The Unscene by Chris Corbett

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Chris Corbett is the bassist of garage surf trio, The Moths. He recently put a poll out on his Facebook profile asking how people would market band shows without any access to social media. Below, he reveals his findings and makes a plea to return to the tried and tested methods of putting physical flyers in stranger’s hands.

Thanks to everyone that commented with their good and weird and weirdly good suggestions on the seemingly stupid poll on Tuesday.¬†What I’m trying to get that is if you have access to the details of putting on a strong gig, you will know what needs to go into marketing a show properly without social media. It’s a simple ingredient recipe:

  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Localised traditional media
  • Word of mouth
  • Yelling

Yet, barring an international act hitting our shores, we just don’t see any of this anymore. Touring acts from different SA cities barely get this treatment. It just seems that our scene, and sister scenes, have a massive over-reliance on social media. Why, when you would head out to a Bohemian show in 2008, would the entire place be packed, top to tit, with a paying audience and a fucking mental party when we were just figuring out what the fuck Facebook was? Because traditional methods, as mentioned above, really really worked.

Social media feels lackadaisical, and I guess that’s the appeal sometimes, “Look how effortless this portal to your event is,” but also part of the problem. I’m definitely not advocating for social media to be damned with entirely, instead, I’d hope to argue that social media be seen as an ancillary tool, another portal that’s providing one of many points of access to the information that you’re trying to divulge about whatever may be going on wherever the fuck it is going on.

When we have access to all these tools available; flyers, posters, spray paint, stickers, social media and a massive urban population, why not utilise all of them? There are a truly terrifying amount of people who do not know that there are bands in Johannesburg, where they play, and how much fun they could be having. The be-all and end-all that we’ve turned social media into just equates to a limited reach and a hope, rather than a guarantee, that you are offering a better experience than the other Johns and Janes that are hosting a show four suburbs away.

If the absolute best you can do is build an event page, hire a designer, make a cover photo, invite the 500 friends Facebook allows you too, and then hope like fuck that you’re going to make enough money to cover your sound guy, then, bro, that’s definitely not the best you can do.

I really do know that we live in a very-limited resource based country, and the music scene is even more so. Bands don’t have money to spend on managers, publicists or even R 200 to print some A6 black and white flyers. But it also goes without saying that the South African music scene is driven by some of the most immensely creative people in existence. Why not flex that creative brain and delve into new and refreshing ways to get the word out that your show is going to be the best goddamn thing you’ve ever been to?

Work in = Reward out.

Ok, slight gripe, I know, but I’d like to see this scene of ours grow and grow and grow. I wanna see the next batch of 16 years growling through 4 chord punk and sneaking their friends in with gear in their hands and social media just doesn’t seem to be doing that.

So please, put a flyer in a stranger’s hand, even if you drew it yourself, and fuck man, maybe you’ve found a new friend or fan, or maybe not. But you’re probably going to sleep easier knowing that instead of saying “I put that event up” you can say “I did everything I could to put that event out.”

Written by Chris Corbett


When last did you receive a gig flyer? Did you go to that gig? How can promoters and bands improve the promotion of and attendance at gigs. Comment below with your thoughts.

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