VIP-ticketing: The Good and the Bad

You see it everywhere, the VIP ticket options to meet your favourite artists with sometimes prices much higher than they need to be. We are here to show you the good things about VIP-ticketing and the bad sides.

The Good

It shows your fans you’re willing to meet them. The die-hard fans will obviously jump at this possibility to meet their heroes.

It’s nice if you give fans something extra. Many bands and artist put a lot of time into thinking of a way to make a full package of the VIP ticket. Try to give them more than just a hug and a picture with their favourite band or artist. Consider giving them something extra like a merchandise package. Give them the chance the chill out with you with a pizza party or something else like this.

The Bad

You see pop stars exaggerate with the prices and some people will actually pay for it. But not everyone gets the chance to buy them. Fans will feel left out and may get mad at the artist. This is never good, because you don’t want to lose fans. This is the same for concert tickets.

It eliminates the fans with a smaller budget. Of course, it all depends on the age of your fans attending your gig. If the age is, let’s say 12, you wont earn much for VIP-tickets if they are really expensive. You’d have more chance with teenagers of 16-18 year-old. Because that’s when many start earning more income of their own.

All in all, its a good idea to use VIP-ticketing. Just be careful not to do what Ozzy Osbourne did at Graspop Metal Meeting in 2016. He asked $950 for a meet & greet at the festival for 15 minutes before the show. Which is crazy and no one paid for it. Just be mindful of the price for your fans and give them that little extra that will make it the best night of their lives.

Hard Ticketing and Soft Ticketing

A lot of people don’t know what the concept of hard ticketing and soft ticketing means. Music consumers just want to buy their ticket for a concert or a festival and be done with it. But, they don’t know that selling tickets for concert and festivals can be very different. It each has its own term and its own meaning in the industry. Let’s dive into hard ticketing and soft ticketing a little deeper and discover the difference and how they work.

What’s The Difference between Hard Ticketing and Soft Ticketing?

Let us start with soft ticketing. Soft ticketing simply means that the tickets that are being sold can’t go to one artist. In this case just think of your festival tickets. You might go to the festival for just one artist, but you don’t pay for just that one artist you want to see. So, while you’re enjoying your favourite artist, you might as well just make a whole day of it at the festival. Seems pretty good, right?

Hard ticketing is the opposite. This is when you go to the concert for just one artist. On these events there will be one main act on the bill. Ticket sales will most likely go back to the main act. But times are changing and you never know what kind of deals may be involved,.

Times are Changing

In the modern music industry, some managers are trying to get a percentage of the ticket sales on festivals for their headline acts. The way I see it, this is just simply too difficult to do. If everyone starts doing this, there won’t be much revenue left for the festival, and it may not continue next year.

These deals are being made more and more frequently in the festival scene and if you put the ticket sales on top of that, I don’t think the festivals are getting the best out of the deals.

How to Organise a Music Festival

Organising a music festival can be stressful and there can be many factors which are beyond your control. But there are also many top tips on how to build and organise a music festival.

Work With the Right People

Find people who are really interested in what you are doing and are willing to be hands-on. Then split up the responsibilities and make sure everyone is clear on what they need to do. Organising a music festival doesn’t just come down to the organisers though. You need to think about people who are skilled in other key areas. This includes music, production, bar, marketing etc. try to spread out the world as much as possible, many people may be working as unpaid volunteers so it is important to make sure everyone is 100% committed.

Have a Strong Vision

Festivals are crowded marketplace so make sure you know what you stand for and what makes you different. Will you be a “Fun, Family-Friendly, Feel-good Festival” or will you be the opposite. Define who you are before hand to help you make decisions about what to include.

Get Some Investment

Unless you’re able to pay for everything yourself, the best way to get started is to persuade one or two people to believe in your vision and lend you a few thousand £. Even on a shoestring budget, you’ll probably break even in year 3 and start paying them back in year 5.

Think About Becoming a Company

Putting on a smaller festival for friends is a great way to start, but as soon as you start collecting ticket money from the public everything changes. You’ll need to think about setting up a company and completing your end of year accounts. The gov.uk website is a great resource.

