Every independent musician needs to develop a strategy for promoting their concerts and there is no secret formula for selling out a venue, it's largely the hard work and time of connecting and following up with your fan base. Of course you can utilise the customary process of flyers and well designed posters and even hire a promotion agency, but most of the work that goes into your strategy you will have to personally establish and maintain yourself.
Don't Over Book Your Project
Don't book more than one show in a 6 week period in the same city. You don't want to spread your efforts thin and you want to give your fans in any particular city the pleasure of not having to attend your shows every other week but rather aim for one amazing concert every few months or even seasonally. Part of your strategy should include how to focus your energy and not wasting time and resources by playing more shows to smaller crowds. Playing fewer shows to bigger crowds is the way to go.
Send Personal Invitations
Of course you will be making a Facebook event and will invite all your friends, but there’re so many Facebook events being generated and spread around that it's easy for people to overlook the events you might really want to attend. In order to avoid getting lost in the crowd, take the time to also write personal invitations to your friends who you know would probably like to go to your show. Do it well in advance, a month beforehand is reasonable. Send them a personal message explaining what is special about your next show, why it would be great if they came, and thanking them for their support. Send them a reminder a week before the show but be sure not to become annoying.
Share the Stage
Book your show with another band that is different enough from your music project that it makes for a compelling evening but not so different that it doesn't make sense. Sharing the stage with another band is a great way to get to play to new people, to fill the room with a crowd, and to network. Be sure that both groups pull their own weight, if you ask another band to play a concert with you remind them that they need to put in the work to get their own fans to the show as well.
Spread All Over the Net
Obviously make your show available all over the internet. This means that anyplace your music can be found on the internet should list your next shows too. For example, with Spotify for Artists you can now add your next dates via Songkick. With this feature you can check how many fans you have per city to determine how much merch you should bring.
It is also a very good idea to allocate appropriate independent music podcasts and local internet radio shows. Many people who would genuinely be interested in your music listen to these kinds of programs as an alternative to the mainstream. You can also set competitions to win free tickets to your show on these programs as a fun incentive. And remember to employ online ticketing services such as Eventbrite, Resident Advisor, etc. which will make your efforts even more professional.
Post New and Relevant Photos and Videos
Leading up to the date of your show, post high quality photos and videos of your preparations for the show, i.e. rehearsals, set-lists, etc. to your social media sites. Documenting and presenting the processes or your artistic endeavors and the work you are putting into making the next show a success is an excellent way to keep your fans interested. Show your fans that you’re not trying to sell them a product and that you’re a living, breathing artist working hard to share your music.
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