Once you woo everyone with your open mic night then you need to keep workin’ it. And even if you don’t woo everyone you could still keep working it. If your music didn’t impact your audience at the coffeeshop that doesn’t mean your music isn’t good and can’t connect with people. It might mean that they were the wrong demographic for your music. It’s up to you to figure out those judgment calls. But, the best sign that you’re connecting with others and heading in the right direction is when people are wanting to meet you and engage in conversation after your performance.
Be A Regular
The next step in starting to build an audience is to find a place to be a regular performer. This might take playing a few places until you find one that is a good fit for your musical style and the employees like you. In order to approach new venues to let you perform Cliftones greatest advantage was music samples. I wouldn’t be concerned about a ‘professional recording’ until you are confident you have something you want to take to the next level and pursue in public because of the monetary investment. You really would benefit from testing your ability to grow an audience before putting your money behind it. Now you can even record yourself on your Iphone. You aren’t going for sound quality, you’re going for an idea of what you sound like at this point.
So share an mp3 from your Iphone and work to find a regular spot to play to grow the amount of people that specifically come to hear you and enjoy the experience. If you’re already playing in multiple locations in the same city that works even better because you’ll get regulars at both places to hear you. The idea is to engage with a group of people that like you enough to tell others about it and get their friends to come. If this is happening then you just might be building an audience. At this point just enjoy yourself and try to meet everyone!
If you want to upgrade coffeeshops but don’t have any quality digital samples of your music yet you’ll need to approach the counter with some results from your previous experience and maybe a mutual connection. Most coffeeshops that host bands regularly are looking for how many people you can bring when you play. Giving them a number that is above 20 or 30 will help your chances of playing. Also, consider splitting a set (a song swap) with another artist or friend. There is strength in numbers.
Be persistent. You may have to work a little bit if you’re trying to find a place to play that people can come enjoy your music.