Have a Great Relationship with your Venue/s

Noise complaints, damaged access roads or lack of a proper licence could be enough to close you down. Make sure you take the time to get to know your venue’s management personally. Manage their expectations from day 1. Don’t be afraid to ask early on about noise, access, traffic, litter etc. it will benefit you both in the long run. Whatever is agreed, make sure you seal the deal with a written agreement!

Don’t Do it All Yourself

Trying to do everything yourself seems like a good idea, but that can be time-consuming and stressful. i.e. Day professional to take care of your recycling or you’ll probably find yourself feeding thousands of cans into your local recycling bank. Not my idea of fun!

Take Time to Enjoy it

Until you reach a point where you can turn your music festival into a profitable business this is going to be your most time-consuming year-round hobby.  Make sure you give yourself time at your event to stand back, and enjoy / appreciate the fact that you’re doing what you love and you’ve pulled it off.

Nothing beats the feeling of standing back and seeing a festival full of people having fun and thinking “we did that”.

The Truth About Pay-to-Play Gigs

Pay-to-Play gigs are becoming less and less common (thankfully!) but they do still exist. Essentially they are deals made between the gig promoter and the unsigned band/artist wanting to play at the gig. The band/artist pays the promoter and also pay to sell tickets for the gig and all the money goes back to the promoter – the band/artist only gets money after they reach a certain level or once the promoter has covered a certain amount of costs. This level often doesn’t get reached, and when bands/artists are already incurring costs in order to play the gig (travel, accommodation, time out from work etc.) having to also pay to actually play there just adds to this!

There are some examples we have heard of where an opening act on a tour paid £2000 PER SHOW and all of this money went back to the promoter, not the act. Another band paid £50,000 to join a major band on a UK tour.

In theory, having the chance to support a major artist on tour is one that we all dream of (except being the major artist yourself, obviously!). You have the chance to perform to a huge number of people who have likely never heard of you so this gives you a chance to get some new fans. Right?

Well, how many times have you been to a gig where you haven’t really been bothered about the support act? Or thought “this act isn’t even in the same genre as the main act”? For example, I went to see Muse perform and Dizzee Rascal was the support act… weird! Bands and artists too often pay for a slot on a tour or at a gig where the audience isn’t even their target audience, so it is highly unlikely they will convert these people into fans of their own and in turn monetise these fans in order to one day make back the money they paid to perform the gig in the first place.

How Can You Get a Gig Otherwise?

There are also competitions that bands and artists pay to compete in as they give them the chance to perform in bigger venues than they may normally have the chance to perform in. For example, the Live and Unsigned Competition in the UK provides this opportunity. Often, acts pay to be in the competition but they aren’t actually ready to be performing such large venues so the opportunity is completely wasted!

No, pay-to-play gigs aren’t all bad. If no band or artist ever benefitted from them then they would’ve stopped doing it and these kinds of gigs would’ve been extinct a long time ago. The truth is, there is a reason promoters and competitions feel they can charge… because they normally provide an opportunity that unsigned acts would never normally be able to get on their own. But there are some questions you need to ask yourself before considering chasing these opportunities. If any of your answers reflect the ones given below then you need to consider whether the gig is worthwhile! :

  • How much is the promoter wanting you to pay? Probably more than we can afford or an amount that would take us a long time to make back.
  • What type of audience will be at the gig? Does this reflect your target audience? No it doesn’t, the act we are supporting/playing alongside is from a different genre.
  • Is the size of the venue reflective of the ones you already perform in/larger than normal but a manageable progression? Is it a lot bigger than you normally play e.g. you normally play to 100 but the venue is 1000? It is a lot bigger than we’re used to, we’d struggle to fill it.
  • What are you wanting to get out of the gig? Is it possible to achieve this through performing at this specific gig? I’m not sure what we want to achieve or I’m not sure we can achieve what we want to.

