Live Performance Development: Marketing and Promotion

January 16, 2013 § 1 Comment

When developing a live performance, an artist must take marketing and promotion of that event into consideration, as well as the marketing and promotion of the artist themselves and the relationship that arises from the artist and the event, as well as the audience. The most common form of marketing is online marketing; using social media sites as a tool to promote a band or event. It is obvious from this link that online marketing is possibly one of the most important tools to an artist aiming to promote a live performance, as it is incredibly accessible to a larger audience than offline marketing. The whole point of online marketing is to reach the largest possible number of potential consumers with the least amount of work, benefiting the artist while still reaching an audience.

Online Marketing

There are many different ways to market an artist online, with various social networks and websites devoted to many different genres of music and many different types of band. From 2003, Myspace.com was known as the online marketing tool for bands, providing a new way of connecting with an audience and appealing to new music consumers. In 2008, facebook overtook Myspace.com in the Alexa rankings, heralding a new era for online music promotion through social networking. Nowadays, the most common use of online marketing with bands and artists is probably their facebook page. Facebook has exploded as a marketing and promotional tool for bands since around 2009, as many people left the popular site Myspace.com and opted to join facebook instead. Another popular online marketing tool is a Twitter account, which lets artists connect with their fans through “tweets”. Both facebook and twitter accounts are almost essential to a new musician looking to market and promote their music, as it allows easy connectivity between an artist and their audience, while also providing a means of promoting new music, upcoming live shows and merchandise.

Facebook

Facebook is essential to organising live events for artists as it allows an audience to keep track of certain events that are taking place, as well as the bands and artists that will be appearing at these events. This can be done through the events pages, which are a huge part of facebook and give bands the option to promote events themselves.

facebookevents

Musicians can also search for similar bands and artists to themselves and, through friend requests and page likes, promote themselves through other bands pages. Facebook also provides an easy way to share live show performance dates, among other updates useful for a band.

facebookconcert

Twitter

Twitter is also essential to a band in terms of marketing and promotion as it provides another way for a band to connect with their audience directly. The twitter profile page lists an artist’s tweets, bio, pictures and followers, as well as giving a user the option to tweet the band directly.

twitterbandits

Obviously, such connectivity between an artist and their audience is incredibly important in a live performance relationship, as it gives an audience an incredibly easy way to find out an artist’s live dates.

Other social networks

While Facebook and Twitter are possibly the most important online tools for bands in terms of marketing and promotion, they are certainly not the only tools for online marketing. There are obviously other services for bands and artists to promote themselves and their live performances with, which can be used to reach various specific markets, depending on the act. The following are only a handful of examples and their uses, but there are plenty of other ways for an artist to connect with their audience.

  • Tumblr

Tumblr is a micro-blogging site on which users can post photos, text posts, audio and video posts and follow other users. Users are also available to “tag” posts with certain words which can be searched by other users. Users can also “reblog” posts, enabling users that following them to see those posts. This is a useful platform for a band’s online presence as, if said band can gain a small following, those users can promote the band by reblogging their posts.

  • ReverbNation

ReverbNation acts as a central “hub” for bands online by providing a large amount of information on an act or musician on one page; their profile. On this profile, users can see an about section, upcoming shows, songs and videos, as well as showing the genre of music and location details. Users can also subscribe to an artist’s page and subscribe to various updates, which ReverbNation will send to the user when new updates are written.

  • WordPress

Some artists may choose to use the wordpress blog format as their online presence, as it can also be used to build websites. This blog format is perfect for bands or artists with regular news updates, as it groups the updates together for easier navigation for users.

  • Bandcamp

An online service such as bandcamp is useful for musicians as they can host individual songs, EPs or full albums online, as well as making them available for either free download, or for a price which is up to the musician. If an artist opts to put their music out for free, it promotes the musician and raises awareness of the music which, in turn, will gain an artist a larger audience.

