Abbey Arts Survival Guide #1:
How to Promote a Concert
[PUBLIC DOCUMENT: Last updated 1/9/19]
Note: This guide is intended for shows in the 50-300 person range.
Contributors include: Nathan Marion (Abbey Arts), Andrea Friedman (Vera Project), Karli Ingersoll (The Bartlett),
Cody Kilpatrick (Abbey Arts), Elyse Lankford (Abbey Arts) and The Sunset website
OVERVIEWS - THE TOP METHODS OF PROMOTING A SHOW:
- In Real life
- Video/photo on social
- Personal invites whether in real life, text, email, DM, tag
- They say it typically takes 7 “impressions” for people to really remember something and act on it. You can lower that number by making the information compelling/unique/memorable or having it be personal. So an invite from a friend may only take 1-3 impressions, whereas a general PR or poster campaign will take many more impressions to draw anyone to the show. A beautiful video might take 1-2 if it’s really captivating. Impressions can be ads, posters, mentions in newspaper, blogs, videos, friends talking about a band, etc.
- Real life (ie. word of mouth) is absolutely key to a show selling well so don’t spend all of your time on social media or working on a poster. You’ve got to be out there in real life inviting people and helping them understand why the show is important to you. This can loop back to online sources like Instagram or the Facebook or ticketing event pages but that real life side is key.
Social media is not the only way to promote shows. It may or may not be all that effective in fact. Especially since only a small % of your fans will ever see the posts/tweets. It still helps to post something every day when you have a show coming up but don’t think doing that means you are promoting a show effectively.
- Instagram may get higher views but you don’t want to wear out your fans with constant show posts either so keep them photo based, personal and interesting. Also use Instagram stories! Get creative with GIFs and video/boomerang content--that way you don’t have to worry about cluttering up your profile, they’ll just go away in 24 hours.
- Facebook ads/boosts may help in a pinch but be wary of spending a lot of $ on that since you can get similar effects by other means. $10 or so here and there may be worthwhile to get a good post out there to a wider # of your fans. Be sure to make it compelling, single images that take up a lot of space on someone’s feed work well and also include the show date and ticket link in that particular promoted post or ad.
- If you can find a way to encourage people to tag friends to invite them to the show that’ll increase your reach and engagement, thereby saving on the ad spends. Add a video or note on the Discussion side of the FB event to encourage fans to respond and improve the organic reach without spending a dime.
- Connect with the other bands on the lineup (or just other cool bands in the area) and trade social media posts. This is a very underutilized tool. Usually posting a video with a link to the show FB event or tickets page is the best way to do this. Share the love! It’ll end up boosting all the bands if you work together. You can even ask a venue you just played out to post for you, it doesn’t hurt to try!
- Post a fun photo with the show info on it and then tag friends to invite them encouraging them to tag other friends
- Try a contest on Instagram where if people tag their friends to invite them they can win tickets
- Nonprofits like Abbey Arts can get free Google ad accounts so if you come up with some clever ads do send them over and we’ll post them. You’ll get more exposure for your band name too! Be sure to include keywords like major bands you sound like.
Google ad format is:
Headline 1 (30 char)
Headline 2 (30 char)
Main text (80 char)
- and include 10-20 keywords or bands you sound like
- We find the best success with Facebook and other social media when posting about once a week a month out from the show with something interesting about the venue, your new songs, the vibe of the show experience, the other artists, etc. and keep mixing it up to keep interest. Then about 7-10 days from the show you'd want to start posting something about daily (and around 9am, noon or 6pm works well to get the most reach).
Include the ticket link or tag the Event.
Single photos do really well, and videos can help too.
A video uploaded to FB itself will get more reach than a Youtube link.
- Paying for Boosts on Facebook and ads on Twitter or Instagram can be effective but be cautious of overspending just to get impressions when you can get them in other ways by being creative.
- The key is to hone in on a select audience by using the filters and narrowing the audience by interests - ie. popular bands that your fans may also like
- Good videos - cross post on FB event, ask venue to embed on their site or in ticketing page, post on your own sites with link to tickets also
- Example of a great video that once seen many people would likely attend their show:
- Email select press & radio people personally and invite them to the show (3-4 weeks out so they have time to write about it. 6 weeks for traditional press). Don’t spaaam!
