File Under: Booking and Performing Live

When you're building out your live show, one of the best ways to help build buzz is to pack the venue and sell out your shows. Wall-to-wall people in a room naturally builds excitement -- not only for the audience, but for the musicians as well. And buzz can drive future ticket sales. Plus, it gives you a reason to hit the press.

But how can you sell out your shows? After all, isn't that what every musician wants? Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to boost your draw and sell out your venues. Check out the techniques below:

1. Create A Killer Live Show.

We discussed how to amp up your shows in our DIY Advisor article, Five Things You Need To Do To Put Together A Killer Live Show, focusing on techniques that create unforgettable moments for the audience. If you don't put any live production effort into your show, people may see you once, perhaps twice, but then probably won't come back. You and your show need to make an emotional connection with the audience. That's the goal. And if you achieve it, people will not only come back repeatedly, but spread the word to their friends so their friends can experience what they experienced. If you skip this live production step don't bother doing any of the others -- they won't really help.

2. Don't Overplay Your Market.

One way to create the buzz your live show is in demand is to limit the opportunities people have to see you play. Play a few shows and then tour elsewhere or even take a break. Given how streaming is changing the music release model from releasing a full album to smaller, more frequent releases (EPs, singles), you can alternate playing live in your area with writing and recording to create natural breaks.

3. Play Venues Smaller Than Your Draw.

Another way to create buzz is to confine your show to a smaller venue -- even if you can fill a larger one. Our own band once leaped at the chance to play "the big venue" in our area in our early days. We were excited about getting the chance. Our shows drew 75 to 100 people and the usual venues we played at forced "standing room only" -- why not play at a larger venue? However, when our regular audience in the big space looked small. There was so much space. The venue felt empty. And it left an impression on our audience as well as the band. Rather than deflate the buzz a packed room can give everyone by playing a large venue, continue to play the smaller venues until your audience size dictates the move up to a larger venue. Also, to amplify the buzz, be sure to take photos from the stage of the packed room. This not only helps with marketing and promotion, but can serve as proof of the type of audience a venue can expect when you play their room.

4. Promote Your Show.

Don't skip the obvious promotional vehicles that are within your reach. This includes updating your show calendar at your website, announcing to local radio stations -- including college stations (which are good opportunities to play live, on the air), telling your social networks, hitting your mailing list, contacting the media and sending press releases, using your street promoters, and more.

5. Use Presales Tickets.

If you can do a ticket system, use presales to drive your audience. Sell enough, and you can broadcast that your show was sold out while booking the next one. You might also want to try ticket systems like Nimbit or roll your own using tools like

If you make the kind of show that people want to see and follow the steps above, you can continue to keep standing room only at your venues as you to grow your audience.


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Photo credit: Midnight city euphoria