Part II: Getting a Good Audience
New Skills required for most musicians-
Planning a recital requires a host of variable skills, few of which I excel at, other than performing. (hopefully!)
This is the second post of three on the subject, outlining ways to insure you have an audience at your performance. There is nothing more dampening to a performance mood than a tiny audience! The more the merrier. The energy between performer and audience is critical, and often overlooked. While a performer's inspiration cannot only rely on their audiences attention, any performer will tell you that an appreciative crowd helps them reach a bit beyond their own expectations. That's where the magic begins.
Perhaps the steepest learning curve in my recent experience was how to effectively publicize my recitals. Effective marketing requires some detailed planning, as I learned.
I had general ideas of what I was trying to market, but had not hashed out details of my intentions for the recital.
Questions to ask yourself in the marketing planning stages:
1- How is my recital different from any other recital?
2- Who will find my program interesting and rewarding?
3- What are the unique qualities of my approach to the music?
4- How can I express my deepest desires and goals for this recital to my future audience.
iAdvise: Really believe in what you are offering. The rest will come easily.
Use local newspapers
Luckily, the Internet offers easy access to local newspaper arts listings, where anyone can sign up to list their event. I easily found the event submission form for several news rags and filled them out.
Consistency of message is important for any event, product or profile appealing to a mass, anonymous audience. "Dances and Dreams" alone didn't describe the event clearly, and chamber music concert was too generic. Next time I will carefully plan several various lengths of clear descriptions, such as "Dances & Dreams Chamber Music concert", and "Dances and Dreams Columbus Symphony Chamber Music concert", which match in style and content, but offer choices of length.
These considerations also apply to the more detailed description of your event. Be sure to plan various lengths, but matching content, for event details to use in different situation.
iAdvise: Choose your event title and description very carefully, to allow for consistent message despite variable lengths of listings.
Use your blog if you have one
Naturally, I also used my blog to market my event. But since many of my blog readership are located internationally, I couldn't expect most of my readers to attend! I know my blog friends want to hear me play, but friendship can only travel so far! 🙁
Use the radio if possible.
It doesn't hurt to call your local classical music station if you have one, and tell them of your recital date and theme.
Definitely use Facebook
Facebook offers another good tool for publicizing your recital. Facebook Pages are different than profiles, in that anyone can view the contents of a page, whereas only friends can view the full details of a personal profile.
I created a Facebook Page just for the recital. I again urge you to plan your event title and description very carefully. My lack of careful planning came back to bite me yet again after I created the Facebook Page. I called it "Dances and Dreams Chamber Music Concert June 18", which is not bad, but not quite good enough. Since the title of the page give the reader instant information, I could have listed even more in the title, adding time and location. But once you create a page title, you cannot change it. Of course, I didn't know that when I created the page, and gave little thought to the most effective title. Again, good planning in the beginning really pays off. Silly me.
iAdvise: choose your Facebook page name VERY carefully! You cannot change it later.
After creating the page, I had to invite people to join and become a fan of the page. This will enable them to receive updates you post to your page. Sifting all the Columbus locals from all my Facebook friends, I invited them to join. Most did.
But the work was not yet done. Each of those Page members could invite others. How far can you push a friend to help you publicize? If done nicely, I believe most people have no problem with timely reminders to reach out and pull in their local friends to my page. I could have been more persistent in this respect. But I am a musician, not a salesperson! Better learn fast! Or be left behind.
iAdvise: Be willing to pester friends and Facebook fans a little. They receive lots of requests for attention. You have to rise to the top, politely.
Then, I needed to maintain the page and submit new comments and content so as not to be forgotten by the newly joined members. Once again, creative planning helps greatly. Review the question offered above and use your intentions to think of daily updates for how your recital theme and content are developing.
If you designed and printed fliers as suggested in the first article in this series, those will need to be distributed widely.
However, I didn't want to put up the fliers TOO early, for fear they would become part of the landscape and will go unnoticed as the date approaches. The best time to distribute and post fliers is about 3-4 weeks before the event.
Unfortunately I was out of town at the critical time, and didn't plan another way to get them out. Also, I simply ran out of energy, and didn't have the will to drive all over town to post them personally. I did make the effort to get to a half dozen locations, but should have done more. I could have found Internet lists and address of: libraries, coffee shops, music stores, student centers.
iAdvise: Research a list of places more likely to attract potential audience members to your recital.
As I learned while posting the fliers, some places would allow one to be posted on a bulletin board. Others allow a pile of fliers for their customers to take. I should have planned two (similar) types of fliers, one flashy (and more expensive) for single posting, and a cheaper, smaller design to leave a bunch of.
iAdvise: This advice merits repeating from the first article- Plan two set of fliers, one larger and flashier, and one smaller and simpler.
Since I planned these recitals as fundraisers for my orchestra, the Columbus Symphony, I was lucky they were willing to send out a mass email advertising the event. But I knew from my own experience that those mass emails are rarely opened.
To my surprise, I had very full audiences at both recitals. And to my even greater surprise, most of who came were personally invited by myself or another performer in the event.
iAdvise: The best publicity is personal publicity. Reach out to friends, remind them several times, ask them to invite their friends. Show excitement about your event. Know how and why you are doing something unique which they should not miss!
In tomorrow's post Part III: The Performance, I'll finally write about a subject I know fairly well. I'll outline my successful experiment in speaking about the music to my audience before each piece.