One of the most read posts in this blog is “Getting people to come to a concert.” Another name for this exercise is audience development. One goal is to get enough people to come to a concert so that your costs are covered and you can even get a return. Another goal is to have these people that come to your concert come to your next one and, even better, they get others to come.
The first concert may be a lot of work (to promote). Each subsequent concert should get easier. After you’ve built a reputation and a mailing list, you should get a full house every time.
In the last 10 years of experimenting with different ways to get people to come to my concerts, I’ve identified 5 steps that have worked for me.
- Identify who you want to come to the concert.
This is where you have to analyse your audience make-up. In Houston, I brought my colleagues. In London, I invited my neighbors, colleagues, and new contacts. In the case of Monument House Concert Series in Utrecht, Netherlands, I wanted new people to come so that they can experience the authentic house concert tradition. I knew that previous guests would always come because of the sticky nature of such intimate occasions. I also knew the viral nature of word of mouth. But it was getting new people that was the challenge. If I only expected the same people to come every time, our concert goers would have been a clique.
- Analyse the lure.
What is the ace of spades? Is it the music? The performer(s)? The composer(s)? The audience? (People want to come to be with other people they expect to see there.) The venue? The occasion? The date/time? (nothing else better to do). The theme? (benefit concert). Identifying the ultimate lure is the key to a yes.
- Figure out where these folks are located, i.e. how they can be reached.
You may start with the low hanging fruit, i.e. your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Beyond that, how do you find your audience? Where do they hangout? Music stores? Music libraries? Music colleges? A concert? How about music lovers groups on Linked-In? “If it’s fish you’re looking for, why climb trees?”
- Use the right communication tool.
Some folks read their emails and act. Some react to newspaper ads. Some listen to the radio. There are online, offline, face-to-face communication methods. You might have to try everything. See “concert promotion by other media.”
- Write. Rewrite. Format. Reformat.
A concert invitation is different from an announcement. You have to write to persuade. You may even have to put a personal touch to it. The result you want is action — which leads to a full house and a guestbook that looks like this.
The secret to success is your mailing list. The bigger it is, the higher the chance of drawing an audience. Mailing lists get built over time not over night. This is the subject of yet another blog post.