Over the past decade, the Portland-based band Portugal The Man has played over 1,600 live shows all across the globe. They’ve also celebrated an RIAA-certified gold album, Woodstock, and a GRAMMY award for their single, “Feel It Still,” which hung out as the #1 track on alternative radio for a mind-blowing 20 weeks.
The band’s members—John Gourley, Zach Carothers, Kyle O’Quin, Eric Howk, Jason Sechrist, and Zoe Manville—are rock stars, to say the least. But the refreshing thing is, they don’t act like it. Instead, the band has made it their longstanding practice to treat their fans like friends, and to go out of their way to keep their community top of mind with everything they do.
This sense of commitment to community is exactly why Portugal The Man used Rally to launch $PTM, their Coin, back in December of 2020. In just a handful of months, they’ve leveraged Rally to bring their core fans even deeper into the fold, using a private Discord channel to offer up perks like archival access, music lessons, and intimate watch parties to Coin holders. And, they have even bigger plans in the works.
Below, we spoke to Rich Holtzman, PTM’s manager, to find out exactly how the band has nurtured their community over the years, and how they’re building on this legacy with their very own Coin.
So, you’re the manager of Portugal The Man. What does your job entail?
As manager, I act as CEO for the band's enterprise, for their touring, for their records, and for their outside endeavors (if there's a creative element to it). Ultimately, it's my job to make sure that they function both as a band, and as a business.
What's been PTM's approach to community engagement over the years? It’s inspiring to see how active and enthusiastic your community is, on social media and beyond.
Since the band's incarnation, they've been very progressive on social platforms. We were on Facebook before it was open to the public, back when you needed a .edu email address to sign up. We were also one of the first bands on Twitter and YouTube. So, we've always been early adopters.
From the beginning, we liked that real community connection that social media provided us with. We never looked at it as an opportunity to promote or hype ourselves; we always looked at it from a connection angle, like, "These people are into the same things that we’re into. So, let's get to know them." Early on, it was a way to meet people after shows and hang out. And that still happens now. The band’s done over 1,600 shows at this point, and they've always been very open, like, "You can't pay for a meet and greet, but you can come find us. We're probably in the alley back there, or at the bar around the corner. So just come and hang out with us."
The band's been around for quite a while at this point, but still, fans that we've met 16 years ago come to the shows. The difference is that now, they're our friends. Sometimes we’ll meet them for dinner before a show, or sometimes we invite them to something we're going to. Over the years, the relationships we’ve built have been incredible.