live music concert crowd

Critical Tips for Rock Concert Planning (it’s not what you think)

Concert Planning Will Come Back

Ok, we get it. Concerts are all on hold right now. COVID-19 has turned our world upside down and one of the countless tragedies in all of it is the loss of things that make us happy – like concerts. Concert planning may not be a priority right now until the pandemic is under control, but you can use this time to sharpen your planning skills, build your fan base, and be ready when the curtain goes up.

We are experts in live music. With decades of combined experience in concert promotion, artist management, venue operations, festivals and event production, we built Prism specifically to meet the unique needs of live music professionals. We’ve seen it all. Well, almost all. No one could have predicted this pandemic or the effect it has had on the live music industry. Sadly, more than 62% of Austin’s live music venues are in danger of closing and we feel their pain. Rolling Stone predicts 1,000 music venues may close across the country. The hardest hit? Independent venues – those without the big names and big bucks backing them.

A Rolling Stone article, “More than 800 Music Venues Join Together to Ask Congressional Leaders for Aid,” features a new coalition of independent concert venues from across the country. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) is banding together to try to save live music as we know it. The organization says 90% of its 1,300 member venues don’t have the money to make it more than six months without federal aid. At least 55% believe it’s closer to three months.

Related: To Stream or Not to Stream: Live-Streaming as a Source of Revenue

So, when COVID-19 is in the history books, where will your venue stand? Now is not the time to throw in the towel. We can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone six months from now. Your only option is to keep working, finding ways to streamline your business, earn some extra cash wherever you can, and hold on tight. Because one day, hopefully soon, all of your concert planning efforts will result in packed venues and grateful fans.

Putting The Pandemic Aside

Let’s just pretend for a moment that COVID-19 wasn’t a thing. Go back to the February timeframe when things were still as they always were. Live music was a nightly occurrence and concert planning was a continual process of booking acts, promoting concerts and settling shows. We want to offer you some of our not-so-secret industry experience-backed tips on ways you can grow your business without killing yourself and your work-life balance in the meantime.

Tip #1 – Use Software

Full disclosure: we are a software company. A live music management software company. But the only reason we founded Prism was because we realized how desperately needed it was in the live music industry. Too many venue owners and managers and promoters use disconnected systems and manual processes to run their businesses. All of that time doing things repetitively by hand not only takes up a ton of your and your staff’s time, but it also results in mistakes, misses and near misses, and a lot of unnecessary stress. McKinsey, a leading management consulting firm, found that in 60% of occupations, at least one-third of their tasks could be automated. Here are a few more stats to back up our claims.

In a 2019 global study commissioned by Automation Anywhere, 1,000 participants were surveyed and here’s what they found:

  • Employees spend over 3 hours a day on easily automatable tasks (60 hours per month)
  • By digitizing tasks, employees could be given back ¼ of their annual work time (4.5 months) to focus on higher-value work
  • The #1 hated task was manual data entry
  • 80% of respondents said administrative work was an obstacle for them to do their main job
  • 85% of respondents said they would transfer to another company that invested in automation to reduce their manual workload

In a 2017 independent, global research study commissioned by Unit4, 1,500 employees from various companies were surveyed:

  • On average, employees spend 552 hours (69 days) a year completing administrative or repetitive tasks
  • 67% of respondents believe digitizing/automating tasks is important to remain competitive

All of this to say, repetitive tasks suck time and productivity. You’re paying for that. This isn’t implying that all tasks can be automated. It’s telling you that a whole lot more can be automated than you might think, freeing up limited resources that can be focused on things that actually build your business versus just keeping things going as is. Concert planning is more efficient, taking up less of your time without sacrificing quality.

Using software like ours automates the majority of your day-to-day tasks, such as calendar updates, booking shows, managing contracts, settling shows, communicating and collaborating with your team and vendors, and managing your finances. The software integrates with your other systems, too, like your ticketing platform. Instead of waiting for your ticketing company to provide you with ticket sales updates, every time a ticket is purchased, your financials are automatically updated in real-time. Instead of digging through emails to find a conversation, the software groups conversations based on your filters – all in one place. Our software integrates with everything from Quickbooks and PayPal to Mailchimp and Hubspot.

And spreadsheets? Forget about them. That’s no way to run a business anymore. Software will keep all of your shows, budgets, income and expenses, calendars and everything else all in one place and presented in a way that makes sense and is easy to access. No more double entries and multiple logins, no more checking one system against another, no more relying on human effort and timing, and more crunching the numbers. You and your team are all working from the same place, using the same information that’s already ready for consumption. This kind of transparency and accountability is priceless.

Tip #2 – See Tip #1

Look, we could give you all kinds of marketing ideas to promote your concerts or cool ideas to earn you some extra cash. But we’re not. Right now, it’s all about finding ways to skim the fat, operate leaner, and find ways to stretch the dollar. Based on all of the data above, if you could get back three hours a day per employee, how much would that save you in operating costs? What else could you and your team be doing with that time?

Related: How to Effectively Market Your Music Venue – Even Now

If you could digitize much of your business and remove the mundane, frustrating administrative tasks, how much more competitive could you be in terms of attracting and retaining employees and setting your venue apart from others? Automation has yet to become mainstream in the live music industry. That’s a good thing for you because that means if you are an early adopter, you’re on the leading edge of a trend that will no doubt become the norm. Your investment in live music management automation gives you a competitive advantage.

For many, concert planning starts way before the actual planning. It begins with building relationships with artists and agents, spending time honing your marketing tactics, reaching out to other venues to collaborate, and branding your venue as the place to perform and see live music. If you and your staff are knee-deep in repetitive tasks that could be automated, you’re not going to have much time left to focus on this aspect of your business. 

We Are Here for You

We understand this is a hard time for the majority of music venues. If you need help with finding ways to streamline your business so you can make ends meet, we want to offer our assistance. We have a team of live music experts who just happen to also be software experts and are eager to help live music venues stay on their feet. 

In the meantime, here are a few resources that may help:

REVS – Reopen Every Venue Safely
City of Austin COVID-19 Economic Recovery Programs
Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund Reopening
Seattle COVID-19 Music + Nightlife Updates + Resources
Join Independent Venue Week’s Fundraiser Megathread
Get involved with #saveourstages

Take back your weekend.
Let Prism settle your shows.