You can’t expect everyone to come out to every show. Even if your favorite artist played multiple times a month in your city you wouldn’t make it out to every show. People need a reason to devote an evening to your band. Being your friend may work for a little while, but a buzzed about event will push them over the edge.
Newspapers won’t run stories about just any show or any band, they need a newsworthy event to run a story. A CD release is newsworthy especially if there is an actual story behind the band and album. A charity show is an event. Virtually any titled show is an event. A Tuesday night show at club with 4 other unknown acts is not an event.
Title Your Shows
Until you start touring you may not feel a reason to title your shows. Most tours get titles (as they should), but most average shows do not. Treat your quarterly shows as events (you can’t make every show an event – but work on making the important ones events). Create a special campaign around that one show. Get a friend to design a cool poster. Title the event as something that stands out and have some exciting element for that show like “Trading Places” featuring Pink Shoes, Wombats, Tom Hickens and Bad Swimmers. Then have each band cover one of the other bands’ songs.
I once organized and played a show in Minneapolis called “The Unknown Order.” I got together 3 other buzzing bands in the city (none of whom had sold out the acclaimed 700 cap Varsity Theater for any show prior). The idea behind the show was that 10 minutes before the first band started the emcee would pick a name out of a hat and that would be the first band to play. No one (not even the bands) knew the order of the acts for the evening. After each band finished, the emcee picked another name. The idea was to get everyone to the club at the start of the show and to put all bands on an equal level – no headliners or openers. The show sold out 10 minutes after doors opened and about 200 people got turned away.
Ari’s Take: Shows Sell, Events Sell Out.