As an indie-artist rocker turned folk musician who has sold over one million albums, Lisa Lynne has made her way through the maze of industry ups and downs to achieve self-made prosperity. She has developed an almost scientific process by which to thrive as a touring musician and shares it all in her new book, How to Succeed with Self-Produced Concerts––A guide for performers and presenters to navigating a successful event. In the following article, Lynne offers tips to help you rethink your next show promotion:
You landed the date for your concert. Now what? Whether you are working with an established presenter or doing it all yourself, you want to fill those seats. It’s on you to be creative and leave no stone unturned.
Define your mission and build it into your story now. Why wait for fame and fortune to be a doer of good? Another show with four guys on a train track will ho-hum an entertainment writer. But if those guys were also stopping by the boys home to do a musical presentation on the history of rock? What if Sally the songwriter was also visiting the elder care home, or the women’s shelter, or serenading the animals at the rescue center? Can your tree hugging songs go multi-media and be a story for the environmental or science news? Was your Grandpa a veteran with a poem collection to share at the local VA? Start now to work for what you believe in, weave it into your mission and become more than an ordinary press release. Become a human interest story.
How do you bill yourself? If you or your band do not yet have name recognition you may consider a title for your show, one that captures the imagination and entices newcomers. When people scan the event listings they see the first few words. "Joe Schmo in concert," says nothing. But "Dance your Pants Off with the Boho Grooves of Joe Schmo" will serve better. “Sally Songwriter in Concert" won’t catch the eye of someone looking for a date night plan, but “Enchanting Love Songs from Around the World with Sally Songwriter" is going to bring the lovers. Consider a title that reflects what is special.
Maximize your press release. Start with important newspapers by filling out the online calendar sections with your show title first. Look up the journalists not only for entertainment but those connected to your human interest story. Your email is a straightforward no-nonsense 4 - 6 sentence summary of who you are, what you do, and your mission. The subject line has show date and a couple of words, i.e “May 27 - "Unique show of world sounds coming to Omaha." Let the writer know you have done the calendar section but think their readers might be interested in your story. Offer a high res photo. Sign off with a phone number, website, and one video link. BELOW your sign-off is your full press release in the body of the email––not an attachment.
When they request the photo, you know you are getting a serious boost for your show. The ideal would be an interview, but a “best bet” mention does wonders. Don’t forget the local bloggers, as many are as valuable as newspapers. Search “events in Omaha” or “things to do in Nebraska” and Chamber of Commerce. Major news stations have event calendars as do many mainstream radio websites.
Create a screenshot of the town where your show is and research all media opportunities within an hour in every direction. Public radio or college stations are a good bet for a live on-air performance or some song spins with some tickets, CD giveaway or announcements. The TV station may be in the next city over, and live performance slots are easier to get than you think. News programs, large and small, are always in need of content and you get valuable footage. All these opportunities are more likely because of your human interest story,
Stay in tune with your presenter: You have already expressed your eagerness to do your part. (Often that is WHY you got that date.) Ask how you can best help, or provide a list of what you normally are prepared to do so they can advise what works best for them. They may have their own multi-date poster templates they already use, or they may choose your poster template, which you always have for your own efforts. Offer them your own press release text so it's the way you want. Be ready to do every task and don’t rely solely on others.
Create your task list and action timeline. Once you have your poster, press release and media-listing page, create a desktop folder for each concert with all materials relevant to that date. Create a task grid on paper that allows you to see exactly where you are and not be overwhelmed or lose your place. The task grid in my book allows you to complete items in order of importance.
Stay on top of all related websites and social media. Follow the venue posts and pages and comment with video links, pics and interesting bits so your show info stays alive on the feeds. Sign up for the venue email lists. Too often the presenter is an overworked and/or underpaid person doing these thankless tasks and a wrong date, website misspell or phone number typo can lead to great consequence to you. It’s up to you to keep a sharp eye.
Upgrade your own social media posts. Don’t just be a commercial for your events and products. If you are only blasting your show dates you are going to bore your followers. If you are sharing an intriguing place you saw on the way to soundcheck or something unusual about the building or town, it creates a personal connection while readers are reminded of your show.
Reach out further. If it’s nearing show date and you still have lots of seats available, reach out to the community. Offer tickets to a school, or less affluent groups, ask the presenter for suggestions. If there are notable town personalities, leaders or business owners who might appreciate comp seats for a show. If you are specializing in Appalachian songs that your grandfather taught you, you might find interest in your show from the college Ethnomusicologist referring to their students. Local music teachers are often eager to expose their students to a certain instrument or style. A local dance teacher might have a group eager to choreograph a song in your show, a magician, a visual artist, multi-media students or a choral group willing to appear for your encore like a flash mob in the audience. The possibilities are only limited by your own imagination.
After doing all that makes sense for you, you can relax because you will know that you did everything in your power to make your own success. Each time you'll get better at making your own luck happen.
LISA LYNNE is a multi-instrumentalist and performer who has succeeded as an independent artist. Her original instrumental music is widely acclaimed, having reached Top 10 on the Billboard charts with the Windham Hill/Sony music labels. She has now sold over one million albums, owns her own record label, and tours regularly. Her groundbreaking work in therapeutic music and her unique business savvy have gained recognition from NBC, CNN and The Wall Street Journal. When not on the road, Lynne teaches music promotion and is a champion of implementing music in healthcare. She was recently named one of 50 most inspiring women by LA Magazine. LisaLynne.com