College Market? What's That?
What does it mean when you hear someone talking about the "college market"? Well, it depends on whom you talk to. Some will say it is an opportunity for your band to play at fraternity parties, make lots of young fans, and eventually get on MTV's Spring Break. Others will say that schools present performers in an environment enriched by culture that is for the most part open minded, and very interested in promoting music and arts of all kinds. And still others will say that the college market provides an artist the opportunity to play at packed bars and clubs on their way to becoming the next Hootie and the Blowfish.
Regardless of whether you have been a performer for some time or are just starting out, you probably have heard about the good money, easy routing, and target audience associated with college towns. So this is a no-brainer, right? Let's go play some college dates! Well, although the above statements are all reasonable to some extent, it has been my experience that to truly succeed in the college market, an equal amount of risk, resource, and patience is needed on the part of the artist or booking agency.
Witnessing the success of artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Ben Folds Five, Rusted Root, Guster, and God Street Wine in college towns across America throughout the '90s has been tremendous. These artists generally started on a grassroots level by playing at college bars, fraternity parties, Spring festivals, and eventually back on the college campus for big money when they got huge. That's one
side of the story. Because on the other hand you have artists such as Life in General, Beth Wood, Domestic Problems, Keller Williams, Winefield, Granian, and Dispatch that regularly tour schools and make a decent buck playing college campuses. Some do so with the help of a booking agency, some with little or no help from an agency.
In this section of StarPolish, we will provide some basic information you can use to get a jump-start on reaching the much sought-after college market. As a developing artist, there are many avenues and vehicles you can utilize to reach an audience in a college town, and some are not quite so obvious.