Bacon Bloody Bacon: Matt Bacon On Engaging Audiences


Hey, so I’m Matt Bacon and I’m honored to be writing for Ghost Cult Magazine. You may already know me from the Dumb & Dumbest podcast graciously hosted on this site, you may also know me from my work as a music industry consultant both for independent bands and labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, just want you to know that you’re probably not gonna like reading this one because I’m going to ask you to do something hard that you are not going to be interested in even attempting – and I don’t blame you, because though the payoff is huge it’s going to suck during the process. What I’m talking about is maximizing your engagement. This means going out and focusing on interacting with everyone who gives a shit about you and engaging with everyone who could potentially give a shit about you. This is a hard one but it’s also one that can actually end up being really rewarding and fun, giving you meaningful experiences that lead to productive long term relationships.

So usually when I tell bands that they need to focus on being engaged with their fans they tell me ‘Oh for sure we try and talk to everyone we can at the merch stand and at shows’ except that’s only a part of it, and I pretty much guarantee that they are not doing it right. First and foremost, if you are a five-person band playing a thirty person show, there is no reason your band shouldn’t be able to each go out and try to meet at least half that crowd, that’s only thee people each, and it is going to have an impact. I know that sounds like a lot, but you’re at the same fucking bar as all these people for like six hours, making one friend every two hours is not actually that hard, especially if they decided to show up to see some live music. I’m just saying that the direct connections are a lot easier than most people make them out to be and they do have an impact, even if it’s as simple as going out of your way to step up and say ‘hello’.

Yet that’s not really the engagement that is going to be truly scalable and lead to massive growth. I mean that’s an important aspect of it and it definitely helps with what you are doing but it’s not as simple as that – and this is where it gets interesting. What you need to be focusing on is the engagement you have with people online. Sure the conversion rate is lower, but for strangers, especially strangers in positions of power or people who have the option to make decisions about your bands future than being the kind of band who have very heavy online engagement is going to possibly be even more important than your in-person engagement. That is to say, there are so many good local bands out there who can play to a hundred people in their home town but who have less than a thousand Facebook fans and no regional pull. This is almost purely because they aren’t engaging with their music community on a larger level in a way that is nowadays really only feasible via the internet and social media.


Now there are two ways that social media engagement works. The first is the more obvious one, this is engaging within your own channels and is the first step. This is being the guy who responds meaningfully to every comment and who is creating content that other people want to interact with. This is being the guy sharing stuff about their bands in a meaningful way. A lot of bands struggle to do this and it’s why you need to be able to sit down and put out a content calendar and put together all sorts of fun auxiliary products, some of which might not even be band related. The people who are more advanced in the world of interacting with their direct fans might even take the time to DM these people personally and become true friends with them. These are the people who not only claim that they don’t take fans for granted but who actually make a point to go out and act upon it, making fans feel loved.


Then there’s the way you can do it if you really want to grow – and that’s actively going out and engaging with other accounts. This is the one no one wants to do. This is the one that’s the equivalent of going to other shows for bands in the scene to yknow show your support. There’s a reason the bands who just stay at home when they aren’t playing shows don’t get anywhere and why the bands who make an effort to go out and see their friends tend to gain more fans – because people see that you’re invested. Well, human psychology has a tendency to stay fairly consistent no matter the circumstances. In this particular situation, going out and making a point of commenting on other peoples shit is what will start to get you serious visibility and distribution. Smart people go to cool shows because they want to be seen and make cool connections, well smart social media users do the same for other bands accounts. In some ways, you are almost latching onto their distribution channels.

Long story short, engage, engage and engage some more. Making a point of doing this all day is going to be crucial if you want to make a name for yourself in this industry and if you want other people to respect you. The thing is that no one else can do this for you and no one else is going to make it easy for you. You need to be out there doing it on a personal and humble level. You need to be out there making peoples lives easier and showing that you are willing to care your face off, not just about your band but about the scene as a whole. That’s a lot of work and requires you to take the focus off yourself. That fucking sucks. Deal with it, you’re a big kid.


Matt Bacon is a consultant, A&R man, and journalist specializing in the world of heavy metal. Having worked with everyone from Glam Rock icon Phil Collen of Def Leppard, to post Black Metal titans Alcest, by way of legendary thrashers Exhorder as well as labels including Prophecy Productions and Ripple Music, he has dedicated his life to helping young bands develop. Having started his own blog at the age of 14 he views his career in artist development as ‘a hobby that got out of hand’. In 2015 he formed Dropout Media in order to better support the artists he loves. We sit here now, years later with countless tours booked, records released and deals signed, and loving every minute of it.


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