans, and they’d never use a single one. They are more comfortable with physical CD’s. By knowing your audience, you can more wisely invest in merch that is attractive to your fans, and you don’t end up with a basement full of unsold swag.
Who is your target audience?