As I get older and pick up more responsibility, I find myself working harder to secure a good life. This involves hours of implementing and employing new marketing strategies to make money as an independent musician.
One of the new ideas I have turned into reality has been organizing my own concert and drumming up people to come and watch.
As opposed to getting hired to play a gig somewhere (which can still pay well), I wanted to set the bar higher and take control of the whole concept.
Thanks to some great advice on the internet and support from friends and fans, I have successfully done this 2 times now.
Here is a stripped down version of some of the major details required to hold a live concert.
1) Find a great place to hold it.
You need to find somewhere convenient and make sure it has the acoustics for great sound. I chose a local community theatre here in Japan that has an amazing stage already equipped with lighting, speakers, and all that jazz. It’s also relatively cheap since it belongs to the community.
2) Design the tickets.
I made sure to design some tickets that look professional. The cheaper they look, the less professional you appear also. Do these properly and people will feel like they’re going to watch the real deal when they pay for one.
3) Getting the word out.
This is probably the most important and most difficult part of the whole process. You must do everything in your power to find people to come to the event if you want a successful show. Here are some things that I did.
a) make colour flyers
b) make posters
c) make small pass-outs
d) ask for a radio interview. I went into the local radio station with two other members and performed live.
e) Make an audio commercial about 30 seconds long that you can use on the radio (if you want to pay a small fee for air time) and also you can burn it onto a CD rom with three songs from your CD and pass them out. This was quite successful. I passed out a lot of CD’s as PR and with three free songs and a quick spiel on the upcoming show.
f) Get a street team together. Ask band members and friends to help out. I promised some fans they could come for free if they help sell tickets. You’ll be surprised what a lot of fans will do because they believe in you. I also promised the band two different guarantees. I told them I’d pay them “X” amount of money more, if we sold over 80% of the tickets we made. I was really surprised at the effort they put into helping out.
g) Make sure you start the campaigning a good 2 months in advance. People need time to plan and spread the vibe of the event.
h) Talk about it all the time. Don’t push it in peoples faces but there are ways of talking about the event that don’t come across as sales. “I went to bed late last night because I was rehearsing with the band”. You never asked anyone to come but you refreshed their memory that you’re working hard towards the gig.
i) Offer prizes like t-shirts (if you have them), or free CD’s.
j) Ask local shops if you can put a poster on their window.
k) Play at local CD stores for free.
4) How can you make the show unique?
In other words, how can you justify charging people to come to your show? For me, since this was my second time doing this, I wanted to step up the game and make it better than the first time. The first concert I held on my own consisted of 4 band members. This time, I invited two friends (who are pro musicians) to come spend some time with me in Japan and do the gig making it a 6 piece band. They wanted the holiday/experience and the Japanese were thrilled to have two professional foreign musicians adding heaps of colour to the show. I should point out that I held this concert in a relatively rural area. This was to my advantage because more of the local people don’t normally get an opportunity to see a rock concert so close by. It was easier to convince people that they’re about to see something normally held in Tokyo.
Let’s face it, if you want to impress your fans and make them leave the concert feeling they spent their money wisely, practice hard and make the band tight!
6) Please those around you first!
If you want to do this again in the future then your name is important. Don’t get too greedy and try to keep every single penny you made from the gig. You might want to do this because you worked 99% harder than anyone else did to make this happen. However, paying the right people and doing it fairly is good business. They will be willing to do more for you next time and you’ll even find more doors opening for you.
7) Make a to do list.
Organization is key to everything running smoothly. I had several lists and still found it hard to keep everything running well.
8) Day of the gig.
Check your lists. Be prepared for things to go wrong. Try to stay calm and don’t snap at anyone. If you’re going to have a moment, find a place to chill for a minute.
Get out on that stage and play like there’s no tomorrow. Do your thing and do it as best you can. Don’t leave anything behind because this is your moment to prove that you’re worthy to be there!
10) Sell CD’s.
Sell them at a low price and come out into the lobby with the band and sign them. Chat and take pictures and be personable! Leave a sheet they can sign with their email address and contact info. This is really important for future contact.
11) Next day.
You’re still not done. Now, you have lots of thank you’s, and last minute payouts and things to do. Don’t just leave your fans forgotten. They are your bread and butter so personally thank as many as you can!
I’m sure there are other things that I’ve forgotten to mention but in general these are the basics. For me, the key to success is not leaving it all to the last minute and more importantly, making sure that everyone is happy.
Go get ‘em!