If there is a single topic that causes musicians around the world stress, it must be the simple question: “How can I make sure my next show is sold out?”. The question is simple, but unfortunately, the question is rarely straightforward.
It’s probably one of the hottest debates for musicians around the world and one that has me troubled for years. It SEEMS as if success in drawing an audience is solely related to the audience’s will – that those really willing to see your show will come. But that’s not entirely true.
It’s a Gordian Knot of a problem, and what I love is the process involved in solve it.
Normally this means:
- stop staring at the problem avoiding taking action to solve it,
- stop worrying about possible failure, primarily facing an empty venue even after all your hard work,
- stop thinking it’s something out of your control.
Before going deeper, ask yourself 3 questions;
- What did you actually do the last time you had a gig to bring an audience? Can you break it down into simple steps (eg. printed flyers > made a video and posted online > made an ad and posted on Facebook)?
- How many band mates were actively involved and how many man-hours were put in, in total, to promote your event (eg. if everyone spent 1 hr / day and you are a 5-piece band running for a week ahead of the gig, the total would be: 1x5x7=35hrs)?
- After a failed attempt to draw a crowd did you have a meeting with the band to talk about what went wrong? Did you spend some time to discuss what worked and what didn’t?
The truth is that when you ask most bands these 3 questions, they immediately realize they didn’t do as much as they could to draw a crowd. Most of their time would have been devoted to rehearsing their set and simply expecting the crowd to show up. Or only one band member actively promoted the event, with everyone else leaving it to him or her.
You’ve got to be imaginative – especially if you’re on a limited budget. Let’s face it, when was the last time YOU showed up to a local band’s show JUST because of a random post on Facebook?
From all my years promoting my own events and performing with my band, the audience – people like you and me – are more likely to attend an event if they are properly BUZZED about it. That buzz must come from a variety of sources, give them a REASON to join, and promise a unique EXPERIENCE, not just another show.
You get the BUZZ when;
- they see the event on their Facebook walls,
- they spot pics of you on Instagram holding signs calling them to attend,
- watch a fun, original video you made about it,
- see your posters outside their dorm,
- get handed a flyer at a crowded market,
- recognise your name from street art around your town,
- a friend speaks highly of you and the show you put on.
- the price is right (i.e. affordable),
- they know you personally,
- want to meet you because of the personality projected through your promotion (which should be an indication of your stage persona),
- romantic interest in a band member,
- they like the type of music you play,
- they heard it’s gonna be packed and everyone’s going there,
- they have something to gain,
- your call to action catches their attention.
- a light show,
- costumes and/or makeup,
- photos of people from going crazy with at a previous show,
- photos or videos from other events showing a memorable performance,
- album release or other one-off events,
- adding an element of mystery to the promotion (“All will be revealed on…”).
To sum up; what will make your next event packed in two words that would be: HARD WORK. The way to go is to use the B.R.EX. method (no relation to Brexit): create a Buzz, add Reasons to the mix, and promise a unique Experience. However, as in everything else there’s no single fail-safe recipe. The secret ingredient for success is you, working for YOU.
ps. Thanks to Mandi Millen, editorial manager at GAC for her corrections in grammar and syntax.