So, your band has a concert booked - what's your big plan to make the night a success? If you said, "show up and play," you're only fighting a small part of the battle. Good shows - the kinds of shows that have people coming back for more next time you play - certainly involve playing a good set, but there's more to making it work than just the limited amount of time you're on stage. Get the most bang for your live music buck and put these seven plans into action.
OK, we've already established that a good set doesn't 100% translate into a winning night for musicians - but it definitely counts for a lot. Before your show, practice away and get everyone playing as tight as they can. Know what songs you hope to do, and have a few extra waiting on the wings in case you get more time or an encore.
Speaking of that timing issue, know how long you're supposed to play and during practice, make sure your set fits. This idea is especially important if you are the support band. You won't make any friends creeping into the headliner's time. Likewise, don't agree to play sets you don't have the music to fill. Even if it seems like a great opportunity, don't agree to an hour long set when you only have three songs and expect to fill it with covers - unless you're being asked to play primarily covers. Hold tight until you're ready to fill out your set with your originals.
Social media is one very important part of promoting a show - and the more promoting you do before a show, the more likely you are to have an audience that makes the whole thing feel like a big event. To that end, make sure you use all the social media tools in your arsenal to get the people out. Creating a Facebook event is one tried and true way to invite folks, but if you're not a Facebook type - and who could blame you - use whatever social media outlets you use the most to communicate with your fans. If you're juggling multiple social media accounts, be sure to hit them all. Your Twitter peeps might never log into Facebook, and so on and so forth. Start early, update often.
Now that your internet game is tight pre-show, it's time to start working it in the real world. Find out - early - who is responsible for making posters and flyers for the event. Sometimes the promoter will take it on, sometimes the venue will - and sometimes all of the bands on the bill will wait around for someone to just do it. If no one else is making them - be that person and just do it. They don't have to be particularly fancy if design isn't your bag. It's far more important to get the word out about the show than to worry about having a museum worthy gig poster. Get 'em done, get 'em up and go for it. Feel resentful you're the only one doing it? Don't blame you. Still, do it.
Likewise, alert the local media about the event - print and radio. Of course you want to be included in any event listing guides, but also pitch for show previews and reviews. Drop a press release to the relevant parties and follow-up. Be sure to offer guest list spots to any media you approach. Again, a promoter may handle this job, but if your show is a little bit more of a self-promotion deal, do the job yourself.
But how do I write a press release, you ask? Visit Press Releases 101 for help.
Be sure to reserve some time in your witty, between-song banter to big up your mailing list - you know, the one you've set up at the merch table. Your mailing list doesn't have to be snazzy. A legal pad that says "(Band Name) Mailing List) and a space for name and email address will get the job done. Don't forget to provide a pen.
Now, people are only going to join your mailing list if remind them do so a few times, and you let them know why signing it is a good idea. Tell them you'll keep them posted about new shows and music. Let them know that subscribers get cool stuff sometimes that non-sunscribers don't. Assure them that you'll use the list sparingly and not email them every day like every store they've ever shopped at does.
Want a trick of the trade? Put a few entries at the top of your list yourself before the show. No one wants to go first, so get the ball rolling.
Even if this is your big night, shows don't happen in vacuums. There are a lot of hands on deck any time a show comes off, so be nice to other people involved. It sounds so simple. It sounds like a no-brainer. It doesn't always work that way, though.
Tell the people working at the venue, "thanks." If a promoter was involved, let them know you appreciate their work. Be cool with the other bands on the bill. Respect the schedule for the show, including things like soundcheck. If you wish something had gone differently, decide if someone was really, intentionally doing your wrong or if it was one of those "out of our hands" things before you cause a stink - it might not be worth burning bridges with a connection that could help you in your music career because someone drank one of the beers from your rider.
In short - don't be a diva but instead be part of the team. It will help ensure you get invited out to play again.
If you put names on the guestlist for the show - media/industry names, not your best friend - check the list after the show and find out if they came. If they did, be sure to send them a follow-up email the next day to see what they thought and to ask for any feedback.
You know how you convinced people to sign up for that mailing list? There's no time than the day after the show to hit them with a "welcome to the list" message. They're still excited about the show - it's fresh in their minds - so keep the enthusiasm burning by reaching out ASAP. Sure, you're tired after a great gig, but take the time and get that list updated. It will pay dividends in the future.