Right then, where were we? In part two of this feature we'll be looking at a few further details and steps that all budding promoters and event organisers might want to consider when delving into the risky but rewarding world of club night coordination and running yourselves a heavyweight party.
Following the progress of drum and bass promotions enterprise Fractured Foundation and their launch event at Brixton JAMM, we'll be investigating the techniques and tricks they are putting into practice with the aim of filling out the 600+ capacity club on the 10th August, and how these can be integrated into your own event management.
In the last instalment of this fortnightly feature we looked at the first steps you should take when planning your event. Setting a budget is probably the most important consideration of all, but when you're starting out it's not possible to do this without any real knowledge of what how much things will cost – what does a top DJ actually charge for a set? And do they need their travel covered and a hotel room to boot? The thing to do is be realistic.
Booking Your Artists
You'll have spoken to your proposed venue and set up the rates with them. Now is the time to start getting your line up confirmed. After all, you can't start shouting about your 'rave to end all raves' if you can't tell your potential audience who is on the bill. This where you'll get a much better idea of costing and exactly what outlay you will need to put aside for DJs and MCs.
As with venue hire, there are no rules that say you can't negotiate. You yourself may revere these god-like DJs, but their agents don't know this, so play it cool! After all, these artists are just people that once started out like you. Even though they've now honed their talent and are making a living out of their music it's unquestionable that they all started out trying to get a foot in on the scene by starting out small. Let the agents know if you think their pricing is too much for you, and perhaps you can do a deal whereby you book a couple of their artists at a reduced rate. In fact, there's no harm in always going in low, and you might just succeed in bringing the agent down by a few quid that you could spend on other things.
We won't go into this too much as there are a limitless amount of genres with an equal amount of sub-genres within them. As the promoter, you'll know the types of artists you want playing at your event and who will be suitable for the kind of crowd at your venue. If you don't know how to get in touch with agents and who looks after who a simple Google search will bring you surprising results.
Another angle to consider is whether to invest your money in one huge name DJ and hope they alone can draw the crowd you're after, or if a greater number of less renowned but slightly more affordable artists will have more appeal to your targeted demographic. Having an A-list DJ on your line up is all well and good, but if all of your budget has been spent you run the risk of having to fill out the remaining DJ slots with little-known names and mates who are willing to play for free. This could come back to bite you when trying to promote the event later on finding out that interest is limited due to no-one having heard of anyone on your bill except the headline act.
When speaking with artists' agents you must find out what help the performers can give you besides just turning up and playing. This can be a sensitive area, as you are the promoter and they the artist, so you can't expect them to join you flyering outside a sweaty club at 5am, but try to make it part of the deal that they include your promotional artwork on their Facebook page, or they plug the night via Twitter for example. These guys after all probably have a wider reach than you do if you're just starting out. Plus, they won't want the club to be empty any more than you.
Booking the Artists Dos –
• Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! Sure, some artists will have a set fee and can't be budged, but it's rare. Ask if any deals can be done - would it be cheaper to book a couple of acts from the same agency?
• Know your crowd and know your scene. Booking artists of a similar genre will give your event a 'feel'. Not only will it be easier to market, but people can spread the word more if they're familiar with everyone on the bill.
Booking the Artists Don'ts –
• Don't be afraid to ask what the artists can help you with, but be reasonable. It's not really their job to make your night busy, but any mentions from them can only add exposure to your event.
• Try not to get over-excited when booking your acts. Work out how much ticket revenue might bring in before confirming the DJs. There's a ceiling limit to how much your night can make so ensure your line-up is well within that figure.
Promoting The Event
So, the venue's confirmed, you're happy with your bookings and now you're onto making a list of things to do get the word out... so how do you ensure that people actually hear about your night? This is a topic that we'll be coming back to again and again throughout this 4 part fortnightly feature. The reason for that is simple – you can never do too much promotion. It sounds obvious when you think about it, but quite literally the more people in the know about your event, the greater the chances of more clubbers at your night.
The costing of booking the acts for your party will no doubt be the biggest expense you have, but the marketing and promo will be a close second. There are near limitless ways in which you can get people clued up about what you're trying to achieve, particularly with the reach of online advertising and the on-going explosion of social media and networking. The specific routes you choose to take must be your own – what works for one night might not be so successful for another.
A good starting point for this is to think about the last event you went to. How did you hear about it? Did you see more than one type of advertising for it? If so, which one did you pay more attention to, and why? The well established club nights and record labels have that precise and significant advantage over your fledgling night - they are already well established. They have the luxury of huge mailing lists of previous attendees, devoted clubbers that are likely to follow the brand, and DJs and MCs all eager to be part of their tried and respected event.
There are some essentials you can't ignore though which will give your night a chance of succeeding and add some much needed exposure. The first and most obvious one is flyers. Once your line up is confirmed this is something you should get cracking with as soon as you can. You have to have a medium of showing people what you're promoting and something they can take with them to continue to keep them interested when they are sitting on the train home and beyond (remember too, you know that someone walking out of a club IS your target audience – they've just been to a club! The people you might try and reach online may never get out of the house, despite being active on forums etc. so giving out flyers at similar events to yours is essential!)
As far as flyer design goes, with such a choice of free and nominal costing software out there many people think of themselves as pretty handy amateur designers. It's perfectly acceptable to design your own artwork for flyers and posters, but if they don't have a professional feel and look people will assume your night has the same attributes, all a little cheap and tacky. But, make sure if you're paying someone to design your promotional material that you shop around. We can't stress enough that negotiation is key to making your event financially feasible, so get the best prices for a designer as well as printing costs and potentially distribution.
The guys at Fractured Foundation found that there's no substitute for hard graft when it comes to promotion and handing out flyers. Giving out your flyers personally and trying to chat to people as they leave a club gets them involved and interested and you can even try selling a few tickets at this stage while people are in the mood for partying. And don't just shove them into people's hands – be nice to your potential customers, say something positive about the night, something they might remember!
Documenting your campaigns can pay dividends too and generate intrigue for your event. Anything from artist interviews, video flyers, publicity stunts, to just filming what you're doing as a promoter would be good to consider. People like videos probably more than any other media, and if you can get something out there that goes viral, well you're quids in! You might want to try something humorous, as research has consistently shown that people share funny clips more than any other kind. When the Fractured Foundation camp went out flyering outside a well known club in Farringdon they went armed with camcorder and megaphone, and produced this little promo video which has been getting a lot of attention on YouTube. Check it out:
So little additions like video content can really set your night apart from the rest and get people talking.
Promotional mixes, podcasts, interviews etc. can all be posted online and can serve as great vehicles to further promote your event. You might want to consider a weekly podcast as Fractured Foundation did, to give yourself a chance of both promoting the sort of music that your audience can expect on the night, as well as giving you a platform to communicate important information about things like tickets, location, performances, offers, and anything else important. You can have listen to the Fractured Foundation podcast on the Horizons Music SoundCloud page here:
In the next article in this series, we will be continuing down the list of promotional techniques for you to consider, and will be venturing down the rabbit hole of social networking, other online platforms, as well as looking at innovative ways to provide extra incentives to draw your audience in, such as competitions and special offers.
Until then, please check out the Fractured Foundation website and Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter where you will be able to see how their campaign plays out in real time!
Words: James Bowman and James Skinner
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