If your answers are the opposite to those above and you feel confident and happy about going ahead, then good for you! Grab it with both hands and milk the opportunity.

As with anything you do with your career, do your research. Whey up your options and make sure you are knowledgeable about what you are entering into before taking the leap.  Otherwise it is very easy to get scammed and taken advantage of!

Making Money from Music: Live Performances

In an age where music is basically free, the live music industry has become a bigger revenue stream for artists. As music sales has decrease, income from live performances have risen. Therefore, this means you should be striving to tap into this industry. Don’t forget to read part one of this blog!

However, your ability to make money from this depends on where you are in your career. It is all too familiar that artists rarely get paid for gigs, or even have to pay to play! When you’re incurring costs to get the gig in the first place, it can be costly to carry on gigging.

But, the algorithm is simple. Gigs mean new fans; new fans means bigger audiences at gigs; bigger audiences means more interest from venues. The more interest there is the bigger the pay check you could potentially receive. You do have to milk every opportunity you get though. If you do gigs months apart then the interest will fade and you may have to start this again.

Be ballsy as well… don’t always assume that you are playing for free. Don’t be afraid to ask “how much will I get paid for the gig”. If nothing then ask “could I at least get paid for my expenses or get a guarantee that if you’re impressed you’ll pay me to come back”. You could even try and negotiate getting a percentage of the bar sales in the venue! The venue needs to make money and if they pay you and no one turns up that’s a problem. Deals like this mean they can ensure they cover their costs before paying you. At the end of the day, sell yourself!

Making Money from Live Performances

As in the last part of this series, you can earn copyright royalties for your performances. If you are signed up to PRS and perform a song you’ve written, PRS will pay you for this performance. Every venue has a PRS license to cover the costs of paying out these royalties, so take advantage of this. Do your research on PRS to make sure you do what you need to get paid and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re unsure, ask the venue as they should know how it works. They aren’t paying you this royalty themselves so shouldn’t have a problem telling you how to get what is owed. Even if the venue is paying you to perform, you can still get money from PRS too!

As with most things discussed in the industry, promote, promote, promote! You should have active social media accounts and content to show what your music is like. This way venues will feel more comfortable putting that investment into you. If they are unaware of how good you are as an artist then it’s a huge risk to pay you.

Admittedly, when you are just starting out your main source of income will probably come from your intellectual property. However, it is still worth looking into other revenue streams such as live performance.

Why It Doesn’t Matter If No One Turns Up To Your Gig

This might sound like a strange one but bare with me! You’ve booked yourself a gig, you’re (hopefully) promoting it, you’ve put in the practice and perfected your set list. Then hardly no one turns up to your gig or not as many people as you expected turn up. This can be awkward for any performer. Doing a live gig to a half empty room, or less, can be disheartening but it’s not all bad!

Obviously, performing live gigs gives you the chance to build your fan base by showing people what you can do and hopefully turning an audience member into someone who may come to more of your gigs, like your Facebook page or download your music, for example.

But how often does this actually happen? 

How many audience members actually end up going home and researching you online? There aren’t many accurate statistics out there to give a definitive answer to this but if you monitor your Facebook likes / Twitter followers etc. before and after a gig you probably won’t notice much difference. Performing live provides more benefits than this.

Get Someone to Take Photos or Videos of you Performing

Just ask them to film from an angle that doesn’t show the empty room! Now you still have content to share with your fans and start building a larger fanbase online.

If you Make a Mistake it Doesn’t Matter

Not many people will see anyway! Use it as an opportunity to play around with your set list, try new material, develop your stage presence. Now you’re ready for a future gig with a larger audience.

Get Some Audience Feedback

Large crowds tend to talk amongst themselves, whereas smaller crowds may feel too awkward to do this – therefore they may actually be listening more intently than your larger crowds. Now you have a chance to ask the audience what they thought of your music, helping you develop your material.

If No One Turns Up to Your Gig, You Can Still Get Something Out of it

Ask the manager if you can still use the space to practice your material and get a feel for the venue. Remember that you’ve still made a contact thanks to you booking the gig in the first place, so you could go back at a later date or ask this person for contact details of other venues or people he/she may know in the industry!

