Concert promotion by other media: Ebb & Flow Arts in Maui, Hawaii

Promoting a concert involves more than announcing an event in one medium. It requires multiple media: television, radio, newspaper, and posters. View an example by photo, video, and audio of Ebb & Flow Arts Piano Synergy Concert on Maui, Hawaii.

Once upon a time, the concert was the talk of town. It’s the end result of all things. But nowadays there is too much competition for your attention — to0 many other things you can be doing, including staying at home and watching TV. To get people to come to a concert, you’d have to promote it.

Identify a concert’s unique selling points. Below is a photo of something quite rare: 4 pianists sitting at four grand pianos. It would catch anybody’s eye. This appeared in a free weekly paper that gets published on Thursdays — and just in time, too — the Thursday before the Saturday concert.

Pianists at rehearsal. Photo credit: Klazine Pollock
Pianists at rehearsal. Photo credit: Klazine Pollock

How to attract people to come to a concert? Mention the composers and repertoire, particularly if they are interesting and connects. In this case, there’s the premiere of a new piece written by a composer based in Honolulu, Thomas Osborne, who also teaches at University of Hawaii at Manoa. The date of the concert, 14th July 2012, also coincides with Bastille Day, celebrating French independence, hence a concert of music by French composers, including Darius Milhaud’s Paris.

Appeal to different audiences, including those who have access to television. The following 10 minute video clip was aired twice a day, every single day in the week of the concert on Channel 55, the 24/7 cable TV of University of Hawaii Maui College (UHMC).

Reach audiences via different avenues and media. On the Wednesday before the Piano Synergy concert, the following 25 minute clip was aired on local radio.

Kaio Radio: Ebb & Flow Arts (audio clip)

Besides local paper, TV, and radio promotions, there were also color posters, postcards, and local newspaper listings mentioning the forthcoming concerts.

What can we learn from this? While the musicians are busy practising, the concert organizer (producer) is busy letting as many people know about the concert as possible. These “previews” are important to help potential audience decide and anticipate. Here is a blog post anticipating the event.

It’s simply not enough to tell someone to come to a concert. It needs to reach all audiences in more than one way. Before doing so, one needs to think through what appeals, what attracts, what is relevant.

Getting people to come to a concert

Every time I organise a concert, I think about things like how to get people to come to the concert, how to get a full house quickly, and how can I do it better next time. Getting people to come to a concert is no trivial matter. Let me share some thoughts.

Every time I organise a concert, I think about things like how to get people to come to the concert, how to get a full house quickly, and how to do a better job of it next time. Getting people to come to a concert is no trivial matter. Let me share some thoughts.

First, they have to know about it. If they don’t, they definitely won’t come.

What is the best way to let people know an event will take place? Advertise. Announce it. Send an e-mail. Put up posters. Deliver flyers. Tell people about it. Make sure it’s known. Put it in the signature of your e-mails.

Second, they won’t come if they have something else they have to do or can’t change. In other words, how to you ensure whoever you want to come CAN COME?

Let them know as early as possible, so they could put it on their schedule.

If they have a conflict, how do you get them to choose your event over something else? Even if it means leaving the comfort of their home or office, i.e. if they have nothing else to do, you still have to motivate them to do so.

What is the compelling lure? What is the reason they will give up what they’d otherwise do to come to your event?

Attraction: an offer they cannot and will not refuse. Value for money. Something that doesn’t cost too much (including travel time and effort, barring rain or shine) but rewards a lot more (something that will improve their mood, give them a solution to a problem they’re having, introduce someone useful, introduce someone they’d fall in love with or vice versa….)

In other words, make sure you have a good value proposition.

Three, make it hassle free for them to make the decision to come to your event.

The reservation or booking method (if any) should be made explicit and simple. Don’t confuse them by having them call an answering machine or send money to an anonymous bank account. Don’t make it an obstacle.

The location must be clearly described otherwise they WILL get lost. A map is extremely useful here.

Finally (added 2nd Aug 2010), consider that people come to concerts not just for the concert. Many of our guests come to our concerts to talk to us after the concert. Some musician friends come to our concerts to check out the venues to see if they’d like to perform there in the future. Some come to concerts to socialise and network. One of our guests said that the people that come to our house concerts are so interesting that sometimes it’s hard to focus on the music.

Consider also that people may come to a concert simply because you said so. Don’t underestimate your word. The power of the invitation is great. Here is an example of a compelling concert invitation.