One of the benefits of social media is that you get a chance to see what’s going on around you and connect with other like-minded creatives. Sometimes you’ll see a random post that resonates, and may forget about it. But when you start to see a shared vision over a period of time, you take notice!
That’s why we were so excited to share this wonderful chat with Leonard Patterson, Founder of Indie Band Coach! His roles include bandleader, booking agent, artist manager, and digital marketer, but his entire focus is on helping indie artists and musicians pursue their passion and obviously, we couldn’t agree more.
Leonard will be sharing tools, tips, and training each week with the focus of helping you reach more fans and book more gigs, so we thought we’d start off with our interview this week.
Just to get things kicked off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Of course! Well, I’m originally from Indianapolis IN, but have been a resident of Southern CA for the past 4 years. My wife and I are thoroughly enjoying our new 5-month old son, and obviously the lack of snow! I am obsessed with helping indie bands reach their goals. I believe music is one of the last things that can really connect us all.
As far as the music business, I started off as a songwriter. My whole goal at one time was to write songs for popular artists so I could hear them on the radio. That eventually turned into a performing songwriter, which then led to me starting a band.
My wife Jessica and I were the lead singers of our band and when we first got going, we would perform our 30-45 minute sets of our originals with a few other bands on a given night.
How was the music scene in Indianapolis then? Were you making money?
We were not making money, but honestly, we didn’t really care. It was 2003-ish and we were just happy playing sponsored shows, getting comped meals, and doing little house parties. We obviously needed Gigmor, but I can’t hold that against you!
At one point though, I decided I wanted to head into the studio to record our songs, but I didn’t want to ask the band members to pay out of their pocket. Nor did I have the money to do so myself. That’s when we decided to work on a 3-hour show of originals and covers. The only bars that were paying anything decent then were bars and restaurants hosting cover bands.
Were you also the band manager?
Yes. Yes, I was. I actually joked that “bandleader Leonard” killed “songwriter Leonard” and honestly, it was kinda true. We were an 8-piece band and that’s literally eight different personalities, schedules, talents, money, etc. There wasn’t a lot of time for the creative side once the band became a brand and we became a legit business.
How long did it take you to go from a 30 minute set to 3 hours?
We probably could’ve done it more quickly, but we took 6 months. We had to hire some new members because it was definitely a different animal by then. We took time though to go see other bands who were already doing what we were planning to do. We took notes, introduced ourselves to other musicians, and club owners in the process. Once we started with the new lineup, it took a little less than a year to have enough put back to pay for studio time and release our first CD.
I was really new to being a booking agent, but I got really good at selling what we could do without trying to oversell. We didn’t have a lot of fans, but there were eight of us and we all had family. I would literally say to bar owners: “look, we don’t have a huge fan base right now but we do have a ton of family members between us.”
Of course, even with that… a lot of times there would be more of us on stage than there was in the entire bar. It was definitely discouraging and motivating at the same time.
SOCIAL MEDIA & PROMOTION
How was your social media game?
Great question! And it seems so long ago, but for our first few years, there was no Facebook. Social media at the time was this “new startup” called MySpace. And honestly, I was learning so much about running a band and booking gigs, our MySpace page was just a placeholder. It didn’t have the booking implications that social has today, so I didn’t spend too much time on it.
That does sound like a lifetime ago! So what was your go-to strategy for promoting your band and getting shows?
We would focus on getting our name in people’s hands. We would make gig cards (postcards) that had our website listed, our logo, MySpace page, and any upcoming shows we had. We’d give them to family and friends who would put them on their fridge or on their cubicle at work.
We’d also take them around and put them in the newsstands that were around the clubs we were playing — or wanted to play. I’d literally take 10-15 cards, go to the stack of papers, and place one in each paper in the music section. We couldn’t afford to actually advertise in the papers, so this was the next best — and probably illegal — option.
It worked though. We started to see people coming to shows other than family members. It took a good 3 years of grinding, promoting, and performing until we found our groove. Once our schedule started to fill up is when it moved from “part time passion” into a full time job.
INDIE BAND COACH
So you’ve got a working band, making money. When did the idea for Indie Band Coach hit you?
I had been a booking agent for about 7 years, finding gigs for bands other than my own. I had the pleasure of having coffees and lunches with several musicians and bandleaders who just wanted to know what they could do to get booked?
It donned on me after realizing that most of the questions, concerns, and frustrations were almost identical. I started thinking that there were probably even more musicians going through the same thing.
I would go and look out on websites and social media and realize that some of them were crazy-talented, but just didn’t have a good presentation put together. It would kill me to see some of my peers not get gigs. Their music was amazing, but all of their videos on Facebook were empty dancefloors. Or there wasn’t any music available to hear at all. There’s only so much selling I can do if there’s no social proof.
I asked myself: “What if there was one place online that could provide up-to-date info on indie band marketing and social media?” “What if their online presence matched their stage presence?”
Indie Band Coach is what came out of those “what ifs”.
Awesome. And we’ve seen your helpful tips on Instagram. What services do you currently provide?
Right now I’ve got a private Facebook group called Indie Band Connect. It’s a group coaching concept where we tackle struggles, come up with promotional strategies, and lend support to one another.
If you’re local to Southern California, I’m actually hosting several marketing workshops this month. I’d love to meet some of the Gigmor fam! We also have our signature 30 Day Post Planner for musicians and a more in-depth blog on our website.
With that though, I’m really excited about the opportunity to share with your audience! I know the struggle of trying to find gigs and trying to get fans to shows. I wish I had a platform like this when we first launched our band which is why I’m looking forward to connecting with the Gigmor community each week!
Thanks, Leonard! We love what you’re doing and can’t wait to share your weekly advice with our community of artists and venues! We appreciate you taking the time and look forward to next week!
Thanks so much, Tracy!
Leonard is an avid fan of all things New Edition, an indie-focused booking agent, a frequent hi-fiver, and a certified digital marketer (yes, in that order). Since stepping off stage as a band manager/front man of a 6-figure party band, he launched Indie Band Coach with a mission to help indie bands reach more fans and book more gigs. When he’s not working, he’s most likely at a live music event, analyzing Marvel movies, or soaking up vitamin D at the beach with his wife and son.
Los Angeles/Southern CA area artists can join Indie Band Coach at an upcoming live marketing workshop.