- Postering can still be very helpful in the right places but just like social media it’s not the only solution. Don’t spend all your energy postering if you won’t have time to do other methods also. Focus on areas that are going to get a lot of traffic and attention not just outside poles that will get covered over quickly. If you can find a business with a good window see if offering their staff a couple free tickets gets you a key visible spot and maybe the barista’s/workers will help tell people about the show too.
- Smaller postcards/flyers can be just as effective since they are easier to grab or give to friends
Local printers: Minuteman Press 9550 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
PH: (206) 527-2237 EMAIL: northseattle(at)minutemanpress.com
G&H Printing 2370 Eastlake Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102
PH: (206) 329-9888 EMAIL: gandhprint(at)comcast.net
A few tips on how to have a good online presence. What a venue (and usually fans) look for is a central website with all these items easily found (and easily copied/saved to share).
- 1. Photos 2. Press quotes 3. Videos 4. Shows
- Don’t put your photos in a media player that doesn’t allow easy saving of hi-res images
- Don’t put your press quotes hidden in your bio or in a visual form so it’s impossible to copy/paste
- Don’t bury your top 3 videos somewhere on a youtube channel - embed them somewhere easy/obvious on your main site
- Don’t bury your shows on an obscure place like Bandcamp’s listings. They are not visible enough
- Shows should be listed on your main site and linked either direct to your FB events feed if you use that 100% or to the ticketing pages themselves for each show. Fewer clicks the better to get fans to buy a ticket.
- It’s fine to have Bandcamp, soundcloud, etc. as well, but one central blog, tumblr, wix, squarespace or something makes a big difference in promoting bands.
It may seem obvious but don’t book other competing shows in the area. Build up the excitement and focus for one show at a time. If you get booked for festivals or other free events consider not promoting those or listing them even until after your club/venue show.
You’ll end up making more $ that way anyhow. For newer bands the spacing between shows generally can be about 3 and consider 2-3 months for an album release show, bigger bands or touring acts. For Seattle plays that would mean it’s ok to play Tacoma or Everett usually but not Edmonds or Columbia City.
Andrea at the VERA PROJECT (Seattle) adds:
“I think my biggest piece of advice is to not be bashful/embarrassed about plugging your own show. TELL EVERYONE!!!! Talk to all of your friends about it, have open communication with the venue about promotion plans, reach out to local zines, newspapers, radio stations, art spaces, etc. etc., post on social media, distribute handbills and posters. Also, connect with other bands in your scene/community and the city at large. The more people you get excited about your band the better!
Bands that start up in Seattle, or are transplanted for that matter, are blessed to be surrounded by such a supportive community. I have never been in a city where EVERYONE cares SO MUCH about music & art and genuinely want to help artists succeed. It is truly special. So don't be afraid to reach out to "music industry professionals"!
THE BARTLETT (Spokane) adds:
“One thing I've found to work pretty well for us in growing social media presence is a monthly giveaway on instagram. I post a pic of our month poster and people can tag a friend to enter to win two month passes. Each time we do it we get a bunch of new followers and obviously a ton of people see the full calendar because they get tagged.”
THE SUNSET TAVERN (Seattle) adds:
“Update your website and all social networking sites. We encourage you to send emails and post bulletins to promote your show. Let the local radio stations and newspapers know and don’t forget… TELL ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS!
Make a poster, bring some to the club, and distribute the posters around Seattle. The sooner they’re up, the better the show! Also, email a web size jpeg of the poster for our website and social network pages.
We also request that confirmed bands not play anywhere else in Seattle within 10 days before or after the scheduled date (2 weeks for touring bands). This will only increase the anticipation for your show at The Sunset and make ours that much better… we promise! Please let us know if you are hoping to book another Seattle show in that time frame as we can make exceptions in certain circumstances.
Please do not send packages to The Sunset that require a signature for delivery (UPS, FED-EX, USPS Certifed etc.).The bar is not open during normal delivery hours.”
Elyse at ABBEY ARTS (Seattle) adds:
“Make sure there’s a Facebook event for your show that you can invite people to. You can reach a lot of people and even though it’s not quite the same as inviting someone in person, I’m always happy to have been invited and will consider going to the show more than if I would have just seen it in my feed. Also, if someone responds with “interested” or “going” Facebook will make sure they don’t forget about your event so it’s not as passive as a post, tweet, poster, etc.”