The energy of a live performance is unmatchable.

The pulsating beats, the roar of the crowd, and the connection between artists and fans make live shows an invaluable part of a musician’s career.

However, drawing a substantial crowd to these performances can often be a challenge.

If you’re a musician, band member, or DJ struggling with low attendance at your live shows, this article is for you.

We’ll explore how to promote concerts better, plus some tips on what you may be doing wrong, so you can increase your live show attendance and keep existing fans coming back while attracting new fans in the process.

How to Promote Concerts Using Your Social Media

In the digital age, social media is a powerful tool for musicians and bands. It’s not just about posting photos or updates; it’s a platform to connect with your fanbase, promote your music, and most importantly, advertise your live shows.

Communicate with your audience: Respond to comments, host live Q&A sessions, or share behind-the-scenes content. These interactions make your fans feel valued and more likely to attend your shows.

Use the event promotion tools: Platforms like Facebook allow you to create event pages where you can provide all the necessary details about your live shows. Fans can RSVP, invite their friends, and you can post updates leading up to the event.

Collaborate with influencers: Connect with influencers who resonate with your music genre. Their shout-outs or presence at your live show can attract their followers. Influencers are a fresh take on the classic game of telephone, referral programs or multi-level marketing (without the shady pyramid).  Win over those with an audience of their own and their testimonials can turn a lot of new eyes and ears toward your music and live shows.

Share varied content: Posters, behind-the-scenes videos, or countdowns to the event can create buzz and anticipation.

Ignore your vanity metrics: Follower counts, number of likes, total story/reel/short views. These metrics are “feel good” metrics that don’t honestly mean a whole lot if you aren’t able to convert social engagement into real fans, real listeners, and real show attendees.

I AM 100% CERTAIN THAT NONE OF THIS IS NEW TO YOU. We’ve all read or heard about the power of social media, but like all other tools, platforms, and other resources, you have to have a plan you are going to use, commit to a narrow focus of platforms, and work the plan and platforms consistently for a long time, roughly 12-24 months at a minimum. This is where those who succeed are separated from those who drop off and get stuck in the social media rat race.

Make this your first year of consistency and start seeing more people at your live shows!

Collaborate with Local Businesses to Promote Your Shows

Partnering with local businesses to promote your concerts can create a win-win situation – they get the promotion, and you draw their customers to your shows.

Some ideas for local business collaborations can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • hosting live shows at local cafes or shops
  • having local fashion brands design your stage outfits
  • partnering with local breweries for custom merchandise
  • using locally-manufactured music gear and promoting it during your show
  • having your employer or a relatable brand sponsor your band or live show

So what are some ways you could pull this together?

Approach local businesses: Present a clear proposal highlighting mutual benefits. Emphasize how your music aligns with their brand values or target audience. I would emphasize making sure that the proposal actually has more benefit for the business than your music or live show. That way it’s more attractive and more likely to result in a win.

Joint promotions: Collaborate on special offers such as discounted tickets for the business’s customers or exclusive merchandise. Giveaway coupons at restaurants, free drinks at bars, or get yourself a t-shirt cannon for those businesses with a fun culture or unique performance space.

Offer Exclusive Merchandise or Experiences for Show Attendees

Creating unique, tangible memories can be a powerful draw for fans. Exclusive merchandise or experiences not only add to your revenue but also make each attendee feel special.

To make it shine even more, consider using a pre-show guest list to personalize each exclusive merchandise piece or experience so each fan gets that extra dose of love and truly feels like you know and remember their name.

How to promote concerts with exclusive merchandise: Custom t-shirts, posters, or even vinyl records can serve as souvenirs from your live show. If you’re on tour and have several predetermined show dates, consider merch that contains all the show dates so every tour date promotes all future dates.

How to promote concerts with unique experiences: Meet-and-greet sessions, backstage passes, photo booths, on-stage experiences, or the chance to request a song can deepen your connection with fans. Be creative here and think about what you might want your favorite artist or band to do if you were attending their show.  Make it something they can share with friends and family for years to come!

How to Promote Concerts Using Email Marketing Love

I, along with every other music career expert in the market, am going to turn blue in the face with the number of times I repeat this: an email list is a direct line to your fans. It’s a non-intrusive way to share updates, new releases, and of course, live show details. It’s also a list of actual fans and people who want to hear from you regularly (versus social media’s hit-or-miss strategy).

Build your email list: Offer incentives like free downloads, discounts, or early access to tickets in exchange for email addresses. The more social media followers you convert to your email list, the more control you’ll have over the narrative and communication channels to those who are truly into your music.

