If your money is made through entertaining an audience,
block off the next 15 minutes for a little education.
Today (Oct. 21st, 2013), I was casually walking to my favorite $1 Taco cart to snag a cheap lunch when I noticed a crowd gathering at the Unitus Plaza.
I placed my order when I started hearing amazing music playing.
Soon after that, the crowd was cheering.
I had to find out what was going on… I became one of the crowd.
I discovered an amazing marching band (yes, I said marching band)!
Not just any marching band, the March Fourth Marching Band.
Not only did they play quite a few songs, but they had stilt dancers.
What more could you ask for?
See for yourself…
Initially I had no idea if this performance was planned or if they went guerrilla and just sprung up a performance, but either way they made some new fans. If you had to ask me, I would have guessed that it was a pop-up performance by the way their bus was double parked in the middle of a bus lane in downtown Portland. Turns out it was planned.
They sold DVDs for $15 and were passing out these info tags…
It was all a part of Mondays on the Mall for Pioneer Courthouse Square. The band finished up their Unitus performance with a march onward towards Pioneer Square. I would expect nothing less from a marching band.
What began as a walk for lunch developed into discovering the March Fourth Marching Band and finding out they are showing their documentary at the Hollywood Theater on 12/1/2013.
What’s the Lesson to Learn?
If you’re a performer and want people to show up to your shows, throwing a free performance wherever the public may be is a brilliant strategy. Don’t have the time (or money) to wait for city permits and planning? Just start playing, the worst that can happen is you’re asked to stop. Hopefully…
[Editor’s Note: That is not official advice. Just a random idea. You should probably look into the legal ramifications of performing without a permit. You’re creative, I’m sure you can come up with more ideas than this one.]
The point is… if you have an amazing talent that transcends all demographics, get in front of as many people as you can. Making money on the street or for tips is a good way to validate that people will buy a ticket to your show. If you can’t get a sale, leave the crowd knowing who you are and how to find you. Extra points if you’re able to get their email address for an upcoming newsletter.
Even more famous performers show up to talks shows to play one song. It’s like passing out samples at the mall food court. It’s much more powerful to taste the food you’re smelling. In this case, people get to experience your performance instead of a 30 second iTunes preview.
Don’t complain that people aren’t showing up to your gigs if you haven’t shown them how awesome you are! Now get out there and perform!