Why COVID Outdoor Seating Structures Are Killing Your Business in 2023

Covid outdoor seating structures are common in the US

Covid outdoor seating structures – can we say it?

I think we can say it.  Deep Breath. 

Since COVID is over…we need to start reevaluating the “desperate times call for desperate measures” efforts that Venues everywhere made to stay alive. 

Try to say ‘Street Seats’ Structures three times. I bet you can’t…and maybe that’s a sign.

You see them everywhere, ever since COVID brutally hit us:  wooden structures usually encased in plastic, taking up 1-2 parking stalls. Critical to survival, outdoor seating arrangements brought what little revenue they could to Venues back when things were bleak. 

But what now? “Street Seat” parking structures completely block the businesses that they serve – not only the front door, but generally the windows and even the business name signage. And since these structures sat mainly empty through the cold winter months, they didn’t even provide the benefit of showing people enjoying the business.

In spring and summer, do they stay or go? The big question is are those COVID outdoor seating structures (or the “Street Seats Program” in Portland) helping or hurting business?
(Note:  we are not talking about “Street Seats” parking structures for corner restaurants and venues that do not block the front and sit on a side street.)

Covid outdoor seating structures are common in the US

The Big Chill: How COVID Outdoor Seating Structures Are Freezing Your Profits in Winter…and Summer?

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, seating on the sidewalk, curbside, or the parking lot wasn’t just an option, but a necessity. Outdoor seating provided a way to earn at least some profit while adhering to safety guidelines.

However, in a surprising discovery last year, although outdoor seating structures seemed like the safest solution, research has shown that some structures could actually be worse for proper ventilation

Europe vs. America on Outdoor Seating

In Europe, outdoor seating is practically a must-have for all Venues. Wide sidewalks downtown and no-traffic zones mean that every morning, they roll out their chairs and tables on pathways that are 20-40′ wide (or 6-10 M) – compared to 8’ in America (We enjoyed wide sidewalks once too! Be sure to catch the video of the Victorian Era lady having a Marilyn Monroe moment at min 1:20). 

But, we can’t compare Chicago or New York with Paris or Rome. Cramming diners up against the noisy, smelly traffic, leaving narrow sidewalks for pedestrians to squeeze past is a 100% US experience.

European style outdoor seating structures

We Said Goodbye to Masks, is it Time to Say Goodbye to COVID ‘Street Seats’ Structures??

But, since the outdoor seating structures are already here, why not sit down in the one you have and calculate whether it should become a part of your Venue’s cold and warm-weather business model. Let’s see what the pros and cons are…

Question: Why are you covering your front door and window visibility?

To protect eaters from traffic, splashes, and engine fumes passing within inches of them, COVID parking seating structures look the way they do: as boxes that entirely block a business’s brand, vibe, and offer. These boxes have walls, a chest-high window space, and a roof to keep eaters dry in flu-filled winters.

Which is fine, until you ask yourself – why am I blocking the view of my carefully designed exterior? Did you not look high and low to find a place in the best location, only to have it hidden behind see-through tents or outdoor extensions? 

The “Location, Location, Location” mantra doesn’t apply if nobody can see you. It’s as if your Venue is operating from a back alleyway.

Calculate the Costs for Venue Outdoor Seating

During COVID the added revenue from patrons who would not have come, if not for the outdoor seating, made the “street seats” parking structure a no-brainer.

Here are some ongoing costs to consider: 

  • weatherproofing and maintaining for winter dining, with heating (fuel) and protection from rain.
  • City permit costs (we’ll use Portland as an example):
    • Application fee: $100
    • Base Renewal fee: $250
    • $105/linear foot = $2100 for the avg. 20 ft structure
    • Lost meter revenue: $2,000- $7,000!!!
    • Additional costs: $150-500 

Also, if you use your outdoor space for live music events. Cities like San Francisco require you to get a permanent or temporary entertainment permit for the outdoor space.

But the bigger question is…what is the cost to your business to block your front door, windows, and signage?

Solutions to Help You Manage Outdoor Seating Areas

  • Chop off the top… that’s right, just chop it off.  The main problem with these parking structures is that it blocks your business, AND the benefits the “social proof” passersby get when seeing other people inside. You can protect diners from traffic splashes and exhaust with a lower-level wall or planters, while still making it inviting.  
  • Move it to a side street if possible.  Or hey! Is your neighbor’s parking stall being used??? (joking)

Think long-term:  Ultimately, the lasting key to success is to lobby the city to expand sidewalk culture to create more vibrant walking/downtown centers. This will create a safe and inviting environment for outdoor patrons and help your business. In addition, many more individuals, like musicians and other street performers, will gain a safe space and attract new audiences.

Busywork isn’t progress: How unseen admin can hold you back

Let’s talk about busywork…

The “hustle” has become a status symbol. In the US, it has become part of our culture to wear our busyness like a badge of honor. If you’re the most important person in your business, it often feels like there’s so much that only you can do.

Not only do we have a long list of tasks to check off the list each day, we also have to contend with other people piling even more tasks on us too.

But here’s the thing:

Busyness is often holding us back.

Menial tasks and minor details stack up without us realising we’re not making time for the big, important things that we could be doing. Our to-do lists have hundreds of items on them, and it feels good to cross a few things off. Because we like to stay on top of things, we answer emails and messages and texts immediately – that’s what a good leader does. right?

This busywork is stopping us from spending time in our genius zone.

“When you learn the difference between busywork and your life’s work, that’s the first step on the path of purpose.”

Brendon Burchard, High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way

Why do we have busywork anyway?

Nowadays, our attention is always being split amongst a myriad of different things; context-switching between tasks, apps, tabs, calls and meetings.

But is the busywork we’re doing actually driving any progress?

Could some of the repetitive tasks we’re spending a significant proportion of our time working on actually be reduced and automated? Does the admin, the copy & paste work we do everyday actually move us forward?

One major source of busywork is the need for approval from your team.

The reason they pile tasks on you for approval is because of their fear that you won’t approve of their output. If you’re keen to cut some of this down, take a moment to carefully decide where you’re willing to give and where you won’t compromise.

You may need to prepare your team for some of these changes, to give them an element of autonomy over completing these tasks on your behalf.

An empty to do list can easily be filled with busywork items

Your special sauce

Another way to look at this is to think about where we as individuals feel like we really truly have the most impact.

Thinking about your venue and the role you play in keeping it running, there are probably a handful of things that only you can do. There are a lot of things that you have already delegated to your team. With the right training, you could probably hand even more over to your team.

But what can you – and only you – do in your business in order to drive it forwards?

What is your special sauce?

The things you are passionate about are probably the things that brought you to where you are today.

  • Your unique taste & style
  • You have an ear for that perfect sound
  • You know exactly what kind of band and music will fit your venue
  • You have an instinct for what will please your crowd
  • You have a feel for your audience & your community
  • You have the ability to create a vibe that makes people feel comfortable

All of these things are unique to you. When you get them right, your audience keeps coming back.

Less busywork and more magic

Focus your energy on these things. The things that really matter to you, that really make a difference in the long run. These are the things that should be at the top of your to-do list.

If your busywork is keeping you away from the tasks that really matter, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how you’re spending your time. Are you really making progress, or are you just ticking boxes?

Do less, but do it better.

Looking into the future, what would the impact be if you could ditch some of the busy work and spend more time working your magic?

Your customers would benefit from it. They’d likely be back more frequently if they saw the impact of your added time curating music and bringing in the perfect musicians to perform.

Your business would see a positive impact in no time at all, and you’d almost certainly get a kick from it too.

More time for you

AmptUp is here to help eliminate some of that busywork for you.

When it comes to booking live music for your venue, there are a ton of manual and administrative tasks that realistically do amount to busywork.

That’s what we are here to take away.

We don’t fix the leaky roof. We don’t do your books. We don’t order your stock.

But we do cut the admin in half when it comes to your live music program:

  • Searching, vetting and booking musicians
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Exchanging promotional materials
  • Calculating the final payouts and getting the band paid
  • Doing your w9s too (nobody enjoys that)

Our online marketplace streamlines communications, contracts, and rescheduling with Musicians, and is completely FREE.

We’re here to help you eliminate the time wasting back-and-forth, so you can focus on what you love – your special sauce – finding the best music and building relationships.

Jump on board! Book a slot with our community building team, and we’ll have you up and running in no time.