Craft valuable and interesting emails: Use catchy subject lines, personalize the content, and make sure to include all necessary event details. A clear call-to-action is vital, such as “Buy Tickets”, “I Am Attending”, or “RSVP”.

Timing and frequency are key: Send reminders as the event approaches, but avoid spamming your subscribers. You may find your subscribers are ok with more emails if your messages, invites, and updates are relevant and interesting to them, but start small, test, and ramp up over time.

Grow a Dedicated Fanbase to Create a Regular Built-In Crowd

At the heart of any successful live show is a dedicated fanbase. These are fans who will attend multiple shows, spread the word, and amplify your music.

Engage with fans: Be it through social media or at live shows, value every interaction. Grab a drink with them before you hop up on stage. Visit them after the show and ask how they liked it. Take photos and videos with them so you and they can post their evenings and tag your band and the venue on social media.

Provide value: Beyond your music, offer value through engaging content, transparency, and appreciation for their support. This can be done via social media, your email list, your website, personal DMs, and more. Be creative and shower them with love and value!

Build a community: Encourage interactions among fans through forums or fan clubs. A sense of belonging can foster loyalty. Set up your own community via Patreon, Facebook Groups, or one of the many community platforms. This is an alternative way to have more control over the narrative and space in which your fans engage with you and each other.

How to Promote Concerts in Action: Case Studies and Examples

To illustrate these “how to promote concerts” strategies in action, let’s explore some real-life examples.

Band Success: Imagine Dragons, the famous pop/rock band, began their journey playing in small venues. Their consistent engagement on social media and fan forums built a dedicated fanbase that led to sold-out shows when they rose to fame.

DJ’s Social Media Win: Marshmello, a renowned DJ, leveraged YouTube to share his music and behind-the-scenes content. His unique persona and social media engagement led to packed venues worldwide.

Musician’s Local Collaboration: Indie musician Tash Sultana started their career busking on streets and collaborating with local cafes for small gigs. These collaborations, paired with their engaging social media presence, attracted a loyal fanbase and led to sold-out world tours.

Bonus Tips: What You Might Be Doing Wrong (And How to Fix)

Since many of the musicians, bands, and DJs who might be reading this are going to be starting small and local, I’d like to hand the microphone over to Fang, a friend of mine and the lead singer for a local (and growing) band called Lords of the Trident. With the help and advice of Martin Atkins, he and I would like to share some bonus tips with you about what you may be doing wrong with your live shows and what you can do to course correct!

LIVE TONIGHT: Your Super Awesome Band

Let’s say you’re a good band. A band that has good music, and a vibrant fan base in your hometown. Perhaps you’ve started branching out and playing shows around the region. Perhaps you’ve been playing for a few years, and now can expect to see a decent crowd at just about any hometown performance. That’s great!

However, if you start to track your attendance in your hometown, you may see a worrying fact. Your attendance numbers will stagnate. We’ve certainly seen this over the past year. For example, in my hometown, our average draw is 67 people. Looking at the numbers more closely, we’re seeing trends that hover around this number. For example, the last five shows were 70, 63, 59, 82, and 68.

You might say to yourself, “those numbers are pretty good!” For our local clubs here, they are! But as a manager of a band, what I want to see is a measured increase every time we play. What these numbers show me is that the same people are coming out to our shows every time. We’re not growing our fanbase, we’re simply nurturing the fanbase we already have. What I’d like to see is an upward growing trend of attendance – something like 60, 80, 89, 95, 104.

So how do we achieve this? Two ways:

1. Stop playing so much*

This is a pitfall that I fall into time and time again. After all, who doesn’t like performing live? Normally, you can expect us to have a hometown show about once every three weeks or so. Recently we’ve moved it back to once a month, but that’s still too much.

In the words of Martin:

“You’ve got to be like Disney. ‘Oh shit, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is back! But only for a limited time, and then it goes back in the vault forever! And this time, it’s on effin’ BluRay, and it comes with limited edition stickers! You’d better not miss it!”

Basically, what he’s saying is that if you’re playing every two weeks, or three, or monthly, then there’s no real reason for your casual fans to make it out to any given show. They’ll know that you’re just playing next month anyway. They won’t cancel their plans to see you, or make a large effort to make sure they don’t miss the show. This will keep your attendance levels low.

