It’s all well and good to delve into the business side of music – necessary, even.
But does it ever seem like you have too many tasks on your hands? Do you have a tough time completing them all, and even when you do, dread the thought of having to do just as much work tomorrow as you did today?
That’s where delegation comes in, right? But who exactly do you delegate to? You probably don’t feel like you could hire anyone (it’s hard enough earning money for yourself as a musician), and you might feel a little weird asking your family or friends.
But if you don’t do the work necessary to get people on your side, you could be stuck in the same cycle and never find a way out.
That’s where street teams come in.
What Is A Street Team?
A street team is a group of people that sometimes literally “hit the streets” to help promote a product, service, or event. As far as music is concerned, street teams are known to put up posters across town to help market a live show.
In some industries, street teams are hired and paid to do grassroots marketing. In the music industry, street teams generally aren’t paid. They work for the artist because they genuinely want to help them succeed in their career. So, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry – you don’t necessarily have to pay a cent to your street team (but it is a good idea to incentivize them – more on that later).
Street teams are generally able to market events and releases in ways artists and labels simply cannot. They’re able to evangelize better, and potentially reach people that you simply wouldn’t be able to on your own.
As I already said, street teams in the music industry are known to put up posters around town, but their duties can extend into other marketing activities too. They may be responsible for handing out stickers and flyers, calling radio stations to request songs, or even sharing social media posts and sending out email blasts.
What a street team does and how they perform largely comes down to leadership. The better they are led, the better they will perform for you.
Why Do I Need A Street Team?
If you’re still in the early stages of your career, and you find your daily tasks are entirely manageable, then maybe you don’t need a street team just yet. You might think it’s nice to have one, but unless you have some incredibly supportive fans, you’re probably not going to inspire anyone to help you promote your music just yet. It can take time to reach critical mass.
But if you’ve got a new release or a big show coming up, and you’ve built a loyal group of fans (even if it’s a small group), it might be time to establish your street team. And, if your to-do list is starting to get out of hand, you probably need more help than you even realize.
Why would you want to work with a street team? For one, you might feel pulled in every direction, unable to find time to focus on the most important aspects of building your career. A street team can take some of that work off your hands.
Two, you simply can’t do what they can. Though it’s important to market yourself, you may not be able to reach the kinds of people your street team is capable of reaching. After all, how comfortable are you with the idea of going all across town telling people how great you are? Even if you don’t mind, how many people are going to listen?
You may not need a street team now, but in time your career may come to depend on it.
How Do I Build My Street Team?
It might seem crazy to expect your fans to promote your music on your behalf. But it’s not that crazy when you consider the impact you’ve already had on them. Your music means something to them, and they love how you’ve brought a community of people together through your art. They love the community. To them, you’re a tastemaker, entertainer, and event planner rolled into one.
But how do you get people onboard in the first place? After all, your team is going to be helping you for free. What’s in it for them?
The simplest way to build your street team is simply to ask. I know, it sounds crazy. But you never know who might come out of the woodworks to help you. You could ask your email subscribers, your social media followers, even your fans at shows. You could have a signup form on your website to start building your online street team.
If you want to take a more calculated approach, you might consider surveying your audience using Survey Monkey or Google Forms. Although you’ll want to collect some basic contact information, the main thing you’ll need is an understanding of their behaviors. Are they outgoing? Do they go to concerts regularly? Are they already involved in other street teams or other extracurricular activities that indicate they’re dedicated and have the right kind of experience?
This information will give you an idea of how effective and committed they will be to the cause.
You can basically utilize the same process offline. You could have a questionnaire ready for the people who are interested in signing up to be a part of the street team. You could ask at your shows – at your merch booth, the bar, or anywhere else people are likely to see your signup sheets or clipboard. You can walk around with a clipboard and ask people individually, if you’re feeling bold.
Odd are you don’t want anyone and everyone promoting you and running errands for you. Take some time to vet and choose who should be a part of the team. You don’t want to be too stringent with your standards, but you should still be selective.
