Before bands get a booking agent onboard, it’s sometimes hard to get booked for a show. So if you’re an emerging artist with a burgeoning fan base, why not consider booking your own gig?
Whether you are trying to make money, gain new fans or just have more live performing experience, we’ve put together a list of key points and questions to ask yourself when planning your first live shows. We’ve also included how your Music Glue profile can help you with the process.
Know your target demographics! This will help with knowing where to play and what venue to book. Do you need a venue that will accept under 18’s? Is it easy to get to for your fans? You can get a lot of information through your social media insights and analytics as well as your Music Glue profile. The interactive heat map on Music Glue (below) is our favourite tool to inform your decision on where to tour. You can visualise where your fans are and pick the most convenient place accordingly. If they've joined your mailing list, you can get in touch to announce your show and personalise your message for each location.
Write up a budget to control your expenses. It should include all your costs: venue, travels, food and drinks, marketing, sound equipment... Then you can work out how many tickets and merch you need to sell in order to break even, or just know how much you're willing to lose.
It is better to sell out a small venue and build momentum around your band, rather than half fill a larger venue. Make sure your music suits the chosen venue; check what other bands have played there and whether they are a good fit. Ask in advance if the venue can provide a PA system, backline and whether the front of house is included in the fee. Also check if you’ll need to hire a sound tech- most venues include one in the hire fee but it’s best to double check.
Are your support bands / artists suitable for your show? Are they in the same genre, yet interesting enough for our audience to discover new music? Are they likely to bring new fans for you too? Make sure to agree on a fee with them in advance.
Will the venue be available? Thursday-Saturday are usually the best days for the audience but also harder to get so plan in advance. Always check for date clash! You might not want to play on FA Cup’s nights if your audience are likely to be watching. Try to incorporate the date into an EP or album launch to increase momentum- and sales!
6. SELL TICKETS
This is probably one of the most important things to plan for. Sell tickets direct to your fans with Music Glue so you keep all the data and can even bundle them up with a pre-order or a merch item. Set the ticket price realistically. Sometimes a paid ticket is better than a free one so fans commit to turning up. Why not offer discounted advanced tickets, with on the door sales being a few pounds more. This will encourage people to book their ticket before the show in order to save money.
You have the marketing power! Take care designing eye catching flyers and posters and share them across all your social media and via email to your database. If you have budgeted for it, it might be worth doing sponsored posts on Facebook and Instagram. Via this you can geo-target your promoted posts to the area where you’re playing. Think about targeting similar sounding artists, music fans of the relevant genre... Also ask your fans to invite their friends and share your posts, it’s a great, easy way to support their favourite band! If you know other bands with a similar fan base, why not ask them to share your post? You can do the same for them next time! And it’s not all about social media, don’t forget to put up posters locally in relevant places such as the venue and local record shops. Planning more than one show? Why not create a Snapchat Geotag with your logo or name? People will take images and videos of the gig and share with their friends. This could lead to more people becoming fans and wanting to visit your next show.
Consider doing tour or venue specific tee-shirts with Music Glue’s Print on Demand feature; personalised and limited edition merch sells! You can also try up-selling with bundles: ticket + T-shirt, ticket + album... Fans are likely to spend a bit more to support you. On the night, bands sell the most when they head down to the merch stall 10 minutes after the show; let the audience know that you will be signing your merch items to make sure they don’t miss out. Note that if you are selling at the event, you will likely have to pay a fee to the venue. This depends on the venue so make sure to check with them before. Keep promoting your merch after the show, some fans may regret not getting their hands on your items or simply be waiting for pay day.
9.MEET & GREET
Fans love the opportunity to meet the band. Why not create a VIP package with the opportunity to come down for sound check or hang out after the show? It’s easy to create experiences on Music Glue. Watch the tutorial here
Know your tech spec! Do you need to hire any additional equipment? If so there are lots of companies you can hire from for a day or longer. Or maybe you can share with the other artists on the bill? The headliner usually provides the drums minus breakables. Some venues provide in house backline, so best to ask what’s available. If your band has a big set up and the venue is small, it might be best to take a solo support so the turnover is quicker and easier.
11. GUEST LIST
As it’s likely you’re self promoting, try to limit guest list for friends and drive them to buy tickets instead! They should be supporting you, save the guest list for when you’re a larger artist. Or have a limited number of discounted ticket. You can create any type of tickets on Music Glue: free, paid, discounted; you always keep the data.
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