Words by Annie-Mei Forster.
It’s hard work running a live music venue! Hiring staff, finding musicians to play, cleaning up vomit after patrons, replacing smashed glassware, hiring more staff and the cycle continues. So, we’ve taken the difficult work out of dreaming up different ways to promote your venue without breaking the bank.
Host a community radio event
Community radio stations rely on public support to survive and, well, it’s a fantastic way for you to give back to society and receive free promotion on air. In Melbourne alone, there’s a bunch of excellent not-for-profit community radio stations giving people a voice, and it is an avenue for engagement. If you’re in another city or town, a quick Google search can locate community radio stations closest to you.
Reach out to some local community radio stations and ask if they need a suitable place for any upcoming events. Partnering with a station can raise the status of your business and cheekily spruiking your venue on air means more extensive exposure. People who hear about your events on-air might attend more in the future.
Host an event to raise money for a good cause
People love rallying for a good cause, and there’s been an overwhelming response for the bushfire appeal from the hospitality industry putting on events to raise money. You can read more about their efforts in this article. Think of a cause you’re passionate about and then consider how you’re going to spread the word about your event.
As a music venue, you could organise two or three bands to play with all ticket sales going to a local charity. If you want to do something on a larger scale, you could team up with other venues in your local area and have bands and singers performing across these locations during the day. It’s a great way to unite the community and increase foot traffic to your venue.
Get your resident artists to promote you
You have a few artists and bands who play at your place regularly. You’ve already paid them, they’re happy and keep coming back to play more gigs. Could you use them to promote your venue for free? Check out their social media pages and see if they have a big following. If they get a lot of engagement from their followers, ask if they can mention you in a post or upload some photos or videos the next time they play at your venue.
If you don’t have any regular artists playing at your venue or you want to discover more, try downloading Muso. It’s an excellent platform for events to find musicians and musicians to find gigs. It’s easy to sign up to Muso and great for venues who are short on time to look for artists.
Show people that you love music
The best way to get people excited about a band is by listening to them, right? Why not create a Spotify playlist of top hits from the artists that play at your venue? Link the playlist to your social media channels, and it allows people to engage with their content and gives your events free promotion.
You could also upload some YouTube videos from previous events at your venue. Showing people having fun makes it easier for others to imagine enjoying themselves at your gigs and might create a sense of FOMO on future ones. You don’t need expensive equipment, just ask someone competent at recording to film footage at your gigs and compile a decent promo clip, so people can see what they’re missing. Bands may have someone taking footage for them, so ask them if you could use theirs if it’s satisfactory quality.
Create merch for your venue
A person walking down the street with your logo printed on a t-shirt is probably the best free publicity you can get. If your venue already has a logo, hit up a graphic designer and see what cool merch they can create for your business. Some places even have bottle openers and pens with their logo on it.
If you don’t have a logo, then maybe it’s time to think about your brand name. This idea is probably better if you have the time and money to pay someone to implement it for you. Start the ball rolling by running a competition at your venue, with the winner receiving a bunch of merch for free for attending the gig.