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How To Promote Live Music Events

Words by Jack Carlin.

Why should you promote your event?


Organising events is hard. You juggle competing calendars, acoustic specifics and staffing logistics, not to mention rival events. Plus, at the time of writing, there are rolling and ever-present COVID-related restrictions, doing their best to squeeze hospitality and performing-arts industries into their leanest possible forms. All this is after you’ve found a band, artist, DJ, or performer who will suit your venue and who (ideally) you personally enjoy. 


So, it’s an easy conclusion to draw that even without COVID, the most disruptive event since VB changed their recipe, organising music events is hard. 


There are a lot of moving pieces here, but if you’re a seasoned organiser you’ll have these ingrained as reflex, not creating any stress a stroll couldn’t untangle. However, once you’ve been through these steps and your event day rolls around, you’re now at the most important question of the journey - will people actually come! And the worst part? By the time the event arrives, this is now totally out of your control. 


Like furnishing a freshly built house, event promotion is the final and arguably most important step in event creation. Why bother creating an event that no one will come to? And no, this is not a hypothetical reflection, like “if a gig happens and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?” The answer is yes, and it will be a sad, sad day for venue and artist alike. 


Nudges and decision making 


Nudges are all around us. They form a part of ‘choice architecture’ and can be found in the ways supermarkets are structured, the pre-checked buttons saying ‘I would like to receive marketing information about this company’ at the bottom of the page, or putting snacks at the checkout in every store you’ve been to. Simply put, nudges exist to silently and unconsciously guide our decisions every single day. 


Regarding your event, you can use nudges to expand your attending audience. Social media is one of the greatest nudgers we have, constantly pushing and pulling us towards different products and experiences. Advertising your event on Facebook will always be one of the best places to start, however you can support this platform with further reminders. For example, information about upcoming shows on your website, or posting event information within the venue itself. 


Every time an individual interacts with one of these pieces there will be a growing momentum within them to learn more, get interested and eventually buy a ticket. And once they have bought one ticket to your event, they are more likely to buy another. This is due to the status-quo bias, where we are more likely to repeat purchase decisions that we have already made. 


Types of event promotion


You could promote your event whichever and however way you want. You could post flyers, scream it from the rooftops, create billboards or filter it through an underground network of covert event spies. Ok, maybe not that one (how would you get in touch with them anyway?), but there is no right or wrong way to promote your event. The important thing is that you do. 


That being said, there are some tried and true methods which you can do relatively easily and regularly. 


Analogue promotion 


This is maybe the simplest, and one of the most effective forms of event promotion. It’s essentially producing some physical post which can sit on, outside or inside your venue, and it’s effective because you are targeting your best customers - the ones who are already there, or are close by!


A few thought starters for analogue promotion are:


Collateral promotion


Outside the physical world, and before we get to your social media, there are a large collection of sources you can turn to for promotional support. Here are some thought starters for your collateral promotion:

Social media 


As mentioned, creating your event on Facebook is another great first step. Facebook is the great researcher, and will effectively target your most likely audience. But most importantly, this step is extremely easy to do. Plus, it can be a great resource for your attendees, who can find information like start times, ticket resales and which of their friends have clicked ‘attending’.


Once you have created your event, you then have the option to ‘boost’ it’s awareness for a fee. Simply list your budget, duration and objective (ticket sales vs awareness), and you’re off!

This is a really simple but effective social media campaign, designed by Facebook so that anyone can do it.


The Importance of event promotion


To promote your venue’s event is to capitalise on all your hard work in the organisation. It’s the last step in your event journey, and the previous suggestions are just some of the places to start. Beyond that, there’s a mountain of information on the internet covering this topic, from the ideal lead time of promoting before the event, to social media and ticketing strategy. 


However, the most important thing isn’t how you promote your event, it’s that you do it at all. Any promotion you do, whether it’s post-it notes on pints or a fully-fledged social media campaign will help develop your event’s success, create a happy performing environment for your artists, and establish your venue as a serious music destination. Although post-its on pints may be less effective than some of the other ideas mentioned… 

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