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How to sell concert tickets as an independent artist

  • Martina
  • 04 September 2023, Monday
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How to sell concert tickets - iMusician

We’d dare to say that not much beats the feeling of getting on stage and performing your music in front of your fans. It’s the phase that precedes it, however, that many musicians are dreading. How do I organize my gig? Where will it take place? And most of all, how do I get people to come? These are just some of the questions artists tend to ask themselves before they get to play live.

While our guide on how to plan your first tour touched upon the first two questions, in this article, we’re focusing on the latter one: How can independent artists effectively sell concert tickets? Let’s dive right into it!

1. Choose the platform through which you want to sell your tickets

To put your tickets on sale, you first need to figure out which ticket-selling or RSVP platform you’d like to use. Just a teaser: it doesn’t have to be Ticketmaster.

The 2022 Ticketmaster controversy

Most of you have probably heard of Ticketmaster’s debacle last year during Taylor Swift’s ticket sale for the American leg of her acclaimed Eras Tour. While a total of 2.4 million tickets were sold during the first day of the pre-sale, many fans had to go through ‘hell’ to actually purchase the tickets.

There were website crushes and malfunctions (fans being shut out of tickets and kicked off the site), ludicrous ticket prices and fees, and reportedly very poor customer service. To make things worse, two days after the presale began, Ticketmaster canceled the general sale to all U.S. concerts (52 shows, in total) due to ‘insufficient’ inventory.

Taylor Swift-Eras Tour-Prices

The resale prices of tickets to one of the Taylor Swift's Eras Tour concert (source: Insider)

As a consequence, the platform has been sued by several fans for many violations such as price fixing, fraud, antitrust, and intentional deception. Additionally, Ticketmaster was then castigated in a hearing by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee where it had to agree to abolish all junk fees and show customers all upfront fees.

With all of this happening, one would think that artists would simply consider not collaborating with Ticketmaster anymore. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. After all, Ticketmaster/Live Nation is not called a monopoly by accident.

The underlying truth is that, particularly in the US, many venues, especially stadiums and arenas, have exclusive deals with Ticketmaster. This means that by performing at these venues, artists agree to use the platform as their vendor.

Additionally, artists, too, are often in exclusive partnerships with the company and so more often than not, fans have to go through Ticketmaster to buy tickets.

Fortunately, there is still an abundance of independent concert venues that do not necessarily cooperate with Live Nation (they are in no exclusivity contract) or that flatly refuse to work with them. There are also a lot of places that might not particularly be event-oriented but are fondly open to hosting performances and gigs.

It’s spaces like these that allow you to choose the ticket-selling platform you like and take control over how to organize your own live ticketing. What other platforms are actually there to choose from, you may ask?

Eventbrite is very popular in the world of independent venues and artists and apart from being a ticketing platform, it also offers marketing tools, data analytics and event management tools. On top of that, users may select between various pricing plans, making it accessible for both beginners and established musicians. With the flex plan, for example, you pay as you go, with the price depending on the number of tickets put for sale (events with up to 25 tickets are for free).

If you host events on a more regular basis, which may be your case as well, you can also subscribe to the Pro and Premium plans and enjoy additional marketing and organizational perks.

One thing you have to bear in mind is that Eventbrite is not available everywhere, so be sure to first find out whether you can actually use the platform in your location.

As a multi-functional platform, Bandsintown enables musicians to take care of everything from publishing and promoting events to managing and engaging their audience, to ultimately driving sales.

What makes Bandsintown especially great is its integration function that allows users to sync their Bandsintown account with their accounts on other platforms, including Shopify, Linktree, Shazam, or Facebook. This helps get your events visible across a variety of sites and platforms and ultimately maximize your reach. To make things even better, all of their services are completely free of charge for artists.

On the other hand, with the amount of tools and functions offered, the platform may seem chaotic and hard to navigate. We recommend reading through their Help Center articles, particularly if you’re just starting out.

Bandsintown-for-artists

Eventim is a German company operating predominantly across European countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria and others. On top of publishing events and selling tickets online through the platform, Eventim allows users to create their own seating plans, track their traffic and sales, create promotions (including promotion codes), and sell tickets ‘at the door’ on the day of the event.

Just like Bandsintown, you can also sync the event(s) with your Facebook account to promote it. However, that’s about it when it comes to platform integration. Using Eventim Light is also completely free of charge.

Wix, Bandzoogle or another website builder

Besides providers that solely focus on ticket selling, there are website-building platforms that offer such a function as well. One would therefore say they complete two goals with one action, allowing users to both create an artist website and market an event through it.

Every page builder offers a diverse range of services and functionality so it’s up to you to choose the one that fits your needs. Just bear in mind that building your artist page with such platforms may be quite difficult and complex.

