Music business and lockdown—has the industry gone digital?
Even if concerts often have to be canceled at the last minute or only take place on a small scale, supporting bands are a ubiquitous topic in the music scene. For small artists in particular, appearing as a support act often turns into a real opportunity. Here they can make their own music better known through a large audience and take the next step towards the big stage. But when and how does the performance as a support band become a real opportunity for you as a musician and what should you pay attention to when preparing for such a performance? In this article we take a look at the opportunities and risks of appearing as a support act:
Especially for newcomers it is difficult to book really big performances. In the first phase, the fans of your genre hardly know you and would therefore probably not spend any money on concert tickets from you. For concerts by big artists, however, they do—and those headliners need supporting bands. If your music is a good fit for the industry in the moment, and for the audience, the 30-minute performance as a support act can become a stepping stone.
If your appearance as a supporting band has convinced the fans, there is a real chance of further big gigs and possibly even label signings. With such a great opportunity, you should prepare yourself really well for this kind of appearance. The more professional and confident you appear up there, the more likely you are to be seen not just as a support act, but as a potential main act.
In addition to expanding your fan community and awareness as a band, you can also strengthen your standing in the industry and make important contacts. If your performance is a success, word gets around quickly. Therefore, try to get as much out of your performance as possible in the little time you have. Make it convincing, because whoever you impress here could quickly offer you further gigs and more. Whether and how you can use this boost depends entirely on whether your fans are loyal to you and support you at larger concerts and how much you were able to increase your fan base.
Anyone who thinks an opening act only plays a few minutes will be surprised. If there is only one act before the actual performance, a playing time of up to 30 minutes is not uncommon. If you manage to get the fans on your side in these valuable 30 minutes and convince them with a mix of different songs, you're on the right track. So choose the songs for the performance that you are most confident about and which have the most potential to convince. The main band will also be happy if you have already created a good atmosphere when they take the stage.
Even if the duration of the performance won’t allow the content you’d play in your own, full concert, you can still give listeners a varied, dynamic taste of your music during this time. In contrast to shortened appearances on TV with only one or two songs, you can present yourself in a much more comprehensive way. This helps you to show yourself, your music and all its special features.
Basically, musicians are happy about every performance in front of a large audience. However, those who appear as support act “only” serve as a transition to the actual main act and are (unfortunately) not always sufficiently appreciated. In addition, the supporting bands rarely get a lot of attention, because the focus is, of course, still on the main act. Just be aware of that so you don't get too disappointed if the gig doesn't turn out to be the best gig of your career.
In addition, the sound of the supporting bands has sometimes not been finally checked and adjusted correctly. Sometimes the gig is even used to make final changes to the sound. Not infrequently, support bands also receive the displeasure of impatient fans, who are eagerly awaiting “their” band. But don't let that get you down! Your performance is still worth it, even if there are only three or four people in the audience celebrating you.
While there can be an expense allowance of 200 to 400 euros for some gigs, support bands for many acts even have to pay for their performance themselves. After all, the appearance as a support act offers the chance to get the audience on your side and to gain noticeable popularity in one evening. Sometimes there’s no cost. Sometimes there’s a big investment. However, if your music suits the audience well, the performance can also be financially worthwhile in the long run if you get a chance to be the main act someday.
The mediation of an appearance as a support act is often done through agencies. They ensure that the entire concert runs smoothly, including the supporting bands. So one of the keys to new performances and opportunities as a support act is having good contacts. For this reason, as a musician, you should make new contacts in the music industry as early as possible. Opportunities will arise almost automatically over time. Sometimes the bands themselves are looking for support acts, so keep an eye out and follow bands in your genre on social media. Sometimes it can also be worth asking if you know that a band is going on tour or is planning concerts.
Here at mukken you have the opportunity to easily make new contacts. Our goal is to support you as a musician and to strengthen your network with the right contacts from the industry.
Not every band has had positive experiences when it comes to the success of their own performances as a support act. This is mainly due to the different local conditions, the fans and viewers, but also the way the program is designed. The audience often gets impatient with long wait times for the main act, which you as the opening act definitely feel. But that’s not always the case. Opening acts can also be completely welcomed with open arms and ears. Sometimes it's just worth considering whether such an appearance is worthwhile. We have put together the obvious pros and cons for you again:
|Reaching a large audience||Support band as gap filler for the main act|
|Opportunity for good industry relationships||Audience actually only wants to see the main act|
|Opportunity to connect with new fans||Low revenue or even performance costs|
|Looks good in the band biography||Very short sound check|
|A whole 30 minutes to impress listeners||Little time for your own performance|
In addition, there are of course individual factors such as the main act, the concert planning and others. And: The technology isn't always advantageous, you don't always have "only" 30 minutes, the payment isn't always available and the audience doesn't always have no motivation to watch. Keep in mind that these are all just superficial points that are not always true. The advantages and disadvantages of our table therefore relate primarily to empirical values that some musicians share.
There are positive examples of successful opening acts in all genres. In recent years, many bands have been able to assert themselves, especially in the field of hits, and have toured with musicians such as Andrea Berg and Helene Fischer. A well-known example is the band Fantasy with their chart song “One Night in Paradise.” Just a few years earlier they were on tour with Andrea Berg as the opening act and were able to prove themselves.
Another very exciting example are the Orsons. Before they were able to go on their own tour in 2012, they supported Fettes Brot and Herbert Grönemeyer for many years. This gave them the chance to take part in the Bundesvision Song Contest 2012, which brought the band many new fans. The band struck a timely chord about 10 years ago in the German Hip-Hop genre. Features with Bushido show how the success of the Orsons has continued to this day.
The appearance for you as a support band holds chances and risks at the same time. It is all the more important not to get too stressed before a big performance and to keep a cool head. If you have the opportunity to perform as a support act, proper planning is the most important approach. In this way you increase your chances of success and win one or the other fan for you. It's best to register directly here at mukken and start making new contacts today. This lets you get in touch with other bands to expand your network in the future. You can find more topics on how to be successful as an artist in the music business in our blog category “Music Business.”
Originally published on January 29, 2022, updated on January 29, 2022