Every artist wants exposure for their work as that affects both their recognition and income. Music, like all art, is created to share stories, feelings and emotions with other people, so sharing it and having as many people as possible hear it is the ultimate goal.
The size of a musician’s or band’s fanbase also comes into play when considering an online concert. Will your audience be interested in such a show at all, will no one show up? These are the fears that cross the minds of all performers, so let’s calculate exactly the number of fans you need to be able to play a profitable online show.
Apart from the very top earners in the music industry, most musicians would say their fanbase isn’t big enough. Should that stop you from holding a profitable online concert? Let’s investigate.
Your last live stream had only 25 visitors and you are not sure if a ticketed online show will attract any at all? Let’s crunch some numbers. To sell $100 worth of tickets, you only need 10 fans each buying a $10 ticket. Meaning that your 25-fan livestream can bring in $250.
What’s more? With good promotion, i.e. letting every single fan of yours know you are having an online show, you absolutely can hold and profit off an online show!
Just like secret concerts famous musicians throw to gather a more intimate crowd and play their music in a less crowded setting, your event does not have to be a global international sold-out phenomenon like BTS’ record-setting, $18 million-grossing show. You can hold a small, intimate online event with just a handful of attendees and still make notable income.
You can expand your profit options by throwing in additional ticket tiers unlocking pre-show access, video shoutout, bonus tracks, beats, merch, and even just tip jar ticket that people can buy to help support your music (they can also go ahead and buy your album if they wish, and one Show4me they can type in higher price that what you’ve set, so tipping is also possible there).
Be mindful of all of these opportunities and allow fans to contribute as you never know how much someone appreciates your music and wants to contribute to supporting your art until you actually offer them ways to buy your music and merch and bonus music and online show tickets!
What’s also important to remember is that the growing popularity of online shows and the need for live music in times of social distancing has made it easier for people to make the decision to choose to attend such events. And the costs for holding an online show are often lower. This means a lot of corners are there to cut in your budget and increase profit margin for barely breaking even to actually getting paid more than minimum wage for your hard work. Plus, your event can be profitable even with scarce ticket sales. Just make sure the corner-cutting does not affect the quality and your audience can still enjoy the high-quality event.
There are a few things to be mindful of.
First, promotion makes a difference.
Just launching the event ticketing campaign is not enough. You need to list your upcoming concert in various event aggregators for your music genre and geographical location (timezone will make a difference even for an online show).
You need to go beyond announcing the show on all of your social media (and several times at that), but also hitting up social media groups that focus on your type of music and/or promoting online concerts. Here’s one such group, Keep Music LIVE.
Utilize your email list, ask your friends to share the posters on their timelines, write to local media or outlets that have written about your music before. Invite everyone you can think of to make sure everyone has the chance to join.
Is this amount of effort worth it? At $10 a ticket, you stand to sell $1,000-worth of tickets if 100 fans attend (or 50 and their plus one!).
Now, second of all, you need to remember that your fanbase is a community, and for your fans being a part of your fanbase brings a sense of belonging to a tribe as musician, blogger and tutor Damian Keyes shares in his video on building a fanbase from scratch. You need to weave your show within your story and provide adequate context and theme for your event for fans to understand how your show fits into your overall music presence.
“Your journey becomes their journey,” he reminds, urging musicians to understand that they are not just providing entertainment, their music and even persona becomes part of a fan’s identity. Share with fans your feelings about moving from live performing to online, setting up your show, ask them for their input and opinions on making it better – be open and try to create an experience for your fans, not just shout at them that you have a show and thus they *must* attend.
And finally, continuously put effort into building up your fan community as that’s an undertaking for more than just a few weeks leading up to your online concert. With a strong fanbase, you can hold more events and turn them into a solid revenue stream. Burstimo’s Maddy Raven dishes some excellent ideas on building your fan community from scratch in this video, some of which you can use even as you are preparing to promote your online concert and others – for the long term.
And for the time when your core base of dedicated paying fans grows beyond a few dozen or hundred people, dive into the practical music marketing tips in this Music Biz Weekly podcast, outlined by industry expert Michael Brandvold. His extensive tips go into building a commercially viable fanbase that can actually sustain a full-time music career (although, according to the calculations in this Hypebot article by music blog Dozmia, just 2,757 super fans can sustain a living for a touring 4-piece band in the US).