Optimize Your Google Business Profile to Sell More Tickets

Google business profile

Google Business Profile (GBP) is your free ad, local listing, and new online sales point.

Today, when users want to see what is happening over the weekend – they either look to Google or Facebook. In a way, Google Business Profile is your Yellow Pages listing on steroids.

For Venue owners in the US, GMB is free to sell tickets for your events, either from the search results or Google Maps. The earlier article focused on setting up your Yelp Business Page. Think of it like getting your feet wet before jumping into the internet ocean that Google is today. 

Creating a Google Business Profile is much like introducing your Venue to Google. Google then uses Business Profile information to update Google Maps and provide relevant local search results. Not a surprise move, given that the newly published report reveals that  46% of all Google searches are seeking local information.

Don’t Miss out on the Millions of People Searching for You

If Google follows specific trends, you know it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.

Your Google Business Page is like a local listing in the most used directory – Google search. It signals that you’re a credible local business with verified contact information, services, and other business info. If you allow customers to leave reviews, you are doing what customers want. Ipsos research revealed that 2 out of 3 customers say that reviews are essential when choosing businesses.

GBP allows for simplified mobile access, which is super important. 60% of smartphone users have used the “click to call” feature on GMB to connect with local companies. 

And last but not least, your GBP is a reference point to all your related websites, including Eventbrite pages and social media. In today’s day and age, consumers expect all businesses to have a website – so you’re definitely on the right track!

How do you ensure your Google Business Profile is optimized to present you as a reputable Venue and sell more tickets? That’s why we’re here to guide you through the process. So, let’s start.

#1 The Basics

You know that feeling when you meet someone new, and they ask you what you do?

You don’t want to hand them your business card and wait because they’ll know what you do, and there’s little room for conversation. Your Google Business Profile allows you to list your business information, such as your services and hours of operation. You can keep the conversation going with consistent updates, respond to customer feedback, and showcase your events. 

Now, enough talking – it’s time to do the work.

Add your Phone Number & Address to Get a Verification Code

All you need to sign up for a free Google Business Profile and manage how your business appears on Google is to follow this link: https://business.google.com/create. But before you click the link, take a moment to read where you need to pay extra attention so you don’t have to edit later.

You can log in with any Google account (already created using Gmail, Google Drive, or GDocs). Once you log in, you’ll be asked for a way to verify your business (via an SMS, call, or a postcard from Google.) Once your profile is verified, it’s time to dedicate some time to filling in all the details that will make you stand out in the search results.

Choose a Correct Category for Your Business

The first thing to do after you verify your business is to choose a category for your Venue.  Just like picking out what to wear on a first date, you want to ensure you’re sending the right message with your category choice. 

As a general rule of thumb, if you own a live music Venue, you’ll want to choose “bar,” “festival,” or “nightclub” as your category. 

Suppose you run a restaurant or cafe that occasionally hosts music events. In that case, “restaurant” would likely best describe your business. 

It doesn’t hurt to snoop on your competitors’ chosen category, too. You can learn a lot about them by seeing what category they decided on (and how dedicated they are to maintaining their GBP).

Use Keyword-Rich Descriptions & Set Special Hours

The golden rule of keyword placement is: would a real person searching for your business actually use the word or phrase you’re thinking of adding? 

If the answer is no, or if you have to twist yourself into a pretzel to make it fit, it’s probably not worth your time. Consider what your customers might be searching for, and include those keywords in your descriptions. Finally, don’t overdo keywords – write for your customers.

When it comes to your business hours, go into details! The IPSOS consumer research shows that people are 96% more likely to visit a business with its hours listed online. So put your business hours on your profile, and make them unique by setting “special hours” for days when you’re open late or for events.

Adding Photos and Videos

Next, Google prompts you to add photos. You’re not going to add any old images. Instead, you’re adding high-quality photos depicting your Venue’s exterior and interior. 80% of people will watch pictures or videos before purchasing, but only 20% will read text.

The exterior photos of your Venue make it easier for customers to find you when they are following a map. Interior photos help visitors estimate what experience to expect when they visit your Venue. Choose a video or pictures from your popular events to boost this effect instead of an empty Venue. Including posters and flyers from previous and upcoming events to showcase your offer will give visitors a sense of the fun they can have at your Venue.

#2 Advanced & New Features

Don’t be confused with the dozens of items and options GBP offers. Instead, focus on the ones that will help you reach your goal. Here is a brief overview of what else you can do in your GBP:

  • You can build a website quickly by purchasing a domain & hosting from Google if you don’t have one. (Not recommended unless you don’t have any other choice.)
  • Choose your attributes, i.e., a more specific category or sub-category for your Venue. You can choose all attributes that reflect your Venue offer (bar, live music, snacks…). You can also add your accessibility options, extra amenities, and more in this section.
  • Allow people to ask you questions about the Venue or upcoming events. Enable messaging and phone calls/ reservations (you can install the messaging app on your phone to respond instantly.) 
  • Once everything is set up, unlike with Yelp, you can download a Free Marketing Kit from Google to freely ask for reviews & promote your business.

Managing Your Google Business Profile

As a Venue owner or an authorized manager, you will be needed to verify your Google Business listing. However, you can assign it to another person to regularly update and manage the page. If you can, appoint someone from your staff to the role of a GBP Manager and ensure they periodically post while you do your work.

Earlier, there was a special Business Manager Portal where you could do this. Now it’s possible to manage your page directly from Google Search and Google Maps. With the Google Maps app, you can update your hours of operation, add photos, and announce new events. 

GBP provides stats; for example, you can see how many people have viewed your Google Business Profile. You will also see how they interacted with it (ordered tickets, saw directions, called you…). Anyone searching for, let’s say, “live music near me” will also get directions right from your listing (available on iOS and Android).

Google Business Profile exmaple

Get Some Free Advertising

One thing you should do if you like free ad money, as I do, is to connect your GBP with Bing places (you never know what browser someone might use to find a local event.) 

PRO-TIP:  GBP is free advertising for you from Google. Plus, when you connect your Google Business page with Bing Places, you also get free Bing ads credit. Here is how you do it:

Open https://bingplaces.com and choose “New User.” Next, connect your Google Business Profile. A few minutes later, you’ll get an email with a promo code for free Bing ads funds – no previous purchase necessary.

Bing places for business
How to connect your Google Business Profile with Bing For Business and Bing Places

Here’s How to Promote an Event & Sell Tickets on Your Google Business Profile:

  • Go to Google search and type your Venue name or URL – that should be the first result, and on your right side, you’ll see an editable Google Business Profile.
  • Click or tap “Add an update.”
  • Upload a poster, images, or a video of your event,
  • Add a brief event description with a call-to-action 
  • From the “Add a button” menu, choose “Order online,” “Learn More,” or a similar callout
  • You need to add start and end dates (in your Special Business hours)
How to add an event to your Google Business Profile

Next, Google will take some time to verify your event. Meanwhile, you can see a preview:

A preview of your event on your Google Business Profile

What’s Next: We Dance to what Google Plays

Google Business Profiles GBP started as Google My Business, giving users a free and easy way to create a website and run a Google Ads promo. Google my Business pages had a separate dashboard where you could tweak your details. Then the name changed, and now the preferred way to edit your profile is from the Google Maps app.

As the internet experts at Forefront Web say, there’s probably more to this than we know. They predict that Google Business Profiles will soon include paid features. With a fool-proof website builder hosted by Google, organic search and organic reach may quickly disappear altogether – just like what happened with many Facebook Pages after Facebook’s News Feed update.

PRO-TIP+: To stay independent as much as possible, be it from Eventbrite or Google, look into Schema Data Highlighter for events.

Implement Schema Data Highlighter for Events

If you want your SEOs to be on top of their game, tell them to check out Google Structured Data Highlighter. This sweet tool allows them to mark up data about events so Google can display it as if you’re using a Google Business listing – especially on mobile devices.

Google Business Profile is more than images and posts. It would be best if you considered it a critical asset in your marketing strategy. While it is true that the photos and posts you add to the page will help you sell more tickets, GBP is also a tool to brand your business and increase your local reach in the search results. 

Time to get started!

So, if you still need to get on Google Business, book 30-45 minutes, take this guide and build an optimized Google Business Profile.

If you haven’t already set up a profile for your Venue on the AmptUp platform, then what are you waiting for!?

When you’re ready, book a call with our wonderful Community Builder, Victoria who will walk you through the platform and help you get set up for the easiest transition.

We look forward to seeing you on the platform soon!

