You have 20,000+ screaming fans. You are gigging and touring 200 dates a year. Your merch is selling like hotcakes and you can’t find the time to respond to all the comments on your blog. Finally, your music career is taking off. How do you handle all your success?

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Grassroots guerrilla marketing is a powerful tool that hasn’t gone out of style. Like everything else in this age of technology, Guerrilla marketing has gone online in this new digital era. Ten years ago when your band started to really explode, you put together a group of serious fans to make up a street team. These super fans just wanted to be a part of the band experience and let the world know that they had found the next big thing. Street team members would put up flyers, call radio stations, talk up the band on college campuses and sell merch for the band at gigs. In exchange for their grassroots marketing and undying love, street team members would get free show passes, tons of music and merch from the band, be invited to band dinners and events and eventually become paid members of the band’s professional team. All of that is still true today.

So, what has changed about putting together a street team? Your “boots on the ground” are also now online. They are handling your social media, keeping your website updated, sharing your music and videos with their online friends and getting the word out about gigs and merch. When you are looking for street teamers, you should be looking for skill sets. Are they social media gurus? Do they have a design or marketing background? Do they work for a college radio station or even perhaps have affiliations with Arts Councils or promoters? Using the internet and all of its resources, the power of your street team is endless. Don’t keep your street team a secret.

Introduce the members of your team to your fans right away. Let them know who they are interacting with online and in the field, and show how much you value these amazing people who are giving invaluable time and energy to your band. If you let your fans know that your team members are part of the band, fans will embrace it and really dig that you are building the machine and creating a force to be reckoned with. Don’t limit location of your fans.

Now that you can target fans all over the world online, you can also really gain traction by having street team members in different countries. It’s a God Send to have people overseas who understand how the Music Industry there works. These overseas members can help promote, recruit fans, and sell merch and music. Suddenly, you are growing a universal fan base and really connecting with people from all cultures. Localism is super important but there is no reason why you can’t tap into fans everywhere if you are organized and have a well thought out plan. Manage your team.

You really should have weekly meeting with your street team. Make sure everyone is clear about their roles and keep spreadsheets and lists of duties that can be shared and updated each week. Ask for screen shots of online work so you can measure the growth of the band. It won’t do you any good to have a group of disorganized people all bumping into one another so make sure you have thought everything through before you send a member out into the field. Try to keep a balance between folks who are have online duties and other members who are out on the streets talking up your band. Both are really important and you can cover a lot of territory if you are open to creative ideas and input from your team. You brought them into the fold because they love you and your music so give them a “voice” in the band and be respectful of their time. Treat your members like gold.

Always remember that your teamers are not being paid and are your most valued fans. Be respectful, grateful and generous. Never take for granted any of the value they add to your band. Reward them with backstage passes, unreleased music, free downloads for their friends and family and give them props every day. Give away a signed guitar, a weekend for two or award them a couple of concert tickets when your budget allows. If you already have a professional team and are touring, make sure your street team members are on all the guest lists and have passes to everything they need on the road. Be kind and respectful even when you are stressed and buried in work. Coordinate tasks for your team members with your road manager to create a cohesive well oiled machine. Have a team leader to coordinate in the field and online members.

There should be a leader for your street team. This capable individual can coordinate all duties and make sure what’s happening in the field is utilized online. For example, after a gig where you have collected names for your mailing list, that list can be handed over to an online member for fan management. Team members should be in contact on a daily basis through the team leader. There is nothing worse than wasting the valuable time of a member because you aren’t organized and strategic in your planning. You can start organizing a street team at any point in your career. It’s always best to plan for success and be prepared, rather than trying to play catch up after you have too many fans to manage. Having a business plan from the beginning of your career will help you to avoid many of the pitfalls bands encounter once they start to make a name for themselves. Prepare for success.