  • Free downloads

As mentioned above, free downloads also help to stimulate interest in an artist or musician and can promote live performances through giving an audience a sample of the music performed during live dates. Free downloads can be made available through a service such as bandcamp, reverbnation or even linked to a musicians facebook profile. The latter is how Beijing Bandits are promoting their music, with the free track “Dear Miner” available for free download on the artist facebook page.

freedownload

There are also options included to join the Beijing Bandits mailing list and share the song on a users own facebook page. These are all incredibly useful tools to help promote a band online.

Offline marketing

While online marketing is essential for a band’s success, offline marketing is also important in promoting a band and their live performances. There are several ways to promote your band offline; physical copies of a CD, flyers, business cards, posters, merchandise and word of mouth all work in promoting an artist’s live performance dates, either by outright stating the performance dates, or linking to a website which will hold said dates.

businesscard

In order to promote ourselves as a band, Beijing Bandits had business cards printed which contain information leading to the facebook page, booking email and website, as well as including a telephone number for live performance enquiries. This is a form of offline marketing and works to promote the band, as well as including the forms of online marketing which we use to promote ourselves. These business cards can then be handed out to people interested in Beijing Bandits at live performances, as well as being left around the venue in order to promote an interest in the band.

There are many different ways for an artist to promote an event to an audience, both online and offline. It is common for any forms of offline marketing to refer to the musician’s presence online as, as stated earlier, online marketing is most likely to reach a larger audience with less effort than most offline marketing.

Live Performance Development: Venue Research

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

When planning a live performance, a band needs to take into consideration the pros and cons of a venue, in order to decide which venue would be best to host a live show. In the case of Beijing Bandits, I have considered 5 venues, 3 of which we have already played before, for any possible further live shows. This list includes familiar venues, as I feel that a band playing certain unfamiliar venues as a headlining act would not have enough appeal to draw a new audience, unless they were supporting a well-known band. However, the 2 unfamiliar (to us) venues that I have included, I feel have an incredibly dedicated audience who support live music. It is for this reason I have considered the venues as a possibility for a Beijing Bandits live show. All of the venues themselves focus on live music, while also providing a bar atmosphere.

The list of possible venues for a Beijing Bandits live show is as follows.

Venues

  • The Full Moon, Cardiff
  • Porter’s Bar, Cardiff
  • Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
  • Mr. Wolf’s, Bristol
  • 200 Club, Newport

The reason I have chosen primarily venues in Cardiff is because, while Beijing Bandits are based in Newport, I feel that we have more appeal to a Cardiff audience. This is because of various reasons, including the larger alternative music market which is found in Cardiff, as well as due to previous successful live shows we have already played in Cardiff.

In order to get a better idea of each venue and the benefits they have to offer, I will discuss each venue separately, including details and photos that are publicly available on their websites or social networks.

The Full Moon, Cardiff (http://www.themoonclub.net/)

The Full Moon and The Moon Club (Downstairs bar and upstairs gig room, with bar) bills itself as “Cardiff’s newest independent music venue” and is located on Womanby Street, in Cardiff. The venue is well known for putting on an incredible amount of live shows, almost daily, as well as having an excellent alternative bar/club atmosphere. The fact that the venue counts itself as a “music venue” is incredibly important when searching for venues for a live show, as this shows that there is still a live music “scene”, which audiences attend, giving an idea of success with these shows.

As for the technical specifications of the venue, they can be found online on the website and are listed below.

Moon Club

It is obvious that the venue is more than capable of putting on a live band and, from previous experience of working with the venue as Beijing Bandits, the staff are incredibly experienced and helpful, meaning a live show would work smoothly and without any problems. Beijing Bandits have played The Moon Club several times before, including performances for the alternative gypsy ska night Rave Revue, which had a fantastic audience and was a brilliant alternative night.

rave revue

However, there have been times we have played The Full Moon and the audience itself has not been incredible, in terms of numbers. This was down to a combination of the gig not being promoted by both the venue and the band and is an issue that would need to be addressed if Beijing Bandits were to play The Full Moon again.

