In this day and age it’s easy to point the finger on why show attendance is low. Between the promoter, social media, bands not pulling their weight, bad markets, weather, etc… there’s plenty of excuses. But, the truth is the reason why no one is coming out to your shows is because of EVERYONE INVOLVED.
Now I bet your saying to yourself “Dad, that’s a pretty bold statement.” But as they say “before you can fix a problem, you must first acknowledge there is a problem.”
In this article I will dive into why shows are failing, why no one is coming out, and possible solutions to how we can fix the problem of low attendance at shows. I will be looking at this from two different arguments. From the artist side and from the promoter side.
I’m going to start with the most important aspect and that is the Artists. The ones who if they never showed up there would be no show to begin with. Artists will use certain tools to promote upcoming shows and solely rely on them, causing less exposure for your event. One of the biggest tools for promoting a show/concert is Social Media.
Social Media Promotion
This day in age artists are all about promoting their shows on Social Media, which is fine. But, you need to realize one thing and that is that social media limits reach. Unless you decide to boost a post to promote an event on Facebook, your audience is limited.
Facebook is the most notorious of all with an average reach of 1% of your audience. So, if you have 5,000 likes on Facebook you’d be lucky if 50 people saw your post. Out of all the noise that goes on through people’s news feed will your post about an upcoming show stand out and make them add the date to their calendars? Lets say it does, what is the likelihood that all the possible 50 people who saw that post will actually come out to the show?
If you’re going to strictly promote on social media below are some steps you can take which has helped my band become more successful with increasing show attendance.
How to Resolve #1: Record or create a video promoting the show and post on social media to help boost attendance
Recording a video talking about your upcoming show or creating a video is a great way to promote the show. People gravitate more towards video and are more likely to share your post which will increase reach without having to pay for advertising. With everyone having smart phones now it’s easier than ever to make videos and post them online. iPhones even have the iMovie app built right in which can allow you to edit videos and share to your social networks right from your phone if you don’t have anything like Adobe Premier.
How to Resolve #2: Promote the show on both your personal profile and band’s page
Facebook’s algorithm limits reach with pages, posting to your personal profile can also boost exposure for an event. Some friends may not have liked your band’s page so, it’s important to reach as many people as possible. I typically recommend posting about the show on the band’s page then sharing that post to your Timeline. This will also help with increasing reach due to sharing saving you from having to pay to boost a post.
How to Resolve #3: Print out fliers and post around the venue instead of social media focus
This is an older method but it still works to this day. Printing flyers and posting them out in public areas is a great way to promote an upcoming show. When posting fliers in high walking traffic areas, there’s opportunity for people to see your flier with the event details. Sites such as Printkeg or Next Day Flyers have options for affordable color prints with fast turnaround times.
Bonus points for adding a QR Code that points to your Spotify artist page so people can hear your music. One service I recommend in particular is SmartURL and using their Pivot feature. This allows you to create a landing page with links to your social platforms along with links for people to hear your music. Click here to see an example of the Pivot feature.
Relying on other artists to boost attendance
Often times artists will look at the headliner and assume they will have the largest draw. While this could be true, it does not guarantee of a high attendance. Promoting shows/concerts is a collaborative effort, every artists needs to do their part. If every band relies on every other band to promote the show, promotion for that event will be low. So what can you do to ensure all the artists on a show are doing their part?
How to Resolve: Create a Facebook Messenger chat that includes at least one member from each act
Creating a Facebook Messenger chat including at least one member of each act will ensure that everyone stays in communication. Posting the flier for the show in the group will also bring more exposure to each member of the chat.
Now that we’ve determined a few reason as to why show attendance is down from the artist side. Next up, the promoters.
Now this is a touchy one. Bands typically tend to put the blame on promoters for low attendance because it’s easy. In reality, it’s a combined effort between all parties. I sympathize for promoters when shows don’t pan out as they expected. However, there are some general misconceptions these days on the roles between Promoters and Talent Buyers.
A Promoter’s job is to help increase attendance for shows. Promoters primarily handle advertising and help spread the word about the show to get people in the door.
A Talent Buyer/Booker is someone who buys a package or books the bands to play the show but it isn’t their job to promote. They may try to promote to increase their ROI (Return on Investment) but they’re focusing on obtaining acts. This role tends to rely on a promoter or bands to promote the show and often have bands sell tickets for shows.
Now these two titles tend to get confused repeatedly. Just because someone books the shows doesn’t mean they’re actually a promoter and vice versa. They may just be a talent buyer but don’t have the resources to promote the show accordingly.
For the sake of this article we’re going to say that it’s a mix of the two roles. They’ll both book talent and try to promote the show. Now on to the reasons why promoters fail to increase attendance.
Promoters don’t actively “Promote”
This is where the word “promoter” should be used loosely and instead they should be be considered more a talent buyer. The “promoter” will book the bands, maybe post a few things on social media, but then expect bands to do the brunt of the work in promoting.
To ensue a bigger drawing show, more needs to be done than just post a couple statuses on Facebook. As I previously stated above, Facebook limits reach so it’s important to promote aggressively.
How to Resolve: Run Facebook ads for event and post fliers around the venue.
Not booking drawing bands
As a promoter, you want to help the scene and get some awesome bands for the show. Bringing in new acts is a way to keep the music scene flourishing. The problem is they’ll book a lot of unknown acts with zero draw just so they can have bands on a show. Because promoters are booking bands with zero draw they add more bands to the show thinking it will help with attendance. From there, these start turning into shows with 10 bands and only 50 people are coming out.
How to Resolve: Book a decent mix of local drawing bands and new bands
Booking a show with a mix between a few heavy drawing locals and some new bands will help with boosting attendance. This approach will also help get eyes on the new acts to boost their draw on future shows.
When a show fails to draw a crowd, no one person is to blame. When booking and promoting a show it’s a combined effort between bands and promoters. It’s important for everyone equally do their part and ensure the best crowd possible. This will help with ensuring more people see your band and helping the scene flourish.