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COVID-19 Changed Everything. Even How You Market Your Music Venue.

How are things going for you and your venue right now? Ya, that’s what we thought. Are you wondering how to market your music venue? We can assume reopening limitations will continue for a few more months, particularly with capacity.

In a 2020 survey commissioned by the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, 55% of restaurant owners said they couldn’t survive over the following months, even though they were open with 50% capacity. With margins already so thin, 50% occupancy won’t cover the overhead. Restaurants and venues need at least 80% occupancy (or ticket sales) to make ends meet.

But don’t be discouraged. If you’re good at marketing your music venue, you might be able to buy yourself some time. Find ways to hold on as long as you can until COVID is out of the way. 

How to Market Your Music Venue During a Pandemic

People may not be able to flood to your venue right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go to them. Your venue is just a place, but your brand is much more. People still want to hear great music, and most people want to support local businesses as much as they can. 

We’ve put together a list of things you can start doing now to keep your brand in front of your audience as much as possible, so when restrictions ease up, you’ll be top of mind. 

Tip#1: Take a Look at the marketing budget

The Guardian shared an interesting article that dives into the inner workings of the live concert industry. Of course, every concert is different, and there’s no way to get exact stats, but there is a formula:

  • 10% goes to booking and processing fees, some of which may end up in the pockets of the artist and promoter
  • 5% goes to taxes
  • 0.1% – 0.8% of what’s left will go to songwriters in public performance royalties
  • The remaining 84% goes to artists and promoters

Although marketing doesn’t appear on the above list, that’s the base to calculate related expenses. How much does that promoter have to market the show to get people in the door (or online)? How much is a promoter willing to spend on marketing to make sure that happens?

The marketing budget requires the promoter to take the gross potential, back out the estimated costs to put on the show, then determine the maximum marketing spend from what remains. 

Once you determine a venue marketing budget you can live with; the next step is to determine how to spend it. It can go anywhere from Facebook ads to print advertising, other digital media, and radio.

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

Tip #2: Come up with objectives

Just as with any business initiative, you need to start first developing and prioritizing your key business objectives that drive what tasks need to get done to achieve those objectives. The critical element here is to make sure your goals are attainable, bring value, and are measurable.

This stage is just about getting your thoughts on a roadmap and prioritizing them based on the urgency and value they will bring to your business.

Tip #3: Determine your strategy

Your strategy is a detailed map of how you are going to achieve your objectives to market your music venue. It will likely involve multiple people, so be sure it’s understandable and documented.

Keep in mind that every single goal, project, and task must align directly to an objective. You need to break down your strategy into the types of people you want to attract, your goals, how you will measure success, and when.

Tip #4: Define your target audience

Part of the strategy needs to be defining your personas or the type of people that come to your venue or that you want to attract. Who are they? What kind of music do they like? What age group are they? What are they willing to pay for tickets? Where do they live? What other interests do they have? Once you know your audience, you can advertise your venue where you know they are – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, magazines, radio stations, even paper posters where they congregate.

Tip #5: Set your goals

Your music venue marketing goals need to be specific. Suppose you want to increase brand awareness. In that case, you can set up specific tasks that will help you achieve that goal, such as create targeted social media ads and/or bump up your email marketing to target specific personas you created.

Make sure the goals are aligned to the strategy and bring real value. That means you need to evaluate whether the cost to execute your plans is worth the value you expect to get out of the effort.

Tip #6: Establish success metrics 

One of the biggest pitfalls businesses make in their strategy is to overlook the success measurement element. Defining how you will measure your marketing success is critical because it 1) allows you to see if your efforts are moving the needle, 2) identifies which actions are most effective and which aren’t bringing the intended value, and 3) gives you a chance to adjust your strategy or efforts to make more of an impact.

Make sure you are specific on how much time you will let go before you measure. 

Tip #7: Make Sure You’re Set up for Success

It’s one thing to say you want to improve brand awareness or increase sales. It’s quite another to have the systems and capabilities in place to execute your goals. If, for instance, you don’t already have a venue fan page, you need one. Where else are you going to send people you were successful in attracting? How do your social media pages look? Are they optimized and designed in a way that attracts your target audience? Are you consistently adding fresh content?

This may mean focusing more on one social channel than another. In the music industry, audiences engage more on Instagram rather than Facebook. Here are some Insta-specific ideas you can consider.

