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Why No One Comes To Your Shows
June 02, 2003

Why No One Comes To Your Shows.

You passed out flyers, you put an announcement on the City Alert Calendar, but no one came to your album release party or last couple concerts. This is a consistent problem with artists. Often so wrapped up in the productivity of their craft, they often forget they have to market it.

First of all, don’t expect to get all the answers in this article. I plan to keep it brief, but give you enough insight to get started on building better marketing. The vast amount of marketing tactics, guerilla tactics, tricks tips and secrets are enough to fill a book. So, if you’re really serious about building a buzz, I suggest you skim your library or book store on music marketing and guerilla tactics. One site I suggest for in-depth coverage of marketing is (advice section). Nonetheless, to get you started, here are a few pointers and things to know.

1) There’s no such thing as consistency when it comes to marketing shows: Everyone has his or her successes and flops. Some of the best promoters have had shows that fell WAY below their expectations. What’s good about these shows is that they are intense learning experiences. These are the best ways to take everything you did to create such a bad response, write it down and try not to do it again. After you have an event or show, a post evaluation is ALWAYS IN ORDER. Make a list of what went wrong, what went right and what to try for next time.

2) People Don’t Care About You: This is harsh but so true. What matters to you in your mind, just doesn’t matter to everyone else. Most people tend to think that people will automatically care about the great stuff they're doing, simply because its being done. This is just plain wrong. People have bills, money problems, jobs, kids, school, puberty, midlife crisis’, relationships and parents; not to mention, they are constantly being pummeled by advertising from much bigger companies, with much bigger marketing budgets: television commercials, billboards, coupons, previews, radio commercials, other flyers etc. Why should they care about you?

3) Make them care: Find out what matters. Find out what people respond to and incorporate it into what you’re doing. THIS IS NOT EASY. Nothing is easy. If it were, we’d all be millionaires. What often helps is having a crafty gimmick or a stunt that is so out of the ordinary, that people have to take a second look at you. Now, I’ll give you an example, but this doesn’t mean… “DO THIS” It means… “Here’s an example.” Find your own crafty idea. Okay…for example, promote having a fire-eater or belly dancer at the door of your show. Other things people respond to: Free Stuff. But not just free copies of your CD – They don’t care about you yet. Free stuff they want: like a prize, something big or whatever you can afford, offer money, offer a game cube or a television. Free Food, Free Drinks, Free clothes (not your clothes, but clothes people care about….FUBU, Sean John, etc.)

4) Your Flyers: This is a big issue. You can’t just throw up a picture and some information and expect people to see it or come. Your flyers need to be strategic and eye catchy. Information that is important or cool should be BIG and First. Free Stuff=First, Location, Place Time=First. Details should be small and last. Price=last. ((Quick tip: Don't overprice your event - Big Turn Off. But don't underprice either)) Your flyers should be colorful and different. Try a funky shape if you can, or a catchy image.

5) Stay Away From Cliches: The thing about cliches is that they are ever-changing. People will find something good and then play it out. From that point, the idea becomes practically useless. Find out what cliches are around, think about what you’re jaded on and avoid at all costs. Some existing cliches are: over exposed girls in gratuitous positions on your flyers, the words: “open mic,”, “compilation,” “talent show.”

6) Your Timing: Know your abilities. If you don’t have a loyal fan base or the marketing savy to compete with bigger promoters or radio stations, don’t plan your event during your local major station’s big summer concert jam, or on a day when a celebrity is having a concert. Don’t plan your event anywhere near a major holiday where everyone is hosting a slew of events. Avoid Friday or Saturday when all big promoters and venues host consistent events and yours gets lost in the mix. Sundays are cheap to do, but only because they’re hard to promote when people have to face Monday morning work. Mondays are hard cause, everyone hates Mondays. Tuesdays are blah, because no one really goes out after Mondays. All of these considerations are directly related to how gimmicky, different or amazing your event is. Obviously if you’ve got something crazy, you might get away with a Fri, Sat or Sun.

7) Your Visualization: START a BUZZ. Just passing out flyers won’t do it. People NEED to run across your idea, event or branding in MORE THAN ONE WAY just to SEE it, let alone want to come. Flyers, radio, college radio, newspaper ad, word of mouth, Internet Calendar, Internet e-mail, television, poster. Go for them all for maximum exposure. The more people run into your marketing, the more they’ll notice. For those of you who think radio and television are out of your budget; think again. Late night radio is usually around 50 bucks per spot. / Local cable television is about $7.00 per spot. Do your research.

8) Piggyback: If all else fails, attach a big brand, big celebrity or big name to your event to ensure attention. Find something that’s already hot, that already has a big appeal and tack your album release or concert to it. Get your big time local radio joc to host your event, pay for him to mention it during his radio slot, Hire your big time local DJ to spin your event. Hire some big time celebrity to perform and then open up for her…or him.

If you do all this and you still get no response. Take a step back and look at your product. You can’t force “crap” down people’s throats. (Not without a “whole-lotta” money, anyway). If people are not responding to your music, it might…just might be your music. You won’t wanna face this right away, so do the above until it becomes obvious. But if it does, take it into consideration, go back to the drawing board and work on your basics. You have to have something people will want in the long run. Make them care, then have something they want…simple. Also, remember, use the tips above, but keep tact and use a nice blend. Don’t over do it. Do them all, and then spend more money than you will make at the door. Find a good mix, Find a couple sponsors, find a good recipe and then cook it like a fine meal.

Sources: Charles Edwards – World World Entertainment
Brian Harris – Jive Records
Qualo – The Movement


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