How to Rank Higher on Yelp & Stay in the Top 10: Quick and Easy Tips

Outside of word of mouth (which is marketing gold), what is the next best way to get people in your doors? Ranking in the top 10. We’ll cover google later, but the best search directory for experiences (restaurants, bars, museums, etc.) is Yelp. You could also use these tips to rank higher on Tripadvisor, and bring in tourists.

Not convinced Yelp can help you bring in more visitors? Here are four facts that will change your mind:

  • With 184 million reviews worldwide, millions of consumers can see which businesses are available in their area and how real people feel about them
  • Yelp has more than 178 million unique visitors monthly across mobile, desktop, and app platforms
  • Businesses see Up to a 9% increase in revenue for every new star earned on Yelp
  • 45% of customers are likely to check Yelp reviews before visiting a business

So, enough chit-chat. Let’s jump right into positioning your venue on Yelp.

#1 First things first: Composing Your Business Page

In case you haven’t done this already, go and claim your Yelp business page right away by here. Make sure to verify your business (the prompt will follow your registration.) Otherwise, you might lose your profile, making it possible for someone to maliciously claim the page and damage your reputation. If you’ve already done this, let’s see how you can optimize your listing.

  • Add your name, email, address, and phone number.
  • If you don’t have any reviews yet, continue reading, and you’ll find creative ideas on how to motivate your visitors to start leaving positive and effective Yelp reviews.
  • Don’t skip any of the fields: include your photo (even better – multiple photos, the more recent the better), venue description, hours of operation, and ongoing and future events.
  • Choose your category carefully. There are options to be categorized as a music venue (which falls into the higher category “Nightlife”) or as a venue & event space (under “Event Planning & Event Services”). Depending on what you’ve chosen, you’ll get displayed in a different section of the Yelp Events page.

#2 Let’s Optimize

Before we get to optimization let’s go back a bit to the why you should put effort into a Yelp listing. The stats above show you how effective Yelp can be as a sales tool. For events, you have several sales tools at your disposal – from promo codes and discounts, to direct purchases through Yelp listing or the app. If it shows promise as a sales channel, you can even invest in Yelp ads to cement your top 10 listing before an important event.

Keywords are important on Yelp

As for pretty much anything online, you need to focus your description, tags, and photo captions on no more than three select keywords that capture what your offer and the reason why someone should choose you over another venue. Think along the lines of: “live local bands,” “top indie stars” or whatever your USP (unique selling proposition) is.

On Yelp, it’s a waste of space to use keywords with “near you” because Yelp does the filtering. Also, it never hurts to read the current top 10 listings’ descriptions and see how they are formulated. Look for the average length, tone, and don’t copy – your uniqueness is your plus.

Keep improving your specialty section

You can add all of your unique offerings here. List each customer experience and event in this section. List the ones that are the most significant first. This way you can always keep your event list updated, alongside special offers and deals you can tailor for Yelp specifically.

List all the cities you’re present in

Many venue owners are unaware that there are multiple location choices available in your Yelp settings. If you have multiple venues, this is the feature to use. But, you can also include the nearby areas you want to rank for in addition to your primary city, giving yourself a free boost.

Choose your photos wisely

First, you don’t want grainy photos of the bathroom from your reviewers to define you. Get a few gorgeous photos of your place, including some of the smaller details that make you stand out. Far away shots are helpful, but not inviting, so keep them limited. Most importantly, get shots of people having fun. They don’t have to be beautiful, they don’t have to be models, but ensure they are good quality photos of people enjoying your place. Make sure that your Venue is clearly visible in the background, because we don’t want close ups of strangers.

#3 Get a consistent stream of (positive) reviews

Now that you know how to optimize your listing, it’s finally time to get creative and incentivize your guests to leave reviews tailored to Yelp. Just one tiny thing before that…

When it comes to Yelp, it’s not the businesses that have the most positive reviews that get into the top 10. Instead, the businesses that have recent and consistent positive reviews are far more likely to be on the top. So, think of Yelp reviews as an ongoing campaign.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews

As a general rule, Yelp doesn’t encourage asking for reviews. However, Everybody does it – and there is scientific backing for doing so. Businesses that don’t ask for reviews from customers are more likely to see their customer satisfaction go down, according to a study from Northwestern. People who are unhappy are usually more motivated to leave negative reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.

Yelp blocks any reviews that look fishy to them, based on their secret algorithms…which often means, good honest reviews may never see the light of day. You can still fish for good reviews by avoiding these Yelp red flags:

  • A sudden influx of reviews – Spread out your requests.
  • Any repeat language, or even a sudden jump from 3 star to 5 star – Don’t tell people what to say, or make a heavy push for reviews at one time (by offering incentives, mass mailing customers, etc.).
  • Suddenly active or new reviewers accounts – this really pertains to fake review farms
  • Overly wordy, or very short reviews (1-2 sentences)

And remember, that people look at your star rating AND the quantity of reviews before deciding to trek out to your location and spend their hard earned money.

Promptly respond to any negative reviews

At the same time, Online Reviews Statistics and Trends: A 2022 Report by ReviewTrackers found that companies don’t react to reviews quickly enough or at all. Customers expect companies to respond to bad reviews in less than a week, as per 53% of respondents. One in three people expects it in three days or less.
Consequently, your positive reputation is closely related to quicker review response times.

So, when you face a negative review, ensure you offer a solution to the customer, and be kind in your response. Even if the review is unfounded, show your positive side.

Ask for service-specific reviews

When talking about reviews or Yelp with your customers or even musicians, ask them to write “What” was done “Where” (this covers your keywords), and by “Whom” (this adds a personalized touch to your venue.) Also, you can nudge the customers who already are having fun to quickly post a review and offer them snacks or a free drink as thanks.

Get human, not robotic reviews

Put a sign at your venue and on tables occasionally, or do a regular campaign where you ask bartenders to prompt people that are having a good experience – especially if they have a good rapport – to give a wink and a smile and include their name in the review. For example, “I’ll get kudos from the boss if you mention my name”. Having the names of staff in a review makes it feel like your venue’s atmosphere is significantly more personal, friendly, and warm.

Include everyone in the “Yelp campaign”

While you can find online offers that guarantee “100% real people reviews” in exchange for your money, it doesn’t pay off to go down this route. If you get anything for your money, it’ll be robotic sounding, poorly written repeat that can blow your reputation in an instant. What you can do instead is, like in the example above, motivate your staff to pay attention to customers and look for opportunities where they can ask for a review.

And, don’t forget to do the easiest thing of them all – place a Yelp badge on your website, and mention it on Twitter and Facebook. Your loyal customers and friends will be a far better source of unique reviews.

Track Your Reviews!

Be sure to track reviews and ratings, and share this with staff at weekly meetings. Be sure to reward anyone that was specifically mentioned. Make it a regular part of your business management, and your ratings will increase seemingly without effort.

5 Free Tools to Triple Your Ticket Sales on Eventbrite

Knowing how to increase ticket sales on Eventbrite is essential for Independent venues.

There are a lot of ticketing tools out there. A LOT. We are ticketing agnostic, but since many of you are using Eventbrite, or contemplating using it, we want to show you how to get the most bang for your buck.

(Looking for ticketing software? We found this insanely long list of options.)

Increase your ticket sales on eventbrite!

I know…I do it too…

I usually sign up for a tool and learn the bare-minimum necessary to make it function and do the one thing I need it to do.

Ie: “Eventbrite, I need you to sell tickets when someone clicks the link. Do that and we’ll be good.”

I treat these Jetsons-style modern technologies like they’re wall-hanging phones and can do only one thing.

But, I’ve learned over the years that tech companies are spending millions of dollars and hours to make this tool incredible and unbeatable for…ME. To make my life easier…if I’d only let it.  So, let’s collectively make the shift to invest our time and energy in a tool and make it work hard for the money! Let’s dive in.   

Knowing WHEN to market is key to increasing ticket sales on Eventbrite

According to Eventbrite data, the sales peaks should be one of the most important determining factors of your event marketing lifecycle. 

Understanding what these are when they occur is a key factor to increasing ticket sales on Eventbrite.

The stages of the ticket sale process: 

(per Eventbrite)
  1. Announcement phase  
  2. On-sale phase  
  3. Maintenance phase  
  4. Closeout phase  

Here is a breakdown of the ticket sales peaks, for the biggest event types.   

