One of the best resources you have for building a fan base starts with exploring your community. There may be existing opportunities to perform locally that you’re unaware of, and there may be even more opportunities you can create.
Many businesses need entertainment for special functions, seminars, even office parties. Cities, towns, and neighborhoods hold festivals, special events, and holiday celebrations that often include or could include live music.
Your community likely has charitable organizations, associations, and groups that would appreciate entertainment of some kind from time to time. It might be the VFW, police department, firefighters association, or the local Retired Teachers Association. It could be the Senior Citizens Center or it may be a daycare or a group of stay-at-home mom’s that would like music for the kids they collectively look after.
There may be several nursing homes or a rehabilitation facility in your city or town that would enjoy live music. Each community has unique needs. These are needs that you as a singer, songwriter, musician, or performer can fill with humor, heart, inspiration, and encouragement.
The Schools Rock And Rule
There’s also the school district that serves your community. Not only might you be able to book a live performance gig of some sort, but you might also be able to get a booking doing a music workshop or even helping with the band or choir. With school budgets all across the country so tight, the arts are often the first to be cut. So, by shaking up, unwrapping, and opening your gifts for service to your schools, you are having a positive impact by validating the heart and soul of a community through the arts.
A live performance gig at a school can be a springboard to many more gigs and opportunities to workshop with kids or even a parent-teacher organization. Do a great job; the word will spread to other schools, to local media, and even to surrounding communities and school systems. It’s a positive way to build a fan base.
Granted, the initial financial reward may be limited, but the long-term impact, when handled properly, can be substantial and lead to better paying gigs.
There is a negative you may face in some areas because there is a perception of artists as being self-centered or disrespectful or even vulgar, offensive, and out of control. By reaching out and supporting your community with your positive gifts, you can balance your perspective, broaden your sense of place and purpose, and continue to attract a following in the process.
Enter Your Chamber Of Commerce
One of the best resources for mapping out a strategy to build your fan base is to either join or become familiar with your community’s chamber of commerce. The chamber is a clearing house of sorts, or a central hub, for businesses, prominent citizens, and organizations that work to build your community’s economic viability while also promoting tourism.
Get a copy of the annual or quarterly calendar for your local Chamber of Commerce. Review it for events, activities, holidays, meetings, and anything that you come across that is something to celebrate or honor with your gift.
Then, map out play lists or set lists of material to perform for specific events, organizations, businesses, and holidays that are listed. Do the same thing as it applies to school-related events, charitable organizations, and social service groups. Do this for anything and everything that you encounter as a potential music venue in your community. Even if it’s simply a theme concept with three songs for each item, get something tangible together for you to refer to when you meet.
Meeting Movers And Shakers
As soon as you have a strong sense of what you’d like to perform, contact the executive director or president of your chamber, contact your school board’s director or superintendent, and contact your mayor or governing board to set up a meeting to go over what you’d like to do.
Make sure that before you meet with them that you have a showcase planned, even if it’s in your backyard, garage, corner store, or a local park. Then, at your meeting, invite them to come and enjoy your music at this casual house concert or however you choose to position it.
You want them to see that you’re serious, prepared, willing, eager, and available to go the extra mile for the chance to use your gift to enhance their business, school, organization, association, or city council meeting.
Now this initial action of meeting with these individuals will most likely generate a lot of no-thank-you’s from scoffers, but there will be those that will say maybe or tell me more. And you will have a handful of positive responses.
Unique As You Can Be
Ideally, the free concert should include a couple of songs that are created specifically for your community. If you’re performing for the executive director of a senior center or nursing home, having a song that honors growing older and wiser or validates the sweetness of memories can be the very thing that makes them say, yes. So try to include something that is community specific and topical.
At your concert (or even in your first meeting) you might even promise that once you are booked you will present a song that is written specifically for the organization, cause, class, school, group, or business that has booked you. You could even solicit ideas from a group of teachers, employees, nurses, commissioners, and so on.
Then, you tell them you will perform a piece that incorporates these ideas into the making of an original song. This reinforces your uniqueness as an artist and validates the uniqueness of your specific target audience. It makes them part of your upcoming performance and generates a buzz.
Connections For Perfection
The original number also reinforces communication and a sense of connection in a world that’s being threatened by divisiveness and a lack of community. This song, that pieces ideas together for a greater message, can also positively frame the concept of diversity. The idea is for people from all walks of life, faiths, persuasions, and ethnicity to feel at home together through your song.
Transplanting Your Homegrown Destiny
If you’re not a songwriter you can find material that relates to the situations your community is dealing with, or you can find writers to create a unique piece for an event in your community. But, whether you’re a singer, singer-songwriter, musician, performer, or all four, there is one thing that holds true through out.
When you are fully engaged and connected to your audience and community, you are building a solid foundation for your fan base. Handled with integrity and commitment, that fan base will be further developed and appreciated by other communities as you hit the road to your singing success.