Category: Tours

How To Find New Fans AND Make Social Media Updates Easy

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Everyone wants to make their life a little easier. Especially independent musicians. From being the artist to the tour manager to the PR specialist, indie artists have a lot on their plates. So when we find a tool that frees up a little of your time and does its job well, we get excited.

Enter Bandsintown.

Bandsintown is a website and app that lets music fans track their favorite artists. Then it lets those fans know when the artists they tracked comes to town. 65% of all touring artists in the United States use Bandsintown, and they have over 120 million fans subscribed to their service. For the artist, it’s an easy tool to use. Bandsintown adds a “Tour Dates” tab to your Facebook page, and you can manage everything from there. It’s a simple concept that has some great features. So let’s dive into why Bandsintown might be a good tool for your band.

Social Media Updates

A few weeks ago we posted a blog about ReverbNation, and it warned against letting third parties automatically post concert updates to Facebook for you. We cautioned against using this feature on ReverbNation primarily because there was no way to control these posts, besides turning them on and off. They tended to fill up artist’s Facebook and Twitter with duplicate content that had the potential to drive fans away.

This is not the case with Bandsintown. Their automatic posting feature has tons of options that let you control exactly what is posted.

If you choose to turn these posts on in Facebook, you can also target them geographically. This a great feature. It makes sure you’re not bothering all your West Coast fans with your extensive touring in the Northeast.

Post to Reginal

It’s also notable that the “Tour Dates” tab allows you to upload a custom video header. This is great news, because it allows your fans to engage with visual content before they browse your tour schedule. It’s been shown that visual content (graphics and video) tend to create higher response rates with viewers, so having this built into the page where your shows are displayed is a great feature.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 11.55.56 AM

Fan Analytics

Fans are the lifeblood of any musician. And having data about those fans can mean the difference between a successful tour or playing to empty rooms every night. If you have over 100 trackers (fans) in Bandsintown, you can receive fan analytics.

Probably the best feature in these analytics is the fan heat map. This tool allows you to see where the fans that track you live, where fans who track similar artists live, and the locations of fans who have RSVP’d to your shows. This helps you to create a tour schedule that will have the most impact for you.

Heatmap

They also create a list of the top 100 markets for your live show based on the number of trackers in each city, and show you a graph of actual RSVPs for your shows vs. people who are interested in attending.

RSVP vs. Interested

Google Loves Bandsintown

Bandsintown has a nice looking widget that you can embed onto your official website to display your tour dates. This is handy because you only have to upload your show dates once and they will be live on your official website and social media.

Another bonus is that Bandsintown has partnered with Google to streamline the ways that events show up when you search for a band. Since Bandsintown and Google are buddies, all your show information is easy for Google to read, and shows up clearly.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.08.05 PM

Another benefit to Bandsintown’s relationship with Google is YouTube Cards. YouTube hopes to replace annotations in videos with small rectangular boxes called cards. These cards are small pictures with text, and will display on desktop as well as mobile browsers. You can link these cards to your official website if you’ve already affiliated your YouTube channel with your website. However, if you want to use YouTube cards to sell anything, you have to use a retailer that has already been approved by YouTube. The good news is that Bandsintown is on that list.

Hozier YouTube

But the best news about this feature?

When you use Bandsintown on your YouTube card, the card will link directly back to your website.

This is great news for artists, and is vastly different than many third party applications that will take your fans to their website instead of your own.

What Not to Do With Bandsintown

Just like any other online tool, there are some things you need to be careful of when using a third party app to help you out.

  • Don’t let Bandsintown social media posts take over your profile.  Just because the social media posting feature works well doesn’t mean it is a replacement for actual posts created by you. Even though Bandsintown gives you lots of posting customization options, if all your fans ever see are these posts, they will probably check out pretty quickly. You can read our blog for tips on managing your social media profiles here.
  • Don’t let Bandsintown gather all your fan data for you. Although they have some great analytical tools, you don’t ever want a third party to be the main way you gather information about fans. If third parties are the only way you’re collecting fan data, if they ever shut their doors, you will be left high and dry with no way to communicate with fans.
  • Don’t Let Bandsintown Emails Replace Your Regular Newsletters. It’s great that Bandsintown will automatically send your fans an update when you’re playing in their area, but a personal newsletter written by you is a better way to engage with fans. Many email newsletter services also allow you to geographically target your email audience. Using Bandsintown and your favorite e-newsletter platform in conjunction with each other can optimize your fan interaction, and help get those fans out to your shows.