Festivals – 15% of tickets are sold during the first week, 1% of tickets are bought during the ticket-release stages in between, and 24% during the last week. Based on that information, you as a venue owner or a festival organizer can distribute your marketing budget more effectively.   

So, for the festivals – especially ones with tiered ticket pricing, the ad spend would be ideally broken down like so: 

  • Announcement – 10%   
  • 1st tier ticket promotion – 30% on-sale   
  • 2nd tier ticket promotion – 10%  
  • 3rd tier ticket group – 10%   

Family-friendly events – Families tend to plan things ahead. For this reason, you should focus your advertising effort on trying to boost your ticket sales in the earliest stages (the event is announced, and the first tickets go on sale.) The remaining ad budget goes equally to the maintenance campaigns and closeout ads.   

Nightlife or weekend events with last-minute fans – Among 2,000 Americans Eventbrite included in their survey, 43% plan their night out up to 3 days in advance, from Wednesday onward. Most of the survey participants, 19% of them, plan their night out on Thursday.   

Comedy shows attract last-minute ticket buyers– On average, they sell only 6% of tickets in the first week. The overwhelming majority of tickets – 75% – are sold during the last week. Even more surprising is that 31% of comedy show tickets are sold on the day of the event!   

Now that you’re familiar with when most tickets are sold, let’s dive into ways to boost your ticket sales during peak periods.

1. Add Eventbrite promotion codes & bundling

People love a good deal.

Finding a good deal or being the recipient of a good deal makes you feel special – like an explorer that found a treasure, lucky (and everyone loves that feeling), knowledgeable, or even loved for your loyalty. So, starting with the easiest tip and tool: create a promotion code directly on Eventbrite to maximize that feel-good feeling.   

This is a key element in figuring out how to increase ticket sales.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, price discounts can increase ticket sales on Eventbrite, and your revenue too. However, think about your goals for having and using promo codes so you don’t run the risk of creating extra work for yourself AND losing revenue. The goal may feel obvious: boost your ticket sales. But it may also be to increase loyalty or reward evangelists.

Strategy: Ways to use a promo code?

Create promo codes as an early bird discount, as a flash sale (perfect around the holiday gifting times), for off-nights, or by creating hidden offers that only VIPs can access
(maybe these are members of a loyalty program, influencers you want to win over).

Perhaps you have a VIP club of fans, and after their 5th show, they get a promo code that opens secret tickets with benefits. Maybe you want to invite key press or influencers and want to treat them to a special VIP experience with FREE drinks – create a unique code just for them – here’s how. 

 How to add Eventbrite Promotion codes to your event

2. Add a retargeting pixel to the Eventbrite ticketing page to track interested window shoppers

Retargeting, especially setting up retargeting audiences from all the platforms you use, might sound scary. BUT. “Retargeted fans are 70% more likely to buy tickets”, Eventbrite research reports!   

Since this is one of THE MOST USEFUL things you can do to push your marketing to the next level, let’s break down why to use it, how, and what you need to start a retargeting campaign for your event.  

Retargeting enables you to show ads to window-shoppers, i.e., the people who saw your ad or landed organically on your website, the Eventbrite event, or Facebook event pages, but didn’t buy a ticket or RSVPed. A little cookie will follow them out of your site and keep the anonymized data on every user and their actions (more on this in a minute.) The best thing is, the Facebook pixel, for example, will track all interactions on your business page, FB event page, or website and all your integrations (from Eventbrite pages to simple registration forms) so all your contact points with a potential customer are covered with one tracking pixel, visible in one activity dashboard

How to create a tracking pixel and what it can do

This process is a bit more involved.  First, you first need to create a pixel if you don’t have one, and then you can create ads on Facebook, Twitter, or Google targeting your window shoppers by connecting the ads to those who have been on pages with your pixel.  

Once you have a tracking pixel installed on all your major marketing points, you’ll also get a wealth of data on people who visit your website and event pages, including how many people added it to their calendar, looked you up on the map, initiated a purchase but didn’t finish, and much much more. This concrete data enables you to build better campaigns in the future, see where your bottlenecks are, and even how people behave on your landing pages.   

The most common, and by far the easiest, way to add a new tracking pixel (if you already don’t have one) is to create a Facebook pixel.  However, you can create tracking pixels for your ads with Google, Facebook/Instagram, Twitter and more. 

We’ve put together a detailed ‘how to’ here.

3. Connect with Fans through Email marketing on Eventbrite

You’d be surprised at how many Venues don’t use their email list as much as they should or at all.

Many are worried about annoying their audience, or just don’t have the time to create the emails, but even if all you do is send out the email flier, date, and time, you’re a step ahead. Remember to think about the sales cycle for your event and send out reminders.  

If you set up an email campaign once, you can automate it and reuse it for future events, so you won’t start from scratch each time.

You’ll need:

  • One email to announce the event
  • One to tell your fans that tickets are on sale and where to buy them
  • A final one to remind them that event is in, say, three days.

For the next event, you can copy this campaign in Eventbrite and only change the details to fit your new event.  

A word about Frequency…

There is a legitimate concern about overloading your fans. So, be cautious. Here are two suggestions.   

  1. The best is to let the fan choose by providing subscription options that are clear (i.e.: genre preferences, frequency, or types of events.)  
  2. Start by sending out an email every 2 weeks with a list of events, instead of sending out emails for each event. You can increase frequency and gauge response.

Read our detailed description on how to set up your email campaign on Eventbrite 

4. Let Fans Buy tickets directly on the Facebook event / Instagram Ad

You want to go beyond awareness and into action when selling tickets.

Meaning, that we want to make it as EASY as possible for people to buy right when they’re thinking about it. And remember that your audience may not be on Facebook all the time or may not be paying attention…so if they see an ad only once, everyone except hard-core fans will forget about it.   

While you should share your Eventbrite event page on all your social media in order to boost your ticket sales, a key step is to ensure they can buy tickets without ever leaving the experience they’re enjoying (endless scrolling of political opinions and friends’ baby photos in bed next to their sleeping partner). Or is that just us?

While you want people to know about your event (the awareness phase) the practical goal is to get them to buy tickets. And, if they see an ad only once, everyone except hard-core fans will forget about it.  Here are several ways you can remind them of your event later:  

How To Let Fans Buy Tickets Directly from the Facebook Event Page:

Boost ticket sales on eventbrite by using the facebook integration
  • Add your event to Facebook using Eventbrite’s integration “Add to Facebook”. You’ll get the ticket sales at once (if you activate “tickets on sale”) and it’s an ideal time to start the RSVP campaign. Any time a fan RSVPs it gets is shared with their friends, spreading your reach.   
  • First, connect your Facebook account and allow Facebook permissions to Eventbrite  

Tip: You need a published or scheduled event page with the description and venue address to continue. Your Facebook page also needs to be published.  

  • Go to “Marketing”, then click “Add to Facebook”  
  • As you can see from the image below, a choice to buy a ticket is instantly visible on the event page.  
  • Also, always share your Eventbrite event page on all social media in order to increase ticket sales.

5. Increase ticket sales while keeping fans on your site by using the Eventbrite widget

Like a cat with a laser, every time a person switches tasks, tabs, or websites, it’s a chance for that person to get DISTRACTED.

(“What – who just texted?” “Oh – the laundry buzzed; I’ll just check it really quick.” You know how it goes.)

And then your ticket sales are dead in the time it takes for the page to load.  

The moment they check out the event is the best time for them to buy tickets and doing that on your site is the best way for you to boost ticket sales.

Use Eventbrite’s embedded checkout widget, where people can view, select, and buy tickets without even leaving your beautiful site.  (the finished product will look like this >>

Easily increase ticket sales on your site by using the eventbrite widget

Here’s how to embed the Eventbrite widget on your site.

Pro move #6: Pay a bit more to streamline the full Eventbrite experience

We added this tool in as a bonus because, while it does cost $50/mo., it simplifies most of the steps covered above and gives you one of the most powerful and fully automated sales weapons to increase your ticket sales on Eventbrite.

  • First, you get the data on how and when to promote your event, based on ticket sales timings from your and other event organizers’ past events (anonymously collected).  
  • Next, Eventbrite Boost recommends a schedule for your ads and promotions based on the stages of ticket sales we mentioned at the beginning.   
  • Third – you have full control over your audience. You can create a remarketing and lookalike audience just by linking with your FB/Instagram pages, MailChimp or Spotify. This feature alone is a huge time saver, and automated advertising based on the sales curve not only makes sense but as case studies show, helps event organizers increase ticket sales.  

