In my previous article for Muze, we took a dive into the ways independent artists can book more shows, more often. From relationship building with venue managers and fellow artists, to making sure you deliver a complete, organized pitch, the steps are outlined to ensure that you find greater success, as you strive to bring your live show to new audiences.
But… you know what they say about a tree falling in a forest, right? If nobody is around to hear it, does it really make a sound? The final step in that article was to make sure you promote your show once it’s booked, to get people out and ensure that the venue is happy (thus, increasing the likelihood that you will be booked again in the future).
Last time, I promised to come back with ways to make your gig stand out as special, and to make it the place to be in any competitive live music market. That’s what we’ll do here today!
Create Compelling Promotional Content.
We have the most powerful communication tools ever known to humankind at our disposal. That gives us the power to bring our message into the world. The pitfall, of course, is that everyone else has the same tools. To stand out in the digital space, you must create compelling content.
The days are gone where a simple Facebook post saying, “My band has a show from 8-10 tonight. Stop on by!” will be effective (if, in fact, it ever was effective). Create a show flyer that will catch the eye of the casual scroller, and then follow it up with additional branded graphics and fun videos to keep people engaged. Through it all, you should strive to communicate the idea that this isn’t just another gig. This is a special event that you don’t want to miss, featuring a bunch of amazing artists!
Oh, and speaking of other artists…
Co-Promote Alongside The Rest Of The Lineup
The rising tide raises all boats, and we’ll only go as far as strength in numbers will allow. You and your fellow artists on the bill should encourage each other to spread the word about the show – and about each other! Dedicate some of your social media space to highlighting the folks joining you on this night to remember. This will build more buzz for everyone involved – especially if everyone reciprocates!
In addition to helping you find artists to add to your lineup, did you know that Muze can help you automate your social media promotion? Sign up today and explore more!
What About Promoting The Old-Fashioned Way?
Ah, yes. In this age of all-digital everything, we often forget that, sometimes, the most fruitful interactions often still occur in real time. Directly reaching out to friends, fans, colleagues, and even relatives as the event approaches – and letting them know how much it would mean to have them there – will help to keep it at the forefront of their minds. You can also extend the invitation to everyone else you encounter in your daily life, if you’re feeling bold.
Also, there’s still something to be said for the visibility that comes from wallpapering your city and its many local haunts with flyers and promo cards. The bottom line is that guerrilla marketing still has its place, and can be utilized to your heart’s (and budget’s) content!
What About Having A Cool Theme For The event?
Let me tell you a quick story: last Halloween, we (NashLive!) held a spooky season spectacular called The Dark Masquerade at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge (RIP). We had a heavy-hitting musical lineup consisting of stellar alternative and dark pop acts, and some brilliant creatives behind our promo materials. Moreover, it was the event’s special features that made it a can’t-miss affair. We enlisted the help of two of Music City’s most popular drag performers to perform host duties, and we held a costume contest that featured incredible prizes, including a stay at Nashville’s swanky Fairlane Hotel.
(It also probably helped that we had GAYLE on the bill, pretty much immediately before she blew up with this song on TikTok.)
In the end, we hit our maximum number of costume contest entries, and had Mercy Lounge reasonably packed the whole night. To date, it’s the most successful event we’ve ever hosted, because it was more than just a show. It was an experience – not to mention, one up against incredibly stiff competition, seeing as it fell on Halloween weekend and all.
The lesson here is that, when you make your event feel like a unique experience that can’t be had anywhere else, the people will come. For us, The Dark Masquerade was truly a perfect storm.
Do It For A Cause
Another way to encourage greater community involvement is to host your event in a way that benefits (or otherwise highlights) important work happening in the community. Every artist has at least one cause – and maybe more – that is core to who they are and how they show up in the world, creatively or otherwise.
Find a local organization that champions that cause, and look for ways to team up with them. Not only will involvement from a community organization help build awareness for the event itself, but it will give you an opportunity to use your platform for good, and will lay the groundwork for future collaborations.
Speaking of community involvement, don’t forget to engage your local business community!
Local business owners – even those outside of the music industry – are fighting the same battle as you. They had an idea, and are doing their best to build it from the ground up. Fight that battle together! There are a number of ways to get the other entrepreneurs among us involved, including:
- Vendor pop-ups: If the venue hosting your event has space for a couple vendors, why not invite some of the small businesses you support to set up shop? Not only will you provide them an outlet to showcase their products, but the additional reach from engaging their audiences will potentially bring more people to the event.
- Product giveaways: See the Dark Masquerade example above. We engaged several businesses all over Nashville for product donations, which were included in prize packages for our costume contest. It was an excellent way to give some of our local retailers visibility and support the arts – even if they were unable to attend the event.
- Approach them about sponsorships: If you’re looking to put on a big event – or, perhaps you’re starting a series – sponsorships can help kickstart your concept by helping to cover your expenses. Just keep in mind that approaching businesses with sponsorship opportunities will be most effective if you can provide detailed insight into your concept. That means putting together a sponsorship deck complete with engagement and reach metrics, ticket sales projections, and the names of the other organizations involved (or, the names of those with whom you’ve worked in the past). When it comes to cash sponsorships and donations, most business owners want to know that they will receive a return on their investment – that is, brand visibility and a chance at increased business.
With that being said, if you can land a prominent sponsor for your event, it can pay huge dividends. Not only will the funding received help you to present a better experience – and ensure everyone gets paid, which is always a plus – but the visibility you will receive from being associated with a well-known local, regional, or national brand will help your artist platform grow stronger in the public eye.
There’s the list! I’m curious to know if you, the reader, have any additional ideas or insights you’d like to share. If you do, leave ‘em in the comments!