A few years ago the media was awash with overnight success stories, all attributing their newfound fame to the miracle of the “worldwide web”.
Scottish songstress Sandi Thom achieved notoriety after streaming a twenty-one date virtual tour from the comfort of her own basement.
Meanwhile the now-superstar Justin Bieber was scouted on the basis of a grainy YouTube clip.
However, with sites such as YouTube & Vimeo overcrowded with wistful warblers it now seems we have to make a bigger statement in order to stand out from the crowd.
The Birth of the Flash Mob
A flash mob is essentially a spontaneous performance in a public space such as a train station or busy high street.
Often organized through social media or over mobile phone they are designed to be a public spectacle, drawing attention to a specific cause or charity.
In 2010 the notion of the Flash mob was solidified in the public consciousness by a series of adverts from cell company T-Mobile, who organized a chain of performances around the UK. Here’s my favorite, shot at London’s Heathrow Airport…
Make it Your Promotional Tool
At the “street level” Flash mobs are a great way to engage the general public.
First gain their attention with an eye catching display, then ply them with free merchandise and flyers for your next performance.
If you time your Flash Mob directly before a gig you could even invite your new-found fans to join you for an evening of entertainment.
Secondly, never underestimate the role of social media in promoting and capitalizing on your flash mob experience.
You can have a count down on Facebook or Twitter, slowly releasing information or cryptic clues on when & where your flash mob is going to take place.
Another thought would be to involve your fans directly, making them part of the spectacle and offering free concert tickets as an incentive.
What’s more, if you go to the trouble of having your Flash Mob filmed you are left with an evocative piece of media that you can utilize for a music video or online promotion.
Here’s a band that did just that, involving all their fans in a ‘space-hopper’ stunt.
The Big Five
So here’s my advice on how to achieve flash mob success:
1) Timing is Key. In order to work your flash mob has to be seen by as many people as possible. Plan for a weekend or during a holiday season when city centers and retail parks are at their busiest, remember every passer by is a potential new listener.
2. he Bigger The Better. A dozen people in a crowded shopping mall will simply go unnoticed by most. Be bold and get as many people as you can involved, friends, family, flat mates, fans.
3. Plan for Perfection. Your Flash Mob is essentially a gig and is a reflection of you as an artist; you wouldn’t go onstage without knowing the chords or struggling to remember lyrics. A poorly planned performance reflects badly on you so make sure every element of your Flash Mob is well planned and rehearsed.
4. Weird & Wonderful. Try to avoid simply performing your music as you would anywhere else. On the street your audience is transient, give them something to look at, be creative, involve dancers or visual media if possible. Lastly give your performance a distinctive look and visual identity that sets it apart from the crowd. Note how this achieved here to advertise free concert dates for Beyoncé’s Sasha Fierce Tour.
5. Know The Rules: It’s always worth warning the local council of what you’re planning. Most see it all as good fun, however; doing a little background research beforehand is always preferable to an embarrassing exchange with the authorities on the day.
See Craig’s article, The Art of Busking
Craig Antony MA(Dist) is a professional Singer, Composer & Educator. Currently lecturing in vocal performance at Leeds College Of Music, Craig is also gaining attention across the UK as a singer-songwriter whose music has been described as “driving, engaging and passionate”. www.craigantony.co.uk