When you are able to organise your own events, you don’t only open your own doors, but you also create opportunities for other musicians to grow and develop.
One might feel overwhelmed at the beginning, but by taking it step by step you would set yourself up for success.
During my time as an event organiser and artist promoter, this was a repetitive practice and we arranged many band nights this way and discovered plenty of new talent in the process.
Pro tip: Networking stands in the middle point of it all. Wherever you go, leave a positive impression behind. Be the person that you would want to work with.
Here are the steps to follow in order to organise a band night for amateur artists:
Finding the Venue
All these questions will guide you in finding an appropriate venue for your event:
- Are you comfortable at a certain venue?
- Do you already have contacts at a certain venue?
- Have you played on a stage with decent sound?
- Where is your main fan base located?
These questions will lead you to potential venues that would suit your needs.
Contact the Venue
I am a face-to-face type of person because I feel that I can achieve my goals better by physically being there.
At the most, you can call or email to make an appointment, but I am a bite more upfront about these things. I feel that you are already opening yourself the chance to get a ‘no’.
What I did was:
- I normally went to the venue as a customer.
- I usually ordered something to eat or drink.
- I then started to chat with the workers on site.
- I asked questions about the usual performers and how fully booked they were.
- Then I would observe the venue set up in connection with the bar to the stage and band room.
- Then I asked if the manager was around and had some time for a business proposal.
- Tell them who you are and if they are open to hosting band nights for about 4 bands and about 80-100 people.
That normally sounds like a great opportunity and they would ask questions back to you like:
- What is the name of your company?
- Which bands or musicians are you planning to organise?
- Have you hosted and organised previous concerts?
In the worst case, you might get a Thursday slot, but that’s a great opportunity to get the wheel rolling.
There are a few things to arrange with the manager:
- Agree on a date
- Is the sound on-site? Does the venue have a preferred sound engineer? How much will the sound and engineer cost for the night?
- What is their preference in doing the sound check on the event day?
- Do you need to appoint a doorman or does the venue provide a staff member?
Don’t leave without:
- Exchanged contact details
- What both parties can offer to advertise the evening.
- Small benefits for participating artists since they will perform for next to nothing.
Find a Cause
I have regularly arranged band nights to raise money for charity.
As a South African, we always need money for the less privileged or against animal cruelty. Arranging a concert night for amateur or inexperienced artists was always a perfect opportunity to raise some money and create awareness.
This type of event often becomes bigger than expected because fans would come to join ‘The Saving The Rhino’s Party’.
Make contact with a charity of your choice and display QR codes for people willing to donate. During the event, feel free to thank people over the PA system for their efforts and willingness to participate. This motivates more people to sponsor and make a difference.
Preparing the Line-Up
Take all your previous experiences with open mic nights, music competitions, Battle of the Bands and openings that you have performed, and recognise 3 or 4 other artists with similar interests, genres and experience levels to play one or a series of gigs together.
I would even throw in a solo acoustic performer looking for the experience themselves.
You are really starting to become an artist manager now. If this is a field of interest to you don’t miss the article I wrote about How To Become a Music Manager. It will guide you to building your own experience immediately.
Contact the Bands and Artists
Firstly, you would like to find a time to see them either in person or it can also be done virtually.
You don’t necessarily need to see all the artists at once. Offer 3 timeslots and check who is available during the different times.
Be prepared to deliver the following points:
What to communicate to the artists:
- Communicate the small benefits or a minimal fee you agreed with the venue manager.
- You can also pay inexperienced artists for dinner and free drinks.
- Some companies pay with gift vouchers since they can often claim back the tax money.
- The time per set.
- This is the hardest part to manage on the night.
- For a band night, you MUST keep buffering the time to be prepared for delays when you work with inexperienced or amateur artists.
- I would recommend 30-40 minutes sets and a 20-minute transition.
- It does sound like you will be spending more time changing than performing music, but believe me you will be grateful for the buffer!
- I would rather be prepared and wait, instead of rushing and being late.
- If you would like to have more info about how long different performances should be, I wrote a Full Guide for How Many Songs Per Live Performance which you can scan through here.
- Talk about the line-up.
- We normally set a lineup in order from the smallest fan base to the biggest.
- This could vary if you would like a popular acoustic act in early to pump the venue numbers a little bit.
- There could be artists that collaborate with each other. This is a good chance to let them play after each other.
- The times for the sound check.
- This was already arranged with the sound engineer or venue manager.
- If you would like to read more about running smoother sound checks, don’t miss the article I wrote about it here.
- Marketing the event together.
- What could each artist do to promote the event?
- What promotional ideas do the bands have for you or the venue?
- Entrance fee
- Set a price for the door fee.
- How many people can each artist bring to the venue?
- Equipment needed
- What can be borrowed and what each band should bring along? Sharing equipment like a bass amp, and a skeleton drumkit makes the transitions faster and smoother.
Here are a few handy tips to keep in mind:
- Have a few artists on standby or on a B-list to cover for potential dropouts or illnesses.
- It’s about building experience and sharing fan basis. Not to make money out of it yet.
Market the Show
So you’ve already gotten some ideas from the manager and the artists that you could work with. But here are the strategies that we usually followed as well.
Design a concert poster for all artists to distribute on all the participating artists’ social media platforms.
At the concert above, we managed to arrange 6 acts. The first three were acoustic musicians who needed stage time. Some of them are still performing very actively these days.
Checklist for your poster:
- The names of the performing acts (Headlines)
- A theme or evening name that invites those interested.
- The date and time
- The price for entrance
- A lure. In the case above, we used a cheaper entrance price to get an audience inside the venue early enough. You can also arrange a Happy Hour or organise a Buy 3 get 1 Free drinks special.
- A QR code to read more about the bands or event.
Hang your posters up at the venue and surroundings. This is a bit old school, but still works and gives people the direction they need.
Other great spots to hang up posters are:
- At the men’s urinals
- In the doors of entrances
Motivate the artists to share the advertisement on their pages. This is free advertising and everyone should try their best to support the cause.
Keep building hype around the event by also promoting your buddy bands’ hit songs on your platforms.
This is part of fan-sharing. At the end of the day, no one should feel threatened by competition. We are all artists and creators. Some are just further in their journey than we are.
Stay in contact with the performing bands and confirm with them 3 days before the event day.
I’ve had many call-ups from event organisers needing bands or artists for their lineup at the last minute because bands had to cancel their performances.
Of course, this is possible. People can get ill, and we are also working with a “team hobby”. We all know that being in a band is hard work.
That’s why I would rather have one too many artists than one short.
The main rule on the event day is to relax and have fun.
What not to do:
These were all me. I’ve learned the hard way and that is what pushes other people away.
- Please do not run around being all hectic.
- Try not to tell people what to do all the time.
What to do:
- Be present
- Be kind and friendly
- Welcome people and be there for your guest artists
- Check in with the sound engineer and make sure they are doing alright
I think this summarises the event day nicely.
If you can pull off such an event, I would say that you are well away from becoming an artist manager & promoter. Perhaps I can provide you with some more useful tips here with my article called What Makes a Good Artist Manager?
On to the next one!