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IHM #fromtheroad Interviews Vol 2: von Grey

Posted By : IHM, Posted On : November 17, 2013

#fromtheroad is an interview series featuring indiehitmaker artists. In this edition, we talk to Atlanta’s own von Grey, a past IHM artist who hit road this summer for an ambitious touring schedule. About 6 weeks non-stop, the tour included a set at The Gathering of The Vibes and ended in Colorado with a couple of shows opening for the Indigo Girls that ultimately led von Grey to debut on Billboard Heatseekers Mountain Chart at #3. The four sisters Annika, Fiona, Kathryn and Petra talk about what it’s like to be on a national tour and how a great live show can build a fan base, put cash in your pocket and get you on the Billboard Charts.

IHM #fromtheroad: Vol 2 - von Grey

1. What was your best and worst moment on the road?


It is impossible to find a best moment because each show brings something special. The worst two moments were having all of our electronic gear and some instruments stolen on the first night of the tour and a wheel literally falling off of our van in the middle of Kansas, again at the beginning of a tour.


2.You sold 10x as many records the last few shows compared to earlier in the tour, including two nights where you sold over 100 records. What do you think made the difference?


The only real difference was the size of the audience. People are always very gracious and kind to us after hearing our music, meaning that our conversion rate stays pretty constant. Playing in front of more people always results in more sales, as well as a fun and energetic show!


3. How did you grow as a band from the first show to the last show?


We were pretty prepared musically and performance wise when we first left for this short tour run. The main change was the fact that we had to deal with some logistical adversity and learn how to cope with that in a calm and constructive way.

(Photo courtesy L. Corbs Photography)

4. How was the venue reporting experience and working with indiehitmaker?


Indiehitmaker made it easy and possible to track and report our sales in a meaningful way, something we have not had access to before.


5. What percentage of your tour gross came from music and merchandise sales?


About a third of our touring revenue comes from music/merch sales.  Venue/gig income for our band is still widely variable. We have those higher paying shows that help underwrite the opportunities that don’t bring much revenue.


6. Talk about the growth of the live show over the period of the tour – what ideas did you implement, and how did they work? What did you discover on your own?


Our show didn’t change monumentally through the tour. We did work on writing some new songs before the tour and incorporated that new material into the set. They seemed to go over well.  Other than that, the greatest variability between shows is really how one adapts a show for the venue and audience. There are shows where you talk more and shows where the vibe and audience aren’t interested in what we say, they just want the music. Reading that before the show is pretty easy and is usually venue driven.

7. What were you doing in the shows where you especially clicked with the audience? Did you find that your sales were higher on those nights?  


We’ve been touring for quite a while now, and have played hundreds of shows. We try to grow and learn as we go, but our shows are pretty consistent these days! There are two outside factors that really affect our shows: A) audience size, B) the capabilities of the venue’s sound system, and C) the venue’s vibe. You’re going to play a different show at a festival than you would do in a Performing Arts Center or Music centric venue. And a listening room or acoustic venue brings with it again something different. That’s part of the fun of doing live shows. Each gig brings something unique.


8. You’ve had a lot of high profile gigs and exposure (Live on Conan, ABC’s “The Vinyerds” sync licensing, Bonaroo, SXSW, HGTV & Paste Magazines showcase, etc.) – are you seeing an impact in your fan base growth, sales and show attendance?


Each of those opportunities opens up doors for us, which results in better bookings, opening slot opportunities, and sales! Perhaps there exists a situation of that “one big breaking moment,” but in general we find fan growth, sales and show attendance happens most with our touring. When we’re on the road, our numbers and sales grow. If we can do repeat visits to a city, the show attendance increases with each visit. Although somewhat slower than one might like, such growth is organic and genuine. The incredible opportunities we’ve had help, but it’s really getting out there and playing the shows that brings in the numbers.

9. Who typically sells the merch at your live shows?


The four band members all go to the merch table immediately following their set and help out. We usually have a designated money handler, and the rest of us deal with chatty listeners who want to talk! It doesn’t always work, but it helps prevent the line from getting too held up.


10. Do you do have meet and greets, sign merch, etc. at shows?


We don’t arrange any special meet & greets. We’re still a new band and frequently playing in new cities or where we don’t have an established following. We do, however, always go out and talk to people after we perform and sign whatever it is that people want us to sign!  Hopefully there will come a time when pre-show meet and greets make sense.


11. What are the top 3 most important lessons you’ve learned on the road?  


1)Be appreciative and give everything you have to the people who come out to hear you play.


2) If you arrive organized, conduct yourself professionally, and are accommodating, the venue, sound engineers, and promoters will give back in kind.


3) Enjoy when everything runs smoothly, but expect the unexpected so you can deal with whatever comes your way and still keep it fun.  


12. How did you approach opening for the Indigo Girls differently from the smaller shows? What worked and what didn’t in your stage show?


We try to put on an energetic, heart-felt show regardless of the venue and audience size. We pretty much stuck to the set list & performance that we have been using for quite a while, and people seemed to really respond! We’re grateful to have had that opportunity. The Indigo Girls have amazing fans.


13. Where were you when you found out you hit the billboard charts from the Indigo Girls shows? How’d that make you feel, what did you do to leverage the success?

We were driving home from Colorado and received the news via email. We were extremely excited. The shows were rewarding on their own, but hearing the news really amplified our feelings of success & thankfulness. We are truly grateful for the support of the people who have heard & who appreciate what we do!



Check out von Grey’s official website and Facebook page for future tour information.


Join the indiehitmakermailing list and receive more tips on funding tours and getting the most from the road. Have a question, comment or feedback? Tweet us @indiehitmaker #RoadTips, like us on Facebook, orcontact us online.



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