Event planning for a memorable concert might seem like a job filled with non-stop excitement if you only consider the stunning end product. However, there is a lot more to concert production than most people might imagine.
If you are a people person with excellent communication skills, a flair for organization, a love for making people happy, and a vision for creating special moments, you are probably capable of tackling the most elaborate and detailed events.
Whether you are an up-and-coming event planner or an aspiring promoter still studying event management in college, dreaming of creating memorable concerts on a moderate to large scale, you need to know what it entails.
Drawing on inspiration from Johnson & Wales University’s Sports, Entertainment, Event Management Program, here are 15 tips and strategies to keep in mind as you take on the task of planning a unique live music concert experience for the guests, performers, and stakeholders.
1. Determine the target audience
Booking a live music event starts by determining the target audience for attendance to ensure peak enjoyment for everyone. You don’t want to plan a performance for fans of classic rock when the musical artist or band is more likely to attract country or rap artists. Each type of concert will feature its own style and aesthetic that will cultivate a specific mood for the concertgoers.
Determining the target audience means you will need to do some research about the artist or artists you plan to include on your concert roster and, more importantly, their fan base. You should get a solid grasp of the following pieces of information about probable concert attendees:
- Marital status
- Income level
- Education level
- Geographic location
- Preferred musical genre
You can find some of this information by doing the following:
- Scan attendance lists of previous concerts by similar artists.
- Read articles and information about the artists and the audience members who consider themselves fans.
- Visit competitors’ websites often to get an idea of the target audience. You can draw conclusions from the information based on tone, style of writing, imagery, and engagement in the comments.
- Talk to colleagues in the industry or reach out to peers or professors at your university to come up with new ideas.
2. Establish goals
Whether the concert is intended for pure entertainment or there is a charitable aspect to it, you need to ensure that the purpose is clear to everyone involved.
Further, you should establish goals for what you want to achieve and what you want others to get out of the concert. Here are some ideas as far as goals you might aim to achieve as a new concert promoter:
- Host a three-day country music event featuring regional food and art.
- Book the top R&B artist and two up-and-coming artists who appeal to the same audience.
- Support the main act’s goals of increasing album sales by a certain budget.
- Introduce new fans to classic artists.
- Achieve a certain profit or number of ticket sales.
- Raise a certain amount of money for a chosen charity.
3. Create a budget
Your budget helps set the tone for how you proceed with your project. It will guide decisions about the artists you can attract to participate, as well as the venue, marketing and promotion strategy, and merchandise. It’s crucial that you create a realistic budget and stick to it to ensure success without risking running out of money or having to cut corners in important areas, such as ensuring comfort and good treatment for the artists on the roster.
Use a spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to determine factors such as:
- How many people are likely to attend? Refer to previous concert records of the artists to learn this information.
- Will the concert have sponsors, investors, or stakeholders?
- What is a realistic price for tickets? Consider whether the artist is a national, regional, or local act and what fans have paid to see the artist or band before.
- How much will the marketing and social media campaign cost?
- What will the revenue be? For this, take the number of people times the ticket price, plus sponsor revenue, and you will come to your overall potential revenue number.
If you go through this list and realize you can’t afford to host the concert as it stands, reevaluate to determine which factors you can adjust to stick to your budget.
4. Pick a venue
The venue is almost as important to the concert as the artists themselves because you want to create the right ambiance that complements their genre and overall style. The right venue should create an unforgettable mood for your audience. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider the right venue:
- How many people do you want to attend?
- Do you want an indoor or outdoor venue?
- Can you help facilitate accommodation for those traveling far for your concert? That might mean something as simple as providing website details about local hotels and campsites on your website. You might also work with local hotels and Airbnb to provide sponsorships in exchange for promoting their business.
5. Get the right equipment
The artist or band likely supplies all of their own musical instruments and amplifiers, but you will probably need to supply some equipment. Additionally, it’s important to have a variety of frequently utilized equipment in the event you encounter potential supply chain issues and delays. Work with the artist’s management to determine what you might need to obtain for the concert, such as:
- Microphone stands
- Sound system
- Mixing boards
- Cables for sound equipment
- Live mixing digital audio workstations (DAWs)
6. Hire an experienced team
Hiring an experienced team is especially important if you are new to organizing concerts. The right team can help you work out complex ideas and carry them out in a snap. Putting on a concert is a complicated task, and while you might be able to do it alone, you shouldn’t try. The chances are you’ll exhaust yourself or fail at several of your goals, so hiring people who know what to do and are willing to help you achieve your vision is critical.
7. Apply for permits and insurance
Check with the venue’s local city office to determine what types of permits and insurance you need to host the concert safely and legally. With all of the lights and electrical equipment, you can never rule out the possibility of a fire, and you can’t afford to be liable for injury, death, or even the fear that such a scenario could cause. You can find professional resources that help you sort through these matters quickly and easily.
8. Plan the logistics
Concert logistics are crucial in making the event easily accessible, both coming and going and everything in-between. Here are some logistical matters to consider:
- Learn about the venue’s parking situation, such as whether it has its own lot or has an arrangement with a nearby parking garage.
- Work with local law enforcement to provide off-duty personnel to direct traffic if the event is large enough to disrupt the standard flow. Additionally, ensure you also have personnel to help at the closing of the event to make sure everyone leaves the venue safely.
- Hire ushers to guide attendees from the parking area into the concert area, whether an outdoor space or an indoor arena. If there is seating, ensure that there are special ushers to check tickets to help attendees to their seats.
9. Put safety measures in place
When you select your venue, work with the owners to determine the standard safety measures required for the space. Additionally, create a checklist of your own safety measures you want to consider: Some examples include::
- Require clear bags, small bags, or no bags at all in order to avoid guests bringing in unwanted items.
- Ask ticket holders to consider avoiding attending the concert if they feel ill.
- Request that families bringing children create a plan to keep everyone together, but you might also provide kiosks to help people reconnect if separated.
10. Choose your Artist(s)
One of the most exciting parts of planning a concert is choosing the right artists that appeal to your sensibility, whether you like them personally or you feel that they have the best chance of helping you achieve your goals. Therefore, wait until you determine your goals and review your budget to start narrowing down your list of desired artists. You need to have the budget to make it worth the artist’s time to show up, and you need to make sure you can cast them in the best light for their reputation and their fans’ expectations.
11. Pick a Ticketing Partner
Decades ago, Ticketmaster was the ticket sales giant. Today, there are more options for ticketing your event, such as Eventbrite, TicketSmarter, SeatGeek, and venue-specific box office ticket sellers. If you can use a seller for multiple venues, you can gain more exposure for your artist when people visit the respective website, potentially netting more attendees.
12. Find Sponsors/Marketing Partners
Working with a sponsor or marketing partner is the epitome of a mutually beneficial relationship in the concert organizing world. With the right artist and venue, you can attract sponsors who know your artist’s audience and want to earn some of their sales as well. They might provide promotional swag items such as tote bags, pens, product samples, key chains, and more. In return for their brand exposure, they invest money into your event, further boosting your budget.
13. Promote Your Concert
Once you have your artist, venue, and sponsors in place, it’s time to start your serious concert promotions. Use social media, radio, television, print, and more to let your target audience know you want them to attend your concert. Provide details including the date, time, and location of the event.
14. Create VIP and Other Upsell Opportunities
Everyone wants to feel like a VIP and sit in the box seats. If possible, create opportunities for ardent fans with disposable income to upgrade their tickets to sit in a special area or even meet the band after the show. You can also upsell by adding drinks or after-party options for a higher ticket price and higher overall ticket sales.
15. Prepare for the Unexpected on the Day of the Event
Anything can go wrong at the time of an event. Whether there is a massive snowstorm that makes driving dangerous, a thunderstorm during an outdoor event, a sick artist, or anything else that means the event won’t go as originally intended, you need a backup plan.
In some cases, you might be able to come up with contingencies, such as working with the venue owner to plan for a backup day at a later time. In that scenario, you also need to ensure that your artist would be available for the contingency concert. You also have to prepare for the possibility that many fans couldn’t make plans in their schedule for a second trip, especially if they are coming from out of town.
Ultimately, you might need to prepare for some losses. In the first year of the pandemic, many ticket buyers lost money because event organizers selected not to refund ticket sales. That is always a judgment call, but if you can afford the loss, it might make it worth it in the long run to show you as a compassionate event organizer.
Johnson & Wales University Will Help You Strengthen Your Event Planning Skills
If you’re interested in planning concerts, music festivals, or any other type of music event, earn your bachelor’s degree in sports, entertainment, and event management from Johnson & Wales University.