Live music is back, just like it promised, and since 2022 is the year of “getting back into stuff,” like pre-COVID skinny jeans and a heavy roster of gigs, we figure it’s an opportune moment to strategise for a big year of ticket sales.
Whether you’ve been around since the coining of the term “gig promo” or throwing your mic on the stage for the first time, the industry-crushing pandemic taught us one thing: customers are out there, we just have to figure out how to reach them.
So let’s go large and manifest big dreams like “packed venues,” a “full gig roster,” and “sell-out shows.”
And yes, we are here to help, starting with ten ways that you can boost ticket sales at your venue!
But first, an overview:
The APAC will be responsible for over 1/3 of industry growth this year
Surprise! Over 32% of the live music industry’s growth will come from the Asia Pacific region this year, with ticket sales to live events being a significant contributing factor now that the two are finally back in sync.
After a global loss of $9.7B in tickets sales for 2020, we are finally making headway as restrictions ease up and international borders reopen in 2022. The Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2018-22 estimates a 6% CAGR(compound annual growth rate) plus a $2.83B by the end of 2025(that’s a lot!) now that live music events and sponsorships are back on the table, so come and get a piece of that pie!
Online booking has evolved with the times
When was the last time you saw a paper ticket for a gig? Yes, that question was a little dated, but further to it, when was the last time it took you more than 2 minutes to buy a ticket, or you bought a ticket from a ticketing site? As hard as it’s been for us to access live music the past few years, is as easy as it’s become to access and buy tickets. Now we can buy tickets from places we go to enjoy any music experience, like social media, merch sites, streaming services, and random pop-up ads requiring seconds of thought.
Live music and sustainability as like, besties now, but I’ll get into that chestnut in another article. Live music and time efficiency are also besties now, and instead of existing in two separate spheres, ticket sales now coexist in any space we take in music or socialise with it.
The growth of online ticketing avenues led to innovation, which led to sales
Once again, slowing down during a pandemic helped us speed up the process of connecting to new things and deep-diving because of the accessibility of those options. Though they barely saw the use of these booking systems during COVID, they still received an anticipatory boot, as venues designed their own booking platforms or took advantage of integrated checkouts on social media and music-buying sites, making it easier than ever for fans to stumble across and obtain a seat to gigs, with specialised booking perks for every customer.
Though we set ourselves up for success, we also had some struggles
Online security also played a part in venues opting for more secure ticketing options, especially while navigating impending cancellations and advance ticket sales with too many conditions.
On a recent Pollstar tally, advance ticket sales were at their lowest for 2021, as UK and US respondents stated a preference for holding off on buying even though shows continued to gain momentum amidst emerging COVID strains.
Another concern that will hinder the growth of emerging ticketing platforms is the security and usage of private customer information. For sites to give a personalised sales experience and entice individuals with event promo that fits their profile, such as meal deals, parking options, and dual live-show packages, they need to look into the data collected on these sites. Those wary of privacy and location-based service may not want to engage in the platforms.
Alright, so now you’re in the know, let’s sell some tickets!
1. Navigate your sales to where your audiences are
We aren’t just referring to Facebook or Instagram, which are both a good start. Local Facebook groups and bar pages, community noticeboards and radio, as well as Eventbrite and Meetup groups. Pull your venue into new unsuspecting ranks by offering deals to facilitators of those groups, then brace yourself for a whole new gang of customers. Nothing travels faster than word of mouth, and they heard it here first!
2. Level up your ticketing experience with booking integration
Every platform is an opportunity to sell tickets, whether your customers are surfing TikToks, buying an album from Bandcamp, or checking out weekend gigs on Bandsintown or Eventbrite.
As we mentioned earlier, redirects are very pre-COVID era; it’s all about instant gratification through verified sites that we trust. One minute we’re discovering a new band on Spotify, and the next, we’re buying a ticket to their upcoming show because of a conveniently targeted ad that stalked/informed us that they’re in the neighbourhood next month, all without even leaving the app! Iconic!
3. Tiered ticket experiences
VIP – you know me. OMG, kidding.
Tiered ticketing experiences offer your customers the little something extra that would tie their evening together, make their lives a whole lot easier, or save them money!
Season passes, standing room, seated, back of the bus seats – you get it. This can work for a small venue too, and the tiers don’t just have to be about the level of seating.
Depending on what your venue’s best assets are, offer options that add value to the live music experience; such as pre-sales, merch discounts, early access passes, cheaper same-day/restricted deals, streaming links, and meet-and-greets.
Just like you diversify your talent roster, diversify everything relevant to ticket sales. From ticket types, the locations online/offline that you sell them, the customers you sell them to, and the creative promo that you use to sell tickets.
Expand your reach to local community centres, advertising on Meetup, or reaching out to music blogs and foodie groups in your area.
Get to know what your customers’ other interests are and research the neighbouring businesses and groups in your area, you may discover friends who were just a stone’s throw away.
5. Box drop in your area
An oldie but goodie, and we say this because recently I got a gig flier in my letterbox, and even as a switched-on local music attendee, I was shook, interested, and attended. Bless.
6. Friends-of-friends discount
Hook-ups make us all feel pretty clued in, especially when we find a live gig at the right price and no one else knows the scoop. Offer big group deals with a table-booking option or +1 add-ons. No one wants to gig alone, and everyone hates buying separate tickets. If you offer a discount, you may facilitate an extra ticket sale, just because it’s so easy.
Alternatively, advertise that ticket sale proceeds go to a charity organisation sponsored by the venue or sustainability efforts for the community. Even if someone is unsure if they can attend an event, they’ll still feel good about buying a ticket in advance, knowing that they’re doing their part for a cause.
7. Incentivise by offering a pre-show dinner discount
At this point, we don’t mind outright declaring that we want our customers to spend all their time with us. Not only have you sorted out what they’re having for tea, but you’ve now filled up your dinner service. Congrats.
Alternatively, offer different packages for non-alcoholic attendees or drink tickets/discounts, or a special bottle of champagne on a limited offering at your venue because YOLO. We’re in the business of selling tickets, people!
8. Sponsor deals
Who are you doing business with these days? Or who are your industry mates? Or maybe you should get some mates and start up an advertising deal in collaboration with a local business. You advertise for them, and they advertise your show to their client base in exchange for discount codes or a new service deal.
This is a great way to gain exposure with new local groups through a trusted affiliate, and take the pressure off advertising.
9. A weekly social media giveaway
Celebrate your talent by hosting a weekly giveaway on your social accounts and get your performing artist’s involved too. This promo idea will have your customers engaging with and keeping up to date with your posts, and it’s a great entry point for new customers to give live music a go at your venue.
10. Use paid Ads to get the word out
Social media is vast, so why spend your time hunting down new fans when you can let the social media algorithm do it for you? Creating a sponsored ad for weekly shows are an exciting link to lead potential customers back to your venue. And now that you’re all over ticketing integration, it’s easier than ever for fans to buy tickets on the spot, saving them the time of navigating through different sites and losing interest.
Paid ads are such a great asset because they will target a potential audience in your area based on their interests and their propensity to attend and spend money on live music through a quality vs. quantity approach.