Free Concerts

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by andyh, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I see a lot of concerts being advertised by bands with tickets being available beforehand or at the door. The question is: how many bands forego ticket sales and put on free concerts? We've done this for more than 10 years, with never less than 4 free concerts a year in our local community hall and rarely have audiences of less than 150 people.

    So, what does the tmp community think - should we charge for concerts or rely on the generosity of a departing audience to fill our buckets? I guess we should exclude top bands from consideration as they could easily command a paying audience...

  2. Interesting dilemma, Andy. We're a newly-formed band and we're giving a free concert for our debut performance in June. We're inviting friends, family, supporters and people from the local community, but we're having a charity collection (not for the band) on the way out.

    I suppose it depends how good your band is and how wide your reputation spreads - we're just interested in building up some performance experience and getting a loyal following to start with and we're hoping that next time the crowds will come... and, no doubt, buy our CDs and branded merchandise in time for Christmas!

    That said, my wife sings in an amateur choir and they charge a relative fortune for concert tickets and usually play to full houses. However, it's taken them a decade or more to build up their reputation and core of loyal supporters who appreciate what they do. Most of their receipts are spent on providing an orchestra and pro sound and lighting, so I suppose the brass band equivalent would be to charge an entry fee to enable you to book guest soloists and pro deps, should you need them (probably you don't, but we sure do!)

  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    In our experience, we tend to get a better audience if tickets are purchased in advance. Providing they are set at a reasonable price, having a ticket encourages people to turn up, especially in the event of bad weather etc. You have also got the consolation that you have some income even if people decide to stay indoors ;)

    We had one event a while back where we decided against pre-selling tickets, largely because we had a lot of things on at the time, and actually failed to cover our costs.

    Relying solely on a collection only tends to work if the money is being raised for a particularly worth-while cause, and even then there is no guarantee.
  4. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    We do both - our Christmas concert is free (with collection buckets for people to donate when leaving), but we sell tickets for our concert in the summer.

    I can't really compare audience numbers as the summer concert is still becoming an established date whereas we've done the free Christmas concert for as long as I can remember.

    Last year we went all out to advertise the summer concert and filled the venue (just over 100 people), The Christmas concert publicity was no more than locally placed posters and an article in our Newsletter, again we filled the venue (a large church - more that 250 people) as we always do.

    I guess the crux is this - if we sold tickets for the Christmas concert we'd probably raise more money from it - even if we didn't quite get the audience we do currently. I think we all know and accept this but we're a community band and it wouldn't be easy to justify going to ticket sales, both morally within the band's personnel and politically within our local community.

    The only advice I would give is do whatever you feel comfortable with and make it work - ticket sales will generate more income, but you have to work hard to get the audience, a free concert will naturally attract people off the street but you will soon reach a point where it doesn't make as much cash as it could do.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
  5. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I guess my original post was badly worded; there's no question of *us* stopping our free concerts - it's become a tradition within the band. I was more interested in what people thought generally about the dilemma of tickets ie: sell tickets and risk smaller audiences, or don't charge and find other ways to raise band funds.

  6. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    There is also a marketing strategy that would say underpricing your band would lead a potential audience (that doesn't know anything about the band) to think they are not very good. E.g. "if a band is giving a free concert, they must night be very good," "If they charge 20 quid a ticket, they must be pretty good."

    Very tricky question.
  7. Have been involved with both types of concert. Was plesantly suprised at the donations recieved at a retiring collection event . Downside of this was the insecurity of how big the audience was going to be, at least if you sell tickets in advance you know if it's going to be a full hall or a furniture exhibition.
  8. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    we did a free joint concert with Brisbane Excelsior and gave out free tickets so we had some idea of how much seating we would need. we were in danger of being standing room only. Concert was Great and Hall was Full. Looking forward to repeat concert later in the Year.