So has the tour been a success? Sort of. Before I started I set myself a list of goals I wanted to achieve by the end of the tour, and some of them have been met. For example, due to a great showing at Coven Beer Festival on Friday night the tour has ended up in the black financially, as a lot of people bought CDs and merchandise. This is a goal that frankly I didn't expect to achieve, so I'm really happy about that. I know it's not all about money, but as a quantifiable way to gauge how the whole thing has gone, it's great to be able to tot-up my total ins and outs and come out with a positive number.
I also discovered two great new places to play that I can definitely visit in the future in Pelsall Folk Club and Bloxwich Bookmark open mic. There is even a chance of me returning to Pelsall as a featured host for an evening in the new year, which would be really nice.
There were, however, some failings to this tour. Firstly and least significantly I wasn't really able to attract people to come to watch me perform in gigs I had included in the tour. I say that this is least significant because getting people to shows was not one of the goals of this tour, it was more about getting me exposed to new audiences rather than trying to attract people who already know about my music. That said, a number of people at Coven Beer Festival on Friday night did say that they had come specifically to see me perform, having either been recommended by the brewery running the night, or seen the posters advertising my performance around the village.
More importantly in terms of my own goals, I did not achieve the increase in exposure to new fans online that I had targeted. I had set myself what I thought were achievable goals for increase in online activity and mailing list sign-ups for the duration of the tour, but these were not met. I have considered that this may be due to the following factors, but if you have other ideas, you know how and where to get in touch;
- Cancelled Shows - Unfortunately for a variety of reasons I had to cancel four of the gigs I had planned for the tour, three of which were venues I had not visited before and therefore would likely have contained people who have not heard my music.
- Open Mic Nights - another potential reason why I might not have met certain goals was due to only really playing at open mic nights. I host open mic nights on a regular basis and have been to great number of them in my time, so I know how it feels to attend one. It's not really somewhere where a lot of people go to discover new music (in my experience). It's often more about musicians having somewhere to try out new things and the players there, while listening and being respectful, are usually busy planning their own set and 'sizing up' the competition. As great and necessary a tool as they are, they are therefore not really suited to a tour where the main goal is to increase exposure.
- Online Goals - I think (or at least part of me hopes) that one of the problems with the goals I set was that I based the fanbase related ones around online services like Facebook, Twitter and my mailing list. It's safe to say that not all fans of musicians interact with them online. There are hundreds of bands that I love, but I don't subscribe to all of their mailing lists, tweets and Facebook updates, for example. I know that the reason I did this was so that I could easily quantify them, but it gives something of a singular view on my exposure during the tour, especially when you consider that one of the most successful tour gigs was at a folk club, where the demographic was slightly older and possibly less prone to using social media, at least in that way. The fact is I cannot begin to put a number or word to the level of exposure I gained throughout the tour or the number of 'fans' I gained. But then, who can?
- Proximity - Yes, the final possible reason why the 10 mile radius tour was not as successful as it could have been could in fact be because it all happened within 10 miles! There is a reason why acts on a UK tour only play one show in each city or region, because the more gigs in close proximity they do, the more they spread out their fanbase. I put this one last because although it's potentially a valid reason as to why some shows were not too well supported, it doesn't effect the goals relating to exposure to new audiences.
So to conclude, the tour succeeded where I expected it to fail and failed where I had hoped it might succeed. So what do you call it overall? Considering that the visiting gigs I played were all very well received and a number of musicians expressed an interest in attending some of my open mic nights, I would call it a tentative success. If I were to do it again, I would look to book more gigs rather than just visiting open mic nights and set myself separate goals for the differing types of shows, concentrating on promoting my own nights while at open mic nights, and myself while at booked gigs. I'd also like to try and create more content to go up online, such as videos, photos and recordings, to try and bridge the gap between real life tour and virtual tour.
So that's it. Brutally honest maybe, but those are my thoughts. I'd like to hear yours on the subject, should you choose to share them. The 10 miles radius tour is over, but let's be honest with ourselves. The tour never really stops, does it? ;)
See you soon!