Overall, Bandsintown is a well built, professional tool that can help artists manage the planning and promotion of their shows, and I would recommend it to almost any artist. But as always, do some experimenting and find out if this app is something that will work for you and your music. If you want more information, you can check out Bandsintown’s official website here.

Have you used Bandsintown? What are your favorite features? Has it helped you to plan more effective tours, and get fans out to shows? Let us know in the comments below!




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Are Tours the Right Choice for Your Band?

Are Tours the Right Choice for Your Band?

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

There are people who argue that bands shouldn’t tour. They cite the wonderful internet, the high price of gas, and better uses of time; they argue that you can build a fan base on social media, distribute your music on any number of websites, spend your “free time” rehearsing, and be A-OK.

I get what they’re saying and where they’re coming from. I’ll even concede that these efforts—social media, distribution, rehearsing—benefit bands.

BUT, I disagree with their argument. There are times that touring is the best move your band can make. It’s simply a matter of understanding what type of tour is right for your band, and why touring is important to begin with. The internet cannot replace a live event, and live events do a great job of creating fans who will actually purchase your music.

Different Types of Tours, and When to Choose Each

Now, choosing the right type of tour for your band can make the difference between a successful tour and a frustrating, expensive headache. Consider tackling the following types of tours in the order they are presented.

The Local Tour

The first type of tour you should tackle is the local tour. This means:

  • reaching out and playing every relevant venue in your area (say, within an hour or so of your home base),
  • booking steady gigs (ideally, several nights a week),
  • packing the house,
  • selling your merch until everyone has it,
  • mastering your set list and performance skills, and
  • gaining the attention of local media (bloggers, papers, radio stations).

If your band is starting out, you should focus on this type of tour.

Once you’ve mastered the local tour, you might feel like your local market has had its fill of you, and staying with those same venues and same crowds becomes less exciting and less profitable (since no one’s buying merch anymore) and feels more like you’re treading water. At this point, you have two options. The first option is to refresh your act: focus on creating and releasing new material to reenergize your fan base. This can do wonders for your fan base and for your own frame of mind.

The Regional Tour

If that isn’t enough, your second option is to plan a regional tour. This has a couple different formats.

You can use your local momentum to branch out to surrounding areas, maybe expanding your reach to venues within five hours of your home base. This needs to be done strategically, to keep from wasting your hard-earned money by driving back and forth. Ideally, you’d do a set of shows in one local area, then move on to the next area and do another set of shows there, and so on. Be sure you maximize each area you stop in.

The other format for a regional tour is picking a large market further away from your home base and playing the heck out of it. For example, if you’re an indie folk artist based in Philadelphia, you might look at booking a month-long tour of Texas. Since you’re traveling all that way, it makes sense to schedule sets of shows, perhaps playing several nights in Houston one week, then Austin and San Antonio for a week and a half, then Dallas/Fort Worth for a week and a half. It’s worth noting that this format of regional tour becomes more difficult with larger groups of people group. It’s a lot easier (and less expensive) to make arrangements for one or two people than it is for six or ten.

Regional tours are great for pulling your band out of its “local band” status and pushing it to the next level. They can also help you catch the eye of bigger media—influential music bloggers, or bigger radio networks, or music magazines.

The Cross-Country Tour

The next type of tour is the cross-country tour, and it’s probably the type that comes to everyone’s mind when they think of a band hitting the road. It’s also likely the type of tour that people say bands shouldn’t take. To be honest, it can be expensive, especially with larger groups, and the risk of losing money is greater. If your band isn’t at the right stage of its career, or if the tour is poorly planned or poorly marketed, it could be a mistake.

