, Chris Allen posted a thread which
asked: 'how did you discover Big Big Train?'
There were enough responses (150 or so individual ones) for
some themes to emerge which I thought were worth some analysis and
some brief comments.
The first thing of interest was the wide diversity of
different channels for finding out about music. There were more
than 20 different routes to finding out about BBT.
Five main routes stood out from the others. These were:
- Personal recommendations from friends or family (16%)
- Prog and Classic Rock covermount CD's (12%)
- Links to other bands (12%)
- Internet radio shows (12%)
- Prog rock websites (11%)
Other popular routes were Spotify (6%) and iTunes and Amazon
recommendations (each at 3%). Our own downloads (particularly the
23 minute freebie of The Underfall Yard) and the Progstreaming
website also received a few mentions.
Surprisingly, some of the best-known social media platforms
(Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) were hardly mentioned and Soundcloud
and Last FM received only one mention each.
It was interesting that old-fashioned 'word-of-mouth' is still
the most important factor. Word-of-mouth has been facilitated by
new technology (eg the ability to easily share music and
information and by social-networking), so it may be that there is
some crossover between these things.
One listener mentioned that his GP had recommended our music
which was intriguing. ('Doctor, Doctor, I'm poorly what can you
give me?' 'I am prescribing you a dose of progressive
Internet radio was a popular route, so hats-off to those who
put their shows and podcasts together and get them online. I
suspect that these shows take a great deal of time and trouble to
produce and it is pleasing to see that they result in increased
music appreciation. The recent increase in progressive rock on
digital radio shows will also surely have an impact.
Big Big Train has a lot of links with other bands through its
members and through past associations (eg XTC, Spock's Beard,
Anthony Phillips, Genesis, Frost) and some of these links have
clearly been influential (one listener described it as 'following
the breadcrumbs'). So, for bands thinking of inviting higher
profile guest musicians, it may be a good idea to follow this
Distribution of music through covermount CD's on Prog, Classic
Rock and the Classic Rock Society also appears to pay significant
dividends (although, as with all of these routes, the material
being distributed has to be of good quality.)
Amongst the listeners who have been following us since earlier
days, Cyclops mail-order received several mentions. Malcolm Parker
and Cyclops / GFT clearly played quite a part in sustaining an
interest in progressive rock before the internet really took
Finally, one person did mention seeing BBT live back in the
90's in the Netherlands. I'm a bit sceptical about whether live
performances actually create many new listeners as I suspect they
are more about playing to the already converted. However, the
promotional effort around live shows must also be of benefit. This
will be interesting for BBT as we go forward.