The “Four P’s” is a term used to describe the traditional Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. I’m borrowing from that expression to talk about the Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation, Promotion, Performance, and Post-Show. This series of blog posts will cover the things that you can be doing as a live performer to maximize each show. In the final part of this series, we’ll go over what to do after your show is finished:
The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Post-Show
It would be tempting to start this blog post talking about the things you can do starting the day after your show, but the truth is that the real work begins the minute you step off stage. Once your show is over, it is arguably the most important time to solidify relationships with your fans, with the bands you’ve played with, and with the venue. Here are 5 things to do right after your show that will help you do just that:
1. Go to the merch table and greet fans
Right after you finish performing, whatever you do, don’t go hide backstage. The days of elusive rock stars is over, and the new music industry is all about connecting directly with your fans. Yes, you can do that on social media, but nothing beats meeting your fans in person, where you can really strengthen those connections.
So even though you might be tired, and you have to work early the next day, instead of having a drink backstage and then heading home, go straight to the merch table to hang out, and stay there until every fan has left.
2. Thank the staff
Before leaving your show, be sure to personally thank the soundman, bartenders, wait staff, and booker (if they’re at the show). Shake their hands and thank them for the opportunity to perform at their venue. This goes a long way in developing a strong relationship with the venue.
3. Thank other bands that performed
One commenter named Greg over at Music Think Tank suggested this, and I completely agree. Don’t forget to thank the other bands that performed that night. Creating a strong sense of community with other bands is never a bad thing, and acknowledging their performance goes a long way to developing and strengthening those relationships.
4. Load-up and leave on time
Don’t overstay your welcome at the venue. If they close at a certain time, make sure you’re out the door at that time. After a long night, it can be demoralizing for staff to stay later, especially if people aren't buying drinks or food anymore, but simply hanging out and chatting. Which leads to the next point...
5. After party
You can take the direct-to-fan relationship even further and organize an after party. Invite fans to go out for drinks or a bite to eat after your show and get to know them even better.
It might sound strange to continue marketing after your show, but to complete the full promotional cycle for a live show, there are a few things you can do in the days following to get the most impact for your show:
Thank fans on Twitter & Facebook
The night of or day after your show, post a short thank you note on Facebook & Twitter. Photos tend to get more likes, shares, and re-tweets, so include a nice photo of your band performing along with the note.
Send a thank you note to everyone who signed up to your mailing list
As noted artist manager Emily White has said, an email list is "an artist’s retirement plan”. A mailing list is still the best way to stay in touch with your fans, so treat those email addresses like gold. In the days following your show, send a personal thank you note to everyone who signs up to your list.
Post a photo gallery on your website
Create a photo gallery on your website of the best photos from your show, which will help drive people to your website, and also give people a taste of how fun your live show is.
Write a blog post about the show
In other posts, we’ve stressed how important blogging is in strengthening the connection with your fans and driving people to your website. So writing a review/wrap-up of your live shows is an easy to create a blog post that will accomplish both of those things. Fans who were at the show will get to know what your perspective of the show was, and if you include some photos of the fans who were there, even better.
Record a video for your fans
Even if you’re on the road touring, taking a few minutes to record a quick video thank you for your fans from the tour van/hotel room/train station is a great gesture that fans will appreciate. You get to show off your personality, maybe tell an interesting story from the show/tour, and express your gratitude to your fans.
OK, you’re almost done. As we mentioned in the blog post about “Performance”, you should try to record your show on video. It’s really important for you to be able to evaluate your performance so you can make improvements that will make your live show better. Here are some things to look out for:
Did you make any mistakes from a technical standpoint? i.e. Did you screw up any songs? Do some songs need more practice? Were the transitions between songs smooth? Did any equipment malfunction?
How was your stage presence? How did the band look on stage? Nervous? Bored? Comfortable? Confident? Did you show passion during your performance?
How did the set list go over with the crowd? Did the songs do well in that order? Could a different song order or different songs improve the flow of the show?
How was your interaction with the audience? Did you thank them? Ask them questions? Did you make sure to mention your mailing list and merch from the stage?
And you’re done... sort of
Now all you have to do is repeat all “4 P’s” for your next show! I know this all sounded like a lot of work, maybe even too much work, but to get the most out of your live shows, you really have to go the extra mile.
The wonderful thing about the new music industry is that every artist out there can record, distribute and promote their music for next to nothing. However, this has created an environment where you’re now competing with thousands (and thousands) of other artists, which in turn has brought on new challenges for artists, most importantly standing out from the crowd and fan retention.
Great music will always need to be the base of your promotional strategy, and a great live performance is close behind. But those two things alone aren’t enough anymore, and you need to work just as hard, or harder, than every other artist out there if you want to forge a sustainable career in the music industry.
Thanks for reading, I really hope you enjoyed the “Four P’s of Playing Live” Blog Series. After spending several years booking venues in Montreal, I wanted to share some of the best practices I had seen over the course of programming 500+ events. I hope there was some information in these blog posts that will bring your live show to the next level, help you get more gigs, and help you make a stronger connection to your fans.
Director of Artist Relations
The 4 P’s of Playing Live
Special thanks to Elida Arrizza for the image concept for the blog series.