Music industry genius, Bob Lefsetz, wrote a new article today entitled, Measuring Sticks, regarding what the measuring sticks of a rock band's success are.
Bob says that it's T-Shirts and ticket sales.
"Arguably, you're better off selling an MP3 than a CD. Said MP3 might be able to be deleted with a click, but it can also be put into a playlist, e-mailed to friends, spread far and wide. And with this distribution not only can new fans be made, you have a greater possibility of longevity.You can, of course, read the entire article here.
... If you can get someone to spread your music far and wide, so much easier to do online, you don't have a criminal, but a dyed-in-the-wool fan you should take to dinner.
Ticket Sales are evidence of loyalty. It's less about how many you did once than how many you can continue to do. Underplay the market, keep prices on the low side. It's not about being number one on the "Pollstar" chart, but being able to go on the road year after year, whenever you want to.
Also, give the audience what it expects. It's all right to play obscurities if you're known for that, but if you're a sold-out popster, people only want to hear the hits. If you're a classic rock act, no one wants to hear your new material. Sad, but true.
Just know if you don't fulfill audience expectations, you might be happy, yet your listeners might not. Fine if you don't mind playing ever-smaller buildings, not cool if you want to maintain your lofty perch. And that begs the question of safety... If you're a new act and not willing to risk, your longevity will be decreased. Unfortunately, it's the opposite with old acts. Old acts would be better off innovating in side projects. No one wanted to see the formula of Coke fucked with.
Merch. The cheaper you make it, the better it is for your career. You want every fan to own a t-shirt. They're walking billboards, with CREDIBILITY! Not only did people pay for the shirt, they chose to wear it of their own volition!
You know how you can tell who is really legendary? By scoping out what t-shirts you see walking down the sidewalk. That's one of the reasons we know AC/DC is gigantic."