Richie Prynne, a young street performer (also known as a busker), formed the British Blues-Americana band CC Smugglers in his early twenties. He knew it was hard to make it as a band these days, and that they’d have to get creative with their marketing to really stand out.
Their big idea? ‘Guerrilla Busking.’ They’d pop up and play to queuing crowds waiting to go into similar shows. The long list of targets included the fans of SeaSick Steve, Old Crow Medicine Show, The Devil Makes Three, Jools Holland and more. And it seemed to be working. Crowds would congregate to listen to them play, and then they’d tell their friends about it. The strategy instantly became fundamental to their innovative brand promotion.
In 2013, their journey took a turn as they decided to create careers as touring stage performers. In their usual innovative fashion, they used their well-rehearsed approach of ‘guerrilla busking’ to create a media splash and reach more fans than ever before.
A few months ago, Richie reached out to me and asked if he could have a copy of the DIY Brand Story Workbook. They needed to work on their narrative marketing, he said. The golden nugget he took away from the guide was the value of truly connecting with your audience and putting the fans and their needs above the band’s.
Cue their most daring ‘Guerrilla Busking’ mission to date, the eventual success of which would elevate them to national recognition. The stunt was picked up and reported by The Sunday Times and triggered a series of events that saw them eventually touring across the world.
The aim of that mission was simple: Busk their way on stage with two-time Grammy award-winning Nashville band ‘Old Crow Medicine Show’. How? Follow them to every date of their UK tour busking to their audiences on the streets and sleeping in a small van in the freezing depths of British winter in the hopes of earning the band’s respect and eventually getting invited on stage. The whole thing was filmed for a self-made documentary that never got released.
Now, on the brink of their first official debut album, they are releasing that documentary footage as a part of a new docu-series that documents and compares their struggles to forge careers in the music industry then and now. The new album is set to release in Spring 2019 and is being produced with the help of their fanbase.
CC Smugglers started off as young British street performers. Over the years, their infamously engaging live performances and innovative brand of self-promotion saw them take the show on to stages and audiences across the world. Listen to the show to be inspired to create your own version of guerrilla busking for your brand.
In This Episode, You’ll Learn
- What is Guerrilla busking, and how your business can use a similar marketing strategy
- How Guerrilla busking helped CC Smugglers take their show to stages and audiences across the world
- How narrative impacts the songs CC Smugglers write
“You’ve got to be empathetic to your fans and put yourself in their shoes.” —Richie Prynne
“If you can give the fans what they want, then you’ve made a connection. And that connection can last for years.” —Richie Prynne
“Often times, our creativity will get in the way of our message if we don’t first intentionally tell a story.” —Park Howell
“If you’re not providing something to the fans, why would they stick around?” —Richie Prynne
“There are loads of different ways of solving a problem.” —Richie Prynne
Mentioned in this Episode
- CC Smugglers’ crowdfunding project
- CC Smugglers
- “Chancing in the Street”, The Sunday Times
- ‘Standing On The Street’ Documentary Trailer
- ‘Then & Now’ Docuseries Trailer