"If you ever want someone to go with you to see any of the shows, just let me know. I'd love to go."
I was surprised by the number of women who said this to me once I started talking about Peoria Music Live. They often told me they wanted to go before, but not alone. Or they would say it sounds like fun, but they have never gone.
Honestly, I haven't taken many up on the offer because I've been hopping from one place to the next, trying to familiarize myself with the bands and venues. One weekend, I saw 12 bands in 72 hours. It's not a record I intend to break anytime soon, but it was a lot of fun.
I knew that no amount of "You should just pick a show and go. You don't have to go with me." would get them to one. It wasn't an easy decision for me to start going to shows. I realized that if I was going to pull people off of their couches and out into the local music scene, they were likely going to have to be eased into it.
I started thinking about all the things I would have needed in the past to become involved sooner. I also started asking people what kept them home when there was so much talent on display in the Peoria Area.
I got a lot of answers that I hope to tackle with coming projects. But I already knew when I started asking what I wanted to do first.
Nobody knows better than I do how intimidating going to a new place for the first time can be. When you don't know what to expect, well... you don't know what to expect. Humans like to know what to expect.
That doesn't just go for the venue.
We like to know what the band will sound like.
We want to know their style, whether they sing covers or originals, if they consider themselves part of a certain genre... we want to know if they like their fans or are annoyed by them.
I've learned pretty quickly that most bands love their fans. But people with anxieties about something tend to build up fears in their mind about what others think. Convincing them that the bands love and appreciate them... how do I do that?
That's when the idea for Peoria Music Live Ladies' Night started.
What would it take to get these women who obviously want to go out to participate?
- Controlled environment
- Tour of the venue
- Reserved seating
- Meet and Greet with the band
- Other women to talk to
- An overall great experience
Once someone has been in a venue one time, they know what to expect.
Getting a tour of the venue helps new visitors feel connected to the place. In fact, the guys at Pour Bros did a fantastic job of that the first time I went inside by explaining how their self serve taps work and pointing out the differences in the beers available. It was a short explanation, but it went a long way towards making me comfortable in their space.
Bill Barrett from Persie's in Creve Coeur gave me a tour as well. I instantly felt welcome there and have been back several times.
Reserved seating. When you're trying something new, a "place" of your own is comforting. There won't be any questions about whether or not someone will have to stand. You're not awkwardly looking for a place to hang your purse or coat. You have a space of your own while you are getting used to everything else.
If I want people to support live local music, I need to help show them why they want to be fans of the bands in the area. Making a personal connection with the bands does that. A smile, a handshake, a couple of autographs or a giveaway for a signed CD or t-shirt... creates a bond. One that will hopefully give someone the confidence and motivation to go see that band again in future.
The plan is to host these events monthly, with different venues and different bands each time. We're helping women get out of the house and into a new experience, venue owners the chance to give people a great experience so they will return, and artists the opportunity to make some new fans.
The goal of PML is not to get people out of one venue and into another. Our goal is to get people off their couches and out supporting live music.
Many people have negative things to say about Peoria. Don't listen to them. Peoria is an amazing place with tons of spirit, talent, and opportunity. We should all be supporting Peoria. Supporting the local music scene supports Peoria.
The Peoria music scene deserves more fans.
Peoria deserves more fans.