Promoting VAMPS is tough business. Tough, but rewarding and is actually quite fun at times, though one can definitely do without the blisters you get on your feet from walking around town posting fliers – ha,ha! Just kidding.
Anyway, those of us who have been following VAMPS for a while know how talented they are, how amazing they are live, and many of us know full-well that VAMPS are extremely famous musicians that almost no one has ever heard of. What do I mean by that? I mean that outside of our “sphere” of Japanese Rock music, no one – and I mean almost no one has ever heard of VAMPS. I know VAMPS don’t consider themselves to be strictly Japanese Rock and I am aware of how they have come to transcend the label, but they were initially J-Rock, and many of us came to know VAMPS via listening to J-Rock/J-Pop music. I don’t speak for everyone, of course, but it has been the general trend for many years.
In any event, back to my original point! In the United States, the music business is cut-throat and it’s extremely difficult to be successful here, especially since the music business is a saturated market that is constantly evolving. Meaning, there is a lot of competition amongst artists for one thing, and then popular/mainstream music bounces from genre to genre – one minute hip-hop/r&b is all the rage, the next is pop or alternative music (just as an example).
I look at artists like Taylor Swift & Justin Beiber (go on an roll your eyes, you know you want to – ha, ha!), and while I’m sure their “PR” people and management do wonders, their success still boils down to music. I look at the kind of music they create and while I may be biased and my opinion is exactly that – an opinion – I believe VAMPS are just as creative, if not more so, and the music they create is just as good (or better, in my humble opinion). So what’s the effing problem!? Why does “Shark Cat” on YouTube have 10000000x more video views than all of VAMPS’ videos combined!? Ok, don’t quote me on statistics and the aforementioned example is just an exaggeration, but hopefully you understand my point.
There must be something missing in this equation. Some factor or variable as to why VAMPS have seen such low concert ticket sales and by extension, have yet to break into the American music market. I have thought about this for many years now and quite frankly, without any insight into VAMPS’ activities behind the scenes, I can’t come up with a clear answer. I have come to realize with the little information & insight I do have, is that there really is no one, specific answer as to why VAMPS have met with little success here. And this is why it is difficult as a non-music business professional (but a “professional fan”), to promote them and help make their shows a success here in the United States.
It is no secret that ticket sales have been in decline for the last few tours they have done here in the U.S.. It is a sad reality that ticket sales are no longer booming, as they once had during the hey-day of HYDE’s 2006 “FAITH TOUR” in the U.S.. Furthermore, based on the results of a survey I recently posted, along with my experience in promoting VAMPS, there are several reasons for this, all of which ultimately boil down to the following (in no specific order):
2. Lack of notification
Let’s go over these, shall we? “Time” refers to the fact that VAMPS’ concerts have been scheduled during the week, sometimes on Mondays or right smack during the middle of the week, at least for the last few tours they’ve done in the U.S.. I’ve discussed this with friends and we’ve theorized that this is largely due to the fact that it is cheaper for VAMPS to rent out venues during the week, rather than on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. Another factor, of course, is perhaps these days are most convenient for VAMPS’ overall tour schedule, especially since transportation time from city to city needs to be taken into account.
Planning a tour is certainly difficult – no doubt – and I am definitely not an expert in that regards. However, VAMPS’ target audience is roughtly between the ages of 18-35 years old, male & female. Given the demographic, these people are also most likely in school, working, or are doing both simultaneously. So, having concerts during the week, while cost-effective for VAMPS, is not conveninent for VAMPS’ target audience. I mean, when you’re an adult and have to “adult,” getting time off from work isn’t always possible. Sure, many hardcore VAMPS fans will plan ahead and schedule vacation time around VAMPS concerts, but without sufficient notice, that just isn’t possible, at all.
This brings me to my next points, lack of notification & money. For some odd reason, VAMPS have developed an annoying habit of notifying fans of their upcoming tours approximately a month – sometimes even mere weeks – before the tour starts, and days before the tickets actually go on sale. I have noticed this trend since VAMPS’ merge with Universal, but this isn’t to lay blame on anyone, I’m just stating an observation. Back in the day when VAMPS were still on their own label, VAMPROSE, fans would be told at least 3 months before a concert and a week before the tickets actually went on sale. This gave fans plenty of time to make hotel arrangements, schedule vacation time from work, etc., which overall helped increase the number of those in attendance at VAMPS’ shows.
Then there’s the money aspect. You know, time = money and when it comes to making arrangements to travel to a concert, it is most certainly true. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that aside from the ticket fees (which are relatively reasonable as they are), fans who travel to VAMPS’ shows need to fork up funds for travel & hotel accomodations. Anyone who has ever traveled can tell you that the futher in advance you book your flight & hotel, the less expensive it is. So it’s somewhat surprising to me, that VAMPS have begun announcing their tours only a month or two in advance, knowing that fans will need to make travel accomodations. Why they do this? I honestly don’t know.
Also, just for the record, I refer to “VAMPS” in this article, but I am not referring to the band members themselves, but rather their collective management and those responsible for making decisions on behalf of the band members. I just want to state this in order to make it clear that I am not judging, or in any way blaming the band members.
