As important as establishing yourself online is, everyone has a hometown community they come from.
This is an excerpt from Ari Herstand’s new book How to Make it in the New Music Business (Second Edition)
You don’t compete in a NASCAR race before you’ve earned a driver’s license; similarly, you don’t book a sixty-date tour before playing your hometown. I’m a strong believer in establishing yourself at home before you hit the road.
Supporting your local music community is the single most important thing you can do for your career.
When you’re not playing a show, you should be out seeing a show. If you’re in a fairly big city, there should be various local shows happening around town nearly every night of the week. Get out to these shows and meet the community. You’ll soon figure out which venues cater to your style of music and which don’t. Start to frequent the clubs where you want to play. Get to know the staff and the patrons. The more you show your face, the more the regulars will warm up to you. Meet the other musicians and hang out at the after-parties. When you’re establishing yourself in a scene, you need to be out in the world, often.
We hear all the time about artists who start to break online who have played only a few shows locally. These artists completely ignore their hometown and believe they are above it. They may see some initial success in other communities (or overseas) where blogs and local tastemakers have taken a liking to their music. Don’t be like them. If you don’t lay the groundwork, eventually people may lose interest and then you’ll have no one to go back home to. You’ll have no support group. No hometown following. No home.
I want to make clear that the tactics I’m laying out to approach your local scene do not really apply to L.A. or Nashville. Or New York, to some extent. These towns operate completely differently and the ways to approach them are different than most other cities. That being said, even if you do live in L.A., Nashville or New York, keep reading, as you will gain some perspective.