Porter’s Bar, Cardiff (http://www.porterscardiff.com/)

Porter’s is a relatively new bar that has just opened in Cardiff centre and is advertising itself as an “arts and artists bar”. Opened by David Wilson and Daniel Porter, the bar is “not only for actors, industry professionals, drama students and theatre lovers but for anyone looking for good old-fashioned fun”. This focus on the arts is almost essential to a live show (especially with a niche genre such as gypsy ska) as, mentioned before with The Moon Club, a live show needs an audience who feel comfortable at the venue.

portyporty

The bar promotes regular open mic nights and customers are encouraged to play the available instruments onstage. This laid-back approach to live music is extremely refreshing to find in a venue today and I am positive the owners would happily welcome a live band to play a gig in Porter’s.

Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff (http://www.clwb.net/eng/)

Clwb Ifor Bach (also known as The Welsh Club) opened in 1983 as a members only club and promoted live music first and foremost. The venue went from strength to strength with larger music acts and is known as one of the best live music venues in Cardiff today, regularly hosting well-known bands and quickly selling out live shows. Located opposite The Full Moon on Womanby street, the venue is extremely close to the city centre and is always guaranteed to draw an audience.

clwb

I feel the reputation that Clwb Ifor Bach has for booking alternative and interesting bands would definitely help promote a live show including Beijing Bandits. However, we have not played this venue before and, while Clwb Ifor Bach is well known for drawing a crowd, I have doubts that a Beijing Bandits show would be successful, due to being a smaller, independent band.

Mr. Wolf’s, Bristol (http://www.mrwolfs.com/)

Mr. Wolf’s is an alternative music venue in the heart of Bristol. Beijing Bandits have played the venue many times, supporting well known bands such as Anima Circus, Manana, Sounds of Harlowe, Killamanjambo and The Ten Pound Suit Band and, because of these support slots, have gained somewhat of a fan base in Bristol. Mr. Wolf’s has been extremely supportive of the band throughout all these gigs and, due to a very healthy working relationship between the band and the venue, the live shows have been incredibly successful for both parties.

wolfs

During Beijing Bandits shows at Mr. Wolf’s, there has always been an audience and a supportive, enjoyable atmosphere. The staff are all extremely helpful and more than confident while working during a live gig which, in turn, gives the band confidence. Mr. Wolf’s is definitely one of the most preferable venues to play.

200 Club, Newport (http://200clubnewport.info/)

200 Club in Newport is located on Stow Hill, which is fairly central to Newport City Centre. The club is a small, independent pub which promotes live music, arranging various bands to play throughout the week. Beijing Bandits have played 200 Club before, to a smaller audience and, while the show was a success, I feel that the pub does not have the same live music appeal or draw as clubs such as The Moon Club or Mr. Wolf’s.

In conclusion, I feel that a Beijing Bandits live performance would be more suited to either The Moon Club in Cardiff or Mr. Wolf’s in Bristol. This is due to the success we have had when playing a live show in both venues previously, as well as the welcoming nature of the venues and the appeal to an alternative audience, who would likely enjoy Beijing Bandits more than a mainstream venue. There is also the possibility of organising a live show at Porter’s Bar in Cardiff, as this also has an alternative appeal and Beijing Bandits would definitely fit with the aesthetic of the bar and the music would appeal to the alternative audience.

Production: Beijing Bandits – Dear Miner (Demo)

January 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Live Performance Video: Beijing Bandits – June 2012

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

A video recording of Beijing Bandits performing ‘The Ship That Sinks’ for A Musical Priority magazine, live in A19 Opal Student Accommodation, in Newport, Wales.

Live Performance Video: Beijing Bandits – January 2012

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

A video recording of Beijing Bandits performing ‘Dirty Ape’ live in A19,
Opal Student Accommodation in Newport, Wales.

Live Performance Video: Beijing Bandits – December 2011

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

A video recording of a Beijing Bandits live performance, from December 2011.

