Planning Ahead – The Key to a Successful Show


Phil Wickham (just thought this image drives the point home)

Phil Wickham (just thought this image drives the point home)

I’m currently working on a trip to Baltimore so the idea of planning and thinking ahead is fresh in my mind.

I’m thinking on average that shows are booked anywhere between 3 weeks – 2 months in advance (on the local level). 
Assuming that this is true, how are you going to promote your show. First, its important to factor in a few things.

  • 1.] How big of a show is this for you? If its a big deal, then decide to put more effort into pushing it
  • 2.] If its a small deal, maybe you want to spend less energy on this one and more energy on the next
  • 3.] You can only milk your audience so much. Don’t oversaturate them with information.


So lets say you have a big show and 4 weeks to plan it.  Here’s what you can do… 

Week 1:Drop a buzz.  In your weekly newsletter put in a 1 or 2-liner about the event.  Give just the facts and tell them more details are on the way.  Example…

  • “Also, want to let you know what I’ll be headlining a
    show at World Cafe on February 25th at 7pm.  Save the date
    and stay tuned for more details.”

If you’re only sending bi-monthly/monthly newsletters, then just go ahead and share the bulk of your information.  I still strongly believe that weekly newsletters are best b/c people have short term memories and information changes so often.

In Week 1, (if this is a really big show), maybe you’ll also want to contact some local e-zines to see if they are interested in doing a short write-up  (ideally you’ll want to contact them with even more advance notice). Check out the “How to Score Reviews of Your CD” post for details.

Week 2:
Make the poster (or make sure someone has created artwork).  Nothing drives the message home like a visual!  If you’re doing an event and no one has artwork, then create your own!  Pictures will always speak louder than words. 

Then Post the artwork on your myspace (photobucket will give you the html code to do this).  Send the html code to every other performer on the bill and ask them if they will also post the artwork on their msypace.  Post the event on as many events calendars as possible.  Yea…just keep posting until you’ve covered all grounds. 

Week 3:
Make sure you have flyers posted in prime spots.    Does the venue have posters?  Ask them if they can also use handbills.  Handbills are postcard size flyers.  Suggest that they put handbills next to the cash register or on cafe/restaurant tables.

If your show is a family-friendly event, the Library bulletin board is so excellent.  Believe me…people read those things!   If your show is  at a bar or club,  put poster in nearby hangout spots.  Ask local establishments  (convenience stores, businesses, art gallery) if you can put a poster in their window or leave handbills by the door.

During Week 3, you should also send a solid email to your newsletter subscribers about the show. Include the poster artwork. If you want to go crazy, you can blast individual myspace pages with the show info and artwork.

Week 4:
Your work should be done for the most part.  Make the show poster your default picture on myspace.  That’s a great final way to get the word out.  By this point, you’ll hopefully be hearing back from people on whether or not they’ll be attending.  If you’re one of those people who sends out a weekly newsletter, then don’t be afraid to remind everyone about the show again.  (not as much detail as last week. just a reminder).

Important things to remember while promoting 

  • Be conscious of location: If your gig is North of the city, don’t go plastering flyers in the South.  Hit up popular venues in the North,
  • Be conscious of demographic: As sad as it is to admit (and depending on where you live), you can bet that only certain types of people will go to certain types of show.  If you’re playing at a coffeeshop, maybe you’ll get the eyeglass-wearing, laptop-toting crowd. So make every effort to promote to that type of audience.
  • Timelines
    You don’t want to send out information too soon b/c it’s briefly remembered, then forgotten.  You also don’t want to send out information too late for fear that potential attendees might already have plans.



Feel free to comment with your own tips.  THEN SUBSCRIBE!  🙂

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