How to organise a residency and build an audience

Your residency shows could help you to grow your fanbase as an artists.

Do you want to build up your name, create a local following and fine tune your live show? One of the best ways to increase your audience and work on your music is to perform your own monthly or weekly residency at a local venue. Here are some pointers to help you get started.

What is the ‘right’ venue?

The best place you can book to play is a venue that fits your style of music and your vibe in general. If you play electronica don’t bother performing in a venue with a poor quality sound system that would be better for singer-songwriters and vice versa. If you want to find the right place that would benefit you than you need to attend concerts, cabaret’s, jams and open mic nights in your city and to see what it is really like to be in the venue during a live show. Don’t just ask for a residency over the internet with out actually going to the venue. You should check it out in person and meet the owners or organisers that work to determine if you want to commit to performing at that venue over an extended period of time. Also observe what kind of regular audience the venue already brings in and see if that is a good fit to your music in general. If it all checks out, don’t hesitate to ask for a residency.

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How often should you perform the residency show?

It’s makes sense to start out playing once or twice a month for three to six months in a row.

If you perform less than three months in a row it is unlikely you will build an audience because it’s just not a long enough time to make an impact and spread the word. At the same time if you perform more than once a month, you will have to double your work load of promoting the residency and might not get the turn out that you want. I recommend starting out doing one show a month for six months in row so that you can focus on that one special show each month. It’s a good idea to make it the same day every month, for instance, the last Thursday each month. If it is a consistent day each month it is easier for people to remember and keep in mind.

How do you make a lasting impression?

Not only should you make a lasting impression with your music and performance but you can also use certain special elements that make your residency more interesting and memorable. For instance, you could have a special host that doesn’t perform with you or make music but is simply a host who will introduce the evening and performers etc. Having a host turns your show into a more official and professional event. You can also make a specific ‘theme’ to your residency like ‘An Acoustic Evening With…’ or whatever genre of music you play you can incorporate it into a ‘theme’ that you can use to promote your show. The easier you make it to remember, the more people will come to your show and come back again. Using too clever or complicated of a name for your residency will just stand in your way.

How can you promote the shows?

Obviously you need to make all the promotion you can with social media, posters and flyers. Use the same images, texts and color schemes for all of your adverts so that you create a particular ‘brand’ for your residency that people won’t easily forget. An excellent way to generate new a audience regularly is to have special guest performers at each of your residency shows that will also bring in their fans. If you have six residency shows over the next six months you can plan ahead and ask your fellow musicians in the music scene if they would like to be a special guests. Having a touring act perform as a special guest can bring out new potential fans. You can also make a promotionalmusic video about your residency and put it on youtube etc.

How do you accumulate new fans?

Be pro-active but not aggressive when it comes to gathering and keeping in touch with new fans. Use a mailing list and have an attractive guest book that is fun for people to leave you their email address and their impression of the show. Make sure your guest book is in an obvious place, announce it during your performance or have it at the door when people come into the venue and ask them to sign it then if they like or when they leave. Send out a monthly newsletter announcing your next residency show and shortly describe the highlights of the last one. Once you get the residency going you can charge an entrance at the door and seek out the support of sponsorships from company’s that sell their products at the venue.

Your residency shows should help you to grow as an entertainer and supply your project with a new flow of fans. But you need to be diligent, make it compelling and constantly work on spreading the word. It’s like watering a garden, if you don’t do it repeatedly and in the right balance, nothing grows.