* For a new band, I think it’s important to play often in your hometown, and to play with as many different bands as you possibly can. There’s about a year of “ramp-up” time where you meet influential people, form “band friendships”, more and more people become aware of your existence, and your fanbase grows. I don’t think it hurts to be playing every three weeks (with a few breaks in there) at this point, because you’re starting to make connections and get your name out there. Once you’ve become a “D-grade local celebrity”, though, it’s time to “go Disney”.

2. Every show needs a purpose

Why should your fanbase drag their friends and relatives to this show, instead of waiting for the next one? Know how to promote concerts by giving them a purpose so fans have a reason to attend.

It can’t be “just playing a show”. Are you debuting a new song? Maybe having a release party? Remember, you can “release” t-shirts, or stickers, or any other type of merch in the same way that you can release a new CD.

Here’s an idea that worked WONDERS for us: using screen printing, make a new, kickass design, and print a metric ass-load of t-shirts.

If you’re doing it right, these should cost around $3 per shirt to make. Have a “shirt release party” where you sell these new shirts for $5 instead of your normal price. However, this is one night only and anyone who wants a shirt for this price must buy one at the show.

This gives the show a purpose. You’re celebrating the release of your new shirt with a show, and anyone who wants a cheap shirt can easily get one, but only if they show up! When we did this, our attendance jumped to 130 people – over double our average!

Don’t have a new shirt? Do a 2 for 1 night, or a 50% off night.

Keep track of your attendance and merch sales.

Experiment.

See what works.

Martin Atkins’ Five Point Crushing Star Technique (TM)

Once you have these two principals down, you can engage Martin’s patented technique:

The Five Point Crushing Star Technique (TM)

This requires a little bit of planning.

Let’s say you’ve got a CD release show planned four months away. Grab a map of your surrounding area.

Now, imagine you’re a fan of a local band. How far would you drive to see them?

Be realistic. 10 minutes? 20? 30? How many miles? What about in traffic?

Draw a circle with a radius of your driving distance. This is your sphere of influence. We’re going to grow this sphere and drive people to your CD release show at the same time.

First rule: no shows anywhere inside the circle until your CD release.

Now, pick 5 points along the outside of the circle. Hopefully these are separate cities or suburbs. Schedule 5 shows in the upcoming months at these locations.

What are the purpose of these shows? To promote your CD release show.

You’re probably pretty well known in the downtown area where you play all the time, but do people in the suburbs know about you? How about the next town over?

Your goal at these shows is to never shut up about the awesome CD release show you’ve got coming up in 4 months and to get everyone on your mailing list.

Maybe you’ll only play to 10 people, but if you’re good, you’ll get at least one or two good fans out of these shows, and those fans will drag their friends to the CD release show. Now, four months later, you’re doing a CD release show that suddenly has 400 people in attendance. The club owner is thrilled, and you now have a fantastic show that people will talk about for a long time.

Also, you’ve increased your drivable sphere of influence. The people that drove from 10 minutes away saw one of the best local shows they’ve ever seen in their lives! I mean, come on – 400 people were there! The next time you play 20 minutes outside of your home base, you’ll get all the people from 10 minutes away, plus their friends, plus the new fans 20 minutes out.

Your influence grows and grows and grows.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat until famous.

Increasing your live show attendance is an ongoing process, but the efforts are well worth it. From leveraging social media and local collaborations to offering unique experiences and building a loyal fanbase, each strategy teaches you how to promote concerts more efficiently and effectively while bringing you closer to packed venues and unforgettable performances. Remember, the ultimate goal is to establish a deep connection with your audience, transforming casual listeners into lifelong fans.

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Are you a serious career musician looking for help from real industry humans?

Are you fed up with the lack of help from the many online music cliques?

Join Career Musicians Made Simple today and gain access to:

  • Music Career Success Specialists who truly care about your success
  • A community of musicians helping each other overcome similar struggles
  • Guides and frameworks that give you tangible results when applied properly
  • Special live events that let you ask questions and get focused attention
JOIN CAREER MUSICIANS MADE SIMPLE TODAY

Stop Feeling Isolated & Let’s Build Your Music Career Together

Are you a serious career musician looking for help from real industry humans?

Are you fed up with the lack of help from the many online music cliques?

Join Career Musicians Made Simple today and gain access to:

Join Career Musicians Made Simple today to access Music Career Success Specialists who are available to help you grow and see you succeed
  • Music Career Success Specialists who truly care about your success
  • A community of musicians helping each other overcome similar struggles
  • Guides and frameworks that give you tangible results when applied properly
  • Special live events that let you ask questions and get focused attention
JOIN CAREER MUSICIANS MADE SIMPLE TODAY