How to organise a show at a venue

For a DIY musician like me in the internet age, the days of an agent organising me a tour and letting me sit back and “concentrate on the music” is well and truly over. What tends 2014-04-18-Podrum-Cosmo-5to happen now is that for me to come to your town and do a show, I need people on the ground to organise it. And that’s where YOU come in!

Why on EARTH should I organise YOU a show?

Putting on shows requires a large amount of energy and enthusiasm. But when it comes together on the night, the venue starts filling up and the conversation starts to flow, it is a real BUZZ to know you have been part of organising it. A gig are not just a way of bringing people together in a great environment. It can raise money for different cause, publicise future events and for politically-orientated audience it can bring people together in a unique and celebratory way – in other words, not just a meeting!

Ok, so what do I have to do?

Like I said, first up, you need a load of energy and enthusiasm. If you’ve got that, you need to think about the VENUE, SUPPORT ACTS, PUBLICITY and WHAT TO DO ON THE NIGHT. You need to think about all of these things, as that will pretty much guarantee the success of the event. Concentrate on only one or two things, and it will definitely end in failure.


Anywhere can be a venue: the front room in a house, (see “How to organise a house concert“), the back room of a pub, a church, a community centre, a lecture theatre etc. Perhaps there are places in where you live where you go and see live music and you think what I do would work there. Remember, nowadays in the UK, under 200 capacity venues need no live music license, so it is easy to find somewhere to put on a live music event. Approach the place and see what kind of deals they offer. Do you need to hire the place? Do you need to hire a sound engineer? Does it have lighting?

Generally I like to play unamplified in small venues i.e. under 200 capacity. If, however, you have something bigger in mind, then I’d need some kind of PA. If you’re not sure about this, have a chat with me.


Maybe you have an idea of other acts to put on the bill. This can help add variety to the evening as well as bring in more people. They may have their own sound and light requirements, so chat to them about that. One way of getting other acts down is to have an “open mic” format, where other musicians/poets etc come up and do one or two tunes or poems. This can work well as people who perform will bring their friends!


Very important! And there are lots of ways of doing it.

Benefit shows. Is the show going to be a fundraiser for a cause? Activist groups can help promote the event using their email lists, website or Facebook groups etc.

Leafletting. Leaving some leaflets at the venue or in a place where a sympathetic crowd would be is a good idea. You can also leaflet venues after similar acts have played.

Newspapers, listing mags, websites, local radio. It is best to focus on building the event through people you know, i.e. friends, co-workers etc, but having publicity through these outlets can help too.

Email lists, Facebook, Twitter. The point with all of these things is to get as many people to create a buzz about the event as possible. Setting up event pages on Facebook and tagging friends is a real plus. Updating the event page on the week leading up to the show with music, stories etc can help get a real sense of momentum and anticipation going.

SELLING TICKETS IN ADVANCE is a very good way of making sure people commit to turning up. You can make tickets yourself, get the venue to help you or use a website such as Ticket Tailor.


On this website, you have access to all my music, the latest stories and a poster you can download and adapt to publicise your event. If my show is part of a tour I’m doing, I’ll be updating my blog and Facebook page with all the things that are going on. You can use all of these things to help publicise the event in the way I described above.


Don’t get too hammered! You may need to keep things together, or at least have some people around you who are going to make sure that:

Someone is on the door and responsible for money coming in. You will need to pay the acts at the end of the night, and work out how much money you have raised if it is a benefit show. Also, it would help to make sure that someone is responsible for making sure acts stick to their allotted times and get on and off stage in good time to allow the other acts to get ready. This lets the evening flow a lot more smoothly, believe me!


If you’ve followed the plan above, we should be all set to have a great evening! What do you reckon? Do you think you can pull it off? Then let’s do it!!! I’d love to hear from you soon! 


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 30 other followers

%d bloggers like this: