Marketing: Five things I Learned from Throwing a DIY Roof Show

Written by Cheryl Rafuse Posted in: Marketing on June 06, 2012

Music Riot had its first big event last month. Myself and my team contacted a couple bands to play on our event coordinator's majestic roof. It overlooks the Prudential and Back Bay area, and if you turn around the Citgo Sign stares you right in the face. It’s pretty dang cool for a show. The purpose of Music Riot: On the Roof was to bring together a bunch of people from the Boston music community and give them a chance to network and listen to some rad local bands. Adrian Sympson, drummer for Crashing Cars, played a short acoustic set to kick off the night. Following him were punk rockers Crashing Cars and pop-punk hardcore group Foul Weather Fans, both from Boston. I learned a couple things through the event’s planning and execution that I’d love to share with you. Hopefully these lessons learned will better prepare you to host your own DIY gigs!

1.    Always tell the bands to come at least an hour before you actually need them.

If you don’t, it’ll throw off your entire schedule off when the band is late. And they’re always late. Don’t feel bad about telling them you need them there earlier than you really do. If they really want to play a show, they’ll be there.

2.    Always have a door person.

I was the door person. I was also the person who was supposed to be in charge of making sure things went smoothly. All aboard the failboat. I couldn’t be both the door person AND the person who had to be everywhere at once. It was dumb and some chick made away with some of our donations because of it. Don’t underestimate how evil fangirls can be.

3.    Plan for the worst.

Are you expecting around 40 people? Cut that in half and that’s probably going to be your actual attendance rate. If you go in thinking that, any number of people is going to make you feel like your event was successful. If you set your turnout expectations low you’ll be pleasantly surprised no matter what. It keeps your stress level down, believe me. Weather can also be a problem, especially on a roof. Have a plan B if it’s an outdoor event.

4.    Make sure everyone knows the setup beforehand.

No one likes surprises. Make sure you have enough outlets for the band’s equipment, speakers, lights and whatever else their setup might consist of, and ask them the number of plugs they will need. We needed to borrow a power strip last minute. Anything last minute = no fun. You also should make sure all of the equipment is compatible. Crashing Cars brought a PA, but it turned out it needed quarter inch inputs on the speakers. This could have been avoided if I knew about the inputs before renting the speakers. Whoops. Quick fix: plug the mics directly into the speakers. Boom. Speaker volume control just became your level for vocals.

5.    Have some drinks and some swag.

We tried for swag, but the stickers were late and I regret not having anything to give out. The drinks are nice because it gives people something to do between bands and just makes people feel more comfortable.

In the end people showed up and bands played, and we were on a roof so the show ended up being pretty bomb. Next time though I’ll be a bit more careful about the things I talked about above. Live and learn.

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