Anyone can plan a live music show, whether it is in support of a good cause, to promote a band or an artist you like, or to raise funds for your organisation. Here, we share our advice to ensure that all goes according to plan!
7 steps to consider to plan your music show in the best possible way:
- Identify your target audience
- Find the perfect venue
- Ensure you comply with regulations
- Welcome artists and service providers
- On the day
- After the show
- Communicate throughout
The first thing to do before launching your project is to identify the target audience you want to reach with your music show. What type of audience would you like to attract? Whether you are targeting children or an adult audience, the permissions that you will need to apply for will vary. Think about the sale of alcohol for instance, or the time of your event – these will be different for an audience of under or over 18.
Define an attendance goal – this will help you define the compensation of the artist, the venue hire, and all related expenses.
The next step is to choose a suitable venue for the music style you wish to play and the attendance goal you have set. This venue will need to meet certain legal requirements.
Look up the music venues around your town, the bars, the cultural venues and other public spaces available to event planners. Once you have found the venue that meets your requirements in terms of attendance capacity and music style, get in touch with the manager to enquire about hiring terms and access to the venue. Does the venue have access for disabled people? Does it have a smoking area, a parking space? Does it have a liquor licence? Ask the manager if first aid cover is included in the price, if he/she has AV equipment that meets your requirements or whether you will have to hire a team and rent some equipment. Will you need to hire bartenders and cashiers or is this included in the price?
Licences and permissions
Regulations require any event that includes regulated entertainment (such as a live music performance) to hold a Premises Licence or submit a Temporary Event Notice (TEN).
You should also know that if you provide entertainment between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., or if your attendance goal is above 500 people for a performance of live or recorded amplified music, you will need to apply for an entertainment licence from your local council.
Safety and First Aid cover
For smaller music shows, first aid cover is not required. However, do think to keep on hand a list of emergency services numbers and a first aid kit in case of emergency. For larger events, you will need to have first aid cover on site (for instance, The Red Cross or St John Ambulance). The team will ensure everyone’s safety on site and within a range of 50 m around the site. You are ultimately responsible for any accident and incident that may happen within this space.
Depending on the type of music show you organise, you may need a security and crowd management team proportional to the number of attendees at your event. We generally recommend 1 safety officer for every 100 attendees. On the day, the safety officers should wear a uniform and must always carry on them an identity card incorporating the details of the employer, the employee and a photograph of the officer. In order to carry out security searches on attendees, you should know that searchers should hold Private Security Industry Act licenses issued by the Security Industry Authority, where appropriate.
The safety officers’ mission on site will be to check installations and assess potential risks and hazards, manage the crowds, prevent risks of fights between people, help people who may be in danger, notify the local authorities and /or emergency services where appropriate, facilitate and organise access to the show and to emergency exits.
You must take up public liability insurance to cover potential damage to the venue and/or the attendees. Collect comprehensive information from your insurance provider to get a good understanding of your cover. Will you be insured during set-up and disassembly? Does the insurance company provide a cancellation cover?
Contracts and compensation of your service providers
Service providers, staff and artists must be compensated and have a contract, such as a temporary or freelance contract. Two types of contracts should be considered when organising a music show:
The even staffing or performance agreement linking the organiser (hereby known as the employer) with the staff and the artists and a tour agreement in the case of a show produced by a promoter/producer. The latter represents a purchase invoice for said show to be paid by you, the organiser.
If the venue that you have hired does not already hold a liquor licence, think about applying for one at least a fortnight before the event. Mention who is organising the event, who owns the venue, where the bar is and the category of liquor that will be on offer.
PRS for Music
At least 30 days before the music show, you should request permission to perform and play copyrighted music in a public setting from PRS for Music, the UK’s Music Collection Society. The organisation will send you an application form to fill, sign and send to PRS for Music. Within 30 days of the end of the event, you must report to PRS for Music including a complete set list confirming the music performed, the Gross Receipts for each element and where appropriate, the writer(s) and duration of the works used at the event.
Once the venue, the attendees and the legal processes are done, you can (finally!) move on to the main reason for putting together your show: the artists.
How many bands would you like to host on stage? Would you like to organise a specific style of show, creating a special atmosphere and host a lot of bands? Or would you like to promote one specific band, in which case the whole event will be about them, with perhaps an opening act? Some bands demand a specific opening act, others will let you choose. In that case, we recommend that you speak with the starring act about your choice to ensure that it will suit them.
You should plan an artists’ area for the band and their guests with food and drinks. Take care of the artists’ transport and accommodation (hotel, guest house) and ask them ahead of time for a rider (document listing the equipment needed and other requirements of the artists). Some demands can seem outlandish, try to meet them anyway. That way, you will have a good relationship with the managers and promoters who will be grateful when you organise other shows.
Don’t forget the other service providers that you will need for your music show.
If the venue does not have the necessary equipment, you will need to hire a sound and stage lighting team.
Depending on the size of the venue and your attendance goal, you will need to choose, as mentioned, a safety service. Be mindful of their reputation, your event could suffer from a poor image if the chosen service is not suitable. You should hire a team that understands the spirit of the event.
Think about food for the attendees and the staff, for whom you will need to contract with a caterer or get food trucks (you should favour local suppliers to optimise costs and promote locally-sourced produce).
