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Equip Your Artists, Don’t Badger Them

By Marion Abbott

Years ago, I was the Musical Director for a show where a young Artist was unable to come to the auditions, just the callbacks. The Director and I gave her a time right before the callbacks began and then had her read for one of the roles. She was solid, but not the best possible option, so we slated her for a feature/ensemble role. During our casting session, the Producer begged us to give this artist the lead. Begged. Her reasoning?

“Her mom will help me with marketing and help us put bums in seats.”
Oy.

(We didn’t cave. And she refused the role we offered. And the Producer never got over it. Actually.)

You know, I’ve never seen a casting notice that said:

“Female, 20–25, alto, feisty quality and able to sell 20 tickets per performance.”
However, as a young Producer, I AM guilty of having budgeted for each cast member selling 15 tickets to each performance. #BigDreams

Guess how that worked out for me?

Yup.

Oy.

Get a pen and write this down:

For every Artist involved in your event, you can bank on 2.5 tickets sold per Artist.
I will bet all the money you have on this ratio. (See what I did there?)

2.5 per Artist.

I learned this valuable wisdom when I was producing over 60 performances annually at my performing arts studio. Some kids sold 20 tickets per performance, some kids only 1. But the math always, always, always broke even at 2.5 per Artist.

Here’s the thing:

Your Artists are not a part of your event to sell your event. They’re in it to participate in your event. Paid or unpaid, that’s why they’re there.
Badgering them to ‘put bums in seats’ will not work.

Not ever.

Over the years, I’ve heard countless horror stories of Artists being berated, bullied and lectured about ticket sales during meetings and rehearsals.

And you know what? As a Producer? I get it!!

Waiting for tickets to sell is SO VERY SCARY!!!!

And stressful!!

Waiting for those numbers on the spreadsheet to increase?

Agony, sheer agony.

And sometimes, taking out your fears and frustrations on your Artists is a satisfying and easy option.

But, as a good friend of mine once said, you need to own your audience; big, small, in between, you need to own it. Pour rye if you need to, but own it.

And leave your Artists alone.

Here’s my advice: Equip Your Artists
The MOMENT you have your finalized list of participating Artists, send them the following:

  • An Eblast they can send to their network with your event info, artwork, etc.
  • A printable format of the Eblast for those who have a community bulletin board they like to utilize.
  • A link to where to purchase tickets.
  • A Facebook Cover Photo depicting your event’s artwork.
  • A Facebook Profile Photo depicting your event’s artwork.
  • A link to the Facebook Event page (if applicable)— and make sure you’ve ‘invited’ them.

If your Artists are excited to share their involvement in the event, make it EASY for them to do so! They can’t tell the world about your event if they don’t have the marketing tools.

‘But Marion, what can I do while I wait for them to share the info?’
Lead by example — make sure you’re posting and sharing and inviting.

But more than that, make sure their experience is the best it can possibly be.
Yes, rogue Directors happen, bad weather can wreak havoc on a rehearsal schedule and Artists can have bad moments and create drama. (Been there — lived all those scenarios … did I ever tell you about the fire? Yes, actually, a fire.)

But there are still lots of things you can do to ensure your Artists are having the best experience possible.

Are you making all communications about what’s expected of them as clear as possible?

Are you sticking to any and all timelines? Nothing is more frustrating than having one’s time wasted.

Have you made parking a no-brainer by providing as much info as possible?

Are you springing for Timbits when it counts? (A 20 pack goes a long, long way. Trust me.)

Anything you can do to help your Artists focus on doing their very best throughout the process is helpful.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve figured out that the preparation for an event isn’t going well simply due to Artists’ ‘silence’.

Equip your Artists with the marketing tools you have to offer, treat them as well as you possibly can and be patient.

No, some won’t do anything and will only bring their spouse, partner, child and/or best friend. And that’s how it goes sometimes.

If you do your part, the Artists will come through for you. I promise.

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