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Hi, my name is Liv Gains and I’m a gigging musician from Ontario. I’ve organized a lot of shows in my day, and so I’ve been through a lot when it comes to these things. I wanted to share with you today some of my tips for how I go about organizing and promoting local live music events.
Promoting local shows can be simple, but the promotion is not often done right, or let’s say in the most effective way. For the most part, it can be split into two categories: paid promotion, and free promotion.
To have a well balanced show you’ll want to try a bit of both, I find. I’ve compiled a list of five of the easiest promotion methods.
Doing each of these things shouldn’t take more than an hour, and if you can’t invest that much time in your event, you need to ask yourself if you should really be organizing this in the first place. Harsh, I know…but also true.
Free Promotion: Social Media
I talked about this in my other post, “How To Make Money As A Gigging Musician“, where my point was and still is that social media can’t really be ignored these days if you’re a musician. It’s also helpful, as much as it can be annoying, so no need to hate! Just use it as you see fit, but don’t discount it completely…
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat- whatever you use, use it to promote your show. Don’t shove it down people’s throats, but share your work with people you think might actually be interested.
Create event pages, posters, etc. that can be shared on social media- and don’t underestimate the power of a brief message!
A simple “this is going on, and I’d love to see you there” is enough to, at the very least, consider attending your event.
Be careful not to invite people to events if you don’t think they would be interested though, as this might scare them off from future events, or even future conversations with you. We live in a time where everyone is edgy and reactionary, especially online, so this is why it’s always good to think about it before you hit that mass-invite button!
Ah, here it is! I knew I wasn’t just dreaming this thing existed…not recommending you use it! Especially for shows!
Paid Promotion: Printed Flyers &/Or Posters
Posters, flyers, etc. are great ways to share an event with people you don’t know personally. You’re going to want to have the whole who, what, where, when, and why!
Maybe a photo of what will be going on to catch people’s eye! Ensure that the posters/flyers are easy to read and are straightforward.
Sharing the event with strangers is a great way to find people who are really interested in the event you are hosting, because they don’t know you personally, and won’t be showing up simply to support a friend, but rather because of a genuine interest in the event.
These are the people who you will really want at your event, because they will actually be excited about being there, and will be much more enthusiastic about being there.
Have you ever been to an event in which you could tell that no one wanted to be there? How about talking to a retail employee who just hates their job? It shows, and it sucks!
Hosting an event like this, filled with mofos like this, will almost guarantee a 0% attendance for future events.
To ensure that you’re not wasting money putting flyers/posters up, figure out your target audience and where you might find them.
For example, if your event is music based, drop flyers and/or posters off at music venues, cd/record shops, instrument shops, etc. – but be sure to check in with the owners! Here’s a poster my friend made for an event in 2017. Not bad, except the drop shadow offset they used is a bit much.
Don’t forget to leave some flyers and posters at the venue you’re hosting the event at -and check that they actually hang the poster up for people to see!
If the event is at a bar or restaurant, leaving a few flyers on the tables and along the bar is a great way to inform people of the event!
If it fits in your budget, local coffee shops, laundromats, schools (if your event is 19+/age of majority, target universities, rather than elementary/secondary schools), public transportation stations (bus station, train station, etc.) grocery stores, and anywhere high traffic will also help to get the word out to more people.
Free Promotion: Online Classifieds
Kijiji, and Craigslist are among some of the best free online classifieds ads websites. These are great places to post about events, because it only takes a minute and is totally free.
Try posting in a few different categories (that suit the theme of your event) to reach more people.
4. Paid Promotion: Online/Print ads
For larger events, spending just $1 a day for a short period to run an ad on Facebook, or spending a bit of money for an ad in your local newspaper can help to boost interest, and in turn, boost profit.
Spend a little to make a lot. Again, you need to know how to target your audience.
Resources will be different for different areas, but there are different websites available for most areas that catalogue events and help to promote them.
Checking for local ‘activity guides’ is another great route. I receive one in the mail each spring: a small booklet filled with different coupons, deals, and events happening in the area.
Be sure to keep an eye out for things like this, especially if your event is family friendly.
Free Promotion: Word of Mouth
This is probably the easiest and most effective way of getting the word out about an event. Tell all your friends. All of them. And your family, and tell them to tell their friends and family!
People like fun stuff so (after ensuring that your event is actually going to be fun) invite people! Tell them exactly what will be happening, and be sure to let them know that you would appreciate the support if they showed up.
Go to different events around your area, and tell people about your upcoming event. No one will want to go to your event if you never show up for any of them, so get out and chat with people!!
Free Promotion: Inform Local News Teams
To have your event published in the paper doesn’t need to cost you money. Simply contacting local news teams, and letting them know about your event might land it a spot in the paper.
In my home town, we have a paper called SNAP’D Cambridge, there are different versions of this paper all over Canada and a few States.
This paper in particular is an excellent resource for events organizers, because they love to promote local events, and take photos at events, so if you have a SNAP’D in your town be sure to invite them, or whichever your local newspaper is!
Be sure to take lots of photos at your events (and try to catch people having fun) to help promote future events!
If people who may have missed the event get to see what a success it was, they will be more inclined to go to the next event!
Thank everyone who attended, and let them know if you have any other events coming up in the future!
Anyway, folks, gotta run! Check out these articles which overlap on this topic, but might give you some further food for thought. Leave a comment below if you’re feelin’ it!
Best Ways to Promote Your Own Music – A Quick How To Guide (by Melissa Koehler)
How To Make Money As A Gigging Musician (by Liv Gains)