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Lessons From The Alt Rock Road

January 18, 2022

Building a successful career as an alternative rock band is, frankly, one of the most difficult missions in music. It's a (relatively) niche genre and a collaborative effort that requires everybody in the band buy in to make the dream work.

But indie and alt rock fans are diehard, and when you build a loyal following, they tend to support you for as long as you want to keep making music. They may not be dominating charts or trending on TikTok like pop and hip hop (and Disney soundtracks, apparently), but alternative rock bands have the ability to build strong connections with core fans that help sustain them through all of their creative musings.

And that's exactly what Los Angeles-based four-piece Animal Sun is doing. Journalist and publicist Tiffany Frybarger joined the band on their first national tours, the Dream City and Neon City tours that saw the band perform their debut album Echoes of a Dream (released June 2021) for the first time. 

Frybarger reached out to RootNote to share some of what she saw and learned while touring with the group. Read her piece below and learn more about Animal Sun's sophomore album campaign here

Animals Escape The Zoo

By Tiffany Frybarger

From the outside looking in, California may seem like a coastal land of dreams. But to a band that lives there — during a pandemic and unable to play shows — it felt more like being confined to their nightmares. Political and social issues, lots of people in small areas, all combined with the stresses of the music industry flipping script overnight. It's no wonder Animal Sun compared it to being caged in a zoo.

Going out on the road for a first national tour is exciting to any band, but in Animal Sun's case it was also an escape and a chance to focus on playing live music again. I had the pleasure of joining Animal Sun on the road to experience the fun times, late nights, long drives, and smiling fans. But with the good comes the bad, and we had our share of stresses along the way.

While traveling through different cities for over a month, I saw the band members grow closer and build more trust. The band also gained fans in every city thanks to engaging with new fans by taking pictures on the stage, chatting at the merch table, and of course putting on an energetic show. They also got to see firsthand how marketing plays such an important role: several fans told them they came to the show because they saw an Animal Sun ad on social media.

No matter how much fun a tour is, it still brings stress and hard times.  For instance, there were nights Animal Sun didn't get paid; and as you can imagine, that's frustrating and difficult. Bands rely on payments from shows to have gas to get the next city and food for the next day. And with those stresses, depression and anxiety often kicks in — like it did for one member of the band.

The concern of money combined with the worry of how many fans would show up ran rampant in his mind in the hours leading up to doors opening. But he as soon as the show started, he overcame those thoughts, had fun, and put on an energetic set for the crowd.

Even though plenty of fun happens along the way, being out on the road for weeks at a time is a struggle. Every show a venue takes on is a money risk for them because they have to pay a sound person and employees without knowing how many people will show up and how much money they will make. Bands often get a "door split" deal after a specified amount is made. The more fans that buy a ticket, the more the band will make at the end of the night. Between this and merch sales, the fans are really what keeps a band moving to the next city. 

With this tour, Animal Sun set out to expand their established fan bases in each city. The goal was to get as many new eyes and ears on the band outside of social media.

Their fans did an amazing job supporting them along the way. The tour helped drum up excitement for Animal Sun's new Indiegogo campaign, where fans have the opportunity to help the band record and distribute their next album — and tour — again. 

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