How To Set Up And Organize A Small Outdoor Concert (Part 1)

If you are having difficulty finding a venue to play at, one alternative option is to organize an outdoor concert of your own.

Of course this may sound like a great idea (and it is). But if you aren’t prepared, you could be in for a few surprises that could really mess up your show.

Here are a few things that you will need to consider in order to make your outdoor concert a success. I will be using a show that my first band, A Human Nothing, organized in August of 2010 as an example. The event was called “Live @ The Grass Amphitheater”.

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The Venue

This is the #1 thing you need to consider before putting on a show. Without this…

…you don’t have a show!

We used an area of grassy hills. Behind the band were trees, and people sat on a slope facing us (we were at the bottom of a hill.)

A picture of our outdoor concert.

There are a few important things to consider with the scenario that we had. The very first was the weather.

I live in the Fraser Valley near Vancouver in Canada. We are surrounded by mountains, and where there are mountains, there’s rain.

So we had to be prepared with an awning or tent of some kind to cover up the stage in case of rain. Now we did get pretty lucky (it was beautifully sunny that day), but you should be prepared for this whenever attempting a live show.

If the Venue you are thinking of is a government owned area (like a park), you will need to go to city hall and get a permit/permission to perform your event there. It most likely won’t cost you too much, and hopefully you will recoup the costs with ticket/concession sales.

Advertising

We had 4 forms of advertising when doing our outdoor concert.

The first form of advertising were posters that my bass player made (he’s a Photoshop Wizard). We got them printed out by Staples, and I think they were one of our best investments.

For Forty - 11 x 17 inch laminated posters it cost us $50 CAD. That’s about $1.25 per poster.

Although that probably seems pretty steep, keep in mind that you can always sell autographed copies of the posters on your merchandise table. I would highly recommend you do this (so people will have keepsakes of your band for when you become famous!)


The second form of advertising we used was still photo-slides at a local movie theater (the ones they show before the movie starts). Although this is a pretty pricey route for you to take (and is the biggest risk), I think it built a fair amount of credibility for our show (being “so official”).

We just had an image promoting the show with all the dates and prices on it.

Now keep in mind that my Bass player worked at the Theater, so he was able to get that form of advertising for free.

So although it’s not the most ideal for of advertising, it’s always something keep in mind if you have it in with a local theater owner!


The third form of advertising we used for our outdoor concert was Facebook.

This one is very important! Not only is it free (or cheap if you decide to use Facebook’s Pay Per Click advertising), but it can get all of your local friends in the area involved.

Just make a Facebook Event for the show and post it to your wall every few days (with a witty comment saying why people should come to your show). As the show date gets closer, you can start posting to your status every day.

Make sure you invite all your friends, and use the "Share" feature when sharing it to your status. That way Facebook will automatically track all the other people who have shared it as well (building credibility, because now your friends will see all the other people who have shared the link).

One thing that I found very effective was to get a live video of your band playing. Then post it to your Facebook status, and say “If you want to see more of this live, attend our event: Live @ The Grass Amphitheater”.

Make sure you use the nifty Facebook hyperlinks. To use them, just type“@” in your status, and start typing the name of the Facebook event you created. You can then choose the event (Facebook automatically creates a list with your event in it), and you will be able to link to it while showing off your video.


The fourth form of advertising that we used for our outdoor concert was word of mouth.

“Word of mouth? That’s crazy!” you say to me. But it’s true. Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to your co-workers and invite them to your show. Assure them that your “outdoor show” will be a unique experience and that it’s much different than any other local show they will ever go to.

Don’t try to discount this form of advertising, it’s the oldest and most effective trick in the book and you would be a fool to not take advantage of it.

Some people don't like doing this because it's too "out there", or they fear being perceived as someone who always wants to market something to their friends. And it's true, if the only conversation you ever have with people is self-promotion, they will start to get the idea that you're only friends with them for your own selfish reasons.

I think it's quite self-explanatory as to how you can fix that problem. If you fear becoming a shameless self-promoter, then only share it with people that you really feel will be interested in coming.

Simple solution, right?

Part 2 (of 5) talks about tickets, the stage of the venue, restrooms, and how you will get power to your venue (and more).

Part 2

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