THE BEST ACTION PLAN FOR PROMOTING YOUR LIVE SHOW

“I know firsthand how frustrating it can be when it feels like nobody cares about your music. That is exactly how I felt when I started my own band. This is one of the reasons I do what I do. – Ryan Kintz, Co-Founder of Afton

I want you to know that right now, even if you haven’t played any shows, you already have what we call a “SPRINGBOARD FAN BASE.” This promo plan is based on my personal and professional experiences while booking and playing live. This is how you will easily draw more people out to your live shows. Instead of being discouraged focus your promo time on the right strategies.

SHOW PROMOTION ACTION PLAN

  1.   EQUIP EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – CARRY TICKETS & FLIERS AT ALL TIMES.

  2.   LEVERAGE EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – DAILY “TOUCH” GOAL
              *If you’re a solo artist – get a few of your best friends to help.

  3.   MAKE A LIST OF EVERY PERSON IN EACH MEMBER’S PERSONAL NETWORK.

  4.   SELL A TICKET TO EVERY PERSON YOU PERSONALLY KNOW FROM THAT LIST.

  5.   GET EACH TICKET BUYER TO BRING OUT THEIR FRIENDS – ADD INCENTIVES!

  6.   START & UTILIZE THE “SNOWBALL EFFECT.”

  7.   ONCE YOU’RE AT THE SHOW – YOUR PROMO PLAN IS NOT YET DONE!


SO WHAT IS YOUR “SPRINGBOARD FAN BASE?”
You and your group members have a large network of people who already personally know you and will be interested in seeing you perform live. Every artist has a Springboard Fan Base no matter how experienced or new they are.

TURNING YOUR SPRINGBOARD FANBASE INTO YOUR STREET TEAM
This is a grassroots, personal approach that many local artists fail to utilize. Your personal network is going to be your initial STREET TEAM. They will be the most passionate about spreading your name and inviting their friends to shows, and they will be happy to see your success grow. This is how you’re quickly going to start drawing 50-100+ fans to every show you play.

STEP 1. EQUIP EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – CARRY TICKETS & FLIERS AT ALL TIMES

Make sure EACH member of your group is pro-active, involved, and doing their share of the promotion workload. Have each member carry around physical tickets and fliers everywhere they go. Assign each member specific promo tasks or goals.

Each member should invite every person they see face-to-face during their normal everyday activities to the show, focusing especially on people they already know. Don’t just hand out fliers and walk off. Spend a few minutes with them, make them feel special, and invite them to your show. When you’re face-to-face with somebody who’s interested in attending, be sure to SELL THEM A TICKET right then and there. You can easily turn a friend from “I think I’ll show up, it sounds fun!” to actually buying 1 ticket for themselves and 1-2 tickets for their friends right there on the spot. This won’t happen unless you ask!

I used to sell 10-15 tickets per week just from coming into contact with my friends and people I knew through work and other social activities. Normally, advance tickets are cheaper than door price – so you save your fans money when you see them in person! Any time that you spend doing this is an investment that will yield a high return. You’re spreading the word, making social connections, and building social capital.

2. LEVERAGE EVERY MEMBER OF YOUR GROUP – DAILY “TOUCH” GOALS

In promotion and marketing, a “TOUCH” is defined as anytime you reach out to somebody in person and tell them about your product in a NON sale-sy, personal way. Learning to LEVERAGE your group members and setting daily or weekly “touch” goals can greatly impact your fan base.

EXAMPLE: THE POWER OF LEVERAGE
If a 4-member band each commits to 2 touches per day, that means 240 new people will be invited (in person) to your shows, given a flier, or sold a ticket each MONTH. Making a habit of this will result in 2,880 new touches each year. The best part is, the more you practice this, the better you get at it. Now imagine if you really took this seriously and each member made just 5 touches per day. That’s 7,300 touches per year.

How many more fans would you make if your group accomplished this goal? Set a touch goal for each member. What if some days you don’t see any or many people in person? Use your touches by texting, calling, or messaging someone about your show.

3. MAKE A LIST OF EVERY PERSON IN EACH MEMBER’S PERSONAL NETWORK.

People that personally know you are MOST likely to buy a ticket to your show, bring their friends, and be a part of this grassroots Street Team. Your personal network is the foundation of your large and ever-growing fan base.

YOU PERSONALLY KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE.
Research has shown that the average American knows about 300 people. You collectively have A LOT of social capital in your personal networks. Sit down with your group and have each member MAKE A LIST of every person they know in your area. Go through your phone contacts, email contacts, and list of Facebook friends. Make an actual list that will be your starting Springboard Fan Base.
I’ve always, wholeheartedly, believed that virtually ANY local artist can draw 15-20 fans at the VERY least. Truthfully, I believe most local artists can and should be able to draw 50+ people per show. All you have to do is focus on smart promoting with tactics that yield results rather than blindly wasting time passing out fliers to complete strangers. START with your personal network. Utilize your social capital! This is how my own local band went from drawing 0 fans per show to 100-200 fans per show in Portland, Oregon – which was over an hour away from where we lived.
This action plan COSTS YOU NOTHING. Just be smart, work hard, and focus on the people who are most likely to help you succeed.

