Tips on how to avoid playing to an empty room
If I could summarize exactly how to sell out every show in Santa Cruz, I would be writing this blog from my yacht in Spain, instead of at this faux wood desk. People with brains much bigger than mine spend their entire careers trying to figure out exactly what motivates someone to go from observer to consumer, from seeing the concert poster to buying the ticket.
The blessing and the curse is that there is no secret formula. Filling the room is a predicament shared by musicians big and small, so consider yourself in very good company.
Of course there are things you can be doing to help your cause. One simple truth is that you cannot call up your local paper the day before the show and expect a front page spread. Understand that all media outlets have what are known as “lead times”—basically the amount of advance notice they need to even be able to consider your event. Most media need a minimum of two weeks but it can be up to a month. Outlets will often list their guidelines on their websites or you can call up your local music writer and ask them what they prefer.
Which brings me to my next point, don’t just e-mail your event info to your local paper and expect to be heard above the fray. Reporters get a million similar requests a day. Take the time to read the papers/blogs/magazines you would like your event to be covered in, notice which reporters are writing about similar events and then send your info directly to them. If you are serious about getting the word out, take the time to follow-up with a phone call—but not a hundred. They got your e-mail and they got your voice message, and if there’s more they need, they’ll contact you.
On the opposite spectrum, social media sites like Facebook and MySpace don’t need any lead time, but be careful about posting events too far in advance or over-posting. Typically about a week in advance is plenty.
A secret weapon of many local bands is a little company called Clutch Couriers. They will print and distribute your show poster from UC Santa Cruz to Aptos on bike quicker than you could even write down where to find the bulletin boards yourself. (clutchcouriers.com)
Saving the best for last, I would encourage you to think about the last time you made the leap and went out to a show. What brought you there? Was it a conversation with a friend, a text message, an article in the paper? You are probably a lot like the audience you’re trying to attract to your show. If you can tune into what works for you personally and then apply the same principles to your audience, the room probably won’t seem so empty after all.
For more details on how to promote a show in Santa Cruz, go to http://santacruzrehearsalstudios.wordpress.com/category/how-to/