How to produce successful local shows
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How to produce successful local shows
I will tell you right up front this will take a lot of time, work and effort. It will also take a small amount of money. However, even with a small budget you can provide a world class production that people will remember and appreciate. First you need to research the music scene in your local area. Find out where kids hang out what local bands area out there that already play local shows and bands that are looking to play local clubs. Talk to friends. Tell them that you would like to start promoting/ producing local shows. Friends are you best asset and will be very helpful once you get started. You might find out that a couple of your friends are also interested in doing the same thing. If so try to work together. That way you can all share the work, responsibilities and the rewards.
While you are doing your research make sure you look into the requirements for starting a small business. The best idea is starting an LLC especially if you are doing this with a few friends. This will help protect you from liability down the road and help solve problems before they start. Remember for what ever reason you want to do this you should treat it like a business. The hardest part when setting up your business is sitting on the phone for a few hours to get your Tax ID number. Trust me this is well worth it. While you are coming up with a business name and getting all your paper work organized for your business start talking to local bands. Go check out some local shows. Keep your eye out at these shows for places you would want to use. Also check out sound and lighting people. You want this to be a professional experience for the crowd and the bands. If you do it half ass it will not work.
Maybe you don’t like any of the places these bands are playing or these places are too expensive to rent. You don’t have to use a normal or know concert club. I have been to plenty of local shows in empty buildings, rental halls, vfws and even National Guard armories. The local high school might even allow you to use their gym or auditorium. Be creative! If you are using ones of these places start talking to people about sound guys that have their own PA systems who you can hire. If you’re lucky you can find a lighting guy with a small lighting rig as well.
Now that you have started making contacts and connections you should think about an e-mail address. You should have some sort of e-mail address with your promotions company name in it. If you can afford to make a simple web site that is great and use an email with your web domain. But if not then get a hot mail website and start up a myspace for your promotion as well as a face book group. I suggest making business cards with your name, e-mail address, and cell number on it as well as some sort of title. Your title could be as simple as promotions rep. or owner or something like that. This way when you are talking to bands, hall rental people, PA rental companies and such you can hand them your business card. This does help people take you more seriously.
So you have all your business papers in order, a list of interested bands, a list of places that will work, pa and light people that you can afford. Now what? Put it all together! Pick out a place and talk to them. Once you find a place that will allow you to put on a local show and agree on a rental fee pick a date. Make sure it’s far enough in the future you can get everything else ready and promote. Next, if the club does not provide a sound engineer book your own sound guy and make sure they have an adequate PA system then can bring with if the place you rented does not have a PA. If the hall has their own light system talking to them about having one of your friends run the light if they will let you. You will be amazed how many people will volunteer to do this just to learn. Or talk to them about having their light guy there. If the place does not have a lights see if you can find a cheap lighting guy that has their own lights. Some bands might even have their own lighting rig that they might let you borrow or rent from them. Now book your bands. I suggest about five bands and talk to two or three more incase a band or two backs later. This will happen. It even happens on the biggest professional tours so don’t sweat it when it happens to you!
Once you have all this in order promote POROMTE PROMOTE!!!! Start an e-mailing list. Post it on your facebook and myspace. Make up flyers and pass them out to all the local shows, places where kids hang out, everywhere you can think of. Get all your friends involved in this. Make sure you give lots of flyers to the bands involved to! The better looking the flyer is the better response you will have. If you want to see how well your flyering worked put on eh bottom of the flyer $1 off at the door with theis flyer. You might be able to get your local news paper or free paper to list it. Call your local radio stations and harass them about it especially if they have a local show. If they have a local show, talk to the person that runs it. You might be able to get him to plug your show. You might even be able to get him to bring one of the local bands into the studio during the local show to talk about the up coming show and the band. Bands will love you if you can do that. Even invite kids parents. You have nothing to hide and parents will feel more comfortable letting their kids show up if they are able to show up with them. Some times just the idea of you inviting the parents eases their minds. And you will get phone calls from parents with questions so don’t be surprised when it happens.
