How to Organise a Concert
Organising your own concert, show, gig, event, or whatever you want to call it, is a good way of gaining experience, getting yourself known, and possibly even making some money too. It’s not as difficult as it may sound. All that is needed is a little planning.
Before you start you need to be sure that if you are doing the concert yourself you have enough material to sing or play to keep your audience entertained, or if you plan to do a concert with other acts they too have sufficient material and are one hundred percent reliable.
Find a Venue
First you will need to find a suitable venue. This could be a function room in a pub, a wine bar, a village hall, or any conveniently located space for hire. Convenience is important as people are unlikely to travel far to see you if you are not famous. Size also needs careful consideration. A hall full with 100 people looks much better than 200 people in a hall designed to hold 1000.
Be prepared to pay what you consider to be a reasonable amount to rent an appropriate space. However, if there is some benefit for the owner, such as attracting more customers if it is a bar for example, then there may be no rental fee. Either way, it’s best if you confirm the arrangements in writing. This could be in the form of a short email summarising what has been agreed.
Set a Date
Set a date for your concert, being sure you allow yourself enough time to generate an interest and sell tickets. Four to six weeks is a good starting point if it’s your first time arranging a concert.
Get some form of tickets. These can be made on a home computer, using special printing paper in the form of a ticket with a tear off slip at the end to make your tickets look more professional. Your ticket should clearly show the date, time, and location of your concert. Also, having a reduced price for advanced purchases is a good incentive for people to buy a ticket and commit to coming to your show.
Another incentive to buy a ticket might be to use the ticket number as a raffle number and have a raffle at your show. Even if it doesn’t act as an incentive to buy a ticket it could add to the enjoyment of the evening – especially for the person that gets the prize.
Consider giving out a number of free tickets in the hope that the person getting the ticket will bring along a paying friend, but be aware that some free tickets may simply end up in the bin.
The more you advertise the better. Begin with your social media contacts, in fact all the contacts of anyone involved in the event that live near enough to attend. Use email to target more people. Personalised emails are much better than emails sent out on mass, as they are much less likely to be ignored. Granted, this takes more time, but it’s worth it.
If you have a website – and you should – advertise on it. Be sure to have a map clearly showing where the venue is and exactly how to get there. If the place where you are playing has its own website, get them to advertise too.
Make some attractive posters. These can be printed on A4 paper using your PC and printer and then enlarged to A3 at a print shop or with a copy machine. Use colour. It costs a little more but looks so much better. Keep the poster simple and easy to read.
If possible, display a poster at the venue. I once played at a wine bar where, prior to the concert, the organiser asked if he could display the poster. ‘Yes,’ said the owner, ‘in the toilet.’ At first I was dismayed to hear this, particularly as my face was also on the poster. But then I realised that the toilet was probably an ideal place for advertising in a wine bar. On the evening of our performance the bar was full, no doubt at least in part due to the poster in the latrine.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. As a musician on the day of the event you will need to focus on the music and sound, therefore you will need helpers to take care of other things. It’s important to choose people you can rely on. You will need someone at the door to collect money and take tickets. You might need help arranging the seating and any number of other small – but important – tasks. If you expect to make some money it’s unfair to expect your helpers to give their services for free. Either pay them, get them a thank-you gift, or at least buy their drinks for the evening if you are performing at a bar. If you make it worth their while they will be happy to help on another occasion.
After the show there might still be things that need to be done, such as tidying up and returning chairs and tables to their former position.
Pay Your Debts and Saying Thank You
If you agreed a fee for renting the venue don’t forget to pay. If you promised a fee for any other band that was also playing with you, pay them promptly. It’s your job to keep everyone happy. Try to ensure that everyone has a good experience. This will provide a solid foundation for any future events you organise.
Also, be sure to thank anyone that helped you in any way. Let them know that you appreciate their help and they will be happy to help you again on a future occasion.
Be sure to post picture of your concert on social media sites, and your own website, to let everyone know what a success it was. This shows anyone that didn’t go what they missed, and could encourage people go to see you at your next event. It also helps create a 'buzz'.
Once you start creating chances for yourself more chances will appear. For example, someone might ask you to play at an event they are organising. Although this sort of thing probably won’t happen after every concert you do, I know from experience it’s something that does happen.
If you have found this article useful and would like more tips on organising your own concert, along with information, ideas and advice on many other matters relating to music and entering the music profession, you might like to check out my book:
Breaking Into the Music Business: An Essential Guide for Performers
Don't wait for something to happen - make it happen!