How to manage the challenges of organising a music event

How to manage the challenges of organising a music event

Live music gigs and fes­ti­vals are some of the most excit­ing and enter­tain­ing events to be a part of. How­ev­er, days of back-to-back artists play­ing across sev­er­al stages don’t just mate­ri­alise with­out prop­er plan­ning, bud­get­ing and strate­gis­ing.

Know­ing how to plan and organ­ise a music event can have its chal­lenges. In fact, when plan­ning a gig or a fes­ti­val, there are numer­ous obsta­cles to over­come and steps to con­sid­er, but with the help of the tips out­lined below, you can get start­ed on the right foot.


    Common challenges faced by music event organisers

    First­ly, it’s impor­tant to under­stand the types of dif­fi­cul­ties that you are like­ly to face in your time as a music pro­mot­er.

    Bud­get­ing — It can be dif­fi­cult to esti­mate how much your event will cost, and it’s very easy to go over bud­get, par­tic­u­lar­ly when unfore­seen events occur. Cre­at­ing a bud­get and stick­ing to it is the easy answer, but it doesn’t always go to plan.

    Under­staffing — Plan­ners some­times fail to account for the amount of work that needs to be done, or the num­ber of staff need­ed on site for spe­cif­ic pur­pos­es, not least func­tions like secu­ri­ty, bar staff, tech­ni­cal crew, sound engi­neer­ing, health and well­be­ing, among oth­ers.

    Tech­nol­o­gy — If not work­ing prop­er­ly or used cor­rect­ly, tech­nol­o­gy can let your event down, which is iron­ic con­sid­er­ing the help it can be. These issues range from poor sig­nal cov­er­age to insuf­fi­cient amounts of com­mu­ni­ca­tion devices between dis­parate teams.

    Choos­ing the wrong venue(s)Find­ing a suit­able space is cru­cial, espe­cial­ly one that is avail­able at the right time, has the nec­es­sary ameni­ties and can accom­mo­date your bud­get. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many first-time organ­is­ers get it wrong when it comes to venue choic­es.

    No con­tin­gency plans — The UK isn’t known for its cycli­cal weath­er pat­terns — if any­thing, they’re more unpre­dictable than ever. Pro­mot­ers often fail to pre­pare appro­pri­ate­ly for bad weath­er, or oth­er sce­nar­ios like last-minute line­up can­cel­la­tions, trav­el delays or sched­ule changes.

    Lack of pro­mo­tion — Not pro­mot­ing the event can lead to dis­ap­point­ing tick­et pre­sales and low­er return on invest­ment (ROI). Con­verse­ly, if your event attracts more atten­dees than you planned, you must ensure they can be accom­mo­dat­ed in your venue, oth­er­wise, it will pose a safe­ty risk.

    Poor time man­age­ment — There are always expo­nen­tial­ly more things to do, par­tic­u­lar­ly as you get clos­er to the event and while it’s ongo­ing. It’s easy to get over­whelmed if you don’t have a pri­or­i­ty and task list, or del­e­gate to your team.

    Insuf­fi­cient expe­ri­ence — Event plan­ning is chal­leng­ing, to say the least, and many peo­ple sim­ply under­take the endeav­our with­out a prop­er under­stand­ing of what it entails.

    Music event planning checklist

    Thank­ful­ly, after a dis­rup­tive two years brought on by Covid-19, the live music indus­try seems to be show­ing signs of promise. As far as pro­mot­ing your event goes, whether you want to estab­lish a grass­roots pres­ence in a local area or aim high for a region­al or nation­al music fes­ti­val, take these steps below as a loose guide to help you get start­ed.

    Understand your target audience

    Ask your­self who you are cre­at­ing your event for. All good music events start with a con­cept or goal that defines the rest of your sub­se­quent plan­ning. What makes your event unique? Will you plan an event focused on spe­cif­ic music gen­res? What do you want to achieve with your event?

    Set realistic goals

    Set­ting spe­cif­ic and mea­sur­able objec­tives can range from sell­ing a min­i­mum num­ber of tick­ets or gen­er­at­ing a par­tic­u­lar amount in tick­et sales. It’s easy to over­look the role of goals in music plan­ning, but they help you stay on track when you get down to organ­is­ing the event.

    Set your budget

    If you don’t set a real­is­tic bud­get, you will most like­ly over­spend and pos­si­bly cause your­self finan­cial hard­ship. Some gigs don’t require a huge amount of upfront cash, but the big­ger your event, the more impor­tant it is to have a steady cash flow. Bud­gets will need to account for venue hire, per­form­ers’ fees, staff wages, insur­ance, cater­ing, mar­ket­ing, equip­ment rental, and so on.

