Understanding how to hustle a variety of outlets to promote your show can truly make the difference between performing on a sold-out stage or singing to a bunch of empty chairs (aside from your parents, of course). And believe it or not, you don’t need a huge, major-label budget to sell out gigs — you just need a strategy, some marketing tools, and a few time-tested tactics.
Without any further ado, Here are seven practical and effective ways to promote your next live show.
1. Don’t skimp on design
The phrase “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” was coined way before the digital age. Considering the crazy amount of flyers we see on the internet and on the streets of major cities today, first glances of the visual promo for your show do matter.
Working with a graphic artist who understands the laws of design, your music, and your vision is essential for your brand — you wouldn’t want a desired audience to ignore your flyer because it looks unprofessional and unappealing, right? You also wouldn’t want to falsely advertise the vibe of your event by having a flyer that aesthetically misrepresents your band, brand, or the party vibe.
Spending extra dough on a legit graphic artist will pay for itself in the long run and aid in representing your act in the most positive and accurate way possible — and don’t forget to always get a second opinion.
Check out the sleek design AWAL artist Bruno Major used to promote his live tour last fall.
2. Create a Facebook Event
Tons of millennials and Gen-Z-ers use Facebook today purely for the Events calendar. The benefit of being able to see what events your peers are attending without personally asking them is an intrinsic value of the “anti-social” social-media age in which we currently live, so take advantage of it.
“Promotion is key, and there are plenty of online tools out there ready to assist. A central Facebook Event page is essential; anyone connected with the gig can post content and invite people” — Alex Kerr-Wilson, Music Promoter at Discovery Talent and owner of O-Mix
On Facebook, you can attach a ticket link to your Event page, allow guests to invite friends, and give permission for invitees to post on the Event wall about how excited they are to see your show. Facebook even reminds people on the RSVP list about these Events free of charge. It may be the easiest, most direct way to update Event potential guests about ticket sales, venue changes, or other important details your audience needs to know.
Lastly, if a lot of people RSVP, the Event may show up in Facebook’s “Popular Events in the Area” section, which is basically striking gold, as it’s free advertising and a way to accumulate even more organic RSVPs.
Kobalt/AWAL artists the Wombats made sure to set up Facebook Events for each of their January shows.
3. Invest in yourself
If you invest some cash into sponsored, unique, targeted ads for your show’s Facebook Event page, a flyer on Instagram, or even a tweet (or all three), chances are that people will become more familiar with your name, and, in turn, your music. Increasing visibility is a no-brainer and standard practice in advertising.
The engagement numbers you pull digitally will be essential in the future when selling yourself to a larger promoter who wants to make sure you have a vigilant and engaged internet follower base, so don’t be afraid to put some money behind your promotional tactics (and that amazing flyer you worked so hard on with a designer).
4. Onboard a partner
If you have a relationship with an event promoter in your city, a blog/publication, an alcohol company, or with anyone you consider an “influencer,” it would be foolish not to utilize that as a partnership resource for your show.
Teaming up with a notable organization, influencer, or a local business could help “legitimize” you as an artist, considering you’d have a stamp of approval from an authority people already trust. If it’s a company, the partner will likely appreciate the free advertising for putting their logo on your flyer, and they may even have an e-newsletter to blast out details about the show to their audience at no cost to you — win!
Partnering with others is a mutually beneficial step to getting both of your names out there as much as possible pre-show as long as that partner is representative of your values and needs as an artist and vice versa. Do some research, and see who'd be a good fit.
5. Take care of your audience
Sending personal invitations and rewarding those who attend your show goes a long way these days. As mentioned earlier, social media easily allows us to share Events with hundreds of people at a time, but simply inviting everyone in your area on Facebook can seem very impersonal, and these invites often get ignored — especially by those who live in major cities and get dozens each week.
You want prospective attendees to feel valued and appreciated. If you take the time to send personalized invitations to VIPs or offer free song downloads or stickers to those who buy a ticket or provide their email address, people will notice.
Consider doing a giveaway on social media, and/or simply saying thank you during and after your show to those who came out. This can help you not only drive more people to your show, but more importantly, help you develop lifelong fans.
6. Use a professional ticketing platform
While selling tickets via your artist website or cash only at the door may be reliable sales methods, using a professional ticketing platform could prove to be even better. For example, if you have a large following on Spotify, Ticketmaster may be an awesome outlet to explore, since it can actually integrate your concert listings on its site directly onto your Spotify artist page, the Recommended Concerts feature, and in daily/weekly email blasts.
AWAL Artist VÉRITÉ made sure to list her upcoming concerts via Ticketmaster on her Spotify profile easy access to ticket purchases.
Many ticketing platforms send out regular email blasts outlining events trending in your audience’s area or what events users may be interested in based on their ticket-purchase history. Some ticketing platforms even encourage you to track audience data, which can be extremely helpful in learning who your audience is and predicting who to target ads to in the future.
7. Shout out and tag everyone
Before your live show, saying thanks in advance to anybody isn’t just polite but can actually really help the turnout of your show. For example, if you’ll be using Funktion-One audio during the performance, tweet about it ahead of time to let your audience know, and tag the brand. You might get a reply out of it, or even a retweet, which not only will get you more free advertising but also helps you establish a relationship with a brand that you may end up partnering with later on — double win!
The same goes for other people playing in your band, the venue, lighting/visual companies, and anyone else associated with the show that you can think of. Support those who support you!
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