You have raised the funds needed to make an album. Then you released it out into the world. Now you need to have a release show to celebrate all of your hard work and perform the music live. This post will give you some tips and other useful pointers to have a release show that is not only successful, but also keeps the momentum of your album moving forward!
The first question you need to ask yourself is why should I have a release show? Does it even matter now-a-days? Are they even relevant? The answer is YES! This is an opportunity to not only celebrate your hard work with your friends, family and fans, but also a chance to invite the press to hear your music and review your show. It also can be used as a litmus test to see if touring is something to be explored, and definitely an opportunity to sell merchandise to help in spreading the word about your music and recoup some of the cost in making the album. You should prepare for this as an event and not just a regular gig you might have. You should aim to create an experience for people with special guests, refreshments, special merchandise, or anything else that might make this event more special for your attendees.
Next, you shouldn’t set a date for your release party until everything is completed. Delays are not uncommon during the recording process as well as distribution process too. Don’t set a date until you have your CDs, T-shirts, and whatever else it is you plan to sell to your fans in your hand. This will also help with giving the press time in building a story about the album and your release.
Once you have everything back and completed, and chosen a date, give everyone enough time to react to the information at hand. This includes the venue to prepare (with promo posters and your stage plot requirements, etc.), the musicians to learn (or re-learn) the music, the PR team to get the info out to the press, the press to build or develop your story, the caterer to plan how much food to prepare, ironing out contract details, or anything else that needs taking care of before the event.
PRO-TIP: When choosing a venue, some things to think about are: availability and schedule (can you dedicate the whole night to your event or is it festival style where you have a slot in between other bands). Sound quality and building particulars (do they have a stage, quality sound system, backline equipment, lights etc.). Location (close proximity to public transportation or main roads, adequate and safe parking, possible foot traffic). The ability to sell advance tickets (we used Brown Paper Tickets for our release party). Do they have food/bar? Will they let you sell your merchandise?
You can help your PR team and the press build a story with expanding beyond the release. You should try to include the album making process or anything else that could be deemed interesting to someone following along with your career. You can decide what to include by asking yourself what is special about you? Why would someone be interested in your music and how will it affect them? For most people, it is hard to talk about yourself without feeling self-conscious or narcissistic so you can try asking a friend what they think about your music or what makes you interesting to them. You could also write down a bunch of questions you would ask an artist you admire and then ask them of yourself. In either situation, take the most provocative questions and answers and use that in your story that you develop with the PR team.
Now, I am a believer that you get what you pay for. If you cut corners to save money up front, a lot of times you end up paying for it in the back end in repairs or in “do-overs”. I think spending money on great musicians, a well equipped studio, recording/mixing engineers that know what they are doing, and writing great songs are all well and good. That is a no brainer. However, a lot of people overlook what could be deemed just as or more important. The photos, graphic design, layout and artwork that accompanies your music. This will all cost money too and doesn’t always get budgeted for in advance. My argument is that the music can sound amazing, but if your album doesn’t look enticing it won’t get listened too. The first thing people see is the artwork of your album and they will decide then and there if they want to listen to it from first glance. Knowing who is on it is secondary, but still important. Make sure you budget to have the art side of your music taken care of with as much detail as you put into the sonic portion. You can take it a step further and make your merch coincide with the artistic concept of your album in a “branding” type approach.
PRO-TIP: When choosing which merch to sell, I lean towards things that will be used often and/or passed along to other people. You can go here to get some ideas of what to sell at your merch booth: Merchandise. You can also go here to get some band posters for this and other gigs: Band Posters. Also, not everyone these days carries a lot of cash, so you might want to look into a Square reader or the Flint app on your phone or iPad to handle credit/debit purchases.
Now you have your show together with the musicians. The venue has been chosen and booked. The word is getting out via the press, your PR and (a street team if possible) on social media, your website, your email list, radio and TV (if possible to get all of those together). You have your merch ready to go and posters up in town and at the venue. You have worked out the food/beverage with the venue. The last thing for you to think about is if you are going to do the whole show yourself or have an opening act. If you choose to have an opener, hopefully it is someone with a similar genre to yours so that their crowd will want to stick around to see you as well. Make sure you treat the opener well and let them sell some merch too. A bad reputation spreads faster than a good one, and we are all in the trenches together. A little support and kindness goes a long way.
At this point, if you use this blog post as a reference, you should have a successful show. But it doesn’t stop there. The last thing that a lot of people forget is to continue to keep people engaged after your release party. This could be thanking those involved, recapping with video or photos so people can relive the experience or you can share with those that were unable to make it out, or even following up in the press with more reviews and what is happening next. Whatever you choose, you shouldn’t stop promoting your album with the commencement of the release show. You just need to be more creative as to how you will continue to keep going with your album awareness.