I’ve been to a gig before where there were 3 people in the audience at a 200 capacity venue! The acts still performed, and one of them utilised Facebook’s new live feed feature to record himself performing which streamed live to Facebook and drew in 60 viewers, all interacting through comments and shares online. Therefore he could consider his total audience for that night as at least 63 people, not just 3!

There are many ways to make the most out of a bad situation, its all about your attitude. Think about a plan of action before anyone turns up to your gig in case not many people turn up. That way you can still get something out of it!

Protect Your Ears

Your ears are your biggest assets so don’t take them for granted. There’s no coming back from serious hearing damage or Tinnitus (ringing in your ears). Make sure you protect your ears!

Try to limit your exposure to two hour blocks (not always possible). Then rest for 30mins (do some quiet editing). My Engineering professor would also recommend complete silence for 15 mins if time was tight.

Sometimes I’d even put on ‘construction’ ear protection (the big ones that fit over your ears). After long periods of exposure to loud music the hairs inside your ears get tired and they need a break so they can ‘wake up’ again.

Don’t Mix At Loud Levels

Around 80 to 85 dBSPL is a good average. Use an SPL meter if available. If you can’t get your hands on one, the trick is that the mix level should be quiet enough that you can have a comfortable conversation with someone in your room. Headphones are harder to judge so be careful.

We’re all guilty of blasting mixes until our ears tingle. It’s fun, but very dangerous, like gator wrestling. You should also be careful with “city” listening. City sounds (cars, subways, construction) themselves contribute to ear fatigue. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the tendency is to turn up your headphones to compensate (which is a vicious cycle).

Monitor the levels you’re pumpin’ into your ears. Once those inner ear hair cells die, they can’t be repaired and don’t grow back (unless you’re a frog or a bird).  Total Bummer.

The realities of the Fletcher-Munson curve (aka. Equal Loudness contour) will affect your mix too; Mixing at loud levels usually makes for an unreliable/unbalanced mix. Having said all that, it’s sometimes unavoidable to crank it every once in a while so you can really feel the track! Just be careful.

Good Ear Plugs with Protect your Ears

They’re essential for live shows, but also handy in many studio situations. You can easily spend hundreds on custom molded plugs (e.g. Sonomax), but more affordable options are available too (e.g. DUBS).

One last thing about earplugs (and Q-Tips), is that overtime they can push earwax into your ear canal and eventually create a blockage. About 10 years ago I thought I was going deaf in one ear. A quick visit to a local health clinic fixed me right up. They flushed my ear and a nasty slug of wax was dislodged. It was gross, but was also the best feeling ever. After weeks of suffering and freaking out that my career was over, it felt like I was hearing for the first time!

Don’t Wait For Something to Happen to You

You’ll regret it. There are varying degrees of hearing loss. It can slowly degrade over time, or you can suffer from one loud sound (e.g. Captain Kirk got Tinnitus from an explosion on the set of original Star Trek and he still suffers 45 yrs later).

Too many concerts (or even one bad one) without ear plugs cause harm (the ringing you hear after a show is not a good sign). Many don’t even notice their hearing loss.

I’ve worked with tons of musicians over the years and I can tell the ones who can’t hear certain things anymore. They ask me to crank certain frequencies because they can’t hear them. It sounds terrible and painful to me, but they love it. I correct the EQ later and the neighbourhood dogs are happy again.

Protect your ears now and you will be thankful further down the line.

Looking to Tour France? Be Your Own Booking Agency

Below we have a table of venues across different regions in France. This is crucial information if you’re looking to tour France, it’s your opportunity to be your own booking agency (see here how to start a fanbase in France).

The Venues vary in size from just 300 seats to 20,000 seats and so should suit artists of all levels. The term ‘seat’ may also refer to the standing capacity that they hold. Use their contact details to book gigs and be your own Booking Agency.

