You want your band to make it in the music biz? Tour. Tour constantly. In light of todays (lack of) radio play, touring is the answer. If you have a good band and you can get past the first 4 or 5 completely awful tours, then you have a decent chance of making it on the road. The odds are against you, but you can square up the odds when you take the plunge over and over again.
Two of the most successful bands from Memphis in the last 5 years have been the North Mississippi All-Stars and Lucero. Why? Incessant, constant, and ad nauseum touring. Both bands have committed to sleeping in stinky vans, sharing fans floors or shabby hotel rooms, and playing, playing, playing. Neither band would have reached the level of popularity that they now have without such a strong touring ethic. It is what separates each of those two bands from local bands who do not make the commitment to the road.
Constant touring has unforeseen and unpredictable consequences that can help propel a band to new levels of fans. Touring helps bands make their own breaks. One never knows what dj, film director, blogger, or music biz folk are in a crowd when a band takes the stage. More playing increases the odds that more good things can happen to a band. Certainly bands on the road today benefit from increased promotional tools of the internet including web sites touting their tour dates, streaming music, and fan chat rooms. Pictures (or recordings) from a live show can be quickly or even simultaneously posted on the internet, enhancing the chances that new fans can be reached efficiently on the internet. With websites, fans can become fulcrums to propel bands to new levels of notoriety quickly and cheaply.
Luceros drummer Roy Berry is currently a recipient of a promotional fan(atic)s viral campaign. The campaign has been created by a Lucero fan with the name Royninja on the Lucero chat board. The campaign promoting the Roy Berry Army will soon be taking the awareness of Roy Berry (and Lucero) to a whole new level in a hilarious viral marketing campaign.
The Roy Berry Army, Roy Berry is Your Hero, or Royninja campaign is not dissimilar to the one that revived the long dead image of Andre the Giant in the mid-to-late 90s. The Andre the Giant has a Posse sticker campaign, created by skaters in Rhode Island who had access to some silk screen and sticker equipment, quickly took over the U.S. first and then spread to Europe and the rest of the world. Their program quickly disseminated stickers and spray-painted images of Andre the Giant in clubs, on street poles and sidewalks, on subways, and everywhere else. Incredibly this image campaign around Andre the Giant was one of the most cost effective and successful worldwide marketing campaigns of all time, even inspiring copycat stickers and several lampoons.
The RBA campaign differs slightly in that the medium of the message has Roy Berry Army members taking pictures while wearing an oversized mask of their hero, cut-out and worn over their face. They then upload the picture, which was ideally taken in a high profile locationthe more high profile, the better. The RBA will be very hard to stop as this catches fire. Royninja currently sends the masks he makes to other Lucero fans, but he has no monopoly on the process: he lays out instructions on his website on how other fans can create their own Roy Berry masks.
Berry, who has been a monster drummer in Memphis for over a decade in bands like Royfood, Bobslead Hyena, and the Simple Ones and produced many of the early Grifters tracks, is enjoying some of his biggest success with Lucero these days, recently playing to almost 400 people in Lubboch, Texas on a Tuesday night. It could be the army thats propelling Lucero to a Japanese tour in September. Who knows what Japan will think of the burgeoning Roy Berry Army?
Images of the Roy Berry Army can be seen here.