For many musicians, whether they be amateurs just starting out or global superstars, playing live can be one of the best ways to make money in this business.
In fact, for quite a few artists, it can be one of the only ways, so the idea of giving tickets away for free can come off as strange, and to some, even ridiculous. It may seem that way, but there are valid reasons why paying for someone’s entrance yourself, whether you’re given comp tickets by the venue or the promoter or even if it needs to come from your own wallet, can be worth it.
Here are four groups of people you should give free tickets to your upcoming concerts.
First and foremost, you should try and get members of the press out to your shows, and while this is probably a tough sell, it’s worth the effort if you can make it happen even only every once in a while. Whether you do the work yourself or you hire a PR company to reach out to the media on your behalf, you should either save a handful of tickets to your upcoming shows or be prepared to purchase some if they want to go and you don’t have any free ones to disperse.
If someone from the media makes it out to one of your shows, do your best to make sure they have a good time, and you better put on one hell of a show. Give them drink tickets or pay for a beer and spend some time with them if possible. This is your opportunity to not only impress them and potentially score some much-desired publicity, but also to forge a relationship with the person.
Having been to many concerts and spent time with quite a few musicians either before or after, I can say that even short meet and greets can make a big difference in making an impression, and those who did so have stayed in my mind for a long time after that short “hello.” Oh, and if you think you’re going to convince a music journalist to buy a ticket when they’re used to getting them for free…you’re going to be disappointed by the lack of turnout in that department.
As is the case with journalists, making an impression on those in the radio industry can be a great way to come into their favor, which could benefit your career in very big ways. These people are inundated with emails and packages with music all day, every day, so if you can find any way to stand out, go for it! Seize it!
If someone who chooses the music for any radio station does make it out to your show, you should make sure they are well taken care of and that they experience you at your best, and then you should make sure to follow up with them a short time later. Thank them for coming and see if there’s any way they can play your tunes. These people have the ability to spread your art to a much wider audience, so giving them a few tickets to a few shows is easily worth the investment.
Anyone In The Industry
Okay, maybe not anyone, but I want to leave this section open and vague on purpose. There are plenty of people who work in the music industry who should be able to get into your show for free, especially because many of them won’t be accustomed to purchasing tickets, and they may be able to help you out at some point if they feel you have a real talent.
I wouldn’t necessarily suggest giving anybody tangentially connected to the business a free pass to any concert, as that will add up quickly and probably won’t benefit you enough to make it worth it. But if there are people you know you’d like to work with, or perhaps even those you’re already working with in some capacity who can help you get press attention, radio play, features on playlists, sync opportunities, or if there are managers, booking people, or even other artists who it would benefit you to know, go for it! It might end up costing you a few bucks, but this is a business based on relationships, and the better you know these people, and the better they know your art, the more you can make from just a few free tickets.
As an artist, you’ll find that the majority of your earnings come from a relatively small group of patrons, which we typically refer to as superfans. These people are the ones who will come to your shows, stream your music, and buy your merch…so while it seems counterintuitive to give them anything for free, it is a very nice thing to do that you should consider from time to time.
Pay attention to these people, speak to them when you can, and every once in a while, let them know how much you appreciate them by granting them access to your concert for free. Maybe there’s a show that sells out quickly, or one that will be special for some reason–whatever the event may be, pick one or two fans who have supported you and offer to host them for free. A few tickets will go a very long way in cementing them as fans for life, which can have an incredible return on your minuscule investment.