After a long bike ride this weekend, my friends were quizzing each other about the music they’d been listening to during the journey. The conversation was fairly pedestrian until the conversation transitioned to concerts. That’s when the passion began pouring out them. The detail they remembered from shows that they had seen in now-distant decades was astounding.
During a dinner conversation a few hours later, my teenager hit me up for money for a spring concert. He described the show as a potentially life-altering event.
It’s clear that attendance at concerts touches a part of people that recorded music can’t reach. How does radio in 2012 tap into this emotional reservoir, and compel us to inject ourselves with the concert experience well enough to print positive memories and induce vivid nostalgia?
Part of the experience
Connecting to concerts means much more than just promoting an upcoming show. While information is important — your audience relies on you for it — this simply meets their minimal expectation. To connect, you’ve got to become part of the conversation and experience.
Fifteen years ago, this meant covering the on-sale date by sending out the station van and doing call-ins from the main box office. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of fans would be in line to purchase tickets. Since lines are now virtual, the best way to be a part of the conversation is by using Twitter and your own airwaves.
First, do a search to see if people are already tweeting about the show. If they are, that’s great news because it means the established hashtag connects you to those interested. If there isn’t a clear hashtag, create one — like #TobyKeithConcert — and start mentioning that hashtag on-air via your website and Facebook accounts. Your station personalities should be the ones interacting with those tweeting on a regular basis by offering opinions: memories of that artist’s shows; links to special interviews on your website; times to listen to the station to win tickets; links to videos, trivia and polls.
This conversation on Twitter will come and go during the initial sale weeks, and then just before the show there will be another burst of activity, so remember to keep checking the pulse of the people tweeting.
While ticket booths are so last century, there are many tried-and-true on-air angles to concerts.
Pre-sale: Feature the artist for an hour leading up to sale time. Could be all you play; could be every third song. Pre-record and air a short interview with the artist counting down the rush to purchase. Give away a pair of tickets every 10 minutes for an hour.
After the sellout: Have a sellout celebration by giving away a large number of downloads corresponding to your station frequency. “The next 99 people to text me at 68678 win an iTunes gift card for the latest from Foo Fighters.”
Day of the show: Have listeners email their suggested set lists for the band. While you can’t make any promises the band will use the list, you do promise to publish the best set list on your website, and give the winner an experiential prize they can’t buy, like a visit backstage to meet the band , an autographed lyric sheet or a special on-stage photo pass for one song.
It’s still wonderful to see a station’s DJs bring on a band; if you have the muscle to pull this off regularly, it’s worth the investment in time for your air personalities.
Live broadcasts in a visible part of a large venue continue to work well not just for the people who see you there, but for the audience who for whatever reason can’t attend.
After the show is over: Your station recreates the first 60 minutes of the concert by playing back each song performed at the show. While live versions match nicely, feel free to use studio versions if they’re better.
The key to this one is to pre-promote it properly so that as many concertgoers as possible know you’re doing it; they’ll listen while they’re stuck in the parking lot or on their way home. I worked at a station that did this after-show playback for so long that we built up a reputation with listeners as the station that replayed concerts.
To create next day tune-in, tell people to save their ticket stubs. Advise them to listen the next morning for stuff they can get for free. This could be free toppings on a pizza; 50 percent off another concert ticket or movie ticket; free desert at a restaurant; free admission to an amusement park — or something else from a client who wants to drive substantial traffic to their business.
Make it your business to put together your summer concert plan now. With this much lead time, there’s a good chance your sales department might be able to turn your plan into concert cash.
Mark Lapidus is president of Lapidus Media. Email [email protected].