Selling Out Your Home Concert

Anyone can hold a concert. Just like anyone can make any number of products you see or buy in the market place. Making products isn’t the problem. Finding buyers is. With the ever increasing snow storm of advertising and information flashing before our eyes, getting to the messages we want is difficult. That means getting your message about your concert to the right people is the challenge.
First, what not to do. Don’t advertise to everyone, just to the people who are most likely to come including:
1. The friends, neighbors and family of your host. That includes people they know at their place of employment, church, clubs, associations or anywhere else that respects them.
2. Your friends and family. If you’re still in school or teaching school, that’s a great place to round up bodies. The other people mentioned in item one apply to you as well.
Start making a list of the names, addresses and emails of every person from the possibilities listed above. That is your “house list.”
You are going to prepare an invitation that will have the following features:
1. It will first tell the person how the concert will benefit that person. The wrong way is to begin by telling how wonderful you are, and that is how most concert and other ads begin. This is about THEM NOT YOU!
2. You’ll continue extolling the benefits of coming to the concert and the kindness of the host.
3. You will become a benefit of the concert.
4. Your music will be a great benefit of coming to the concert.
5. You’ll clearly let them know where, and when.

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Remember this code: AIDA
Interest (those are the things that will benefit the audience)
Desire (creation some emotion – people buy from emotion, not intellect)
Action (make sure they have a way to contact you, the host through email or phone to let you know they are coming)
All of this should be accompanied with a social media campaign that you orchestrate. Set up a Facebook page just for this event and get your friends to invite people to it. Use Twitter and other social media to get the word out. Make this a media event.
Decide on the purpose of the concert. It can just be a concert hosted by a family, or it could be:
1. Evaluation or Feedback concert. You’re seeking opinions of people about what music you should put on your CD or use for your auditions, or whatever. For this you’ll need an evaluation form.
2. Pre-CD launch concert.
3. Benefit concert for a cause your host believes deeply in. (See the chapter in Marketing Singers about how to hold a benefit concert and get paid twice for doing it.) We held a benefit concert at our backyard that opens out to a golf course and had 400 people attend and we raised our goal of $30,000.
4. Pre-audition tour concert or Summer Program Funding Concert. Let them know you’re going on an audition tour to New York or London or wherever you’re going for a Summer Program and need to raise funds and donations will be accepted along with feedback.
Here are a couple of examples of flyers or invitations that worked quite well. This first one is for the host family to send out and emphasizes an invitation from them. That’s the first benefit.

This second flyer is benefit heavy right from the start and catches people’s heart. It’s all about THEM and how you can help them. A simple letter accompanied this with the email and email of where to RSVP.

The cover photo was from her first home concert. It led to the second home concert. Her greatest asset was her persistence. Of course she had a beautiful voice and was prepared to deliver a great concert.
In Part II I’ll discuss what to do at the concert to set up your “perpetual gig machine!”

Here is the note I received from this singer and her results are fairly typical:
“It went great!!! I sang well, the pianist played well; we had 45 people there in this huge, gorgeous home. The acoustics were PERFECT–the room I sang in had a monastery-cloister arched ceiling. The guests were very happy. I pre-sold 29 CDs.
Donations brought in $610. Not too shabby!
People are talking already about doing a Christmas program there in a couple of months, and a couple of other people expressed interest in having entertainment in their homes.
One of the ladies who came was my dry cleaner–I met her the day before when I dropped off my dress to be cleaned. Turns out she’s from CA and loves opera. It was just a lot of fun and everyone came away w/something.
Thanks for your help! It was a team effort that has paid off beautifully.
Thanks,Kristin Jensen”

Your reasons for holding your concert will determine your next actions. If it is just to sing, well, you've sung, so there is nothing more to do. But I'll now assume you're more ambitious and want a singing future. Therefore you need to 1) earn money at the concert, 2) sell CDs, 3) book more concerts or engagements and 4) gather information to lead to even more engagements.

