photo by One_Glass_Eye
But if nobody knows about your concert in the first place, all of that is irrelevant! So how do you let people know your concert is on? And how do you persuade them to come?
For the first few concerts of any new choir you will get a lot of friends and family coming along to support you. But over time, no matter how supportive they may be, this audience source will drop off.
You can’t rely on friends and family forever (see Is your audience just friends and family?), and you will want to share your songs with as wide an audience as possible. So how do you get the word out to them?
I’ve already covered some promotion ideas in my series on How to start your own community choir 5: getting the word out. A lot of the ideas I cover there can also be applied to promoting your concert.
I’ve also written a series of three posts on Finding an audience. These cover identifying what your choir does; describing what your choir does; letting people know; and 20 ways to increase your concert audience.
There’s some good stuff in all these posts (well, I would say that, wouldn’t I), so it’s worth checking them out.
Here I’ll highlight a few things NOT to do which I’ve learnt from my experience over the years:
- don’t miss monthly deadlines – all too easily done! Remember that monthly publications need information at least one month before publication. Also, many monthlies publish in the month before, e.g. April’s issue comes out in March, so you’ll need to send stuff in February for an April concert.
- don’t waste your time on outlets with low traffic – not all publicity outlets are created equal. Get a sense of where most traffic is and concentrate your time and efforts on those.
- don’t ignore your existing audience – get feedback: where did your audience find out about your last concert? Prioritise frequent concert attenders for advance publicity. Make it easy for existing supporters to spread the word.
- don’t forget: word of mouth is always best – ultimately the best way to spread the word is to excite people who came to your last concert. Or try creating a sense of mystery or add some kind of ‘treasure hunt’ prize. Create a buzz in any way you can.
- don’t keep pitching to the same target group – always think of ways of widening your audience base. Don’t keep approaching the obvious sets of people. Find new ways of describing your repertoire or think up new angles to fit in with other events or genres of music. Surprise people – get your choir to do something unexpected.
- don’t lose sight of what works – take notes. Make sure you have methods in place for gathering statistics about what worked in the past, where most audience members heard about it, which repertoire/ time of year brought the most punters in, how ticket prices/ venues affect attendance, etc.
- don’t market to the wrong audience – you know what you have to offer so don’t try to sell it to the wrong people. Those who like songs from the shows are unlikely to want a folk music concert; those who love classical music might balk at a rock choir. Go to where audiences for similar things already exist (except when you’re trying to widen your audience – see above).
- don’t spend money without research – it’s so easy to believe that splashing out on loads of fliers or a big advert in the local paper will bring them in their hundreds, but it’s not necessarily the best use of money. Try it once and monitor the results. Nothing’s guaranteed. Sometimes free sources of publicity are more effective!
- don’t make it hard for others to share – send out electronic versions of your poster by email. Create an ‘event’ on your Facebook page. Include a link to your website in your Tweets.
- don’t underestimate local community radio – they may have a small audience, but they can tap into niches and be very loyal. Also most local stations have a ‘Listen again’ feature on their website which you can link to and share. They are also more likely to give you a whole programme rather than a two-minute slot on the BBC.
- don’t forget to follow up – send articles and photos to the local press after your concert. If you have a mailing list at your gig, send out a personalised email soon afterwards and thank them for coming. If someone asked you about your music/ availability/ recruitment policy/ repertoire, etc. don’t forget to contact them with more information. Post videos to YouTube and let your mailing list know. Put any reviews on your website.