How’s it going? A couple weeks ago, I accomplished one of those high school dreams that never got done: I played a Battle of the Bands!!
It was SICK.
It was sick, and I am a one-woman band.
As with any great show and new experience, I learned tons of stuff. So, I thought I’d share
Jessica Speziale’s 5 Golden Rules for playing a Battle
1. Approach a Battle like you’re organizing your own show.
I know there are a million organizers and at least one big company behind this, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get all the info you would like to have without asking the right questions. There are a lot of young bands playing these shows, so there tends to be some degree of hand-holding, but there’s an emphasis on some parts (like ticket sales) and not others (like gear requirements) unless you ask. Number one reason you want to approach it this way, tho: it’s professional. This is a big enterprise and a really big opportunity if done right! (example, I played for about 200 people that night)
2. Ticket Sales: scary and necessary
I’d never played a ticketed show before, so I was pretty intimidated about being the salesperson to sell them. BUT, great learning experience, for sure!! And it got me into the mindset of word-of-mouth and direct communication being the #1 to promote a show. I’m not a big fan of doing self-promotion, to be honest, but it gets easier with practice. lol And as an artist, you’re going nowhere without it. I started with phone calls followed by texts and seeing people at events, and then made a facebook event and sent out social media messaging. It was really effective for creating a buzz with my fans! I sold 32 tickets, and over 40 people came out to see my 8:30 set. Usually, I pull about 20 for a show. I also limited my performances in that city for a while to build demand.
3. Understand why you’re doing this particular show.
This can be said for any show, really. Playing a battle is a different beast - it’s not quite the same as playing a coffee shop, headlining at a local bar, or playing a festival. Thus, it’s important to identify WHY you want to get into this type of venue. For me, this was my first night-time all-ages show. It was also in a venue that, as a solo acoustic artist, is hard to get into. Setting goals for the show (for example, widening your fanbase into a new market, meeting a ton of bands you may want to set up shows with, getting on the good side of a promoter) is a great way to stay focused. Then, you can tailor your strategy to fit your goals.
If you’re aiming to widen your fanbase, it’s important for people to remember who you are. For this, I made some buttons with my name on them. Another band made a sign of their band name and propped it up on the monitors. Bring flyers. Bring CDs to hand out or sell. Don’t spend your whole night in the green room or surrounded by your friends. You catch my drift.
4. Networking techniques
This is a great place to practice new techniques you’ve been meaning to test out. One of the most effective ones I tested out was talking with the other bands before I went on stage. Turns out they all showed up for my set time and brought friends with them (PS, if you’re reading this and are one of those bands - THANK YOU! You rock!) Of course, I went to see them play with my friends, too Also of note: meeting people in the bathrooms! Who knew?
5. Play the shit out of it.
This is a great time to tighten up your show and try some new crowd engagement techniques! You’ll have all kinds of people in your audience - most of whom have yet to be at one of your shows. Show ‘em what you got!
Overall, amazing experience! It’s definitely opened my eyes to some of the other opportunities out there. So good in fact, I’m playing another one on April 8th at the Rockpile in Etobicoke, Ontario (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets!)
Oh yeah, and the 6th Golden Rule: FOLLOW UP with everyone you met after the show.