One of the most viewed posts I have written was the post about Pat Metheny‘s Orchestrion Project. Nothing was especially groundbreaking or news-worthy about it, I just thought it was really interesting. Since that time I have been thinking about what little we know about it and how (or if) that will effect the success of this project. I have even spoke directly with Pat about this and I am still confused.
I decided to make this really easy for Pat and come up with a few things that he (or his people) can do to help make sure this project attracts not only his core fan base, but new fans as well.
Make it Accessible
I know how difficult it is with the economy and all to make a living on tour. However, I think it is important to realize that you can’t make new fans when tickets are $60 or more. Period. In order to get a buzz going about a certain project, you need to identify the influencers and evangelists and make the project not only appeal to them but make it accessible. The youth market is doing all the talking today and you need to convert them. Student discounts on tickets is a great idea that has been around a long time, but I think you should take it a step further.
Anyone in college or high school comes to the show for free.
Yes, free. If you really want to reach new audiences and influence the next generation, you need to take away any reason why they SHOULDN”T go to the show. Let’s face it, this is probably some pretty experimental stuff and you want to make sure everyone in attendance WANTS to be there. There are a million things to do that don’t cost anything, but if they choose to come to your concert, you know they want to be there. If they end up really liking it, they are more likely to buy some merch as well.
Spread it Out
For me, the biggest thing I take away from a truly great concert experience is the ability to re-connect with the music when I get back home. Ever wonder why all the “jambands” are so popular? They allow their fans to take a piece of their music home. It not only gives your core fans an amazing memento, it makes it easier for them to turn their friends onto the music as well.
Allow everyone to videotape and record EVERYTHING
From the looks of it, I think that each night on this tour will be completely different both in sound and material. Why not document it all? Your fans are willing to do this FOR FREE. Let them.
Tell A Story
I was really surprised about how little Pat really described this music when I spoke with him about it. It not only made me more curious, but it raised a little doubt in my mind. Is there something he is hiding? How different will this be from his other material? In today’s “real time” culture, it is important to be up front an honest with your fans.
Create a conversation with your fans about why and how you are doing this project
This could take the form of a blog, a short video(s) or even a column. Both DownBeat and JazzTimes should be tripping over themselves to help you with this. The point is to start a dialogue with your fans that is both meaningful and authentic. Start now.
This does tie into the point before, but I think you can take a different angle. What if you made your soundchecks open to the public? Do you think your ticket sales will suffer? I don’t. Many fans would love to watch how your rig is setup and then see you make sure everything is working. Not only would it give them a unique experience, it would make them feel like they are in a “Secret Society.”
Make your fans feel special. Because they are.
I am no expert on this by far, however I am a huge fan of your music. These are just a few things I think might help in someway. In my opinion, too many artists aren’t taking advantage of the new way of thinking when it comes to consuming live music and the feeling of community. Also, any of these ideas I guess would work for any artist. I didn’t mean to single you out, but this project is on my mind.
Don’t worry Pat, I will come see your new project no matter what. I feel like I am a true fan.
Now off to listen to my favorite record.