Don’t wait till you feel overwhelmed and your fans are being ignored to put a serious action plan into play. If you take your music career seriously and organize your goals and plans from the very beginning, your chances of being successful are multiplied by a thousand. Yes, you are an artist and creating is what you do, but if you don’t handle the business and no one ever knows who you are, you might end up demoralized and disappointed. If making art is the only reward you’ll ever need, disregard this blog. If you want fans, tours, money, and international success, put it in high gear. You need to start now and don’t forget to put boots on the ground.

8 Responses to Boots On The Ground

  1. Jamie Leger says:

    Nice article as usual. Some very cool blog posts coming from this site here! I also find that most DIY artists and bands don’t take into account the importance of deliberate logistical and creative planning. I don’t see why a street team strategy would be any different?

    I think that we need to be analog thinkers in a digital world! Independent artists and bands need not underestimate the power of ONE meaningful connection, performance, blog post, referral!

    Cheers,

    Jamie

    • Ghezzi says:

      Thanks Jamie, really happy you are enjoying the posts!It always baffles me how creative people restrict their progress in business by thinking in such a linear way. Planning, especially “outside the box,” also seems to be last on the list. If it were any other business, it would be a given.

      “Analog thinkers in a digital world,”That’s great:-)Getting out there and making meaningful connections every day is so important. Analogical change in language; process of inventing a new element in conformity with some part of the language system that you already know. Inventing…being creative…ingenuity…just as important in business as it is in art.

      Thanks for the feedback:-)
      Ghezzi

  2. Nikki says:

    Awesome! This is like building an empire for yourself as an artist. Even friends and family can start you off before you really get established. The idea of having one online team and one outdoor team is great because then it is organized on their roles. They get better at what they do as well. I also love the business plan idea at the end. If anyone needs assistance making one I have an amazing program to design them. Also, I am educated on creating great plans. ariesflower9@gmail.com Another great post Ghezzi!

    • Ghezzi says:

      Thanks Nikki:-) Street Teams are so valuable and if used properly can be a game changer. But always remember, they are fans first. Treat them with care.

  3. So I was working with a new drummer and he had a live-in fiance’. I knew that she would begin to resent the band if he spent as much time on the music as I needed him to. So I made a conscious decision to include her and have her become part of the team. I wanted her to be the head of my “street team” and I thought this would be the best way to avoid losing a decent drummer or cause issues in their young relationship because of her becoming jealous of the band. In the long run, it didn’t work out, because she didn’t understand the meaning of teamwork and she was under the impression that the singer should sing, the drummer should play drums, and she should be the ONLY person booking shows. I explained that ALL members of the band should be actively seeking opportunities at all times. She felt like if I booked a show, she had no value to the band. So my point is this: Choose your street team wisely and be sure that everyone understands the meaning of teamwork and no person should have one single title or one single duty. At a school, if a teacher sees trash on the floor, should she walk past it and say, “picking that up is the janitor’s job,” or should all members of the team be looking for anything they can do to make the whole machine run better? Every person in the band and every person on the street team should be constantly looking for ways to help the progress.

    • Ghezzi says:

      Absolutely Joey, good point. That is one of the reasons for the weekly meetings. You have to keep reminding people that everyone is working as a team for the greater good. And yes, choose people wisely…make sure everyone on your team has been vetted properly!

  4. Scott Alexander says:

    Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. This is a vital tool in every aspect of life. Nobody likes to feel unimportant, or ignored. Every fan, and all who support you in the capacity of their ability to do so needs your recognition and THANKS. A kind word, a smile, a handshake, a sign that they are appreciated can mean more than all the proverbial tea in China. We can be really good at what we do, but without others to share in our success, we have FAILED. Take time to THANK those who make it possible to do what it is you do, without them you are ALONE, and a miserable LOSER.

  5. Awesome article G. The idea of having a street team with today’s technology is very important and easier than ever. I can really see how this can benefit a busy schedule for the working artist.
    Thank you for another great report!

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