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!