Here’s what to do:
    1. Work out with the host that at the end of the concert to please read a blurb about the feedback. Write out what they should say, something like, “We want to thank Fred/Kathleen for being our honored guest tonight and for the beautiful music. She is always looking to improve and would appreciate you opening your programs right now and filling out the brief survey so she can get your feedback. We’ve provided pencils (make sure you provide them in nice boxes all around during the intermission). And Fred has a CD that you can take home with you as our gift. We’d ask you to make a donation to his audition fund.As you know, to audition for Broadway/Metropolitan Opera roles it takes quite a bit of money just to get there and Fred could use your support. So make a contribution to that fund and we’ll give you his CD.” Something like that. Work it out with the host. Maybe you don’t give away the CD. Maybe you sell the CD AND ask for the donation. Feel your way through this. There isn’t a right way, although there is a wrong way – not doing or trying something and holding back. Get out there and do something, even if it doesn’t work the first time.
    2. Prepare a printed program. You want everyone to have one. Yes, it’s nice to have them see the numbers, but what you really want is for them to see the survey. More on that in a moment. I’ve included a sample. Don’t use this one. Create your own, but use the concepts.

    3. Notice on the program a good mixture of music that progresses from the familiar to the more esoteric (for some) that is all great music. Please the fans but uplift them for a thoroughly entertaining night. Don’t go too long. A one hour concert is grand plus a ten minute break/intermission. A ten minute break is great as a dramatic pause for you and for your audience to discuss how wonderful you are.
    4. The survey is NOT a scientific survey but a leading marketing document. You’re leading them down a logical path. You’re asking them to recall positive things about your performance and letting them put those down on paper so it sticks in their mind. The more they write the more they’ll bite. As you see it leads them to volunteer to contribute or buy a CD or to hold a concert – take some action. In that they enjoyed your singing and they’re recalling how much, why wouldn’t they want to share you with their friends? And they will. I’ve yet to find a singer who does this that doesn’t make at least $300 to $500 for the night plus book other concerts.
    5. Make sure you’ve gone over all of this with your host. Kindly ask them if they’ll emcee the affair. It’s their home. Ask them if they’ll do the introduction, the intermission announcement and the closing comments.

    6. Ask if they’ll introduce you and give them a written introduction. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t tell them to read it. Tell them you’ve jotted down a few ideas that they can use if they like. They’ll probably just read it so make sure you write it so it sounds great if read.
    7. After the intermission, have them suggest to the audience that if they would like to have you sing in their home there is a place on the back of the program where they can request you to hold a concert for them.
    8. Have a nice container for people to place their programs with their feedback. Have envelopes there to put the feedback sheets in and the $$$ as well.
    9. Mingle, mingle, mingle. Shake hands with everyone. They’re likely to hand you $$$ then too. Thank them for coming and say, “I am anxious to read your feedback sheets” to encourage them to fill them out. Bring a Sharpie that you know works so you can sign your CD. When someone buys one immediately say, “Would you like me to sign that?” They’ll always say Yes and in doing so people will see that and it encourages others to buy.
    10. When you get home, enter all of the names and demographics you’ve gathered onto your House List spreadsheet (see Marketing Singers book to know how to do this and what to do with this list) before you sleep. You should have this from the feedback sheets and you should have also gotten the list from the host, telling them you need the emails to thank the people personally for coming. Putting this off is deadly.
    11. The next day, be sure to write a Thank You note on a nice card to the host with profuse kind words. Then email all of the guests, thanking them for coming. If they have asked you to do a concert, begin the discussion. If they haven’t, let them know a date you’re available and see if they’d like you to come then. NOW is the time. Every day that goes by the lead grows colder. Offer everyone your CD where appropriate. Don’t be shy but be wise.
    12. Get someone to video at least one of your best songs along with shots of the audience and home. Get the hosts permission to publish this. Then post this on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and whatever other social media you can. Get out there with the message that you perform. And provide a contact website, email or phone number.
Following this path can lead to additional home concerts. It can lead, as you’ll suggest to the audience, to you singing at their professional functions like office parties, office openings, company conventions, reunions, political functions, church meetings or retreats, and so forth. Many will live in retirement communities. That’s not an old folks home. That’s a community with a community center that loves to have events on a regular basis. I know singers who have a regular circuit of these centers that pay them for monthly or quarterly concerts that pay $250 to $750 for the evening. They perform at least three nights a week year around.
At first it takes a great deal of coordination and marketing work to get this piece meal singing career going. Once you get this perpetual job machine in gear, it becomes more and more on autopilot. The more you perform, the better you become and the more exposure leads to better chances. Marketing is not magic, it’s motion.