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Get On The Bus!
A Case Study in Increasing Club Draw for an Out-of-Town Band
It sounded like the perfect idea, until we got down to business:

The bus cost us $350 at first. It was for eight hours, there and back. We charged $20 and thought it was a steal. It wasn't. People still had to buy a ticket at the club, and a beer at the bar cost $5. That's an easy $100 night to see a local band. It wasn't worth it, and our friends made sure to tell me how much it sucked. We tried to make a few changes. We talked to the bus company. I went there personally and talked to the woman in charge of transportation. I explained to her that we would be renting buses exclusively from them at a consistent rate throughout the year. She eventually cut us a break. $275 for the entire night. This helped. We got creative. $20 for the night-- including "beverages", the ticket to the show, and of course the bus ride. This cost us a lot of cash upfront. $275 for the bus, $75 for the tip, $150 for the beer, and an increasing scale of ticket money. We needed a full bus of about 45 people to just break even. We bought 200 canned beverages, to avoid the spilling and foaming of drinks, and we thought we had it made. Be careful how much "beverages" your friends and fans drink on the way to the club. Clubs don't like to see a bunch of drunk and rowdy kids come through the door and stampede through the place like bulls. They would rather see a thirsty bunch ready to buy drinks than a mob ready to smash toilets and deface exit signs. Another lesson we learned the hard way. To top things off, there were no "beverages" left for the ride home. Drunk people don't appreciate that. They also don't appreciate waiting to go to the bathroom on a bumpy bus. In fact, some people get very violent if they hold in their pee long enough. So, we tried again. This time we brought out half the drinks on the way down and half on the way home. This worked out great. People saved money, didn't have to drive, yet still bought drinks in the club, and they had more free drinks on the way home. We even included a piss stop halfway down at a local Mobil station. It was an amazing night. Everyone was pleased. especially the club owner. We would bring 45-60 people overall, but 45 people all at once looks more impressive than 45 scattered through the night. We didn't make any money off the deal-- we may have even lost some-- but it's the price you pay to throw a party hosted by your band. Within a few months of this promotion, maybe about half a year, other New York City clubs started hearing about it and wanted us to bring a bus to their club. A local "buzz" started growing, and we could eventually draw a decent number of people to our NYC shows without spending all that money. In the end, the bus promotion proved to be a great idea. Just be careful how you do it. and save a drink for yourself at the end of the night.
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