Dear Ben. Over the holidays I thought it would be good to set up my own concert, getting some other musicians to perform and invite friends and family, but the behind-the-scenes stuff seems pretty heavy. Do you have any suggestions about starting your own concert, and what to be wary of? Thank you!
It really depends on what you want out of the concert! I always find it's good to ask yourself a few questions before you start. Are you:
- looking to build your own repertoire?
- growing an audience base?
- testing out new ensemble formats?
- getting experience from performing more often in a more formal concert scenario?
- doing it just for fun?
- filling a gap in the market?
- working on community outreach?
I think in your situation, the main thing is to be clear about what you want and how you want to do it. Make sure you're really up front with everyone that you're working with, and make clear what the conditions of participation are. If it's an unpaid opportunity, make sure that it's clear to everyone that that's what it is, or if it's a split of the door, mention that too (they might be encouraged to bring more audience with them!) If you have the means to pay people, just be particularly clear what the total fee or per call fee is.
Like with any goal-oriented task, if you can be really clear in your mind about what you want it to be, then most other things can come out of that. But that being said, make sure you do all the following things well in advance:
- book a venue (ask if the venue can advertise through their network!)
- establish your program early on and whether you have access to the sheet music for everyone (and a sub-task for this: have you timed the program? How long will the performance be?)
- book musicians
- book clear rehearsal times and venues (side note: lots of people tend to skim emails, so make sure you know they've read all the details by asking for confirmation, and at the end of one rehearsal, it doesn't hurt to say "see you at the next rehearsal on "date, time venue"!)
- decide how it will be ticketed (at the door or online, or both, or not at all)
- decide how you want to let people know about it (a facebook event? event listings online? posters? postcards/flyers)
See if you can get a few helpers on board with the project too - it can be fun doing it as a team but quite daunting if you're all on your own. With a team you can delegate tasks really easily and know who is doing what (Google Docs is a great way to share ideas with others and stay on top of things!).
I think if you get anything from this answer, it should be: be organised and have clarity both for yourself and the people you're working with.
Thoughts from oboe-wan-benopie