    Decide on the type of music event

    Music events come in many shapes and sizes, from two- or three-band local gigs to nation­al fes­ti­vals span­ning entire week­ends. Your cho­sen event should align with the goals that you set in the pre­vi­ous step. Ask your­self if you can fea­si­bly attract the right audi­ence to your type of event.

    Find the right venue

    Venues will large­ly depend on your bud­get (and their avail­abil­i­ty), but for out­door events or fes­ti­val loca­tions, you can afford to be a lit­tle more cre­ative, pro­vid­ed you under­stand the con­fines of its scale and capac­i­ty. Set a date ear­ly on to max­imise pro­mo­tion efforts. Also check whether your venue has a strict cur­few. It’s also worth look­ing at com­pet­ing events to see if they could cause trav­el issues or low­er attendee num­bers.

    Secure permits and insurance

    Pur­pose-built venues will like­ly already have licences and per­mits for events to be held, how­ev­er, it’s not always as clear-cut when it comes to out­door event organ­is­ing, even if you will be using pri­vate land. If you use pub­lic land, you will need to con­sult the local author­i­ty, and obtain tem­po­rary event notices, and poten­tial­ly even traf­fic orders (for road clo­sures or diver­sions) and premise licences (for alco­hol con­sump­tion onsite).

    Organise your staff

    You will need to deter­mine the extent of the per­son­nel you need on hand to ensure your event runs smooth­ly. This includes event secu­ri­ty on hand at stages to ensure effec­tive crowd con­trol, as well as pro­duc­tion crews to ensure swift stage setups and close-downs, food ven­dors, bar staff, and so on. Some venues will pro­vide in-house secu­ri­ty, and some per­form­ers may have their own pro­duc­tion teams. So pay close atten­tion to see what is need­ed from your end.

    Contact sponsors and potential partners

    For addi­tion­al cash flow and rev­enue boosts dur­ing the event, you may wish to source spon­sors and part­ners that may be will­ing to sup­port the event. Con­sid­er whether the spon­sors you approach will align with your tar­get audi­ence, and vice ver­sa, and see how your brand posi­tion­ing aligns.

    Gather your lineup

    You may have cer­tain bands or artists in mind when scour­ing venues. Con­sid­er book­ing acts that are suit­able for your event scale — it can be easy to go too big or too small. Don’t waste all of a shoe­string bud­get book­ing an immense­ly pop­u­lar act, and con­verse­ly, don’t ignore poten­tial draws for your event. Many event organ­is­ers have ded­i­cat­ed book­ing teams that han­dle this task, as it takes time and patience to mate­ri­alise.

    Sort pricing and ticketing

    A tick­et­ing plat­form allows you to eas­i­ly launch tick­ets. Make sure that you are using a rep­utable and secure provider that allows mobile tick­et pur­chas­es, as that’s what most atten­dees will use.

    Build a website for your event

    Pro­mot­ing your event across dig­i­tal plat­forms from the start is an impor­tant step. Build­ing and host­ing a ded­i­cat­ed web­site enables you to source and share your own (and sup­plied) adverts or pro­mo­tion­al mate­r­i­al to high­light the event before and after it has hap­pened. You can also sell mer­chan­dise and share pho­tos on your site that show­cas­es its suc­cess. Regard­less of the scale of your web­site, make sure you check the reli­a­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty of your tech­nol­o­gy as fail­ing to do so may put con­sumers’ data and finances at risk.

    Define your marketing strategy

    Social media is one of the most effec­tive ways to pro­mote your event, as is email mar­ket­ing and using the ser­vices of influ­encers. How­ev­er, you will also like­ly need to do some face-to-face activ­i­ties, such as fly­er­ing, leaflet dis­tri­b­u­tion or direct mailouts to local busi­ness­es or sup­pli­ers, or in neigh­bour­ing venues to max­imise atten­dance.

    Make sure you allo­cate enough bud­get to run tar­get­ed social media ads that attract your tar­get audi­ence. Encour­age your artists and sup­pli­ers to pro­mote the event to their fol­low­ers too, as ded­i­cat­ed fol­low­ers may only hear of your event through them.

    Don’t for­get to set a time­line and make back­up plans in case of bad weath­er or oth­er dis­rup­tive cir­cum­stances!

    It’s clear to see that plan­ning a music event requires ded­i­ca­tion and patience to mas­ter. How­ev­er, as you gain expe­ri­ence through sev­er­al attempts, you will improve each time you organ­ise one.

    Are you organ­is­ing a music event ? Weezevent pro­vides tick­et­ing, access con­trol and cash­less pay­ment solu­tions and mar­ket­ing and CRM tools to make your event a suc­cess!

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