Here are a few more convincing stats: 

  • Music promoters increase tickets by 28% after using Boost to advertise their events.
  • This company 3x’d their ROI: “For the Love of Carnival” ads delivered huge results: the campaign generated a 3.4x return on ad spend. For every $1 he spent, he made $3. 
  • TAG tapped into Eventbrite’s audience of engaged ticket buyers looking for something fresh. “For an upcoming concert, 22% of current sales, or 1444 tickets and counting, were driven through Eventbrite, bringing new audiences to the venue.

It also has:

  • Email marketing, on steroids (their claim!)  
  • Automated FB/Instagram scheduling of posts alongside publishing and customizing ads   
  • Sales curve based on your earlier events, and statistics they collected anonymously from all other event organizers

Here’s a detailed description of how to use Eventbrite boost to increase ticket sales.

Our Sell-More-Tickets Series is over


Increase revenues, and make your events more accessible to fans with hybrid virtual events

Become a VIP today!


7 Ways to Make Your Music Program More Profitable

For Independent Venues: How to Market Your Live Music Event (Part 3 of 4)

So whether you’re a music lover or you’ve recognized the revenue impact early, kudos…all of the data says you’re on the right track.  Finding and booking live music, however is a big process that usually involves owners or talent buyers to juggle multiple systems between text, email, Facebook, and Instagram DMs.  Why do all of that work if your live music program is just barely paying off? 

Here are 7 tried and true tips to increase your Venue’s revenue with your live music program. 

1. Move from booking to promotion faster

Speaking of booking, this can’t’ be said enough…STREAMLINE your booking to start promoting the show ASAP.  You want to move staff time into marketing and any extra dollars into ads as soon as possible.  You may be thinking, “Hey, I’m going as fast as I can here.”  Here’s a quick tip to move you into marketing faster. 

How to:

Once you’ve decided that a band is the right fit let them know that you’ll place them on the calendar as soon as you have their marketing assets (logo + downloadable photos) and W9 (we might as well streamline accounting while we’re at it). 
Don’t hesitate to let them know that you DO have another band interested in that date, and you’ll hold it for them only for 48 hours.  Hold to this boundary, and be willing to replace them if you don’t hear back. 

2. Pay musicians based on bar or ticket sales – and get people in the mood

Giving your Musicians incentives to bring a crowd or create a certain ambiance makes it clear up front what the expectations are and means you’re more likely to reach your goals.  There’s nothing worse on both sides than paying the Musician on flat fee, and being upset because they didn’t draw a crowd when there was no clear incentive to do so.   
If you’re worried about securing talent with such a fluctuating pricing structure, you can always offer a guarantee, also known as a “versus deal.” Essentially, If you’re willing to pay Musicians $300 to play, offer them 30% of bar sales or (versus) the $300 guarantee, whichever is higher.  If they get people in a good mood and hitting the bar more often, then they make more money.   

How to: Encourage the band to do these things on stage… 

  • Talk about being “thirsty”  
  • Ask for a drink while on stage (instead of just quietly providing it) 
  • Proffer a toast (“Alright everyone! Let’s raise a glass to __
  • -or- create a special ready-mixed drink named in honor of the band (ie: their hometown: The Boston Bourbon, The Wild Hair). Offer it to the band, and ask them to talk about it on stage. 

3. Enlist Musicians to highlight your upcoming events on stage 

Especially if they’ll be there. Whether or not they will be there, you can offer the band two free ticket to an upcoming show to get them talking about it, and even present the tickets on stage before going on break.  

How to:  

Be prepared with fliers as takeaways for upcoming events and be sure to add a QR code that goes directly to the ticket sales link for easy buying.  
Either announce your early-bird incentive or create a special offer (free parking, free drinks, priority entry, priority bar-service line, meet and greet with the current band) for anyone that buys tickets to the next event before leaving.  
Do this during a band break, and be sure to prepare bar staff or someone dedicated to selling tickets for 15 minutes. 

4. Increase revenue and commitment with no & low-cost incentives 

There’s selling tickets, and then there’s selling tickets strategically.  Don’t just put tickets on sale, think about the psychology of what it feels like to spend your hard earned money on something fun, as a ticket buyer.  Here are a few options to offer more choice and value to your buyers: Create a VIP package,  create a yearly/monthly membership package that will ensure consistent cashflow, create an early-bird discount, or create another package deal that bundles services like parking + tickets

How to: Here are a few low/no cost ideas to create your VIP Package, early -bird discount, or membership:  

  • Have parking? Rope off a section, or the whole thing, for VIP members,  
  • Offer priority bar service line 
  • Offer priority table seating/service 
  • Offer a priority VIP entrance/line (think how good it feels to skate past everyone at the airport with priority-check-in. And you still have to take off your shoes!) 
  • Meet & greet with the band,  pre-post drinks/dinner with the band, the band’s album signed, or even a private song with the band (if you have a separate/intimate space that could be used) 
  • 2 ‘free’ drinks 
  • ‘Free’ or exclusive merchandise 
  • Don’t offer reservations, but often have a wait? Allow VIP members the opportunity to reserve year round. 

5. Get sponsors  

Few other businesses outside of sports arenas and major festivals have the opportunity that you do as a host to live music and good times. Company brands are always looking for ways to get in front of their audience when they’re feeling good. Local or global, don’t be afraid to reach out to the big dogs to get a sponsorship (monthly/annually/for just one show). 

How to: 

Use a PowerPoint or Canva template to create a 3-4 slide sponsor ‘deck.’ 

Page 1: Your name, location, contact details and an appealing photo of your venue.

Page 2: Real photos of your space, and people enjoying it (don’t do crowd shots, get close-ups, when possible – phone pics are totally ok).

Page 3: Typical attendance rates, or early-bird sales.

Page 4: The deal – what they get and what they pay.

  • Sponsor benefit ideas: signage, lanyards for passes with their logo/slogan, table signs, mention on stage by performer, swag and merch giveaways.
  • If you’re worried that your single venue isn’t enough, gather a few other owners and approach a sponsor as a group.  This revenue channel is especially likely to succeed if you enacted the early-bird rate from part 2 of the series, because you’ll have a much better idea of attendance early on and you can more effectively pitch the sponsor with real data of committed attendees. 

6. Monetize reservations 

Don’t take tickets? Take reservations but hold them with a card, with a 24 or even 48 hr cancellation policy.  Charge each card half of what you would expect to make with that seat ($50? $100?) if they no-show or cancel. 

How to: 

This is the most simple change.  Just start telling people the policy and writing down card numbers. Here’s one reservation system that makes that possible automatically.

7. Go opposite of VIP, offer a cheaper ticket tier 

Instead of VIP, offer a lower cost ticket that gives reduced options, and open yourself to a whole new revenue stream that doesn’t take the place of current ticket holders.  Often times participants will thank you for offering a discounted rate that fully meets their needs or provides accessibility. 

How to: Lower value discount ticket ideas 

  • Half day/night owl entry 
  • Digital streaming access 
  • Bulk buy discount (5 tickets gets a 10% discount – must buy together) 
  • Opening or closing night only (for festivals) 

UP NEXT: Part 4 of 4

5 Free Tools to TRIPLE Your Ticket Sales on Eventbrite

Become a VIP today!

Earn More Revenue in 15 min a Day or Less

For Independent Venues: How to Market Your Live Music Event (Part 2 of 4)

Working in this industry is INTENSE, and you need to get results with minimal time in front of screen. After you have the basics in hand, and are regularly doing them every week. Start improving and diving a bit deeper with these tips, in just 15 minutes a day.  Here is your 1 week plan to increasing foot traffic and revenue. Remember to ensure you have covered the basics from Part One

Day 1: Improve word of mouth promotion 

In 15 Minutes:

Search for influencers on social media in your local area – people that have 10,000+ followers on Instagram or Facebook.  Direct message them through their social media and offer them free tickets + 2 free tickets to give away to friends or through their social media account. Find someone with a huge number of followers and they may be blasé to your offer.  Scale down a bit, and your offer will feel like a welcomed gift. Be sure to ask them to post a selfie at your Venue and tag you. 

How do you find them?  