So, how do you know if you’re ready? If your band:

  • has mastered the local and regional tour and performing live,
  • is gaining attention on a national level after regional tours,
  • has connections with artists, venues, and media across the country,
  • regularly performs multiple shows a week to sold-out (or nearly sold-out) venues,
  • has merch stockpiled and ready to sell,
  • has new music ready to release and perform, and
  • has a ready resource of booking agents working for you,

then it might be a good time to plan a cross-country tour.

Cross-country tours do require some intense planning and networking. You’ll either need to utilize the tour-planning skills you developed from your local and regional tours plus all of your industry connections and your fan base, or you’ll need to bring someone on board to help plan it, or both.

We’ll get more in-depth on how to plan a tour in a future article. Now that you know the types of tours available and when they apply, we’ll address why touring, on any level, is important.

Why Touring Matters To Your Fans

It might be tempting to throw a swanky music video up on your website, retweet a fan or two, and sit back to strum your guitar, but, if that’s the extent of your willingness to connect with fans and get your music out there, you probably won’t go far. Retweeting your fans might give them a momentary thrill, but that thrill pales in comparison to what a good live performance can give them.

If you’ve been to a great concert before, you know what I’m talking about here. Great concerts are experiences. They leave fans with the permanent memory of standing in a room with dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of other fans watching a band perform, feeling the music vibrate through their body and the crowd, singing along to the chorus as the lead singer thrusts the mic out toward the audience, shaking hands with the band at the merch table, taking home a memento at the end of the night. A great concert is something you tell your friends and family about in the following days and weeks, something you relive with fellow attendees when you get together, something you tell your children about years down the line, something you close your eyes and relive anytime that band’s music comes on. Great live performances are something attendees carry with them for the rest of their lives.

For all their glory and convenience, the internet, distribution options (digital or physical), and social media can’t compete with great live performances. Since your fans can’t always travel to see you, it’s up to you to take the opportunity to them… whether that’s on a local tour at a venue 45 minutes away, or on a national tour to a city that’s a seven-hour flight away. Thus, the need for tours.

Why Touring Should Matter To You

Just like the internet, distribution options, and social media can’t live up to live performances for your fans, they can’t give you what live performances can. Yes, you might get a little rush from recording a song, releasing it to iTunes or SoundCloud, and watching the download or play count slowly tick up. Yes, it might be a source of income for you. Yes, you can interact with fans online. No, you shouldn’t abandon the internet, distribution, or social media altogether.

You also shouldn’t use these tools—that’s all they are, really—to replace actual interaction and performances.

First, rehearsing or recording in a studio—with multiple takes and all the mixing and mastering and scrubbing and perfecting—doesn’t give you the skills and experience that live performing does. There are no retakes in a live gig. You get it right or as close to perfect as you can on the first take. The crutch of being able to do something over again is gone; you either stand or fall. If your band is going to make it, this is one place where you prove that.

Live performances are also an ideal opportunity for your fans—the people on an adrenaline rush after a once-in-a-lifetime show—to buy your merch. If you wow them with your act, they’ll want something to remember it by, and they’ll be more than willing to support you (especially if you’re at the booth selling and signing merch). If you’re touring with new music (which you should be), there’s at least one product that they won’t already have. If they are new fans, odds are they won’t have much of your stuff at all. If you’re setting out on tour, regardless of the tour type, you should have merch with you; if you send people to your site, you lose that opportunity to make a sale. If you send them to third-party sites, you lose out on both opportunity and profits. In what universe does it make sense to tell eager supporters to wait or shop elsewhere?

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, touring gives you a connection to your fans. Live performances bring you face-to-face with fans. You meet the people who love and enjoy your music. You meet the people whose purchases put food on your table. You watch them from the stage, dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of fans standing in a room, swaying to your music, singing along. You watch them from the merch table, as they come up to shake your hand and buy a little piece of you to take home and cherish. That’s something that the internet and social media can’t replicate.

That’s why it’s important that your band gets up and gets out there—across town, across your region, across the country. That’s why you should care about touring.




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