Growing up in independent music, I heard the word “street team” thrown around quite a bit. Fans signed up for a band or label’s street team and got a package of stickers, buttons, maybe some t-shirts and posters and informed friends and others about said musical entity. Street team members got into shows or VIP events for free and were continually sent free merchandise, and all they had to do is tell people about records and upcoming shows.
With the social media era however, street teams have mostly faded out … or so I thought.
My friend (we’ll call her Jane) recently brought street teams back to my attention. She was a part of the street team for What the Festival (WTF) earlier this year.
This intrigued me, as I haven’t thought about street teams for awhile. So I talked to a few people to try and find out whether or not street teams are relevant in 2016. Are festivals still using street teams? What about indie bands and labels?
A quick search revealed that Summer Camp Festival, Summer Set Festival, The Untz Festival and Bonnaroo (among others) have active street teams. Extending to the punk scene, Gainesville’s The Fest has a street team.
Colleges, businesses, trade shows and nonprofits also utilize street teams, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on the music industry.
I thought that, since I already had the EDM-insider from Jane, I would reach out to Sarasvati from The Fest and see how they use street teams. After all, I’ve always wanted to go, so if there was some sort of free ride in, I wanted to know about it.
“We send posters and postcards for street teamers to put up around their area. That’s the only job we ask them to do,” replied Sarasvati upon me asking her what a street team member did. “There is no compensation.” I asked how many members their team had and where they were located. Sarasvati’s answer surprised me. “We don’t actively look for members … we had less than 10 people email us asking to participate this year. They were from all over the country.” Hmm… is this a sign that street teams are dying out?
I compared that to what Jane told me about WTF. “Basically, [I promoted WTF] through social media, and I did posters last year too,” she explained. “I had a ticket link and when people used my ticket link, I got points toward a free ticket and prizes. Some of the social media posts also got you points toward your ticket.”
WTF seemed to have a more effective street team and intriguing incentives. I asked Jane if the people who bought tickets from her would have bought them regardless. To my surprise, she said yes. “All of my friends went, so it was just convenient that I had the ticket link to get points. It’s more about who you know, and we happened to have a big group of us going to WTF, so they just helped me out by using my link.”
It seems that with large, well-known festivals, traditional street teams may be unnecessary, as people who attend those festivals would do so regardless. That said, street teams work well if the end goal is to get a crowd energized and build excitement, not necessarily to sell tickets. For example, Daft Punk did a creative online and traditional street team campaign to promote an album launch.
Get Street Team writes, “The key to street team marketing success, whether executed online, offline or both is recruiting fans who are truly passionate about your brand.”
Subscription lists are not spam … or at least, they don’t have to be if done correctly. Essentially, if you can get people to sign up for your email list, you can let them know about your next event. If they care about your brand, they’ll probably be interested in what you’re doing, and if they’ve signed up for your list, you have their permission to tell them about it.
Consider booth marketing at a festival within the same genre to spread the word. Avoid the same season as your event, so that you’re not in competition. Give out cool swag and ask attendees to sign up for your mailing list or follow you on social media. Personally connecting with potential attendees and answering questions on the spot can extend your reach and help gain new fans.
Keep in mind that my opinions come from an outsider’s perspective. How do you use your street team? How effective is it? Comment below or let me know your thoughts on Twitter @Robolitious.