I recently went to a show at a small L.A. venue called the Baked Potato. The band was phenomenal. One of the best guitar players I’d ever seen. However, half-way through the set he spotted a fan videotaping the show. Apparently he didn’t like that too much and chastised and embarrassed the fan in front of the entire crowd. As much as I loved the band I had to question why they thought it would be a good move to make their fan feel like a jerk in front of everyone for doing something that could help them reach more people.
Contrast that with the KRS-One show I went to on Friday night where he immediately declared the performance public property and encouraged fans to record and use it any way they wanted. One thing I can guarantee is that there are a lot more people discovering KRS-One on YouTube then the previous artist I mentioned. That being said, you may want to give your video policy some consideration.
If you’re not ready for the exposure, don’t want the exposure, or want to control what people see online, then you might ask fans not to tape your show. However if maximum exposure is your goal, you might want to go in the opposite direction. Nine Inch Nails employed an open video policy on their last tour and as a result tons of fans posted videos online and even produced an entirely fan-generated and edited DVD that they made available on their official site.
To take it a step further, you could incentivize this kind of behavior from your fans. Give discounts to fans who bring in flip cameras or video-enabled cell phones. Have a contest to see who can create and upload the video that generates the most plays on YouTube. The possibilities are endless. If you’re on a budget this could be a great way to produce a live DVD or a free video download as an add-value to your fans. Just check with venues ahead of time to make sure they’ll allow your fans to record the show.
If you like the idea of fans recording and sharing video of your shows, do something about it! Don’t be passive. Instigate it! Weave it into your band’s culture. The latest in cellphone, video and web technology not only gives you the power to reach more people, but it also gives your fans more power to help promote your music.
Article by Scott James of The Independent Rockstar Blog.