In the performing arts world of community-based presenters, there is often talk about “how to get younger audience members?” I took part in a discussion about this at Alberta Showcase in Edmonton, Alberta.
How to market younger or what are deemed more “edgy” artists in a community concert series was the question being asked after the performances by four artists/groups that were selected by Alberta Showcase’s “Street Team.” They were 100 Mile House, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Fast Moving Mountains and Scenic Route to Alaska.
The discussion was between community presenters from around Alberta and the four members of the Street Team who chose these four artists to present a showcase.
If you are a community performing arts presenter you may find some of these pointers helpful should you be considering presenting younger artists or artists that you are concerned may alienate your core—older—audience members.
- You have to get local young champions to sell the show. Having a middle-aged plus person trying to sell to a 20-something crowd simply isn’t going to work. The target group buys from their own cohort and on the recommendation of their friends. A friend will go to something simply based on a recommendation even if they don’t know anything about the artist in question.
- Use social media. Make sure your young champion(s) are using social media. Ideal channels are Twitter and Facebook. This can also be a way of bringing in the artists to the conversation as well because more than likely, they too are using social media. It’s a conversation, not “one-way.”
- Online, online, online. That’s where the audience for these performances live. They use links to artists sites, myspace, YouTube videos etc. Make sure you have lots of connections through to the artist(s) you are presenting.
- Ticket prices should be capped at about $20 but you should also consider “pay what you can” or “two-for-one” offers. This is scary to a presenter. In addition, ticket sales will be last minute at the event so you need courage to wait until performance time.
- Market this show somewhat outside of your regular series so it’s clear to your regular patrons that it’s a show they can attend but that it is clearly geared to a different group. Depending on how “edgy” it is, it could be a “come at your own risk” situation.
- The venue could be set up differently. Tables and a more open area could be really good. People like to socialize.
- Provide alcohol at the event!
- Encourage the use of social media at the event itself. It’s OK! Maybe provide WiFi in the venue.
- Try setting the show time a little later than your usual time. This will discourage some regular members from coming and send a message that this is “different.”
- You may just annoy some of your regulars—older—audience, but you also may start to build a new audience.