Finally, you will need a service provider for your ticketing and access control. Sell your tickets yourself and/or use a provider, you can offer several prices or use our cross-selling feature if you have merchandise for instance.
On the day of your show, your mission will be to pay the artists and ensure your event complies with the noise restrictions and safety requirements. In order to focus on these tasks, you will need detailed planning ahead of time. Plan the artists’ arrival time as well as those of service providers and staff. Put together your teams, assign them their location and mission and explain how the event will unfold.
You will have prepared contracts for each artist and service provider ahead of time, as well as their compensation.
Each of them will need their own space: artists will need to have their dressing room ready upon their arrival, service providers may a prep space to take care of the last preparations.
You should plan a specific welcome for potential VIPs, your partners and the media with a dedicated area, and reserved seats and passes. Speaking of passes, each type of staff should receive a pass including the access allowed to the person depending on their role in your organisation. Some staff members will need a walkie-talkie, which you should plan ahead of time to prevent rush shopping trips at the last minute as they generate a lot of anxiety which you could do without on the day of your event.
This is it! Your show has gone really well and the audience is very happy, your artists are satisfied and you have paid them as well as your service providers, and your staff. But this is not where the adventure ends!
You will need to clear the room and its surrounding areas and to disassemble your set-up then tally your accounts and report to the music rights collection society of the country.
You can organise a small party with your service providers, any volunteer, your teams and perhaps the artists. That way, you show your gratitude to all those who took part in your success, and it is a good idea to maintain a good relationship ahead of future events.
Finally, do a press review of all the feedback your event received in the media.
You’ll have noticed that we haven’t talked about the communication around your show yet. Nevertheless, it is a critical element to the success of your event. Indeed, it is woven throughout the organisation of a show as much as any other event.
There are a certain number of useful tools to create effective promotional communication around your show. Your ticketing is the first tool, whether it is integrated to a website or a mini-site it is the first communication tool to give the tone of voice, the atmosphere of the event and all the necessary information. You also have the option to integrate a video and some visual elements.
You should update all your fans by announcing your show online on your blog as well as all any social media accounts you have. Include all the useful information as well as information on the programme.
- Blog: Post regularly about the show. Post something about the artists that will play, the stage design, the venue where the show will be held, etc. You could interview the artists and ask them to relay the post on their social media pages. Your blog could also cover the press reviews you will have after the show!
- Social media: You should favour this channel to talk about your show. Include the artists, the venue, your team and the audience to share your content and increase awareness about your show.
- Create your event on Facebook including all useful information, introducing the artists (interviews, photos, videos of previous shows they have played, etc.). You can integrate your ticketing directly on the event page or your website.
- Share press articles and some of the artists’ songs on your event page.
- To increase awareness, you can create a Facebook ad. To do this, you will need to define your target audience (age, location, interests, etc.), define a spending limit per day and launch your campaign. Facebook will then work on maximising the visibility of your ad.
- Twitter is also well suited to promoting music shows. Favour pictures and videos on that channel. For instance, you can share interviews, give a sneak peek of the rehearsals, show pictures of the venue and previous live shows of the artists that are scheduled to play. Posting frequently is important here, so do not hesitate to share posts and tweets from the artists, your service providers, etc.
- Depending on your target audience, Snapchat and Instagram could be a better channel.
- Competitions can be created on these platforms in order to increase awareness. You can give the chance to win tickets, extras such as backstage access or access to sound check, or goody bags. Usually, to win the prize, participants enter a sweepstake by sharing, liking and commenting on the post of the competition. That way, you can reach a new audience using your followers’ network.
- Newsletters and emailing campaigns: If you have a database of your fans, think about sending them a newsletter 3 months before the show to announce the show, give useful information and give them access to your ticketing platform. Send them a reminder as we get closer to the show, and why not include a promo code?
- Beyond social media and blogs, the press and media, in general, could be useful allies to increase your event’s awareness and credibility. It will be difficult, however, to have articles published about your event so you should plan your strategy in advance. Start with a press release that stands-out, including pictures and videos introducing the band(s) that will play, the venue, the spirit of the show and a link to buy tickets.
- Then target music media, particularly those specialised in the music style of your artist(s) and send them the press release. Know that you may not get a response immediately, give journalists some time to follow up on your message. If you haven’t heard back a week later, give them a call and offer to send them the press release again and to schedule an interview with the artist(s) – obviously with the consent of the tour organiser. You should keep in mind that the journalist does not have a specific interest in speaking about your show, they are looking for articles that will engage their readers. As a result, your press release should convince them that you have some exclusive and interesting content or news about the industry.
- Print: depending on your budget, it could be good to launch a poster campaign. Create posters and flyers including the programme, some useful information and your potential partners, your website or blog address and your social media accounts. Hand them out and display them around party areas, and neighbourhoods and shops where they can be seen by your target audience.
During the show
Communication should continue during the show. For instance, you could show videos of the last sounds check or stream the show live on social media. Remind people of the useful information and showtimes on your web pages.
After the show
After the show, you should capitalise on the hits and the misses of your event. Thank your service providers, congratulate the artist(s), thank the audience. Get ahead of your critics by explaining any issue that you may have encountered. There is nothing worse than an organiser who keeps his/her head in the sand when faced with bad reviews from the audience, owning up to your mistakes can only make you better.
Ready to organise your own live music show? Start now with Weezevent: