So you want to organize a music event? All you need to know before you begin is one simple truth: it isn’t going to be easy. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s see just how we can put up the best show we can.
Know What You Want & What You’re Talking About
Okay, that bit about the “best” show we can? I lied. You see, the first thing that you should embrace about music is that, like all other art forms, it is an entirely subjective thing. A never-ending and ever-expanding list of genres across all the world’s cultures to satiate a constantly evolving market with individuals of unique tastes and preferences. With this in mind, we need to have a clear idea of what we want this event to be. A jazz festival? EDM? Progressive rock? Experimental? And even within these genres there are sub-genres and sub-sub-genres.
Therefore, have a very clear idea on the musical direction of your show. Being a music event, the music must be the factor that drives all your other concerns. Be absolutely certain about what that will be and know your history, cult heroes and trends within that form of music. If there’s something that music fans are, it is tribal and the backlash to a bad choice of act can have lasting repercussions. Just think about the outrage over Kanye West at Glastonbury and you’ll know you don’t want to get on the wrong side of music lovers.
Find The Links
Setting the direction is crucial to the other aspects of your event. Keep in mind that the trends in one aspect of society will find its counterparts in other areas. This is important in the way you advertise and promote on your show. Let’s just put it this way – a lineup of the world’s top Elvis impersonators is hardly going to sell if its predominant method of marketing is Snapchat.
Self-portrait with a Snapchat filter. / Source
Find out what the demographic of your target audience is and search for appropriate means to reach out to them. For instance, if you’re putting out adverts for your insanely hot electronica festival, it probably isn’t a good idea to promote it on the radio channel that plays Baroque harpsichord music.
Stories, stories, stories…
At the event itself, you’ll have to do what I’ve been advocating for all events in all my previous articles. You’ll have to create a narrative. But don’t take my word for it – most successful concerts have elements of this whether it be a clear and obvious story arc, a musical narrative in the style of Pink Floyd, the many alter-egos of certain performers (like David Bowie, for instance) or otherwise. You’ll need to find a narrative that works.
David Bowie and NOT David Bowie. / Source
You can do this in one of a few ways. Assuming that the event is a multi-act event, you must research the various performers’ repertoire and determine how to line them up in such a way that is musically coherent and that harnesses the energy and attention of the crowd. It doesn’t matter how great your acts are, a solo-folk guitar act will find it very difficult to follow a progressive rock band backed by a 40-piece orchestra. In other words, arrange your acts well to make sure they don’t murder each other.
In a related note, don’t stack new, unfamiliar acts after established crowd-pullers. All you are doing is setting them up for a fall, either through a crowd and energy exodus or an unfavorable comparison with veterans. In the same way, however, don’t fill your program by jamming all your crowd pullers on the same day. It doesn’t really help the narrative you are trying to create and doesn’t do you any good at the box office either.
A solo concert is a different ball game and allows you, the organizer to craft a narrative more easily. You can build an arc around existing songs, looking for common themes or styles between numbers in the repertoire and create something that the strength of the performer can carry off. Considering how really good acts already have albums that you would presume have been thoughtfully designed in this way, the task should be doable.
Sell The Right Things
Let your decision on the musical direction affect your other choices too. This can be in the merchandise that you sell, the post-show goodies that you give out or the way you present the entire show. Simply put, all these things should be complementary to the nature of the music you are presenting. Just take the many ways of music dissemination, a crowd of millenials who own laptops with no external CD drives would likely find them cumbersome and impractical. In this case, selling them specially designed thumbdrives might be a smarter choice.
Also, choose your for-sale products wisely. Hotdogs and soft drinks might work at crowds that are predominantly teenagers (think boyband concerts) but beer and chips might be more complementary for rock concerts. In all these cases, do your research and figure out the trends to know how you should do it.
Then again, can you really say no to a hot dog. / Source
Like I stated at the very start, organizing a music event isn’t easy because there are so many variables to consider. This is a topic we will definitely revisit sometime soon, but for now, consider this your starter pack and let’s get rocking. Or jazzing. Or popping. It really never ends.