Anywho, let’s continue. So, I suppose you’re wondering by now what the point of this article is and why I keep going on and on about factors and whatnot. Well, as I previously mentioned, VAMPS are talented and undoubtedly so. What’s more is that they do have a real shot at making it here, but while there are numerous obstacles and helping them to succeed despite significant challenges will be very difficult. However, I don’t think it’s impossible and with our help, I think VAMPS can – at the very least – have more successful shows with increased attendance.
In order to achieve this, we need to first look at the obstacles we currently face (again, in no specific order):
1. Limited time frame for promotion
2. Lack of official promotion & promotional materials (including official graphics)
3. Decrease in popularity of J-Rock*
4. Lack of sufficient information pertaining to tours (i.e. whether or not VIP tickets will be available & if so, what VIP tickets entail)
5. Posting fliers in L.A. is illegal (see here)
6. Concerts taking place on inconvenient weekdays
*NOTE: I am aware VAMPS don’t consider themselves as “J-Rock” musicians, but many regard them as being in the realm of J-Rock, especially here in the United States where their own official promotion advertises the fact that they are from Japan.
These are just some obstacles one faces when promoting VAMPS. I’m sure there are others, but I can’t think of any other significant obstacles at the moment. For all of the obstacles listed, when you really look at them, there really isn’t anything we as individual fans can do about them. They are what they are and so, we just have to deal with it. However that’s not very encouraging, is it? Especially since many of these obstacles seem formidable. How could we work around these serious challenges? Will the solutions be enough?
The answer to the first question is simple: social media. Of course, it is much, much easier said than done, but generating a buzz can provide the energy we need in promoting VAMPS’ music. Social media is certainly a very powerful tool and can really help target new potential VAMPS fans. Furthermore, social media is a cheap, easy way to provide information regarding upcoming tours, etc. How can we use social media to help increase sales? Well, the answer to that isn’t quite so simple. The term “viral” refers to a video/image/graphic that has generated hundreds – if not thousands – of shares (on Facebook), re-tweets (on Twitter), or views (on YouTube), and once something has gone “viral,” then it generates more interest regarding the subject, which generates more attention. If this is a product or something concerning music, then more views can lead to more exposure for the product or artist, which can lead to increased sales – whether it be record, product, or concert ticket sales.
To put it simply, I look it at like like an equation:
Video/image/graphic + high number of views/shares/re-tweets (usually around some % of the number of followers there are) + rapid rate of views/shares/re-tweets = “Virality” (the number of times viewed, shared, re-tweeted, etc. at a rapid rate) = exposure = more interest = increased album/ticket/product sales
Or something like that. 😉 Now, what can we do to help increase the “virality” of VAMPS? There are many ways, including – but certainly not limited to – (1) posting their videos on your own personal social media pages/accounts, (2) re-tweeting or re-sharing information regarding their music/concerts on aforementioned social media pages/accounts, (3) viewing their videos on their official YouTube/Vevo account to increase views (high number of views increase the odds of their videos showing up first when searches are conducted on YouTube), (4) subscribing to their official YouTube/Vevo channel in order to increase the number of subscriptions for the same reason – so their results can be displayed on top, etc..
Feel free to be creative and use your imagination to help VAMPS become viral, which can help increase their social media presence. It takes time and again, it’s not always easy, but it is possible. Also, talking about VAMPS with other potential fans and introducing them to new people is also another way to generate more interest. Of course, this idea isn’t new and you may already be doing this, but I would like to stress that “word-of-mouth”, that is openly discussing VAMPS and their music with others, is still an effective tool to use. The same goes for promoting their concerts, telling your friends, who might otherwise be unaware, of their upcoming concert is a good way to help increase VAMPS concert attendance.
Now, will these solutions be sufficient? To put it bluntly, no. VAMPS will still need to address, at the very least, the issues of not providing sufficient time to promote their shows and allow fans enough time to prepare to travel (if need be). I think we can collectively address this issue by posting on VAMPS’ official social media accounts (in a respectful manner – rudeness goes ignored!) the fact that if they can give us at least 3 months notice, then that is sufficient time for us to gather the funds necessary, make the necessary preparations, and get the word out on all corners of the Internet about their upcoming shows. What’s more is that we also require CLEAR and CONCISE information, which includes the following: date of the show, time, location, various ticket options & what they entail, when tickets can be purchased, prices of ALL ticket options, and where tickets can be purchased. Other details regarding any contests can come later, but this is the basic information we need to not only prepare ourselves the show, but to promote them. I mean, how can we possibly promote shows when we don’t even know the basic information? I can’t speak for other countries, but here in the U.S., most fans WILL NOT purchase tickets unless all details are made available immediately. And when you’re trying to encourage others to attend the shows and they ask questions that you can’t answer because the basic information isn’t available, then it reflects poorly on the band and makes them look unprofessional. So, if we can communicate these issues, it is my hope that VAMPS will consider changing how things are done.
In conclusion, promoting VAMPS is not an easy task. But with a little patience, persevereance, and determination, I think we can accomplish great things and help make their shows more successful, which would no doubt not only inspire them to keep coming back to the U.S., but encourage them to tour other parts of the country. And maybe, someday, we’ll see VAMPS outsell Justin Beiber & Taylor Swift. Wishful thinking, perhaps. But you never know. Let’s rise up in revolution, BLOODSUCKERS! 😀