Danny Bowes is lead singer and manager of Thunder, a 70’s influenced, blues-based rock band. The band has been making music for 28 years, reaching the top ten with four albums during that time. As a band with an audience that gets older as they do, it's somewhat surprising that their most recent album reached number three in the charts. From his London office, Danny Bowes reveals the secret to Thunder's long-term success.
Recently Thunder toured Australia with their newest Album 'Rip It Up'. They love performing live and according to Danny, “the audiences in Australia were amazing!” The band is playing in a variety of festivals across Europe this summer to spread the word about their music and 'Rip It Up'. Tickets for Thunder’s up coming gigs can be found here: http://www.thunderonline.com/www/gigs.
Formed in 1989, Thunder was quick to start collecting data about potential fans. Based on the names used in the pen-pal section of rock magazines, the band gathered data of people who were into their sort of music.
“This was back when people included their addresses in their pen-pal ads, so over a period of about 2 years”, Danny explains, “we gathered about 25,000 names, not interested in our band what-so-ever, but basically we gathered all those names to give ourselves a start… And it worked really, really well.”
Thunder’s audience has more or less remained the same over the 28 years because of the great relationship they have with their fans. But, in some ways the audience is very different today.
“Because we have loyalty from fans, they tend to bring their younger family with them, so we sometimes get two or three generations at our gigs - it’s bizarre. I mean, some people are bringing little kids with them. And these kids are growing up on Thunder’s music… so our audience is everyone.”
Back in the 90s, Thunder offered an after-show experience to their fan club. However, as they grew in popularity and with the onset of the Internet and social media, Thunder changed their tactics. They collected details electronically of fans who wanted to be entered into a random ballot for the after-show experience so more people could have the chance to meet them.
“By doing this we discovered that we had an audience who was very loyal, very keen to join the ballot every time”.
In light of this, Bowes sought and succeeded to maintain this loyalty throughout Thunder’s career. More recently, this ballot has started being used alongside a VIP package that offers fans even more privileges.
“The VIP ticket gets them one of the best seats in the house.” Bowes discloses, “We offer them access to the sound check … and guaranteed entry into the after-show.”
These VIP packages are managed by Ticket Zone and when asked why they use this company and not the same ticket companies who distribute the regular tickets, Danny exclaims:
“I wouldn’t trust the ticket companies to sit the right way round on the toilet when it comes to VIPs... I made a big emphasis [to Ticket Zone] that they needed to be treated like VIPs… and as far as I’m concerned they did a pretty good job.”
"When a customer has an issue, they need to feel that the person at the end of the phone cares. The bigger ticket agencies can be a bit faceless. TicketZone dealt with our fans really well, brought some issues to our attention, and worked with both the fan and the band to ensure a good outcome. Perfect!"
So, how has Thunder managed to keep so many loyal fans for nearly three decades? In the words of Danny Bowes, “Look after your audience.” So treat your VIPs like VIPs with worthwhile privileges and first-rate customer service.
(Photos: Marty Moffatt)