It may seem obvious, but when looking for bands and artists to support on tour, always consider whether they will give you the potential to pick up new fans.
Sometimes, if the band you are supporting is at the peak of its power, then the audience may have no interest in seeing another up and coming artist. It’s important to choose a band to support who are still growing in popularity, but it is also important to make sure your music fits in with their audience.
The greatest example I have seen of a support act really making it work was when Snow Patrol supported Athlete on tour. Although Athlete were totally fantastic, Snow Patrol really engaged with the audience and set them up for the main act.
We manage a great act called Si Cranstoun, who I will use as another example of how supporting the right band can help you reach new audiences. We helped Si promote his music in line with the way we work through our release development patterns where artists get three to four team members working for them, phased during the campaign covering all relevant media sectors. Having got him some airplay on Radio 2 and some attention in the national print media, we signed him to Warner Music and he then went out on tour with The Overtones. This band are just totally polished in the way they perform and the crowd expects the same for the support artist. Si was a great success as a support act and gained a lot of new fans. This was partly due to his great songs, of course, but also because of his understanding of why the audience were there.
The audience loved the music and Si interacted with them really well, quickly developing a bond with everyone who was there, but perhaps the key to his success that night was the fact that the majority of the audience were already in the venue ready to watch the support act. This audience obviously wanted to get their money’s worth and were interested in the support act. And this is a vital lesson- you don’t want to be supporting a band whose fans will be in the bar until the main act comes on. Again, sounds obvious, but definitely worth remembering!