April 21, 2015

How to plan a gig – part one

When you ask an up-and-coming promoter about their first event, you may get the answer, “Where do I start!?”, because, well, there’s a hell of a lot to do! One organiser, who shall remain nameless stated he keeps a bottle of “thunderbird, wine and Stella” around during the tough times. Now that’s true honesty.

To make life a little easier for you up-and-coming organisers, we’ve put together some tips on how to plan a gig. This will cover everything from what the goal of the event is, how to find the best talent to choosing the perfect venue and how best to market the gig.

In part one, we’ll discuss what the aim of your event is, what talent you’d be looking for and finding the most reliable talent, what you need to consider when choosing a venue, as well as staffing tips. So rather than have me babble on, let’s begin.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you even start:
What audience are you aiming to attract (strictly one genre? a mixture?, what age, primarily what gender, from which location?)
How many people are you hoping to attract?
What is your ultimate goal? Make a profit for charity? Build a brand identity? Build the bands/artists’ profile

Once you can answer these questions, life will be easier as you have a route to your eventual success.

Your event needs talent:
A great way to start is to think about:

  • What type of music/bands/artists your audience would like
  • Research into what type of talent are out there currently, on a local, regional and even national level.
  • Visit influential websites
  • Contact other promoters to see what artists/bands have worked for them and which have been successful.
  • Connect with artists/band managers as well. It’ll give you a good general feel for the market.

Maintain communication with those you contact, it could prove valuable in the future when they contact you with something that’ll tickle your fancy.

While you’d like to get the most attractive and popular artists, be realistic. Kanye wouldn’t come to a fundraiser in Hartlepool. Find what artists/bands are popular in your area, could they blend in well if your event? Are they popular in the local scene?

Ask your fellow event organisers/promoters as to the reliability of talent you’re looking to book. Word-of-mouth is an incredibly powerful tool. The ABSOLUTE last thing you want is for the talent not to show up or arrive late. It only puts you at risk, and your reputation as an organiser damaged.
When researching artists/bands, check their YouTube channels and the number of hits. It’s a good indicator as to the popularity and potential reach you could gain.

Here are a few questions you need to think about prior to choosing the venue:

  • Will your audience be drinking? If so, does the venue have the necessary facilities to quench their thirst? You’ll soon find out how to staff the event adequately as a result.
  • Does your target audience want to dance? If so, ensure the space is adequate.
  • Does the venue have necessary backstage facilities and entrance to keep artists and bands happy?

When choosing the right venue to host your event, ensure it’s realistic. You wouldn’t host a local Yorkshire talent show at the Manchester Evening News arena would you?

Check out popular venues around your desired location, as you may find the larger the population, the more likely a greater number of people will attend. See if your target audience attends events at the venue for similar shows. If they do, you’ve found a venue that has a comfort factor with your target audience

You can find out the reputation of the venue by contacting your fellow organisers, as well as from customers from visiting blogs, websites and comments on social media.

Before making any final decision as to the venue, visit it. Have a look for yourself. See that it’s up to scratch, that all exit signs are clearly shown, that it’s aesthetically pleasing, that they have health and safety. But more importantly, while you’re there imagine the event is taking place there, get a true feel for the place. At the end of the day, the event is your baby, you want to make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible.

TIP: If possible, aim to host events at venues that are located near transportation such as train lines. You’ll be doing those who travelled from far distances a massive favour.

Here are some UK venues which may tickle your fancy.

Here are some tips for searching for the perfect event venue.

In terms of staff, ensure there are enough members of staff available, with all having clear instructions and assignments throughout the night. Ensure there is a system in place, such as InitLive, whereby staff can easily communicate with supervisors and vice versa during events. The last thing you want is miscommunication on the big day. Go into detail with some of these assignments, such as maybe assign a member to oversee the crowd to spot potential drunkards and trouble makers.

Have a member of staff assigned to the artists/bands/VIPs. You want them to feel comfortable and welcomed.

Create a venue map for staff and security, and possibly for customers. This will make it easy for customers to find key areas such as the entrance, bar, fire exits, easiest route to the car park.

Last, but not least, always think about health and safety. We’ve put together six creative ways of practising health and safety to make life a bit easier and more fun!

Raj Jilka