This week Zahra gives the lowdown on hosting your own show
You hear about it. You turn up. You watch the show. You go home. As far as gig-goers are concerned, that’s all there is to live music – but the road to putting on that show is a complex process. And if your band’s not Coldplay or one of the other big boys of music that can guarantee punters on name alone, you’ll have to work hard to put on and promote your own shows.
First of all you need a venue. The best way to actually make money out of your show is to do a deal with a club or bar that allows you to share some of the proceeds, either from tickets or drink sales. Doing this will be much cheaper than putting up your own stage or tent and the venue will also sort out your permissions, which can be expensive and give you a real headache. Most venues will also provide a decent sound system for you to use, but if you want to assemble your own equipment for long-term use then NMK Electronics (check out nmkelectronics.com) is a good place to start looking.
But there’s no point setting up your mixers and speakers if nobody’s going to be there to enjoy the results, so you’ll need to start promoting your event – sooner rather than later.
If you can’t afford to pay for ads in magazines, then tools such as Facebook, Twitter and last.fm are all either free or cost-effective, and popular within the muso community.
Another good way to get free promotion is to organise TV, print and radio interviews. Getting these is easier than you may think; as far as the media companies are concerned, they’re getting good content that’s interesting to a local audience.
That you’re benefiting from free advertising is a handy side-effect. Just make sure that whoever you put in front of the mic, phone or camera has something interesting to say. They’re there to sell the night – which means they have to engage the audience.
Remember, too, that many magazines. such as Time Out, work weeks in advance of publication, so if you want them to do interviews to promote the event, you’ll need to get in touch at least three – and preferably four – weeks before your performance date. If your event is happening within two weeks, don’t expect to get much more than a listing.
All this free stuff is great, of course, but to get really big crowds you’re going to have to work very hard indeed – and shell out some money.You can take out adverts in Time Out, of course, if you have thousands of dirhams in your kitty. If not, a cheaper alternative is promotional stickers and flyers. Flyers will cost around Dhs500 for 300, while stickers are in the region of a dirham apiece. But don’t forget to factor in the petrol to distribute your flyers around town, or the cost of getting someone to design them for you.
And with all this prep in place, you’re good to go. Just remember that the first time is always the hardest: the more performances you stage, the easier it gets and the less expense you need to keep going. And then – who knows? One day, you may find yourself with a legion of promoters knocking on your door, asking for you to perform and paying for it every step of the way. Zahra showcases the latest musical talent on Open Mic every Saturday from 8pm-10pm, Dubai Eye 103.8FM.