Developing A Home Base of Support to Build National Success: Part 2


In Part 1 of “Developing A Home Base,” we examined the benefits of building a solid home base foundation before venturing out to tour beyond your local area. Now, I’d like to help you determine just how much of a home base you have already developed and what you might do to build upon some of your successes.

First, it is important to take a realistic look at your current position within your community or wherever you have decided to call your home base. I’ve provided a questionnaire below to help you do just that. Once you complete the questionnaire, you will have a concrete assessment of your current situation and be able to clearly see the next steps necessary to move toward your goals. I think it would be helpful to use a similar form every year, revising it to start at your current position at that time and then increase the venue capacities and touring radius as your career develops. This will keep you on track in a very systematic manner enabling you to achieve success at each level. This systematic approach will ensure that you move at a manageable pace, rather than skipping to levels that might prove daunting and for which you are unprepared. Keep in mind that “overnight success” is a long and steady process of reaching one goal at a time that often takes many years. We don’t hear about all the hard work of a successful group until an historical retrospective is produced for MTV, VH1 or some similar media outlet.

Take some time to complete the questionnaire. Be honest with yourself even when your answers portray a vision of your career that you wish were more immediately successful. The sooner you begin working with a realistic picture, the sooner you can take the necessary next steps to improve upon your situation. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, alone or with other members of your group, share the outcome and use it as a catalyst to generate suggestions for new strategies within the group.

Assess Your Home Base of Support

Have you built a local fan base?
Yes ______ No _____ Some ______
List three things that you can do, or have done, to accomplish this.
1. ____________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________

Do you have local media recognition?
Yes ______ No _____ Some what ______
List three notable media events that support your media recognition.
1. ____________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________

Do you have a network of other local performers with whom you may communicate?
Yes ______ No _____ Some what ______
List three other performer resources that you regularly communicate with outside of your performing group or ensemble.
1. ____________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________

Do you have a steady ongoing local performance venue or venues?
Yes _____ No _____ How many times per year? ______ How many venues ____?

Can you sell out the smaller performance venues? 50-150 seats
Yes _____ No _____ Sometimes ______ Almost _______
What type of venue are you playing? ______________________
What is your average ticket price? _______
What time of day are your shows? _________________________
How much merchandise do you sell in dollars per night? ______

Can you sell out a medium size performance space in town of 250-500?
Yes _____ No _____ Sometimes ______ Almost _____
What type of venue are you playing? _______________________________
What is your average ticket price? ______
What time of day are your shows? _________________________________
How much merchandise do you sell in dollars per night? ______

Can you sell out one of the larger performance spaces in town of 500+? What size? ______
Yes _____ No _____ Sometimes ______ Almost _____
What type of venue are you playing? _______________________________
What is your average ticket price? _________
What time of day are your shows? _________________________________
How much merchandise do you sell in dollars per night? _______

Are you called upon for local community events?
Yes ______ No _____ Somewhat ______ Often _____ Not often enough ____
List three such community events.
1. ______________________________________________________
2. ______________________________________________________
3. ______________________________________________________

Can you estimate the distance to which your base of support extends? 50 miles, the entire county, the three neighboring counties, (beyond that it becomes regional).

How many people are on your mailing list? _______ How many of them are from your home base? ________

As you review your answers, there are a number of issues that may be of interest to consider. For instance, at each increase in venue capacity, notice whether the type of venue has changed and what kind of impact that change has had on your ticket price, the time of show and how many are buying tickets. As you grow into a larger venue, make sure your audience is following you to that venue. If you notice a drop off in attendance, review the venue’s location, whether the ticket price has gotten out of hand or if the start time is inconvenient for your particular audience. These issues can be addressed and altered if necessary once you understand what is driving the change in audience response.

With each growth spurt, promotional requirements may need adjustment to reach a larger audience. Are you keeping pace with those needs? Has your media outreach extended to accommodate the larger venue capacity? You may need to add some paid advertising to your marketing plans whereas the smaller venues required a less extensive and less expensive media campaign relying on free promotion posters, press releases, calendar listings and some radio interviews. You may also need to create some incentives such as a ticket giveaway and a CD give-away on local radio shows or MP3 download giveaway linked in an email campaign…

Before deciding to move to a larger venue, have you tried to increase your appearances in the smaller venue? Perhaps a monthly gig at the smaller venue would help build your audience and be a less risky test of your fan base. Perhaps you are playing too often and moving to a larger venue while reducing the number of plays in town may be the next best move to increase demand and expand your fan base.

Have you explored alternative venue opportunities to help increase your local reputation and build your fan base? If you find yourself struggling to maintain a steady audience level, even at the smaller venue, you may need to try some alternative venues and get out of the one you currently play. By stepping outside the venue you consider to be the right one for you, you may discover new fans for your act, fans that may follow you to other venues. Check the city papers, chambers of commerce, local universities, fraternities, sororities, downtown foundations, local organizations and charities for events taking place in the near future where you may be the paid entertainment. It may be necessary to use these alternative venue situations to shore up your local support and move to the next level within your home base.

Have you networked with some of the other local musicians to create some co-bill concerts or asked to be an opener to help transition to a larger venue with less risk of low sales? By joining together with one, two or more local artists to create a larger event, you expand your audience by tapping into the other act’s fan base. They, in turn tap into yours and everyone benefits from the joint effort.

Make a yearly assessment part of your growth process. It will help you make calculated and innovative decisions to spark future successes as you develop your local and regional touring strategies. Happy assessing!

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And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.

* If you would like to reprint any of these articles, please contact Jeri Goldstein for permission.

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