How do I start a festival in my town? A 6-step guide

Festival town and city

Running a festival can be a dream for many people. Others view festivals as a vital part of the social construct of any town, building social connections through society. Festivals can add social value but also have the potential to attract visitors from outside, thus helping to boost the local economy. This inevitably leads people to ask how they start a festival.

There are several ways you can start a festival, it will largely depend on the type and size of event. Here are six steps to starting your own festival in your town.

  1. Ask why are you running the festival?
  2. Set some aims and objectives for the festival.
  3. Work out who the key stakeholders are.
  4. Develop an income and expenditure plan for the festival.
  5. Plan and market the festival.
  6. Deliver the festival.

Now let’s look at each of these six steps in detail to understand better the answer we’ve just give above and help to direct you further.

1 – WHY are you running the festival?

Sound like a simple question, right? Very often, people need to first sit down and understand why they want to run the event and what purpose will it serve. This is a fundamental decision that needs to be taken and understood so that you don’t get too far down the road of planning the festival before you realise it won’t work. 

Many festivals fail to get off the ground as the organiser’s motivations were not compatible with the concept or idea of the festival.

Think about the benefits that attendees will get from the festival. Are you going for purely economic (profit) benefits, or will your festival have social and environmental objectives? 

These form what is known as the triple bottom line. In theory, your festival should balance its objectives to be sustainable into the future. Note that in this context, sustainable doesn’t just apply to the environmental aspect, but all three elements need to be balanced.

2 – Set some objectives for the festival

When writing your objectives, set out exactly what you want to achieve by the end of the festival. These could be economic, social, environmental or a mix of all three. Here are some examples of each


  • A certain number of tickets sold
  • A certain amount of sponsorship income
  • Sticking to your budget


  • Attract a certain number of people from a particular community or background
  • Have people learn new skills or make new connections
  • Use a certain number of volunteers from the local community


  • To reduce the number of CO2 miles people use to travel to your festival
  • To promote the use of sustainable cutlery at all of the catering outlets
  • To recycle a certain amount of waste from the festival 

When writing your objectives, you should also try to make them SMART. Doing this ensures you can demonstrate success after the festival has finished.  

This can be an import activity for some of your key stakeholders. In some cases, your festival may be dependent on external funding such as grants, so being able to demonstrate your successes could be key.

SMART objectives have five different elements to them:


You can find a full guide to writing SMART objectives here

3 – Work out who your key stakeholders are

Stakeholders are people or organisations who have the POWER to influence your festival, or who are impacted by your festival. 

It may not be a term that you are overly familiar with, but you should give some real thought to understanding who the stakeholders are. This can be key to the success of any festival as you will have to manage them throughout the planning and delivery process. 

In the first instance, think about all the people who have the POWER or influence for your festival taking place. Make a list of these people and consider whether or not their motivations will be positive or negative. 

For example, consider the local government organisation, they may likely be the landowner, and you will need to seek permission to host your festival there. Local governments may be sceptical of a new festival promoter, and so you’ll need to build and manage the relationship with them to ensure the success of the festival.

Secondly, make a list of people who are IMPACTED by the festival taking place. Again consider if the impact will be positive or negative on them. If you are hosting a music-related festival, then consider the effect of the music festival on the local residents in terms of noise. 

If not managed correctly, this could lead to complaints and ultimately jeopardise any future running of the festival.

Another critical stakeholder to consider will be the people attending the event. Your marketing plan should be heavily based on the audience profile.

For further reading, there are several models that you can follow to analyse stakeholders. One of the more popular ones is Mendalows Matrix, and there is a useful link here for further reading.

4 – Develop an income and expenditure plan for the festival

One of the most important things you can do to make a successful festival is to ensure that you have a clear income and expenditure plan. Failing to understand and clarify both of these can lead to disaster. Income and expenditure usually form the budget plan for the festival overall. 


You should make a list of where you think income will come from to fund the festival. While traditional income may be from tickets, there are other possible avenues of income that you could explore. Some of these include:

  • Sponsorship of the festival
  • Advertising on your website or at the festival.
  • Grants 
  • Catering pitches
  • Government funding
  • Premium revenue streams (e.g. VIP Packages)
  • Merchandise
  • Broadcast rights


Once you have your income established, really important that you determine what the costs of your festival are going to be. Again a large part of this will be dependent on how big your event is and the environment in which it takes place.

Specific environments such as greenfield sites will require more infrastructure costs such as power, water and waste management than if you placed the festival in an urban environment with established infrastructure.

Again you should start by writing a list of all the costs you can think of and get some quotes from suppliers. You might be surprised as to how much things like toilets, fencing and security actually cost. And these are all the things you need to run the event even before you thought about your entertainment!

