In my last post I gave a few tips for solo performers, now I would like to add a few words directed at promoters and venues.
I’m in the interesting position of being a solo performer as well as a promoter. I have organised and run events in venues as well as festivals so I have an understanding of both hats.
Venues Top Tips
Advertise the fact that you have live music in your venue. I know this may sound like a no brainer but I was recently paid quite well to play in a more than half empty pub. One of the people that had come to see me told me afterwards that they loved the pub, it was at the end of their street but had only known there was live music there that day as they had read one of my tweets saying that I was playing. There was nothing to say that there was any live music at all. Britain has some of the best audiences in the world, just let people know there is live music and they will come. A few posters strategically placed is the least you can do, or is it? You COULD suggest that artists visit your venue before the gig and leave a few flyers or posters around and perhaps leave a cd with you to play on your sound system. Many venues have a collection of artists recordings and play them as a matter of course. I know because I have heard a few of mine played in and around Southampton. If you have a Facebook page or website, put something about the acts that are playing with some links to their websites so folk can get an idea what to expect and can pass it on to friends that may be interested.
Many is the venue that will get a solo singer/songwriter in to play on a dead night “to get the punters in” but never on a busy night. I would have thought a better strategy would be to book someone to play a Friday or Saturday (or both!) AS WELL as in the week. I know many do that with great success but so many don’t . The idea being that you create an ambience, a nice big crowd of people drinking and enjoying the music what could be better? THEN your punters will associate your venue with having a good time. If they see there is more music in the week (because you advertise the fact yes?) then you are giving them the opportunity to experience it again in perhaps a quieter setting.
Use FREE social marketing
There are dozens of ways artists market their gigs using this media so why not join them?
You can create venue profiles at sites such as Reverbnation, SongKick, Facebook, Eventful to name but four. One of the complaints that I hear a lot from artists is that they want to promote their events on these sites but can’t as the venues aren’t registered. These sites give fans the opportunity to track gigs of their favourite artists and at the same time they can become fans of your venue, yes?
Do you REALLY want live music in you venue?
I really think a lot of venues should ask themselves this question as many often seem to regard musicians as a bit of a pest or necessary evil. I’ve witnessed landlords and bar staff talking over someones set, acting totally disinterested in the whole event and leaving artists to deal with drunken pests. If you’re not into the artists that you book then your customers won’t be either so why bother?
So you can’t afford to pay the acts, why not “pass the jug round”? If the audience wants to chuck a few coins in the pot then give them the opportunity. It looks even better if you or a member of your staff does it. Also, on a personal point, do you really have to charge artists £3 for a lemonade?
Start a mailing list. Use a free site like Mailchimp and send a newsletter out telling people what’s on in your venue.
Get behind the artists playing, treat them like you would a good employee. If you don’t have faith in them then don’t book them.
DON’T LEAVE EVERYTHING TO THE ARTIST. Some artists are great at promoting themselves and others aren’t but it’s your venue, you want it to be successful,you should be doing your bit yes?
Introduce the acts. From an audience and an artists point of view this is a great thing. I have done it many times (to be honest it makes me cringe every time!!!) and artists love it and it gives the audience a focus. You can say a few things about the band and also tell your audience about other nights you may be putting on, promotion etc.
Have a peek at some of the popular music venues similar to yours and see how they do things. Do they have a website? Which artists go down well there and can you book them to play at your venue?
A lot of these suggestions may appear a little patronising and there are loads of venues I know that do it very well, have a great reputation and have artists as well as punters, queuing to get in – but also know too many venues that do practically nothing.
With many venues closing it’s in all our interests to keep as many venues successful and profitable.