So, You Want to Start a Showcase?

For all of you artists and entrepreneurs looking to start your own live music series, I have compiled a handy-dandy checklist of items to keep in mind. These are broken down by category, to help you stay organized.

1: SELECTING ARTISTS

This one should be fairly simple; however, there are some points to be made here: 

  • Does the artist sound the same live as they do in their recordings? Actually LISTEN to their live videos or live recordings, instead of just picking the best produced sounds. 
  • If you’re putting a show together with multiple artists, do they make sense together? Is it a group of people who are different enough to stand out from each other, but similar enough that the bill makes sense? 

2: SELECTING A VENUE

Not all venues make sense for every single showcase. Make sure that the show you’ve booked fits the vibe of the venue. Also, make sure the venue can provide solid sound, a great stage, and a guarantee in some form. You don’t need to be putting in all this work for free! 

3: THE AGREEMENT/OFFER

  • Most venues in town will send you an offer on your shows before they agree to book you. What this means is that they’ll send you a proposed budget, as well as a break down of what you could potentially make on the show, after taxes and fees. These fees could include things like marketing, hospitality, production costs, and more. Make sure you read that fine print!
  • If your show is ticketed, most venues typically take a percentage of ticket sales after their production fees are met. 10-15% is fairly normal. 

4: MARKETING/PROMOTION

  • This one is most artists’ (read: MY) WORST NIGHTMARE, solely because we have no idea how to do it. Facebook ads are confusing to create. Remembering to email all of the online calendars, and remembering to schedule posts so your event keeps popping up on people’s social media feeds, is A LOT. 
    • You can make this easier by having your featured artists pitch in by promoting on their socials.
    • Most venues have a marketing team who can help you create a Facebook ad. Or, they might just create one for you through their social channels.

The key thing to remember here is that you are ultimately selling a product, and NO ONE BUYS A PRODUCT THEY CAN’T SEE. So, post clearly, and post often (which is basically true for most artists promoting anything).

5: LOGISTICS

You’ve sold the tickets, you’ve got the artists, you’ve got everything down. Now, it’s the day-of, and everyone needs to know where to go and what to do. FIGURE THIS STEP OUT THE WEEK BEFORE, SO YOU AREN’T SCRAMBLING AND STRESSING OUT! Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially not you! What everyone needs to know before they show up: 

  • What time is load-in?
  • What time is sound check? 
  • What time do doors open?
  • What time does the show start?
  • What time are they playing?
  • When is the show over?

Some key things to remember, pertaining to sound check: you do not want to run the entire show before the actual show starts. It’s exhausting. (Trust me, I’ve been there.) So, you’ll want to make sure your artists have enough time to sound check themselves and make sure they’re happy with everything, but not so much that they’re basically playing their set twice. 

So, there you have it: a very basic starting guide to start your very own showcase. If you want some first-hand experience watching just what it takes to put a showcase together, come hang with me and The HellCats over at Music on The Move at City Winery this Sunday, November 7 and I’ll be happy to show you the ropes.

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