4. SELL A TICKET TO EVERY PERSON YOU PERSONALLY KNOW FROM THAT LIST.

Your fans and friends are more likely to purchase tickets if they buy them in advance, and they will do so sooner if you communicate WHY they should buy. Be creative and direct. Nobody will buy tickets early if you don’t give them a good reason to. Some ideas are:

  1. Advance tickets save you money (If promo code discounts are active they will save you even more).
  2. The sooner you buy, XYZ happens for my band (more pay, better time slot, longer set, the club/promoter will be impressed, I’ll get more shows or be rebooked if we have impressive ticket sales, once you buy Dave, Brian, & Sam will get their tickets, etc.).
  3. This show is important / means a lot to me for XYZ reasons.
  4. This show is special (B-day show, CD release, amazing venue or lineup, new songs, etc.)
  5. You can offer fans INCENTIVES (free CD, 1 free song, signed poster, song dedication, pre-show party or after show party invite, etc) if they purchase tickets early or buy tickets in group bundles.

PERSONAL INVITES. AVOID MASS MARKETING BLASTS.
The more personal you are when you reach out, the more effective your promo time will be. Email blasts and Facebook Event blasts at this point yield very low results because people are numb to notifications and mass marketing. A person “Attending” on a Facebook Event is way less likely to show up than a person who buys a ticket in advance. Social media and Facebook Events give a false illusion that a bunch of people are coming to your show.

A great way to keep track is to cross names off your list as friends/fans say they cannot attend, and highlight or circle friends who have bought tickets. This way you know WHO TO FOLLOW UP WITH! Ask friends who bought tickets if they can bring along more friends and carpool.

ALWAYS GIVE A “CALL TO ACTION.”
Always give a “call to action.” Here’s what I mean by this. During your personal 1-on-1 invites, ask the person to do something or respond with an answer. This way the person feels engaged and feels like they need to reply back to you. Here are some “call to action” examples I have personally used:

“If you buy a ticket by X date I can get you a FREE CD. Do you already have a copy?”
“I’m trying to keep track of who can go so I know who I can count on. Are you coming for sure? I don’t want to keep reaching out if you can’t make it.”
“If you bring 3 friends to my show I can possibly comp your ticket or give you a free merch item. Would you do that if I could make that happen? Or are you busy that night?”
“Do you know when you’ll buy your ticket yet? I’m keeping track so let me know.”
“While you’re deciding if you can go, can you SHARE my show poster on your FB page?”
“Let me know if you buy your tickets, and if so which songs would you most like to hear?”

Anything that is a call to action and asks for a response or for a decision to be made is going to yield much higher results. This also puts you into a 1-on-1, back-and-forth conversation with your friends and fans. Even if a friend cannot attend, you can still ask them to post about the show, invite their friends, or put you in contact with anybody they know who would like your band!

5. GET EACH TICKET BUYER TO BRING OUT THEIR FRIENDS – ADD INCENTIVES!

Your fans & friends care about you. They WANT to help you. You just have to ask, and you need to use the right incentives. I keep a list of every person who buys a ticket. That way, I can reach out to them and ask them to bring friends AND tell them about my incentives if they do so.

The fans who already bought tickets ARE 100% going to your show, so the next step is to ask them to BRING THEIR FRIENDS. Nobody likes going to a show alone, right? If a couple is coming, don’t they have 2 open seats in their car?

Start treating your existing fans like VIPs. Create some EXISTING FAN DEALS with incentives if they bring people to your show who have never seen you perform live. Investing $0.50 for a fan to bring you a new fan OR $5 – $10 in free stuff for a fan to bring you FIVE new fans is completely worth it! This is how I pitch my fan incentive deals, but be creative in what you offer and how you word it.

The (Your Act Name Here) Bring Friends Deal:

Bring (1) friend who’s never seen us perform
= FREE Sticker + 2-Song CD Sampler

Bring (3) friends who have never seen us perform
= FREE Sticker + FULL LENGTH CD

Bring (5) friends who have never seen us perform
= The Above + FREE T-SHIRT + I’ll buy your 1st drink!

Bring (10) friends who have never seen us perform
= All Above + Song Dedication + WE’LL PAY FOR YOUR TICKET

THE BEST PART ABOUT FAN INCENTIVES
Once you start doing this, some friends/fans will end up bringing you 5, 10, 15+ new fans over just a few shows. Eventually you’ll run out of free merch/stuff to give them. But they are going to keep bringing new friends to your shows. Why? Because they’re going to start seeing how big of an impact THEY are having on your success and how happy that makes you. Your friends and fans WANT TO HELP YOU – they just need a little incentive push to get started.

