Michael Hammari and Dr. Paul Deurden, Theater and Media Arts
It was the intent of this research to identify and analyze the current and possible marketing practices of independent, local musicians based in the Provo Area. In order to accomplish this objective three methods were employed. First, local musicians were interviewed to examine their current marketing practices. Second, a sample of the public was surveyed to gage their awareness of local music. Thirdly, music events were promoted with the intent of experimenting with different marketing strategies. Over the course of the research more effort was focused on the final aspect of this project.
Interviews were conducted with representative from moosebutter (a’capella), The David Edwards Band (folk rock), Liza Frazier (female singer songwriter), The Matt Lewis Band (alternative/funk) along with informal discussions with Tiffany Fronk (folk), Rick Reeve (new age pianist), Sweet Haven (alternative), The Ed McBand (funk) and Tuesday Night Supper Club (musical comedy). Further observations have come through my own experience as a musicalbased comedian. As expected most of these performers did not have a specific marketing plan but dealt with marketing as each new show approached. What strategies they did have were reflective of their musical goals and adjusted by the frustrations of the business and the limitations of group members. Some were in positions where they had assistance with their marketing while others did it themselves.
Few had anything budgeted toward advertising or marketing. Some of the best solutions to this dilemma came from performing at events that already had a built-in audience such as college functions, opening for larger acts and getting involved with the local school system. Most had used inexpensive fliers and posters in the past. The most effective use of such was not to reach new people but to reacquaint themselves with past audiences. One of the bolder techniques employed was going door to door with the band, giving a short performance and then plugging their upcoming show.
On hundred persons were surveyed just south of the BYU campus with a multiple-choice answer sheet. Of our sample 37 percent had not attended a concert in the past year while 44 percent had attended 1-2 concerts in the past year. These concerts had been fairly evenly distributed between on and off campus events. The most common way to learn about a concert was to hear about it from a friend and 89 percent were likely to attend concerts with their friends. The most common reasons people didn’t attend were not hearing about the concert and not knowing the band that was going to be performing.
Originally, concert attenders were also to be surveyed, but with the hectic activities at the events this intention got lost amongst other concert duties. To get a better sample of the population, more surveys should have been used. However, the surveys taken provided sufficient direction for promoting the events associated with this research.
Four events were promoted over the course of the grant with varied results. The Center Street Late Show was presented in April and consisted of seven musical groups performing over the course of four weekends with the intent to experiment with promoting a series instead of single events. In May three comedy centered musical acts were combined for an evening of Singing up the Funny with the intent of marketing a concept instead of the performers. The same event was presented in September focusing more on multiple form of advertising. In mid December a Christmas themed show with seven different groups was presented with limited advertising with a stronger emphasis placed on word of mouth promotion. While each performance was professional and entertaining the events were met with a mediocre to dismal response in regards to attendance. Financially, I was ecstatic after the December show solely because we broke even and I didn’t lose any further money. In all cases, the majority of the audiences came as a result of word of mouth originating from the performers.
I was most excited with the possibility of advertising locally on television through the local cable providers. Our two-week run yielded no trackable responses as our call to action drew people to a web-based ticket outlet that received no additional boost in traffic during the time of the event. That concert was held on the last weekend in September, and looking back I would have picked another weekend with fewer competing events. Over the course of the project I have identified many reasons why events are not successful but have not found a checklist to secure success. The question that should be addressed is “does the current population of Provo value such music and is their response similar to those in other regions?” More than 40 percent of those responding to the survey did not know enough about local music to select a multiple choice opinion regarding its attractiveness. Not finding an adequate choice on the survey, 13 percent wrote in that they did not have enough time to attend concerts. If a further survey was conducted, I would like to see how the current population would rank activities (movies, sporting events, etc. ) in respects of their appeal.
The original hypothesis asked “is the lack of concert attendance due to ineffective marketing techniques and second, can concert attendance be increased by changing marketing strategies.” I don’t believe I have arrived at the answer yet. Assuming that there are some people that there are people interested in attending events they currently are not, there should be a better way to reach them and increase concert attendance. However, I’m still looking for this better way.