  • Scan your own followers, maybe there’s an influencer among them.  If not, go to the next level.  Click on a few of your followers, click “following” at the top of their profile, scan the list, and hover on each one for fan counts.
  • Do a local hashtag search to find out who’s putting out the most relevant local content.  Searching like this may also pull up some other recommended hashtags

Day 2: Measure your best marketing efforts with unique tracking links 

In 15 minutes:

  • Set up tracking links with this Eventbrite guide, or use Promotix that has robust tools to actually create an entire street team and track things like each poster that is posted, as well as their ticketing tracking links. 
  • Why?: You can’t manage what you don’t measure.  How do you know if the money you spent on posters is working? Or, if the band is actually bringing in the draw they promised? It’s surprisingly easy to create unique tracking links, so you can put a different one on each marketing channel (one for Facebook, one for posters, one for the band, etc.) 

Day 3: Grow your email list 

  • In 15 minutes:  
  • Drop in the Mailchimp embed code for email sign up on your website (here’s a tutorial
  • -or- use the integration from Eventbrite to Mailchimp to download all ticket-buyer’s email information, to automatically add their info to your list.  You can also manually download these lists each time, which we don’t recommend.  
  • -or- have an in-store promotion for a limited time.  Create a give-away or drink discount for anyone that signs up. 
  • Why?: 1,000 Eventbrite creators responded to a survey saying email was the most effective event marketing channel.  And since Facebook and Instagram can change their algorithms without warning, making it harder and harder for you to connect to your audience without paying, we agree that building your email list is the best option.   
  • Free tool: Mailchimp & Eventbrite 

Day 4: Create an incentive to buy 

In 15 minutes:

  • Decide which event will get the special treatment, and don’t do this more than once every week or two. Choose an event, a date, and an offer. You can do this in 2 ways: first you can offer giveaway items, like free t-shirts, free drinks, time with the band, priority line entry, which may not cost you anything, or just a few pennies.  Or second, you can discount your tickets for an early-bird price which may be easier to coordinate, but cost you more money.  
  • Why?: Early ticket sales account for 40-50% of ticket sales according to Eventbrite studies of nightlife events.  Think of how helpful it will be to have cash in hand to plan your event and pay vendors.  Additionally, those people have more time to invite their friends, communicate with you, and will give you a chance to invite sponsors for your event with confirmed tickets.  Once people have bought a ticket they’re much more likely to attend than someone who waits until the last minute to buy, where any number of things could come up. 

Day 5: Treat your customers like VIPS, literally. 

In 15 minutes:

  • Add a VIP ticket tier or add-on to your next big event and instantly increase your profits.  VIP perks could include, a priority entrance, a meet & greet with the band, even a private song with the band (if you have a separate/intimate space that could be used), pre-post drinks/dinner with the band, the band’s album signed, priority drink order line or dedicated server, a 2 ‘free’ drinks, ‘free’ or exclusive merchandise. 
  • Why & How?: VIP perks can cost absolutely nothing, but have a big bang for the VIPs. It can have a double benefit for the band of creating loyal fans (make sure you approve anything with the band first).  A VIP experience is something that can create life-long memories for the guest, as long as the value you offer matches/exceeds the price and you fully deliver on the promise. 

UP NEXT: Part 3 of 4

How to make your music program more profitable

Become a VIP today!

Connect With Your Audience & Get Them to Show Up

For Independent Venues: How to Market Your Live Music Event (Part 1 of 4)

You’ve put all this work into creating live music to draw an audience and…crickets. You barely break even. Maybe it’s a Tuesday, maybe it’s raining, but the expense of the band is NOT paying off tonight.

First, make sure that you’re covering the basics. You’d be surprised (and if you’re not surprised, at least know that you’re not alone) how many Venues don’t use the basic email list they have to promote shows. Why? Well…they’re busy, and each tool has a learning curve.


PREP 1: The first step is always the hardest > MAKE TIME

3 min

We often overlook or simply don’t make time for the most important part: clearing the time to DO only marketing. When there’s something big, requiring extra thought I suddenly become very important and needed by others. There’s a saying I come back to when I’m feeling intimidated or using every excuse to procrastinate: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

You have my personal guarantee that if you set aside 2 hours per week to do these 4 simple steps, you will start to see movement. However, there are rules to my guarantee… You must:

  1. Actually block the time off of your calendar
  2. Turn off all notifications, and silence your phone.
  3. Close your door to prevent family distractions.

The business can lose you for 2 hours once a week without total collapse. Make this time sacred, make it a practice, and make it known to your team.

Now block off your calendar (that’s right, open it up right now and just. do. it.), set a timer, and let’s go.

PREP 2: Time for a new goal

10 min

As they say, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

You only need to do this once for the next several months. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t need spreadsheet; a simple sticky note on your wall will do. Write down how many tickets and/or sales you do in a week currently, increase it by a realistic amount. All done. Do not hide your goal!! Put it as the screensaver on your phone, post it on the wall, share it with colleagues, your spouse, or whoever will hold you accountable if it’s missed.

PREP 3: Identify your audience

15 min.

Answer these questions about your best customers, and write the first thing that comes to mind (don’t over-think it). Resist the temptation to say, “I don’t know, they’re all different!” If you find yourself saying this, don’t think of everyone – instead think of 5 regulars who love your place and didn’t start as friends, then generalize. This will help shape your efforts in the marketing steps.

  • How old are they?
  • What do they like to do in their free time
  • What kind of jobs do they have?
  • Do they use social media? Which platforms?
  • How often do they use social media? How often do they check their email?
  • Do they text a lot on their phones?


**These may seem simple (that’s the point!) but most Venues don’t do ALL of these things all of the time.

Make the switch to regularly doing steps 1-4 and you will see more people coming, greater profits, and more loyalty…which means marketing will get easier and easier.

STEP 1. Create a theme, be specific

20 min to flesh out of 2 themes

Whether you have shows 5 nights a week, or just one, there will be days where the talent’s name will not bring in the audience. Instead, you need to create an EXPERIENCE.
Create a specific theme, and help the audience imagine themselves there. Imagery will help them savor the taste of the drink, feel the relaxation of the music, or engage in the learning of a new skill. Here’s how one drag show mastered this, and during a pandemic, no less. They took their regular drag show, broke it into sections, and taught guests how to make Portuguese Sangria in between, and promoted it on Airbnb Experiences (Not just Sangria, “Portuguese” Sangria, making it more special). They enhanced the experience even further for (online) guests by having everyone do an icebreaker and get them talking to start. For my 5th wedding anniversary, 2 days after the end of lockdown, I invited friends over and we laughed and mixed and danced as we watched online together. People still talk about it today, 2 years later.

Old or young, today’s audience love a ‘how to.’ Remember, that these specific events are perfect to add on prepaid, or higher tiered, tickets. And you can reuse ideas (not weekly! Please!), saying “back by popular demand.”
30 special event ideas

STEP 2. Use canva to create enticing graphics.

45 min

Don’t underestimate the power of good graphics to drive interest, connect with your audience, and get them to actually show up. Remember, unless you have a talent-driven event (and even still…) people are coming to your venue for an experience. The BEST way for them to imagine how that experience will feel is by the graphics you create. To start choose 1 event, and create 2-3 graphics (you can reuse them in the future). Don’t try to create something on your own, just don’t. Use the free canva account, and customize one of their 155,000 templates.

4 Best Canva templates for Bars, Restaurants, Cafes

Canva Template Retro – Go beyond binging Netflix on the couch and promise a better date night with a wine tasting. Change title from Wine fair to “Date Night.” Possible post: “What’s better: bingeing adventure and romance on Netflix on your couch, or treating your other half to a proper date night? You decide.”
Canva Template Travel – The facts of the pandemic and travel limitations means people are aching to be transported. Take them to Italy or South Africa or New Zealand by highlighting the 5 best wines from that region. Don’t have an expert? Contact your wine distributer and ask if they’ll join? Possible post: “You deserve a trip to Italy after these last two years. Come to our Venue instead, and be transported with the 5 best Italian wines of Umbria.”
Canva Template Pets – After 2 years of staying at home, people are closer than ever to their pets (although, it’s debatable if they still want to look at their spouse). Engage customers and their pets if you have outdoor space with a pet show, or doggie dress up day. Possible post: “Your fur baby has gotten you through the hard times. Reward them with a day out, human style. Come to our Venue on Saturday with your Dog dressed to the nines. We’ll have a special treat for the winner.”
Canva Template Whiskey – Go for sulky, moody, whiskey-driven chic by hosting a learning event on the finer points of Scotch vs. Whiskey. Don’t have an expert?? Ask one of your favorite, whiskey-obsessed customers, and treat them to a night of free drinks. Possible post: Is your palette an expert? Every palette can be trained. Come to our Venue on Tuesday and no one will ever know the difference.”