Depending on the type of place you rented out you might have to provide your own staff/security. Once again get your friends involved. People love feeling like they are part of something cool. You are reading this so you know the feeling you get when you look at a guy working a show and wish you could be that guy. Now you can give that feeling to your friends. Make up shirts for them. All the shirt has to say is staff or security. Just get some blank shirts and those printable iron on transfers from wal mart or if you really want to, have some shirts printed. If you have to provide all your own staff and security you should talk to the local police department about hiring an officer for the event. Make sure you explain what you are doing, what you want an officer for and why. This way you will be more likely to get an officer that is good with the crowd you will have and will not freak out. This will drastically cut down on any potential crowd problems. It also makes people like the owners of the hall take you more seriously. If you have to get insurance the presence of the officer will lower your rate. The greatest benefit from the officer, besides safety, is when parents find out there is a uniformed officer at your shows they will be more willing to let their kids come to your shows.
It’s the day of the show. Have all your volunteer staff and everyone else you hired show up early to get set up. Have the bands show up two hours early so you can go over your rules and set times. Stay calm it will be a stress full day. You will make mistakes; not everyone will be happy but don’t worry about it. Learn from it. Hopefully lots and lots of people show up. If not then try to figure out why but don’t stress on it as long as some people show up. Find out how those people heard about the show. Have a mailing list sign up at the door. Talk to everyone you can. Bands, crowd, your staff, club owner everyone. Find out what they think, what suggestions they have. Over all no mater what make this as professional as possible and act professional the whole day. Even after its over. If you put on a professional appearance, act professional and provide a professional experience, even if very few people show up everyone involved will appreciate it will be willing to work with you again. This will help build your following and get you a better turn out next time. You should be already thinking about next time even if this time was a failure in your opinion. Don’t give up!!!! Start promoting your next show at this show even if you have not planned the next show yet. Create a buzz and keep it going it will build if you preserver!
If you have not noticed I have not mentioned money much yet because that always scares people off. In my experience doing shows like this you can produce a really great show with pro sound and nice glossy flyers for under $2000. I know that sounds like a lot and it scares most people off, but don’t worry about it. From the time you start out till your first show it will definitely be a few month at minimum. I think it took me about 7 months from the time I started talking about doing this till the first show I did. You can easily save up enough money in that amount of time. Start putting $20 a week into a jar or box or something and set it aside. If you are bad at budgeting or don’t think you can afford to do that then you should check out my hub on the $20 budget. If you have partners then all of you should be saving money for this and you will be able to get the money together much quicker. Don’t worry about paying the bands in the beginning. Any local band that is serious will appreciate what you are doing and be willing to play for free especially if you provide them a folding table to sell their merch at during the show for free. Do NOT take a cut of their merch at the end of the show. Bands really appreciate it when they can sell their merch for free. I suggest starting out advertising your show for $6 with the $1 off at the door if they bring the flyer. I mentioned insurance earlier. I have worked with places that required us to have a one million dollar liability policy for that day. Yes I said $1,000,000. Don’t freak out. You can usually get a one day policy for about $100. Depending on your local area uniformed officers are only about $20-$30 an hour.
Hopefully you break even on your first show and everything goes smoothly. More then likely this wont happen. But don’t give up. You are just getting started. It will get better. Remember you should be doing this because you want to do it, the money will come later. It might take a few shows before you start seeing a profit. Just stick with it. If are providing a good experience for everyone you will build a good reputation and bands will want to play your shows. People will hear about how much fun your show was from their friends and will check out the next one. If I remember correctly I did not break even until my third show. Just provide an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. I mean everyone. Including the bands, crowd, volunteers, the people you hired, the hall and even the officer. You will see it will build with each new show. As you start building a good reputation start looking for local bands in areas further and farther away. Find bands that are making a lot of noise in their area and invite them up to play one of your shows. If it’s a couple hour drive for them offer them gas money a case of beer (if they are old enough to drink) and maybe even offer them the opportunity to crash at your house. This will attract more people and even more bands.
Keep working hard. Never give up and you will be successful! I wish you the best of luck and hope this article has helped you. Please feel free to leave comments about your shows and if I am in your area invite me out to one! Good Luck!!!
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