As I was saying in my last blog, building a live fan base and delivering a great show with really good songs is your lifeblood and financial survival as a musician in a band.
Radio and TV stations may pick and choose when they think you are relevant or important enough to be airing your tracks… This is often how the general public’s perception of how well you are doing is formed. But this can come and go at any time.
You will see bands that are consistently touring very successfully around the world with no TV or radio play. The reason is as obvious as I said, they have built a great live show and a great relationship with their fan base. They have also built the brand and a great reputation on previous successful releases so far in their career. For example look at Iron Maiden – you don’t hear them on the radio very often and you don’t see them on TV. It’s rare to see them on the front cover of a mainstream music magazine but they sell out stadiums all around the world and still sell huge amounts of records and t-shirts. This is where you see the loyalty of the fan base. Obviously the quality of the music and the products have to be sustained to last this long – that goes without saying.
Photo Credit: Mark Latham
Skunk Anansie are very similar in this way. In the UK we have been going 23 years. We do the odd TV feature now and we still get a little radio play (compared to the 90s when we were on everything!), but the programmers at the stations say we’ve been around too long and we’re not new news for them. But whenever we announce a tour or a single date in the UK we sell out every show and we have done for the past 20 years. It’s also the same in Europe and even in many other countries around the world, such as; South Africa, Australia, Russia etc. It’s still growing strong and venues are getting bigger. But I must say that European media does support older bands more.
Something I have noticed on this tour is the increase in merchandise sales after the shows. We are selling t-shirts, hoodies and signed vinyl. We also sell signed drum skins from the shows for a charity called Music Support that helps people within the music industry that deal with addiction and mental health.
Maybe this is the reason why: around three albums back, we formed our own record label and took control of our brand and business totally. We license out our music to other small independent labels around in the world and we self-fund all of our recordings, productions, videos and tour costs. We handle the merchandise from the collecting of designs to the printing and delivery ourselves too.
This is where the loyalty of your fan base really comes in to its own. When we finish our set at the end of the night we announce to the audience that we have merchandise that we have produced that actually funds our band, the productions on tour that they have come to see and the releases of our music to them. We have found that sales have increased after the shows this tour as the audience shows a supportive loyalty that goes beyond just hearing your song on the radio and checking you out because you are popular at that time. Longevity with a band in the music business today has to be created by yourselves, but the rewards are long if you get the people behind you. It’s been a huge journey for us and them too over the past 23 years, and all together we can see the future as well if we support each other.
Keep on rockin’ the ACM rafters… and I’ll catch you all soon!
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