How to Run a Productive, Well-Promoted, and Profitable Event in the Music Business

By Loren Weisman

Want to run a successful event in the music business? It comes down to thinking of a show as more than just a show when having an event that’s designed to make you money, help your promotion, and be as productive as possible. Too many artists and even managers have a linear mindset to shows and events.

Instead, think of every show and every event as an opportunity for that night and all the people who attend, but also for all the people who may have seen or heard about the event, those who were told about the event, as well as local media with whom you now have a greater connection.

Track it, study it, and learn it. From every contact you build for every venue to every media contact to every city, maintain the lists to make future bookings for events and shows that much more streamlined the next time you return.

Renting versus booking a venue

When you create a release party, an event, or even a gig, sometimes renting can be a better option than booking.

Advantages of renting a venue

When you rent a venue, it means that the door and ticket sales, in most cases, are all yours. This makes you an event producer, in a sense. This also possibly gives you the chance to bring in your own sound crew in certain venues and take a little extra time to prepare for an event over just being seen as another act coming through the door.

The other benefit is that it puts you into a producer mindset with no expectations of others helping, which can help you apply the best methods for producing, promoting, and marketing shows whether you rent the venue out or not.

Disadvantages of renting a venue

Understand that when you rent, you don’t have a pay-to-play situation. You are completely responsible for the event and the room, which means you’re also completely responsible for many marketing and promotion that’ll drive ticket sales. You’re also responsible for your staff. From a door person to someone selling merchandise, to someone selling drinks, these all become your responsibility as well.

Checking out other types of releases or events

Before you book a night, see what you can find out about other events in that particular city that night.

Local advantages of other events

If you’re coming up the West Coast on February 7, 2016 and could book a show or a venue in Santa Clara 6 to 12 months in advance, you’ll find it’ll be one heck of a party. The 2016 Super Bowl is being played there and that would set you up for a pretty good chance of having a very large crowd.

Looking at areas that have events earlier in the day or events that can feed into nightlife or have people looking to go out to business conventions and nearby sports events can give you more possible booking options.

Disadvantages of other events

Just as you want to look for opportunities that resonate and bring people out, also look at events that might keep people in or away. The week before finals in a big college town or a summer gig in a large college town might not have that many people there. And a gig on Thanksgiving isn’t going to draw a big crowd, yet the night before Thanksgiving could be a winner.

This also goes for larger-scale artists coming to town. If a local theater or bigger venue is hosting a top-level artist in a smaller town, playing that night might not give you an opportunity to capture a crowd.

Hiring a publicity or event management team

Publicists, event planners, and promotion teams can bring an extra one-two punch to your larger-scale event, such as a release party.

This group of professionals can help build a greater media presence as well by designing an event that can be much more newsworthy. They can also help find sponsors for the event to assist in additional promotions, allowing the event to be seen on a larger scale.

Avoiding the oversaturated hype game

When you promote to the world about an event that’s never been seen before, a night like no one has never experienced before, and how it will be the best thing anyone has ever heard, you set a very tall bar, making it all that much easier to disappoint. And because so many make the same claim so often, you’re going to get lost in the sea of noise as well as automatically start off on the wrong foot.

Hyping with humility

In the present world of social media, people are drowning in hype and drama every day. It tires them out.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be hyping, but it means you should be hyping with humility. Instead of using these large-scale and overused phrases, work on the descriptors and various comparisons to draw people in. The “Tightest funk sound to make you dance your butt off “ can become something like “Bringing you a night of music with funk we’d love you to dance to,” or “Dance like no one is watching to the sound of our funk and soul.”

Letting the feelings flow

Instead of telling people you’re going to “rock them” or “make them dance” or “bring them to a whole new level,” change your tone to allow people to feel what they will. A big negative part of the whole oversaturated thing in hype is when the band, a poster, or even a post online promotes the idea of what an audience member will feel, experience, or do when they see your show.

The less saturated the hype with more of assertive, confident, and inviting marketing and promotional posters, posts, or advertisements, the more you connect, engage, and draw interest from both existing fans and those who are just learning about you for the first time.