Concert Tickets-iMusician

2. Make the tickets easy to access

You’ve selected a ticket-selling platform, created your events and are ready for the sale to begin. What you need now is to find a way to make the tickets accessible and simple for your audience to purchase. Whatever platform you’re using to run your artist page, be sure to include the tour section and add your tour dates as soon as they are announced. If it’s possible with the particular page builder, you can showcase your tour dates or link to it directly on your homepage.

On top of that, it’s essential that your artist page together with the selling platform is optimized for mobile purchases. Based on 2022 research, around 45% of global consumers purchase products on their phones at least once a day. Only in the USA, ¾ of Americans use their smartphones to acquire things online. Therefore, test everything you’ve set up in advance to be certain that it is running well and smoothly on mobile.

The ultimate goal is to make every stage of the customer buying experience as straightforward as possible. If placing the ticket into the cart and checking out feels intermittent and too complicated, some customers may decide to abandon the transaction and let it go (especially if they’re not that big of fans of yours).

Using a smartlink tool, like Linktree, ToneDen or our very own Release Pages may also be a good idea to further simplify your fans’ access to the concert tickets while, at the same time, leading them to other destinations, like streaming platforms, a merch store, social media, etc.

3. Use your mailing list

An artist’s mailing list is still considered a valuable source of an artist's loyal fans. It is often people who have signed up and subscribed to your newsletters (to get access to news and to be the first ones to listen to your new music) or who have made purchases from your store buying merch or tickets to your previous shows.

Such individuals might be the ones who are most likely to show interest and come to your concerts. This is why they definitely deserve the attention. Be sure to send a dedicated email to anyone on your mailing list, officially inviting them to your gigs. Something you need to put extra effort into is the subject of the email (needs to be catchy to draw attention) and the visuals of the newsletter, making the email’s content readable and appealing.

4. Make a special offer to your loyal audience

Speaking of loyal fans, selling tickets to your gig may be a great opportunity to show them some extra appreciation. There are several ways to do it – both in terms of who you’ll reward and how you’ll reward them. You can offer the tickets at discounted prices or offer a special gift for free in addition to a purchased ticket. The present can be a physical product, for instance, a merch item of yours, or early access to your yet-to-be-released track.

Generally speaking, there are no specific rules as to what you should or should not do when it comes to expressing gratitude towards your loyal audience. Just go for what sounds good to you and what you feel could resonate with your fans (some artists incorporate easter eggs, aka hidden features or messages, and fans tend to love them). Remember that for your loyal fans, the gesture of showing them your gratitude for their support and love is often more important than the type of reward itself.

Whatever you decide to give away, you can offer this to your newsletter subscribers, music patrons or your fans on a first-come, first-serve basis via social media.

As you surely already know, social media rocks when it comes to all things marketing and promotion. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Bandcamp and music communities, too, (like our iMusician Forum) can be of great use when it comes to selling concert tickets as well.

Generally, social media gives you prospects to reach your fans better and engage individuals who might potentially show interest in your music. You can start with the very basics which is creating a Facebook event and inviting your fans and friends who can share the link with all details further.

You can then continue promoting your gig(s) by creating relevant content on platforms that make the most sense for you in terms of your target audience. Such content may include in-feed posts, Instagram and Facebook Stories, IG Reels, videos, live streaming, etc.

Before you start posting (and ideally before you announce the shows, too), make sure that the content you’ve created shows consistency across its visuals and the information it provides. Your posts should be visually appealing, easy to understand, and, at the same, representative of your music and your artist brand. Most importantly, you need to ensure that they’re clearly and truthfully communicating how fans can access and purchase your concert tickets. Remember that it is all about the simplicity of your fans’ buying experience.

On top of all that, you can boost your posts (in-feed images and videos) by running Facebook, Instagram, or even TikTok ads targeted at people who live in or around the location of the gig(s) and who also like similar music to yours. For this, it’s important that you create content that perfectly demonstrates your type of music and so can effectively lure people into your shows. A video montage of your previous shows or the band practicing (in case you haven’t had a professional gig before) might be a great solution.

A final word: don’t put pressure on yourself

As selling tickets on its own is often a stressful experience, it's important not to put yourself under more pressure by focusing too much on the potential amount of money you may earn. We understand that generating revenue from ticket sales is crucial, particularly as you surely want your profession to make you a living. However, it’s important to understand that any progress needs time.

If you’re managing to get people interested and come to your show, you’re already succeeding, and any success deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated. Don’t forget that the ultimate goal behind every show should be to connect through your performance with your current and potential fans. Eventually, the more experience you have, the more people will come to your gigs and the more money you’ll end up earning!

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