STEP 3. Amp Up your social media posts

45 min

You’re probably already posting regularly. However, if you are not paying for ads (with targeted audiences), and posting more than one time per event, then it’s probably not working, and is draining your time as well.
Don’t try to do this manually every time…set it and forget it by scheduling posts. Create 5-10 posts for the whole month at one time and schedule them. This will save you an enormous amount of time. (more to come on ads)

Here’s a simple 3 step process to do that, or you can watch a 40 sec how to video.

  • Create a FB event so people can share with their friends that they’re going. If you have a ticket price, I highly recommend Eventbrite because not only can you pass the service fee on to the customer, they have a suite of free tools that allow you to easily create a FB event at the click of a button.
  • Boost your event on Facebook. We recommend doing ads or boosting your post once a week. But make sure you target your geographic location and audience demographics. Here’s a quick tutorial

STEP 4. Regularly use & grow your email list

45 min to create and schedule emails

Venues often forget this step in favor of making a quick and dirty post to their social.
However, Facebook algorithms change without warning making it harder and harder for you to access the audience you built unless you pay for advertising. Drive signups to your list from people who love your place by doing in-store promotions. I.e.: Announce 50% off drinks for the next hour for anyone that signs up on your email (or text) list.
Start with an email every 2 weeks with upcoming event highlights or specials, then move to every 1 week after you test out the response. Use mail chimp (free tool which also integrates with Eventbrite). Use their templates to continue the clean and engaging look of your canva graphics.

Make time for these 4 steps and you’ll be hitting your goals in no time.

UP NEXT: Part 2 of 3

Earn More Revenue in 15 min a Day or Less (a one week plan)

Become a VIP today!

Take the Mystery out of Touring

Take the Mystery out of Touring

After hundreds of hours of one-on-one interviews with top independent Venues and Musicians, we have uncovered the secret tips to building a tour that even touring Veterans will applaud. This how-to guide is for:

  • anyone who’s been out of the game for a while (Hello, COVID!)
  • accomplished Musicians (who may be touring newbies)
  • and even touring regulars

And…well, the times, they continue to be interesting, don’t they? Musicians and Venues both need to get used to the idea that at least for the next year, you may need to relearn how things work every three months, and adjust. We’ll be here to make the process easier.

Word on the Street: What’s the Pitching Climate?

Musicians and Venues are both telling us that May-August was extremely difficult to get a response from Venues, as every “Musician who ever learned guitar was getting back out on the road.” (overheard at NIVA Conference, National Independent Venues Association) While simultaneously, the 2021 audiences that had flooded Venues after the shutdown, were much lower and had been scared away again with Omnicron.

Now things are evening out, so it’s a good time to plan a winter or spring tour.

If you’ve always wanted to do a tour, or you’ve been wanting to get back in the saddle after time off. Take a quick moment to check in with yourself about why you may be delaying. Is it a simple reason like COVID case numbers? Or is it connected to fear or not knowing how to reach an unknown market?

Let’s start by going step by step into what you need to do to get booked for a tour more easily.

Want to learn straight from the experts? Join our touring webinar.

Routing a Tour 101 – The Basics

Create or Update Your EPK

An EPK, which stands for “electronic press kit,” is the digital equivalent of the physical press kits that artists send out to Venues, event organizers, or festivals to promote themselves or book shows.

The most important thing is to get. it. Done! Don’t labor over it, and wait until the words are perfect…get it out, then refine it later.
Let’s collect all the info you’ll need for your EPK…

Define Your Artistic Identity First

You need to have a firm grasp on your artistic identity before you start connecting or sending out emails. Take some time away from the spotlight to figure out who you are and then present it to the world. The details include defining your existing sound and image, describing your experience, and describing your audience (who loves you? How do they feel when they listen to your music? Are they dancing in the aisle, or contemplating life?), listing your equipment, and so on.

When we break EPK down into sections, it looks like this (in order of priority):

1. Biography: We know…it’s really hard to talk about yourself in a way that isn’t too much or even worse, too little and it doesn’t draw them in. The narrative of your art goes here, and it should leave a talent booker with the idea of your sound, success, and goals. This part should be easy to write after you set up your narrative.

You can start by laying out the facts of your experience. Then go back and add in what you’ve heard people say about you. Do you have any awards or been featured in the press, or played at or with names that people you’re pitching will know? Add that in. Then, go back and revise it to be about 700 characters with spaces.

Here’s an example of something that immediately draws you in and makes you want to take a listen (from a real band):

2. Your Music: Feel free to highlight a variety of your music to appeal to different audiences. Remember that, surprisingly, AmptUp’s interviews with Venues told us that a Musician’s songs aren’t always easy to find.

So make it clear and easy to find. Send a link to your songs, don’t attach the files.

3. Your Socials & Your Draw: Love it or hate it, a Talent buyer is going to look to your social media to see how you engage fans, and how many people follow you. To be fair to them, it’s really all they have to know how big of a draw you have. Attach links, and even better, note how many followers you have on each. Additionally, if you know roughly how many people you can bring in, let them know (ie: “I can generally bring in about 50 people to Austin shows”).

4. Your Performance Calendar: Include the places you’ve played – especially in the Venues near the one you’re pitching – they want to see that you have a fan base in their area. Keep your performance calendar revised and update it often.

5. Videos of Your Best Performances: Talent bookers want to see what you sound and look like on stage, not in a curated music video. Videos of you playing a live show do the best job here, while it doesn’t need to be professional, you don’t want shaky old videos with bad sound.

If you see a professional taking video, ask them if you can get a 30-second clip, and include it. It’s even better if you can include shots of the audience’s engagement. If you have a friend who has some video skills, give them your phone. Having something is better than nothing if it shows a crowd loving YOU.

6. Photos of You and Your Band: Pictures also help to tell a Musician’s story in addition to the music.

7. Stage Plot: Musicians use a stage plot to provide the stage crew and sound engineer with crucial setup info regarding mics and inputs when performing at Venues, festivals, or with multiple acts. By making this information available to the Venue ahead of time, problems can be resolved before the day of the performance, and the concert can go off without a hitch.

8. Your equipment: Let the Venue know what you’ll bring. Even places that have regular live music may need to know that you bring a PA…perhaps you’ll be playing a special patio performance, that’s not set up for regular music.

9. Notable band members: You never know who knows who or what can spark a conversation or someone’s interest. Maybe the talent buyer knows your drummer. List out your regular players.

10. Your Press Coverage: Interviews and endorsements from news outlets can generate the greatest trust in your work; include any you’ve received.

11. One Sheet Summary: Short and sweet is critical. Try to keep this to just one page.

12. Your Contact Information: Contact information must be an EPK focal point. Beyonce’s people only call once!

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Want to learn straight from the experts? Join our touring webinar.

Create your elevator pitch

Essentially, it is 3 short sentences as a spoken resume. You better have an answer ready for LA REID’s “Who are you and who do you sound like?” question. Rehearse your elevator pitch just like you would your music!

Next, build a network (or expand one)

Ahead of making contact, it is important to learn as much as possible about the people you will be chatting with and the setting you will be visiting. This can help you in recognizing when a certain place is a stretch, for example. If you usually sell 50 tickets in your area, don’t pitch a Venue that doesn’t play your genre or has a capacity of 1,000 people. This would not be a stretch, it would be annoying for the Venue. However, pitching a 300-person Venue that your friend played (who can do an intro), would be a great stretch.

Also, keep all the info of tour managers, event organizers, and relevant people you’ve met or are planning to pitch! Keeping your data structured in a spreadsheet is a fantastic way to recall the details of a person or the Venue’s details. You can organize everything into tabs for each geographic area, with separate columns for each of the following: name, address, email address, phone number, and background info (who they are and what they book for).

Most importantly, work together with Musician friends to share contacts, and make intros. The best way to do this is to find similar-sounding bands and:

  1. Plan tours back to back. For example, if you plan a tour with 2 other bands, you all agree that after the first band completes the tour, they make email introductions to the next band. A warm intro after a positive experience gets you miles ahead of all the other pitches.
  2. Partner with similar bands to create a ready-made bill for the talent buyer. Choose a band either from the area that has a local draw you can speak to, or bring a band with you (the first being much more powerful, but more work).