Information correct at the time of publishing.

Town Name Max. Capacity Contact
Agen Le Florida 750 seats Email: acceuil@le-florida.org
Bordeaux Casino Théâtre Barrière de Bordeaux 718 seats Form to complete: http://www.lucienbarriere.com/fr/Casino/Nous-contacter-Casino-Barriere-Bordeaux.html
Bordeaux Rock School Barbey 676 seats Email: manon@rockschool-barbey.com
Bergerac Le Rocksane 500 seats Form to complete: http://www.rocksane.com/contact.php
Périgueux Sans Réserve 500 seats Form to complete: http://www.lucienbarriere.com/fr/Casino/Nous-contacter-Casino-Barriere-Bordeaux.html
Marcheprime La caravelle 500 seats Form to complete: http://www.la-caravelle-marcheprime.fr/contact.aspx
Bordeaux Le Bootleg 300 seats Email: booking@lebootleg.com
Saint-Loubès La coupole 828 seats Email: e.berrebi@saint-loubes.fr
Pau Auditorium Alfred de Vigny 800 seats Form to complete: http://pau-congres.com/demande-de-devis/
Gerzat  Théâtre Municipal Cornillon 828 seats Email: regisseur@ville-gerzat.fr
Clermont-Ferrand La Petite Coopé 464 seats Email: ecrire@lacoope.org
Brest Halle Penfeld 12,000 seats Email: contact@penfeld.com
Nîmes Arènes de Nîmes 17,000 or 20,000 seats depending on configuration Email: message@arenes-nimes.com
Toulouse Zénith de Toulouse 11,000 seats Phone: +33 5 62 74 49 49
Colmar Théâtre de Plein Air 10,000 seats Form to complete: http://www.colmar-expo.fr/demande-de-devis/
Mulhouse La Filature 1,216 seats Email: info@lafilature.org

Phone: + 33 3 89 36 28 28

Strasbourg Hall Rhénus 8,000 seats Form to complete: http://www.strasbourg-events.com/en/spaces/hall-rhenus
Sausheim Espace culturel Dollfus et Noack 2,000 seats Form to complete: http://www.eden-sausheim.com/infos-pratiques/contact-acces/
Monswiller Espace Culturel et de Loisirs Le Zornhoff 1,400 seats Email: lezornhoff@monswiller.fr
Colmar Centre de Congrès 1,328 seats Form to complete: http://www.colmar-congres.com/informations-congres-alsace/
Strasbourg Salle de Musiques actuelles de la ville de Strasbourg sur le site de La Laiterie 1,300 seats Email: jeanluc@artefact.org
Mulhouse La Filature 1,216 seats Email: info@lafilature.org

Phone: + 33 3 89 36 28 28

Pau Zénith de Pau 7,500 seats Form to complete: http://www.zenith-pyrenees.com/contact/
Bordeaux Patinoire de Mériadeck 7,250 seats Email: programmation@vega-france.fr (ask for the patinoire)
Boulazac Le Palio 6,500 seats Form to complete: http://www.palio-boulazac.fr/Contact,243.html
Agen Centre de congrès 4,562 seats Email: virginie@agen-expo.com
Talence Espace Médoquine 3,000 seats Email: v.sergent@medoquine.com
Mérignac Le Pin Galant 1,410 seats Email: direction@lepingalant.com
Bordeaux Auditorium 1,400 seats Phone: +33 5 57 78 41 19
Biarritz Gare du Midi 1,400 seats Email: gerald.buscemi@biarritz.fr
Bordeaux Grand Théâtre 1,100 seats Email: info@opera-bordeaux.com
Mérignac Krakatoa 1,200 seats Email: transrock@krakatoa.org
Cenon Le Rocher de Palmer 1,200 seats Email: contact@lerocherdepalmer.fr (Patrick Duval)
Arcachon Olympia 1,000 seats Form to complete: http://www.ville-arcachon.fr/contact.html
Cournon-d’Auvergne Zénith d’Auvergne 9,400 seats Email: anne.cherfils@gl-events.com
Aurillac Le Prisme 5,000 seats Form to complete: http://www.aurillaccongres.com/index.php/concert/renseignements-organisateurs
Montluçon Athanor 4,200 seats Form to Complete: http://www.centreathanor.com/demande-de-devis-location-salle-auvergne/professionnels-du-spectacle.html
Clermont-Ferrand La Coopérative de Mai 1,500 seats Email: ecrire@lacoope.org
Dijon Zénith de Dijon 9,000 seats Email: programmation@vega-france.fr
Auxerre Auxerrexpo 5,000 seats Email: angelique.favier@auxerrexpo.fr
Mâcon Le Spot 4,800 seats Email: info@macon-tourism.com
Chalon-sur-Saône Parc des expositions 4,500 seats Form to complete: http://www.achalon.com/Formulaires/Contact
Dijon Auditorium de Dijon 1,600 seats Email: infos@opera-dijon.fr
Chevigny-Saint-Sauveur L’Ogive 1,200 seats Phone: +33 3 80 48 15 15
Nîmes Arènes de Nîmes 17,000 or 20,000 seats depending on configuration Email: message@arenes-nimes.com

