If you’re anything like every other aspiring artist in the world, you probably spend a good deal of time wondering how to increase the attendance of your concerts. Event marketing can be difficult, but as industry veterans, it’s something we’ve gotten pretty good at over the years.

That’s why we decided to put this guide together that goes over online concert promotion. If you are interested in growing your audiences, developing a loyal fan base and actually selling tickets and albums, then this guide will be invaluable to you.

The first thing you need to understand is that concert promotion isn’t easy. The number one reason people fail when it comes to promoting a concert online is the fact that they assume that it will take a few tweets and a Facebook post in the week leading up to the event. This is the wrong attitude to have.

Event marketing needs to begin as soon as you know about the event. The earlier that you begin, the more success you will have. If you want to achieve sold-out shows, then you need to start taking online concert promotion seriously.

If you are ready to do that, this guide will share everything you need to know to set up a promotional system that works. While the steps we will go over today would work to promote a single event, you should be approaching this with the mindset that you are setting up a sustainable event promotion system that will continue to drive results for every show you are ever a part of.

With a little bit of strategic thinking, you can leverage the work you put in now so that you are able to grow into the successful artist you have always wanted to be…

First Things First: Offer Online Ticket Sales

It doesn’t matter how small you are, if you are able to offer online ticket sales, you should be doing it. You may only get a few sales when you first start. You may not get any. It doesn’t matter, because we’re trying to set up a system that will help you grow.

The reason online ticketing is so important is that it allows you to sell your tickets as soon as you capture someone’s interest. The effectiveness of online concert promotion is maximized if you can offer them a ticket as soon as they are aware of the event.

Think of it this way: How many times have you learned of some event only to forget about it until it was too late to go? This happens to literally everyone. To maximize ticket sales, you need to collect their money earlier rather than later.

Concert Promotion On Social Media

social media concert promotion

Social media is a huge asset to any artist, whether you are a punk rock band, a rapper or something in between. To effectively market a concert on social media, you need to have an engaged fan base.

If You Want Engaged Fans, Be Engaging

Social accounts are another area where too many artists think they can sit back and let their fans do all the work. It doesn’t matter how many or how few followers you have, the number doesn’t mean anything if those people aren’t paying attention to you.

And how do you get them to pay attention?

Pay attention to them first!

Respond to compliments. Respond to criticisms. Answer questions. Ask questions. This seems straightforward, but the reality is that the vast majority of artists just don’t do this.

Leverage Your Fans to Drive Early Ticket Sales

Everyone who chooses to follow you on social media has essentially given you permission to market your music and shows to them. In the marketing world, this is considered permission based marketing, and this is the most effective type of marketing in existence.

Most marketing involves advertisements that are unanticipated, meaning the people you are reaching aren’t expecting the contact. When people choose to follow you, they are indicating a desire to hear from you.

These are the easiest people to sell tickets to!

If you can offer online ticket sales, it’s never too early to start building the hype for a concert. Multiple posts about the same concert are more effective when spread out over time, but you also have to remember to not focus too much on selling…

The 80/20 Rule

The secret to selling to your existing fans is to limit the amount of time that you are simply promoting a show. If this is all you do on your social accounts, people will lose interest quickly. Music fans tend to be very interested in anything related to their favorite artists, so feel free to share away. Topics you can discuss include recordings, new songs, music video production, other artists you like and really anything else related to music.

The goal you should aim for is to have about 80% of your posts focused on these non-sales engagements, with the other 20% of your posts or tweets directly focused on marketing your albums and live shows. The ratio doesn’t need to be exact, but it’s a good benchmark to aim for!

When To Use Personal Networks

A lot of people ask whether they should use their personal accounts to market their music. When we say personal account, we simply mean whatever accounts you have that would exist even if you weren’t an artist. This network typically involves your family, your friends and work colleagues.  

The answer is yes, but you need to follow the same rule as above. At least 80% of the things you talk about and share with your personal network should be unrelated to your music.

The reason for this is that if you post too much about one topic, you run the risk of isolating yourself and becoming a person that people automatically ignore for always talking about the same thing. If you think about your network, I’m sure you can think of at least one person who does this. You don’t want to be that guy!

The best things to share with your personal network are album releases and your biggest live shows. This allows your friends and family to share in your success, and also increases the likelihood that they comment and share on your posts, meaning your message will reach a larger audience.

Connect With Influencers

If you really want to expand your reach and maximize your ticket sales, then you have to start networking with influencers. Anyone can be an influencer, but for the music industry you’ll probably be looking at other artists, promoters, radio stations and reviewers.

By connecting with people like this, you are able to tap into their social audiences when you need to promote an event. The best way to do this is to connect with these people before you actually need their help.

Start by making a list of the type of people your fan base also follows. The easiest way to do this is actually go and look at who your followers also follow! You’ll likely find a good deal of other musicians that have similar audiences to you, and the cross-promotional potential with this is huge.

