Thursday, 9 April 2009

Street teams?

I'm back. Since my previous post I've managed to wrestle a couple of fat guys free, half-wrote my next Drowned In Sound column, realised it was completely irrelevelant, scrapped it, started again, realised it was still irrelevant. The fat men, heads hung low, neatly filed back into the room. Square one, here we go again.

I have a question. Hope you can help.

Street teams - What role do they play (if any) in the music industry in 2009?

We've never really had a proper BSM street team, despite offers from some very nice people in the past, as it's something I've never felt completely comfortable with. In theory they're brilliant. Passionate fans going out and turning their friends into fellow-passionate fans. It'll be like a cult, with generations of musical slaves - for lack of a better word - enthusiastically obeying your every whim (remind me why I haven't done this before) and spreading the good word further afield, into regions out of your personal reach.

My problem, however, is like everyone reading this, I'm sure, have previously been bothered by pushy, snotty nosed little brats wanting me to give my email address to a band I've never heard of whilst patiently minding my own business waiting in a venue queue. I've also been on internet forums and witnessed people be torn to shreds for shamelessly plugging their acts to an unwilling audience. It ain't pretty.

So where's the middle ground? Is there one? Obviously a certain amount of common sense needs to factor, as does tact. Flyers are relatively inoffensive, especially if said leaflet offers, for example, a free download of money off from a webstore, but would these things be the difference between you immediately dropping it on the floor or placing it in your pocket for later consideration? And what about online? Friends occasionally sharing links via social networks surely can't bother anyone too much, but how effective can that be on a realitisically achievable scale?

Does anyone have any stories of really positive experiences with street teams? Have you discovered an amazing new band or maybe even made a friend through this avenue? What about bad experiences?

Over the next 12 months we're looking to expand BSM into a couple of big, scary, new territories but as ever we're confined by limited resources, a Tesco Value budget and a team of one working on the label. It's a big world out there and much like The Beatles, I'll get by with a little help from my friends, I just need to figure out how.

Suggestions are welcomed in the comments or via email. Thanks in advance, team!


Anonymous said...

Street teams are for the kids.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and added to that, my experience of street teams is that I've never been approached by a member of one and have never felt the want or need to join one.

Kev said...

What makes you think they're for kids? What could be done (apart from dropping the horrible title) to make their work appeal to, or at least slightly interest, adults? Anything?

Anonymous said...

I think they can work if they are well trained. I used manage something similar and when the people taking part know how to respect the nature of the communities, but it this way, if you were walking down the street, and you walked by a house party, you wouldn't just stick your head in the door and start screaming 'Buy This, Check Out This Band'

However you could be just walking down the street, knock on the door, and ask to go in, start chatting and then mention 'oh have you heard this band?' Theres a William Gibson book, Pattern Recognition that touches on that kind of tactic.

The above takes a bit of time, though and is it work the investment? Well if you can find the community that you're sure will be receptive to your message, then you should be able to attract an audience.

Thats all sort of from an online point of view, I used work at a Street Team company dealing with real world data collection, and all you've got is shitty stickers, and the promise of a few free tickets, so its not the best way.

Kev said...

Thanks Dave, some interesting points there and I'll have a look out for that book

I'm really interested to see if there's a way the street team idea could be adapted to work successfully. In my opinion, a lot of old methods of promotion (which have mostly been lost or become out-dated due to the rise of the internet) such as fan clubs etc could still be relevant with fan connection and value becomming increasinly important. It's just a case of finding a way to make them work in the present day, I guess

I dunno, just brainstorming and looking for peoples opinions at the moment so keep em coming everyone!

Anonymous said...

I think the most important thing to avoid online is that your just an email on a list. I used work at a label, and I spent 4 weeks taking down all the details A/S/L of all the myspace friends, and was then able to target them specifically when bands went on tour, so if we hadn't sold out Aberdeen, I could target all the Aberdeen fans, rather than all Scotland/UK fans.

I mean your not going to be able to be 100% personal, but if its relavent, and isn't too intrusive it can be useful.

That book, its a fiction piece based around an online forum, it only mentions the real world seeding type idea. Check out this website, might be a bit more helpful.

Anonymous said...

Free stuff is what makes a difference, to be blunt. Speaking as someone who run a pretty large street team the from being easiest way to stop everything you trying to promote dropped on the floor is offering free stuff with it. Whatever that may be.

From my experience, thought its tiresome, street teaming is effective at spreading a brand into places it would not normally be.

As for it being "for the kids" or whatever . the only reason most people think street teams are for younger teens is because many of them are aimed at younger teens, surely!

Kev said...

Thanks for the online fandom link, Dave. Just looking through that now and there's some good stuff on there

Does anyone not associate street teams with young teens? I've had a few responses on Twitter which seem to suggest this is a common theme

The BF Team said...

I'm afraid I automatically associate the term "street team" with getting a bunch of teens to spend the hours pounding the streets handing out flyers for little reward.

That said, I prefer the term "superfan" - those guys who you take the ASL details of who you give a few stickers and t-shirts to when there's just the 5 in the venue on your first gig in Preston, will be happy to give out a few flyers and put a few stickers up round the town next time. And if you stay personal and in contact often, they'll be the same ones who offer you a bed in their digs for the night on tour number 5 or 6 when Preston is sold out.

jack said...

i use almost exclusively to find new music these days and when it comes to flyer-kids outside of venues i quickly walk past and ignore them.

i think the music industry is fast evolving (thank god!) past the "you're my key demographic, buy this shit!" mentality and new promotion tactics are needed, maybe in the form of memetic promotion through the internet?

i honestly believe things like street teams devalue a band or a label. at the end of the day it's no different to an Asda billboard shouting "PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT BUY BUY BUY".

dan said...

I pretty much disagree with the anonymous posting above. If a label wants to waste a load of money giving their existing fans free stuff to pretend to promote the band, then yeah, start a street team.

I don't see any promotional value in giving out free stickers (a sticker with a band's name on it when i have no idea who the band are has no value to me, may as well just bin it).

Kev said...

I know what you mean, Dan. I have similar thoughts regarding magazine ads. They're so expensive and I just don't believe anyone is going to stop and read it unless they already know exactly who your band is. Otherwise, for me, at least, I can't see them generating enough sales to cover the cost.

Same thing applies to street teams. Giving people thousands of flyers to give to any Tom, Dick or Harry in the street doesn't seem the right way to go about it, but if it's well thought out and targeted, I believe it's something that can work, at least to a degree

Just written a new post which follows on from this -