Lately, I have been talking to independent artists about “fan club” ticketing and how it can really work for them. By the way, I hate the term “fan club.” Not only does it remind me of The Bay City Rollers, but it also disguises the benefits that taking control of your ticketing offers. For that reason, I refer to it as “advanced ticketing,” but that’s enough about my hang-ups.
When booking shows, it is common to get 10-15% of the potential ticket sales to sell to your fans, or community, anyway you want. These tickets are designated to be either sold or returned to the venue/promoter before tickets become available to the general public. Typically, this must be agreed to an arranged at the time of booking. You may run into stumbling blocks. If you meet resistance from a venue or promoter about this, I recommend pushing for it to a point, but be careful not to tick them off.
Why Advanced Ticketing is Worth It
A few reasons make advanced ticketing worthwhile. One is that it gives you a reason to talk about a show or tour, with your community or fan base, much earlier than you normally would. If you were to simply announce a show three months in advance, there would be little reason for anyone to pay attention. But if there is a limited amount of VIP tickets or something offered with the advanced ticket purchase, it becomes more noteworthy and memorable. Whether or not people buy advanced tickets, the event has been acknowledged and will be more familiar and welcomed when you or the venue/promoter do the second round of promotion.
Advanced tickets appeal to fans for a variety of reasons. Some come from a distance and want to make sure they will get in. Or you’re just that good and easily sell out every show. But much more likely (no offense), it is because they like your music and want to support you.
So Many Ways to Bundle
If you are lucky enough to have a lot of people who want advance tickets, make the most of it. Bundle the ticket with a discounted copy of your new album, t-shirt, DVD or a combination of any of the above. You can even offer a VIP package at a ridiculous price. Note that the value of the ticket must be kept to face value, or what the venue/producer will charge. The extra charge is for the extra merchandise/value you give in the package.
When people purchase online, they are more likely to add on to the purchase if they are getting a special deal. Offering advance tickets with merchandise also allows timid folks to buy your merchandise without having to approach your merch table.
Choose the best option for delivering the merch. You may choose to ship it immediately, which gets your new album heard earlier than if purchased at your show. And if it gets passed around at all, before your show (and it is liked), people are more likely to attend than if they never heard you at all.
If you don’t want to, or just can’t ship out merch to your customers, you can have them pick up their orders at the show. At least you will know the minimum amount of items you need and where on the tour you will need them.
It may seem like a lot of work to sell an extra CD or T-shirt here and there, but once you get a method down, it will go faster. And the more people see this and get used to it, the more comfortable they will become with ordering. These days, every sale is important. So even if you only sell a couple advance ticket/merch bundles per show, they add up. Plus there’s a chance that those sales may not have occurred the day of the show.
Those who do not have this infrastructure will need to get something in place, or find a service that can fulfill their needs, and not take too big a piece of the already small pie. This can be tough when you are not guaranteed a ton of sales right away. There are plenty of services for ticketing and merchandise fulfillment, but most of them charge a set up fee, have big fees for your customers, take a large percentage of the sales or all of the above.
“The more you keep in-house, the more revenue streams are open for you to tap into”
Brown Paper Tickets is a great service for artists and small labels to use for implementing the concept of advanced ticket bundled with merch sales. I am not saying this because I work here. I work here because of their business practices. There are no minimum sales requirements, it is completely free for the artist/label and I truly believe our services and tools are great.
No matter how you do it or what service you use (if any), it makes common sense to take control of your advanced ticketing and turn it into additional promotion and/or revenue.
In fact, for truly independent artists, take control of as much of the business side of your career as possible. You’ll need help and a team, but the more you keep in-house, the more revenue streams are open for you to tap into.
Source: “BandSmart” – Martin Atkins