Awhile back I talked about making your live performance more of a show, as opposed to just a 40 minute series of songs. This keeps people coming back to see what new thing you’ve cooked up this time. However, that presupposed that you had any people at your show the last time, which is not a given.
When we finished our CD last year, we scheduled a CD release party – something you should definitely do. If your gigs are not super original shows every time, your fans will need reasons to believe that each show is special. Even if each is thoroughly entertaining, the more reasons to see you, the better. Good examples of special performances are Battles of the Band (although these usually suck and are actually a ploy to get you to promote your show harder so that the promoter doesn’t have to), opportunities to open for bigger bands that your fans also like, a band member’s or devoted fan’s birthday, and…the release of a new recording.
Frankly, the CD release is probably the biggest and best opportunity for a big show. The others happen more often, and are easier accomplishments. If you’re making great music, you probably only release an EP or album once per year at most, probably more like once every two or three years.
So, the following is what my band did last year on Facebook to promote this very important show. You can definitely use these tactics to promote each and every show, but you’ll see why that may prove ineffective over time. Also, this article assumes that your band already has a Fan Page on Facebook. (Lastly, you can obviously use most of these tactics to promote any kind of event you want.)
Setting Up an Event
First things first, you need to setup an Event Page on Facebook, and do so through your band’s page. I find that it’s better to call it a party than a music event. Technically, I picked “Night of Mayhem”, but that might not work for your violin trio. Use whatever will appeal most to your audience.
You should post your most interesting band and live show photos to the page, videos if you have them, and make sure you write a compelling description of the show. Tell people why it’s important, and how much fun it will be. Don’t just put the boring details. You could even tell a story about something awesome that happened at the last show.
Do Something Extraordinary or Give Something Away
For our CD release show, rather than charge the normal $10 cover and hope that people buy a CD for $10, we made the cover $15 and gave the CD away to everyone who came. This was great for two reasons. One, I doubt we would have sold a CD to over 50% of the people who came, so we made more money doing it this way. Further, everyone walked out of there with a CD – our number one promotional tool. If they loved it, we had them playing it for people in their car, etc. If they didn’t, chances are they may give it to someone who might.
Another time, not at our CD release show, we turned our entire performance into a drinking game. We told people to expect it and not only did they come out for the fun, but it ensured they were ready for it and had worked out a ride home. Long story short, they had a blast and were talking about it for weeks. A story like that is the best promotional tool you can ask for.
Next, Invite All of Your Friends
Only after the Event Page is fully setup and looking good, with any information about your giveaway, or other extraordinary plan, you send out invitations to all of your friends. Also send them to your band members, and once they RSVP they will be able to send out their own invitations to their friends. In your invitations, tell them that this show is VERY IMPORTANT to you. It is your CD release (or Band Battle, or whatever) and you really need all of your biggest fans to come out. Tell them to please be sure to RSVP and TELL THEM HOW TO RSVP. Literally tell them, “Click Yes under RSVP, which is on the right hand side under blah, blah, blah…” Make it so easy to RSVP that they can’t possibly say no.
Over the next few days, all of your best friends and biggest fans will RSVP for the show. Your attendance numbers will start to go up, which provides other potential attendees with social proof that your band is good, that people are going, and that they ought to too.
Ask Your Super Fans for One Favor
After a few days, when your Super Fans have RSVP’d, message each one of them INDIVIDUALLY. Say something so that they know it’s a message only to them, “Hey Chris, It was good seeing you at the boardwalk.” Then, you remind Chris how important the big show is and how you really want to make it a success. You ask each person to please invite all of their friends to the show. Just like with the RSVP request, you TELL THEM EXACTLY HOW TO INVITE THEIR FRIENDS. Give them brief, easy, step-by-step instructions on how to invite their friends. ASSURE THEM THAT IT WILL ONLY TAKE A COUPLE MINUTES. Also, remind them that the show will be a lot more fun if all of their friends are there. This might sound time consuming, but unlike emailing each person asking them to personally attend, which is time consuming and will only result in one more person coming for each message you send, this message will results in a lot of people sending invitations to their entire list of friends. After we did this, we had well over 1300 outstanding invitations waiting in only a few days, and it kept climbing.
Sway the Maybe’s
Once you’ve tapped your Super Fans, wait for those RSVP’s to come in. Then, send a message to the Maybe’s. You can probably get away with a bulk message to the acquaintances and people who haven’t loved your shows in the past. But, if you see someone who really ought to be a Yes, send them a personal message. Tell them who else is going that they would care about, and tell them that if there is any show they won’t want to miss, it’s this one.
Last – Remind Them Multiple Times
This is about where the promotion of the show stops. After you’ve done these steps, I think just about anything else will have dimishing return. If you have other tips for greater efforts, definitely let us know. However, even if your quest for new fans is over, your work with the Yes’s and Maybe’s isn’t. A reminder one week before the show, a few days before, and the day of the show ought to be enough and not too annoying.
Aside from text messages and phone calls, this was about all that we did to promote our CD release last year and we played to a packed house. In fact, we opened for a pretty solid band with some famous players in it for that show, and we creamed them in terms of attendance.
As I mentioned, unless you can create compelling reasons for each show, and a good reason to tell people that they ought to spam their friends again, you can only use this method every so often. Eventually, people will stop wanting to take the time to bring their friends out to the same shows for the same reasons. But, every once in awhile, evoke the “we really need you” feeling in them, and your good friends will come through.