Good luck getting gigs in France and becoming your own booking agency!

If any of the information needs updating or changing then please let us know.

Careers – Roadie and Lighting Crew

Roadie and lighting crew jobs are based strictly in live music; they have no part to play during the recording, post-production or sale and distribution of music. Most live shows will have lighting arrangements and in larger shows this will be large and elaborate. The lighting crew is responsible for all aspects of lighting and visual effects. The term ‘roadie’ refers to those employed to help with the set and the equipment. They will also help with any other manual labour that is required.

What Do the Roles Involve?

The lighting crew’s duties involve designing the lighting plot for the performance. They set up equipment, operate the lighting board and the pyrotechnics, lasers, smoke and other special effects. Their priorities are to enhance the show visually and to make sure the artist is visible and well lit.

The job of a roadie is often manual labour before and after the performance. They set up and remove equipment and supervise its storage and transport to the next location. However some roadie and lighting crew act as backline technicians who supervise the instruments, amplifiers, stands and stage set. They will check that all instruments and amps are working correctly and build or fix the set where necessary. They’ll tune the guitars and drums, replace strings or drumheads and aid the performers with any equipment problems.

Making Money as Roadie and Lighting Crew?

Venues may employ their own in-house lighting crew or an outside crew can be hired for a specific show or tour. The more experienced and senior you are, the more money you will make. Many lighting directors often become head of their own lighting company.

Roadies are generally hired for a single tour, experience is beneficial with supervising roles being more profitable. However, it’s possible that artist or tour managers will have trusted roadie and lighting crew to call on each time.

Careers – Tour Manager

A tour manager is an offshoot of an artist manager they are usually someone completely different from the band manager. In some cases it can be the same person performing dual roles depending on what level the band is at. The primary role of the tour manager is to coordinate the band while they are on tour. They should make sure everything runs smoothly and that the band and the people working with then are happy.

What Does the Role Involve?

A tour manager will get involved with a band once tour dates are in place. In smaller tours the tour manager is usually the same as the band/artist manager. In terms of bigger artists though the tour manager will work alongside managers/agents and promoters to create an Itinerary. They will be responsible for employing any crew (sound, lighting, backline). They will also be in charge of finances on the road and making sure everything is accounted for.

The main responsibilities include booking flights and accommodation, ensuring all needs are met and overseeing any press or promotional activities. Most importantly they work with promoters to make sure the artist gets paid properly and the gigs run as planned. On larger scale tours they can be responsible for sorting out guest lists and dealing with press or media enquiries. They also ensure all the relevant paperwork is completed and any promotional material or merchandise is on display. The tour manager is the first point of contact for everyone while an artist is on tour.

Making Money as a Tour Manager?

If working with a big name artist, a tour manager will be paid a set fee. If it’s a small band the tour manager will be taking a cut of what the band makes from each night.

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