  1. Use Instagram stories to your advantage: You can jazz up a simple pic of a show poster with animated GIFs, text, and even clips of music from the artist you are promoting. You can also use the “swipe up” feature in IG Stories to link your followers directly to your venue’s website or a ticketing website. 
  2. Be A follower: A great way to start getting more followers is to start following other Instagram profiles. Seek out the people you interact with most often. Then start building outward from there by following the accounts of the bands that are playing your venue in the future. With any luck, they’ll start following you back and sharing your IG pics and info about their upcoming show. 
  3. Don’t fear hashtags: Hashtags are still one of the easiest ways users of Instagram can seek out accounts that share their interests. Use the simple things like the artist’s name, #livemusic, #music, #rock, etc. It sounds silly, but it’s surprisingly effective. 
  4. Learn to regram: If you see something great that an artist has posted to their Instagram, you can, and should, post it to your account. This is an excellent venue marketing opportunity to promote your business via their upcoming show. You can do this by using an app or via Instagram Stories. 
  5. Share and share again: Make sure that you connect Instagram to your venue’s other social media accounts. With a couple of extra taps, you can share your posts everywhere, bringing new followers and engagement back to Insta as a result. 
  6. Use Instagram for ticket giveaways: This can be an enjoyable way to get your followers and fans of an artist even more excited about an upcoming show. Just keep the rules simple and make sure that you look over Instagram’s regulations regarding promotions to keep things on the up and up.

Tip #8: Assign tasks

Get your whole team involved and make sure everyone is on the same page. Delegate tasks with a timeline with deadlines. Come up with specific activities that need to happen to reach those goals and objectives. Everyone should know who is doing what.

Related: Video Marketing with Purpose: Creating Unique and Fun Videos for Your Venue or Show’s Social Pages

Think Outside the Box

The above tips are to get a system in place for any ideas you want to pursue. Brainstorming ways to make money and build brand awareness during this crazy time needs all hands on deck. Here are a few of the more creative ideas we’ve seen venues do lately:

  1. Behind the scenes videos: The majority of your music fans likely have no idea what it takes to put on a show. They don’t know what goes on backstage, but they probably would love to. Leverage video platforms to educate them. 
  2. Partner with your acts: Just as people are interested in seeing how music venues work, they’ll often pay money to see an exclusive video interview with their favorite bands. This is money you can earn and split with the acts that agree to take an interview. Remember: your bands and acts are struggling too. Be sure you get your bands to market the videos on their channels as well and, if needed, offer to help them set up a way for fans to purchase tickets. You can also work with your band to host live or recorded concerts that people can buy tickets to see. 
  3. Leverage Spotify: Did you know that you can set up a Spotify account to reach an entirely new audience? Once you get your profile, you can start building your playlist. You will make fans, promote your brand and venue, and can eventually sell tickets on Spotify.
  4. GoFundMe: The crowdfunding platform gives anyone the ability to raise money for whatever cause they want. Many small business owners are taking to GoFundMe to generate income to pay their staff. You may think it’s a long shot to get anyone to donate to your cause, but you’d be surprised at people’s generosity. You can set up a GoFundMe in minutes, and you can distribute the link in seconds via social media, email, and sponsor sites. It’s a perfect way to not only raise money but provide a venue marketing platform where you can tout your commitment to your staff and your love of the live music industry. 
  5. Donation gifts: Most venues have merch. Why not use that merch to bring in some extra dollars? Sure, no one is coming in to buy anything, but you can set up contests or incentives for people to donate money. For donations of specific amounts, you can offer t-shirts, posters, discounted tickets, early access to tickets, VIP access, social mentions, or even a bar drink named after them. People are more willing to donate when they understand the cause and feel like they get something in return. 
  6. Rentals: You’ve worked hard to make your venue a place people want to visit, so get creative with your venue marketing and offer it up as a rental space. You may not be able to sell tickets to shows, but you can rent your area for small parties. The venue can also host small exercise classes, private training sessions, stage tech lessons, and even remote office space.

How do you manage all of this? Go for technology that brings all the tasks together under one platform and automates it, like Prism. Disorganization and manual processes like updating spreadsheets and jumping from one app to the next kills your ability to get work done effectively and can lead to mistakes. An integrated platform will help you reduce your costs and be more organized, efficient, and productive.

Take back your weekend.
Let Prism settle your shows.