Don’t go in with the assumption that no one will do free work for you. This simply isn’t true. Concerts and events are a lot of fun, and they often appear glamorous from the outside looking in, so there are plenty of people out there ready and willing to help you. You just have to provide them with the opportunity.
What Should You Get Your Street Team To Do?
People often fail in their work (i.e. their job) simply because they aren’t given a specific goal to hit. It’s unfortunate, but it happens a lot. A lot of workplaces scarcely provide adequate training for their employees.
I would even argue that it’s rare for an individual to have a specific goal and target in mind as they begin their work, whether it’s personally, creatively, or in the corporate environment. I don’t know too many people with specific, written goals.
So, the quality of your street team hinges on the quality of direction you give them. They can’t do anything they aren’t empowered to do, unless they happen to be serious go-getters (look for people like that – and empower them to lead the street team).
Here’s the essence of what I’m trying to say: Your team will be about as good as you expect them, support them, manage them, and direct them to be.
I know, I know. A street team is supposed to reduce your workload, right? But for that to happen, you need to change your mindset. Don’t be an employee of your band. Be an owner of your band. Demonstrate how much you care about the people supporting you, and give them the tools they need to succeed.
Can You Incentivize Your Street Team?
Of course you can, and you probably should. Some of your fans are probably willing to work for free, but they would be delighted if you gave them a reason to keep helping you. You should certainly reward the people you want to keep around.
The question is, how to motivate your street team. Here are several ideas worth exploring.
Offer Them A Merch Item
If you’re enlisting fans to be a part of your street team, there’s a good chance they’ll love receiving a branded merch item in exchange for their services. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a sticker, pin, T-shirt, or hat… If they love you, they’ll love getting their hands on your branded goods and wearables.
You might want to put together new designs on a semi-regular basis, as this will ensure you always have something new to reward your team with.
Offer Them Free Tickets To Your Shows
Do you think members of your street team would enjoy coming to your shows? You better believe it! They are your best evangelists, so it’s only natural to assume they would love to get free tickets to your shows too.
But there is so much more you could do. You could reserve special seats for them, cover their tab, give them early access to exclusive content or a meet-and-greet, and so on. The main limitation is your imagination.
At some point, your team could grow bored of attending your performances – not because they don’t love you, but because they’ve just seen you too many times. Remember to mixing things up with incentives.
Offer Them Some Money
Yeah, I know, the whole point of leveraging a street team is so that you can get some tasks off your back and get them done for free. But the bottom line is that your fans are working hard on your behalf, and if you want to keep them motivated, you need to offer some incentives. Also keep in mind that they can always find other street teams that are getting rewarded monetarily for their work.
Money is always a good incentive, especially if you’ve already given your fans everything you have to offer in terms of merch, free tickets, and so on. It’s hard making money as a musician, so don’t overextend yourself, but if you have some extra money left over, or if you want to reward your team over and above, offer them some money.
How Do I Manage My Street Team?
The number one key to running any team is creating and communicating the vision, answering the “why”, and developing a heart connection rather than just a head connection.
The vision will drive people. Remind them of the bigger goal – not just what you’re trying to achieve, but how they can help you achieve it.
This can also help answer “why?” Whenever people take on a task, their number one question tends to be why?” If they have a clear understanding of why a task needs to be done, and how it contributes to the bigger vision, many of their other questions will fade into the background.
Conversely, when people are confused about the “why”, they may not feel as though they are doing anything of value.
As for creating a heart connection rather than just a head connection, recognize that people are more emotional than they are logical. Major purchases are often made on feelings rather than logic, though people generally find a way to justify their emotions with logic later.
Show your team why your music is important to you and why you care so deeply about it. Be willing to be vulnerable as you share with them. Share stories from your past that illustrate your character and commitment to your artistic vision. This can serve to unify your team.
A street team is an incredible asset. Not only can you get them to do work you don’t want to or are unable to do, they can help you reach people you simply would have no way of gaining access to otherwise. Your street team can help you build your fan base, and by extension, generate more sales for your merch, CDs, digital downloads, tickets, fan club memberships, and more.
It’s certainly possible to build a successful career without a street team, but many artists would benefit a great deal from enlisting the help of willing fans.