FOR THE FULL ARTICLE ON OFFERING FAN INCENTIVE DEALS FOR BRINGING FRIENDS: http://aftonresources.com/fans.html

6. START & UTILIZE THE “SNOWBALL EFFECT.”

If you build the foundation of your fan base by starting with your personal network and people you already know you can then leverage your social capital in a big way. You can work outward from the people you DO know into the networks of their friends and people you DON’T KNOW yet. This type of grassroots strategy creates what we like to call the “SNOWBALL EFFECT.”
THE SNOWBALL EFFECT – IT GROWS & PICKS UP SPEED.

  1. You’re constantly utilizing your personal network to get fans/friends out to your shows.
  2. Each fan attending is inviting friends from THEIR personal network to your show.
  3. Your existing fans vouch for you, talk you up, and connect you to their friends.
  4. When your fans bring friends they get INCENTIVES and rewards for helping you out.
  5. The friends THEY bring will now be offered INCENTIVES if they bring their friends.
  6. Suddenly, friends of your friends’ friends are bringing people to see you play live.

Before you know it, your best friend’s >> girlfriend’s >> brother’s >> 3 best friends are attending your show. Now you’re 4 levels outside of your personal network. It starts to grow and grow and grow and every new fan brought to your show is meeting you personally, seeing you play live, having a fun experience, and being added to your mailing list and offered those same INCENTIVE deals, which in turn will get them to bring their friends to your shows.

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:

Your best friend “Tom” brings his two drinking buddies to your show.  You’ve never met them before… Now you personally meet these two guys and get them on your Mailing List.

At your next show, best friend “Tom” CAN’T make it out… But this time his two drinking buddies show up (because they met you & signed up for your Mailing List last time). This time, they each bring their girlfriend. So, you meet their two girlfriends and get them on your Mailing List.

BAM. Your best friend, within 2 shows, has introduced you to FOUR NEW FANS. In this example alone you went from: (1) Best Friend Tom >> (4) people he knows that you DID NOT know.

This is how things start to snowball and really take off, and this is what you want. It’s VERY ACHIEVABLE for you to be drawing 50, 100, 200 people per show within the next 3-6 months.

7. ONCE YOU’RE AT THE SHOW – YOUR PROMO PLAN IS NOT YET DONE!

Many artists think their show promotion ends once the show starts. This is NOT the case. Your promo action plan for this show does not end until the SHOW ITSELF ENDS.

You’ve worked so hard to sell 25, 35, 50+ Tickets. You now have, for certain, a large crowd of people showing up. They all know you and are excited to cheer you on. Think about how impressive that looks to every other fan and band in the venue on the night of the show. Everyone else has a sparse, barely clapping crowd. But you, due to your excellent promotional work, are going to have a densely packed crowd up against the stage shouting and cheering you on. THAT is going to turn heads and immediately make other bands’ fans stop and take you seriously.

This is where you are going to MAKE NEW FANS out of the other bands’ fans. First impression? You’re a band with a buzz because you have an impressive crowd. The room is not awkward or sparse. It’s now easier to get other bands’ fans to move forward, join the crowd, and engage in your live performance.

MANY LOCAL ARTISTS show up and expect their music and live performance to win over everyone in the room. It might… But usually it takes more than that, some type of personal connection or crowd engagement.

BEFORE YOU PERFORM
1.      Make a point to introduce yourself personally and MEET as many of the other bands’ fans as you can before you go onstage.
2.      Tell them which act you’re in and what time you perform. If they’re not super interested move on, if there’s a connection chat a couple minutes.
3.      Tell them that IF THEY STAY for your set you’ll give them XYZ FREE MERCH at your merch table if they come talk to you.
4.      Carry around Mailing List cards while you do this, and ask if they’d like to be on your mailing list in return for XYZ Free Merch.

Now when you take the stage 50% or 100% of the room will have already MET a band member personally and will know their name. People will know your group goes onstage at X:XX PM. Some people are excited to get your FREE XYZ offered merch after you play. That is how you set things up to “wow” other bands’ fans and make them your new fans.

AFTER YOU PERFORM
Get 1 band member immediately to your merch table to talk to people, give out any free merch you promised, and collect or get mailing list cards. This is your chance to again talk to the other bands’ fans who liked your set and to thank your fans for coming.

WE’D LOVE TO HEAR ANY OTHER PROMOTION IDEAS THAT WORK FOR YOU!

If you have any tips or strategies that you’ve found successful I’d love to hear them and share them with our artists. I make no claim that this is the “only” way to draw fans to your shows. But I firmly believe in this and have seen it work firsthand better than any other promo tips I’ve seen or used. I hope something in this helps you and gives you some ideas to achieve what you want to achieve. – Ryan Kintz, Co-Founder of Afton

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Ryan Kintz
Co-Founder of Afton at Afton Shows
Since starting the company in 2004, Ryan has held to our founding principle, that every talented unsigned artist deserves a chance to get onstage. When he’s not working, Ryan likes to play guitar, golf, disc golf,
snowboard, travel and spend time with family and friends. He’s been an avid animal lover, and Vegan, since 2013. Ryan is a Booking Manager, runs day to day operations, creates new artist services, and constantly optimizes how our booking and ticketing platforms can help our artists succeed. He also is the head of our national tours division for signed, nationally touring acts.