The entertainment or activity costs will be a significant reason why people come to the festival. Managing the cost of these against the expectation of your audience will be absolutely critical.

5 – Plan the festival

Planning an event like a festival will take many months and should be treated like a large project. It will require you to keep control of the project as it progresses. As a festival manager, you are responsible for managing all of the elements. Including, stakeholders, the budget and all of the experience that will be delivered at the festival.

Many festivals start planning up to a year in advance. An excellent way to manage this process is to use a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets). Create one with a list of all the tasks, and then this can be used as the project plan 

6 – Promote the festival

The final and sixth part of this process is to market and promote the festival. Earlier target audience was identified as one of the critical stakeholders for any festival. The marketing plan should be tailored to these stakeholders.

The reason for this is so that all marketing activity is highly targeted and effective. For example, if you know your audience are heavy users of Instagram, then this should be the social media platform where you put most of your efforts. 

If you have an audience which is slightly older and uses digital marketing channels less, then you may want to consider more local offline channels such as radio and newspapers.

Having a plan mapped out for your marketing will ensure that you have a coordinated approach that reaches that target audience promptly.

How are ticket prices determined?


Determining ticket prices for your event can be a tricky business, but it can be the single thing you need to get right for your event to be a success. It can be the difference between someone deciding to attend your events or tonight and maybe go to competitors.

Event ticket prices can be determined using cost-based, competitor-based or value-based methods as part of the planning process for any event. Each of these methods has specific pros and cons.

I’ve priced 1,000s of events during the last 20 years working in venues, so I understand the fine line between getting it right and getting it wrong. This post intends to look at three ways in which events managers can price tickets for their events; cost-based, competitor-based and value-based.

Cost-based event ticket pricing

Cost-based event ticket pricing is perhaps the purest form of pricing and the one which people would automatically think about first. Essentially you calculate your costs and then decide what margin you wish to make a profit on top of those costs, and that is your ticket price.

That margin might be a 5%, 10% or 20% mark up, for example. Be careful to ensure you have taken into account both your fixed costs and variable costs in this process.

For example, let’s say you are planning to run a live music event. You know that your venue will cost $200, your bands cost $300, your marketing will cost $150, and you have staffing costs of $100. That is a total cost of $750 before any attendees have bought a ticket.

Let’s assume that your venue has a capacity of 200 people. Divide the total cost of $750 by 200 gives you a per-person cost of $3.75. Assuming you want to make a 20% profit on this event, you can either:

  • add the 20% to the total cost of $750, and divide again by 200 or,
  • add the 20% to the cost per person of $3.75.

Looking at the former, adding 20% to our total cost of $750 gives $900 and a profit of $150. If we divide that $900 by the 200 capacity of the venue then we arrive at a ticket price of $4.50.

This method does assume that you will sell 100% of your tickets to generate that profit. This strategy is high-risk, and from my time working in venues, I would advise basing ticket price on a break-even of 75% of capacity, not 100%.

Pros of Cost-based event ticket pricing

The significant advantage of this approach is that it is a simple and straight forward process. As long as you’re able to calculate your costs, it doesn’t require any research or analysis.
You add a percentage profit margin onto your cost calculations.
You’re also guaranteed to cover your expenses; therefore, you may feel there is a lower risk of running the event.

Cons of Cost-based event ticket pricing

  • While a cost-based approach might seem the simplest, there are some downsides. You don’t always know all of your costs; events can have hidden expenses on the day, which could ultimately impact on your profit.

  • You need to set your ticket prices at the start of your marketing process; if you find the marketing needs additional boosting (adding cost ) later on, this will impact on your final profit. This approach may work very well with businesses who produce physical products, but can be a challenge in the service industry such as events.

  • Customers have no idea how much it costs you to run the event, and they may not care. What they are bothered about is what value they represent to them.

Competitor-based event ticket pricing

Let’s consider how you might price your ticket based on competitors ticket prices. It would be best if you researched the local area to find events like yours or those that attract the same target audience. This research will give you a good idea of how much people will pay for a similar type of event or experience.

Once you’ve undertaken this research, you then have the choice of pricing at a similar level or attempting to undercut your competitors’ prices in the hope that this will sway an attendee to your event. You may decide to position yourself in the middle of the pack, so potential events attendees won’t feel that your event is too cheap or too expensive.

Pros of Competitor-based event ticket pricing

  • This approach will ensure that your event remains competitive against competitors. Pricing your event the same as your competitors will allow you to offer value in different ways and help set you apart from them.

  • This approach is simple, and a few hours spent researching your competitors will allow you to develop a rapid pricing strategy.