The music industry is exceedingly small; everyone knows everyone. Start hustling and go out and meet people!

Find Venues in a Far Away Land

Finding the right Venues is the hard part

Here is a list of our favorite tools and resources:

  • Your friend network: Ask other Musicians for their spreadsheets and where they’ve played. Most importantly, ask for warm email introductions!
  • Yelp & Google: search the city you’d like to go to and “live music.” When you find a few good Venues, search the Musicians that played there, and look at their schedule to see what other Venues they play.
  • Indieonthemove.com: with a paid subscription you can have access to 10-30 Venues per city (medium and big cities)

(In our upcoming article “Tech tools to Make Touring WAY Easier”, we’ll give you the top free tech tools to make your life easier.)

Pitching Talent Buyers

Prepare Your Pitch

Do Your Research

Creating the perfect pitch starts with the research you’ve done so you know who you are speaking to. Include all that you’ve learned about the Venue: talent booker’s name, available dates, target audience, similar bands who have played there before, and location.

Don’t Play Nearby Within 2-3 Weeks

If you’re playing at a Venue down the street the day before, it will be hard to create a buzz and sell tickets for a nearby Venue. This is a courtesy to the talent booker. MANY Venues have told us that this is their pet peeve. Most likely you will never know that they even found out, they will just stop responding to you.

Be Clear

Be human and kind, but get to the point. Don’t give ambiguous dates, be specific. For example, instead of this: “I’ll be there in the summer, do you have any openings?” Say this: “I’m going to be here the third week of July”.

Important Things To Include in the Email Pitch

  • Social Media counts, draw, or past ticket sales you have in their area
  • names of where you’ve played before (only that they would know or in their area)
  • links to your music
  • your EPK or one sheet with everything included (Venues prefer a link to a digital EPK, not an attachment)
  • a VERY quick mention of any press or awards you have won…this takes work and time to create.

Bonus Tips on Crafting Your Pitch:

  • Follow Up!
  • Follow Up!
  • Follow Up! Get out your calendar and mark the date that you will follow up so it doesn’t get missed. Waiting 3-5 days is plenty.
  • Be creative. Try pitching for an off night at a stretch Venue, maybe a Thursday night spot instead of Saturday. Future Venues will never ask you what night of the week you played.
  • Reference your network – Remember to pitch yourself in a full bill with other bands the audience will like, which makes the Talent Buyer’s job much easier. Or, reference your network to make the communication more warm and familiar for the booker.
  • Keep all communication organized and be immediately responsive.

Here’s a sample email for you to check out:

How & What to Negotiate

Yay! You’ve received a response! Now starts the actual booking process. Remember that you want to always be booking at least 60 days out. This will give plenty of time to sell tickets, and negotiate. Being educated on your worth, Venue needs, and how big of a reach this will be for you will help you negotiate intelligently.

  1. First, budget yourself and know what you will need to break even or make a profit. Pay attention to the industry standards. Be aware of booking house rules and how the Venue books. This should be an element of your research you should not skip!
  2. While many of us are fighting for a change you must be aware that there will be gigs in your career where you walk away losing money and this may be okay if the gain is exponential exposure and good contacts.
  3. Streamline band communication and make sure they know the deal. Before sending the final pitch get your band together. Get them all on the same page, and do this quickly. A big Venue pet peeve is long lag times as the band figures out availability and other details.
  4. If you hired Musicians individually, pay your Musicians. I have never met a band leader who paid themselves first, so this likely goes without saying…Unless they are investing in the band, they are working Musicians too. If you want to be treated with respect make sure you respect and communicate with your Musicians. You don’t want to get halfway through the tour and someone drops out. It is also a good idea to have backups. You could possibly start with a smaller tour. Maybe duo or trio before you start a full band.
  5. Your reputation is everything so ensure you can deliver what you signed up for.

Final tips for before and after the show

  • Get your marketing assets and stage plots to the booker as soon as possible so they can start promoting you.
  • Have a person to help you when needed & always be respectful to the sound engineer as well as the talent booker.
  • You are a business, always keep this in mind!
  • Be 100% prepared for your show.
  • Thank the Venue, and send a thank you note after you play.

In our upcoming article “Tech tools to Make Touring WAY Easier,” you’ll see how AmptUp was built as an innovative solution to bring the Venue owners closer to the Musicians, and vice versa.

Want to learn straight from the experts? Join our touring webinar.

About AmptUp:

AmptUp is a mission-based, online marketplace that streamlines the booking process making sure you get found, paid, and that you’re upping your game professionally. There are no subscription fees or pay-walls to use our patent-pending Tour Routing Tool, just a 10% fee anytime you receive a gig on AmptUp. We want to level the playing field so everyone has access to the same tools.

Our Mission is:

  1. To make it easier for Musicians to make a living
  2. To diversify the stage.
  3. To make ANY city a ‘music city.’

The View Is Better From Here

When I gave birth to a beautiful – but unexpectedly – biracial baby, everything I thought was true slowly started to unravel.

I was born in a Fredericksburg trailer park to a sign man and a young mother. From morning to night services, my life and community was the Pentecostal church – I even had my first make-out session on the bench out back. There were almost no Black people in my area growing up, and while my parents raised me to be “colorblind” (a white person’s favorite term), it was clear that they could still see color.

During a brief hiatus from a 2-year relationship with Jason, a white man, I spent time with the baby’s father, a Black man I had dated off and on throughout college. I rekindled the relationship with Jason, not knowing I was pregnant. Despite being in a long-term committed relationship, it felt impossible to tell the family that I may have a bi-racial baby. Every time I prepared the news, some family member would make a comment like, “Well, at least we’re having a white baby!”

On delivery day, after a treacherous birth, there was a little red-headed baby born at the same time in the ICU area. When Jason came out holding my daughter, no one said anything, until my great grandmother said, “Alright if no one wants to say it, I’ll say it – that baby is Black.”

Fortunately, Jason truly loved her as his own. 

However, with a healthy dose of my own denial, I spiraled into depression and began taking heavy medication.  I so desperately wanted to avoid other people’s drama and judgment (ie: ‘slut-shaming’) that I told people, and even believed (possibly due to the medications), that she had Hispanic blood through Jason’s side. On visits to the store, people would stop and stare and ask me if it was my baby.  Others, even family members, would unabashedly call her a “half-breed.”  This seemed to be an acceptable term to that community, instead of bi-racial.

People often have realizations about the limitations of their own family or community, but my whole worldview began to shift.   

I was pregnant with Bella when Obama was running for election, and my family had convinced me that he was the antichrist, that his eyes were black because he was the devil, that he was not a US citizen. It felt very scary, to the point that I cried when he was elected… but I couldn’t see that his race was the root problem for his detractors. 

Things started to feel confusing as I worked this and many other things out during the tumultuous political times. Tiny thoughts about what was right and wrong, about things that didn’t add up, started working their way in and made me question the ideas I had been fed. The tiny thoughts can be the scariest because they can spark something big, something life-changing.  Those little thoughts can start to pull you away from the people you love, your support system, and your community as you start to think for yourself.

You don’t realize you can’t breathe until you can.

As things started to change, I realized that I’ve never been comfortable with me, which meant I could never have or trust my own opinions – they were always fed to me. Over the last few years, I’ve been gaining my own power, thoughts, feelings, and self-respect. Now I get my worth from myself, but I had to be brave enough. That’s what creates integrity – and no one can take it away from you.

Jeska’s Best Advice

One of my favorite quotes is, “The anticipation is worse than the plunge.”

One thing our world does well is make people feel alone.  And, people stay silent for fear of alienation…more aloneness.  Know that you are not alone and silence changes nothing. Bringing your best to the world means standing up for what you believe.

Become a VIP Venue to book Jeska on AmptUp before our launch on Mar 14, 2022.


Texas native, Jeska Bailey is a powerhouse musician with “honeyed, soulful vocals” (Glide Magazine). Jeska is a multi-instrumentalist, a trained opera singer, a fierce blues singer, a professional photographer, painter, and a three-time cancer survivor. She’s appeared on Austin’s “50th Anniversary of Woodstock” radio program and performed the national anthem on ESPN at the Texas Motor Speedway. Conspirators, her 2019 album with her husband, Austin legend Guy Forsyth, was toured all over the world, and she will be releasing her highly-anticipated solo release, Murderino, in late 2022.

Her 50,000 loyal Instagram followers are a reflection of her photography/modeling skills, but most importantly, her love of community.