Production Notes – Mid Term Assesment

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

My product is a Beijing Bandits album, containing several tracks written and performed by Beijing Bandits, a gypsy/ska/folk band I perform in. The album is set to be released on the 19th April 2013, as part of my Creative Sound & Music final project. We have been in the studio since November 2011* recording the foundations for our album and will be back in the studio throughout January and February, with songs ready to be mixed and mastered by the end of February and the start of March.

Content

All songs that are being released on the album have already been recorded as demo versions, which we are currently using as a foundation to overdub and add backing vocals to. We are also adding various instrumental parts to the songs in order to “beef” the songs themselves up and add more background to the songs. The recordings will be finalised and ready to master and mix by the end of February, as they are currently semi-complete.

Currently, we have one song available on the band’s facebook page for download; a demo version of Dear Minor, which has been roughly edited and released, in order to generate interest for the upcoming album release. This demo can be found by clicking here.

While the other songs are still waiting to be completed, I am more than confident that, due to the schedule I have planned out, each track will be completed on time and ready for release by the April date.

Format and Release

The album will be released as a CD, while also available to download as mp3 files online. The online download will include a digital version of the artwork and booklet that accompanies the physical CD and most likely be available through iTunes, although I am researching the viability of releasing through bandcamp, or similar services. For the physical album release, I am going to press 200 copies of the physical CD. These will be for sale at live shows and through a bandcamp service to order. The figure of 200 copies is generated from the amount of people that have “liked” the band on facebook, as well as interest we’ve generated at live shows. I have also taken into consideration the fact that many people may choose to download the album instead of opting for a physical copy, so I do expect for than 200 copies of the album to be sold, only through online retailers.

The release date is set for the 19th April and will coincide with a live show/album release party which will take place on the same weekend, featuring Beijing Bandits and other gypsy ska bands, while promoting the album and other bands featured. The release party will be in a venue in Cardiff, most likely The Full Moon, where we have played several times before and have a good relationship with the venue.

The release show will be a way for Beijing Bandits to promote the album, while also making physical copies of the album available at the release party, as the show itself will be aimed towards fans of the gypsy ska genre.

Audience and Markets

With a product such as the Beijing Bandits album, it is difficult to define the audience specifically, as many different elements influence an individual’s music taste. However, it is somewhat easier to define the market I am aiming the product at.

Geographically, in Cardiff and Bristol, there is a definite interest in alternative music, with many venues opting to organise alternative, gypsy themed live shows and acts. Beijing Bandits have played several of these shows, including Rave Revue in Cardiff and The Roly Poly Dress Up Club in Bristol and gained somewhat of a fan base through these shows. This market is essential to my products success, as gypsy ska is somewhat of an alternative genre and does not enjoy much mainstream success. Therefore, the market for my product is fairly specific yet, with such a specific genre, the demand for new content is fairly high. This means that my product has a higher chance of success than if it were to be released into a mainstream market with no necessarily defining characteristics.

Schedule

Currently, I count the project as on-schedule, as we have recorded the basis of the tracks and are ready to overdub and record backing vocals, as well as other instrumental pieces for the tracks. The success of the project obviously depends on a successful schedule, so the following is a rough schedule of where I expect the project to be during which months.

January – Record backing vocals for all songs.
February – Re-record instruments that need re-recording and add various other instrumental parts. Research artwork and printing for album artwork.
End of February – Ensure all songs are recorded ready for mixing and mastering.
March – Mix all tracks. Start work on CD artwork.
Mid-march – Ensure all tracks are mixed and album order set. Master the CD.
End of March – Finalise artwork ready for printing.
April – Send artwork for printing, limited to 200 copies.
April 19th – Release date.

This schedule, which runs right up to the release date, is organised around the time it takes to record in the studio and is based on previous experience within the studio and working with Beijing Bandits. It is also based on the following scheduling images which were given to us at the start of our production semester, outlining timescales for when certain aspects of the production should be completed.

Full schedule

Again, I am more than confident that this project will be completed by the April release date.

[*Edit: 16th January 2013: The date I had originally written was November 2012, an entire year difference from when Beijing Bandits started. This has now been corrected.]