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You Can Do Better Than “Hot Chicks On Stage”

by Max Willens on May 17, 2010 · 12 comments

"Dude, look: nipple!" Tom Hess

So you’ve noticed that attendance at your shows has been a little spotty lately. Sure, your mom keeps coming out (god bless her), and your girlfriend sometimes shows up too. But where are all those people who follow you on Twitter and Facebook? Why aren’t they showing up? How can you lure them to your next show?

Hire hot chicks?

In a recent piece for Guitarsite.com, touring guitarist-turned-musician-mentor Tom Hess writes that you have to distinguish yourself “to create a better and more unique experience for your fans from one show to the next.”

Hess does an excellent job of pointing out why it’s difficult for bands to convince anyone outside their immediate social circle to come out to one of their shows:

Are you asking them to watch and listen to you perform your cool songs? No.

In reality, you are really asking people to travel all the way to some dirty club where they need to pay to get in the door. Then they will find themselves surrounded by intoxicated people who scream in one’s ears because the music is too loud to talk, pay for overpriced drinks (and bad food), stand (or sit if they can find a chair) through an opening band they likely have little or no interest in, then wait again an additional 15 minutes as the stage changes from one band to the next, then finally they get to stand through 90 minutes of your band’s cool songs in a room that is booming with muddy bass frequencies because the sound man does not know how to properly mix bands in a room that was never acoustically designed to have loud music played in. After the show is over they leave the club and drive home with their ears ringing and a headache.

Give or take a few details (a 90 minute set? Your band’s headlining? With no draw?), that’s a lot of gigs in a nutshell.

Hess, who’s promoting an e-book, suggests presenting your shows as unique and special, not necessarily from their competition, but from one another, and he does so through the prism of a time-honored tradition: hiring hot chicks to dance all slutty-like on stage during your set.

In one example, a band told everybody in advance that the chicks would be at the show and that they would be hanging out with the band afterward, while another band failed to mention theirs and barely drew 100 people to a venue that holds 1,300 (ouch).

Hess’s central point, that “all of your ‘promotion’ needs to highlight each of your shows as unique, different and special events,” is well-taken. But marketing your unique and special shows is easy. Finding something that will make them unique is the tough part, especially if you’re low on funds. Chicks are expensive. So is confetti.

A lot of the music mentors and marketing gurus out there will tell you that it’s just about promoting yourself in a smarter way. But as these lessons begin to spread out across the music world, it’s not going to be about presenting yourself the right way. It’s going to be about having something worth presenting.

As music’s playing field continues to level, the artists that win out will be the ones who are able to effectively complement their music with non-musical elements. That takes thinking long and hard not just about what will get people’s attention, but about what your art is saying, and to whom. It’s why Justice wears leather and crosses instead of Ed Hardy t-shirts, and why Lady Gaga is never caught dead in sweat pants.

Hot chicks go well with everything, there’s bound to be something a little bit cheaper that goes a little better, and it will pay off if you can figure out what that is. It will draw your fans closer to you, and it will always make them feel like your shows are special, no matter how shitty the venue is, or how far they have to drive.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Paula Franceschi June 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Hot chicks only works if your audience is all male, otherwise, they turn off the very normal chicks who might love your music. Good point, however, about needing a 'value added' element to set you apart. I recommend starting with great songs, engagingly performed, by inspired musicians.

Unter Null / Erica D December 17, 2010 at 9:08 pm

As a female musican, I'm going to turn this around and have slutty male dancers on stage, and I'm going to totally emasculate them. That's ok, right?
I mean, will I get a bigger draw too? I hate women and don't want them on stage with me, but I also think it would be fun to turn the tables.

Alexa Weber Morales January 6, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Turn the tables, yes. Hate women when you are one? That's called self-hating. I just played my first gig with everyone in my band a woman except for the bass player. It was really cool. Female musicians usually play on male-dominated stages. So actually a bunch of females who are pros are really nice to be around. They aren't bitchy and are less obviously competitive than men.

Linda January 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Gee, bad attitude. Sounds kinda mean all around. Maybe you could get some transvestites up there and meet all your goals.Good luck, sista!

Mkovalchuk9 March 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm

One of the coolest poster promos I’ve seen a band do is Dry The River’s 3D posters for their new album Shallow Bed. Such time and effort went into making the posters and I think it paid off. You can check out a video of it here. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkNYS_lip_k

bouricosme October 12, 2012 at 1:23 pm

HELLO JE M APPELLE   KENZA   ET J AI  11  ANS  TCHAOU

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