Reach out to these people and show interest in what they are doing. Start a relationship with them and offer to promote their shows to your audience. Before long, you’ll have a network of musicians who all can rely on each other to build hype.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising on social media works, sometimes. Other times, it is little more than a waste of money. It’s hard to say if it will work for your event, but if you want to explore this avenue there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

The first thing you need to do is set up highly targeted audiences for your ads. The idea behind targeting is that it allows you to make sure the people who see your ads have interests related to your music. This means you need to identify people and pages that your audiences also follow, and set your ads to only display for people who also liked or follow them.

Another crucial part to effective targeting is making it location based. This makes sure that your ads only go out to people who are in the city that your show is being held. You don’t want to waste money marketing to people on the other side of the country, after all!

Another important part of paid advertising is directing it to a good sales page, ideally with the option to immediately buy tickets. You want to pay for ticket sales, not awareness.

Finally, make sure you are tracking the results. The only way to know if you are making money off the investment you are making is to keep detailed records of the amount of money you are earning thanks to the paid promotions. Test different ad styles and markets, but at the end of the day, you should stop paid advertising if you aren’t seeing a direct increase in ticket sales.

Reaching Out To Press, Websites and Other Influencers

We already discussed influencers on social media, but there are plenty of places to reach people outside of social networks. There is a secret to this, and it’s the exact opposite of what most people will tell you.

Many music promoters will tell you to target people with huge audiences, but the truth is that audience size doesn’t matter! You may be shaking your head a that, but it’s the absolute truth of the matter, and you need to internalize that fact if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your concert promotions.

What matters is that the people you get to promote your concert are an authority figure for an audience that will likely appreciate your music. This means that people actually look to these individuals for information and advice.

Let’s say you are a rapper and are looking to promote a show in Atlanta. You only have the time to set up one promotion and you get to choose between a reporter with Atlanta’s biggest newspaper or a blogger that covers the underground rap scene. The newspaper reporter’s articles get seen by over 50,000 people but the blogger only has an audience of 4,000.

Take the blogger every time!

The bloggers audience is likely highly targeted and relevant to your music. The reporter’s audience will probably ignore the piece or find little interest in it.

Always go with a targeted audience over a large, indefinite one.

Getting Their Attention

One of the best ways to get the attention of people who you want to have cover your shows is to offer them free admission. Many people will turn you down, but you only have to find one person with an audience to have an effect on your attendance.

Create a Website and Capture Emails

If done well, a website can be one of the most effective tools in your overall marketing strategy. On one hand, it provides an excellent place for your fans to find out everything they want to know about you, including your live show schedule and upcoming albums.

More importantly, it gives you the opportunity to develop a highly targeted list of fans through email captures. Connecting via email is an often overlooked aspect of online marketing, but it can also be one of the most effective.

Collecting emails can be as simple as offering a free download of a popular song in exchange for their email. This incentivizes your visitors to share their email with you and allows you to build a list of emails that you know are people who want to listen to your music.

Abusing an email list by over emailing is one of the easiest ways to make people dislike you, so you want to be very calculated with the messages you send out. Don’t do it more than once or twice a week, and make sure to make every email interesting.

Emails don’t have to be boring or overly professional to be effective. Use whatever language your audience would expect you to use in real life to get the best results.

Add Your Concerts to Event Calendars

Our final suggestion to market your live show is to get your concert on as many event calendars as possible. The easiest way to find these is to do Google searches for “event city + event calendar” and “event city + concert schedule” (here’s an example for Portland). The list will be the same list that people who are looking for things to do get when they perform the same search, so you know these are good calendars to get on.

Most cities will have a calendar run by a tourism board, plus there are usually a handful of radio stations that run their own calendars. Figure out who is in control of the calendars and reach out to them. An added bonus is that most calendars feature links to where you can get tickets, so this can be a decent way to drive traffic directly to ticket sales.

Highlights

If you follow all of the advice in this guide, you will be well on your way to setting up an online presence that allows you to effectively market and drive increased ticket sales for all of your concerts and live events. Your goal should be setting up a system that will help you market all of your live shows, not just individual concerts.

To review, your online concert marketing strategy should include all of the following:

  • Offering online ticket sales
  • Connecting on social media
  • Leveraging the influence of others to drive increased attendance
  • Using your own website to connect directly with fans
  • Advertising your concert on event calendars

Remember that effective concert promotion isn’t as simple as just doing all the steps listed, you also have to do it effectively. We’ve explained the basics of this in each section, but the most important thing to remember is to actively engage your audience and don’t over promote by only discussing ticket and album sales.

If you’ve found this guide helpful, please consider sharing it with other people who may find it useful for increasing their concert attendance. Too many people are doing all the wrong things, and we’d like to help people get on the right track!

Also, please share other tips and strategies that you have for promoting your shows. We will update this guide in the future and include any good suggestions that we get, including credit of course!

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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.