  • If your event is in a highly competitive market environment (such as a city) where there are plenty of alternatives, then the pricing of your event should be close to what the market can reasonably sustain.

Cons of Competitor-based event ticket pricing

  • The biggest downside to costing your tickets based on your competitors’ price is that you don’t have YOUR pricing strategy; you have their pricing strategy. It would help if you considered how your event offers something different to what is already available.

  • As with the approach for cost-based pricing strategy, your event attendees may not care about your competitors; they care about the value extracted from your event. If an attendee researches your event or visits your website is because they are interested in what you have to offer that is different from your competitors.

Value-based event ticket pricing

This approach is slightly different in that it uses market research of your target audience to dictate your pricing strategy. Value-based pricing means looking outwards at the people who are going to decide to buy a ticket for your event. The goal with this approach is to understand how much attendees are willing to pay to attend the event; this allows you to maximise your revenue and therefore, profit.

This market research of potential attendees should help you to understand how much value they would see in your event, and therefore you will gain an understanding of how much they’re willing to pay.

Pros of Value-based event ticket pricing

  • The first major pro of this approach is that you have an understanding of how much value an attendee season attending your event. You could argue that this is very similar to competitor-based pricing as if they will pay £200 for a competitors’ event, then they are likely to pay £200 for your event. However, it would help if you looked to vary your offer to be different from your competitors which may then allow you to charge a higher price given you are providing more value to the attendee.

  • Also, with this approach, you get to know your consumers well, which can be great at developing your event in the future. and

  • It allows you to focus on attendee needs and how your event can satisfy and provide value to them.

  • Finally, remember that pricing isn’t just about the number on the page; a value-based approach will help you to understand what your attendees want and how you can develop better events for them in the future, which can only be a good thing!

  • Over time you can use this information to create more value and therefore, revenue from all of your events without necessarily increasing the amounts of cost, meaning higher profits.

Cons of Value-based event ticket pricing

  • Of course, you can appreciate that this information comes at the cost of time and money. This process requires you to fully understand who your target audience profile is, including attendee buying power.

  • It is also challenging to be 100% reliable with such research if you only as a small group of people. Remember that a small sample of your audience base may not necessarily translate to every attendee interested. You will, however, get an approximation of what is the right price and package for your attendee.


So that is a short overview of three ways in which you can price your event. It is certainly not an easy process and can take some practice to find what works best for your events and your audience. Best of luck!

How to make your next event more successful: 10 tips

Event Sucess

Event managers are often perfectionists who need to think on their feet when faced with all manner of challenges that come up during the event planning process. But what are the key ingredients to making your next event more successful? This post has 10 ways you can improve the chances of success: 

1.    Understand your target audience

Knowing who your target audience is one of the most important things for any event manager. Having a good understanding of what your ideal attendee looks like allows you to design an experience that matches their needs. This, in turn, will give you better feedback, make your event more valuable to the attendees, and allow you to develop a more efficient marketing plan.

You should start by considering where you can find information out about your target market. There are several ways to do this. For music and art events, you could use a fantastic free resource called Audience Finder which has pre-defined target audience segments for the UK. If you run a music festival, cultural or arts event this should help you to identify down to the nearest postcode the size of your potential audience.

2.    Do your market research 

Market Research

On top of knowing who your target audience is you should do some wider market research into the local competitive environment and if your target audience will be motivated to attend your event. You need to understand if there is a demand for what you’re proposing. Doing good market research at this stage can prevent potential failure further down the line.

Look and see if there have been any other similar events recently which were successful, consider if there are any competitor events in the local area and use surveys with your target audience to gauge opinion on key elements such as artists, speakers, ticket price and food.

3.    Create a project plan and stick to it

It’s very important at the start of any project, particularly an event to map out a road to completion. In the events industry, there are an increasing number of project management tools available to help you to do this. Some are free and some cost money, look at what you need in terms of functionality.

If you’re just getting started one of the easiest ways to do this is to create a timeline on Google Sheets. Google Sheets is a great free piece of spreadsheet software that allows you to share your project plan with the team who are working on it.

Work through all the key elements and phases of planning your event like preplanning, focus groups, research, marketing, on-site production, the event, take down and then evaluation. Give an appropriate amount of time for each stage, get feedback from suppliers and communicate this to your team. Ensure that you check this plan regularly to make sure that you are up to date and on track.

4.    Make a budget and stick to it

Make sure that you set a budget at the start of the planning process to help prioritise your spending and to determine what can be realistically offered at the event. Doing this before setting your objectives means that they can be as effective as possible and you won’t risk setting unrealistic goals.

You should regularly review your budget and try to set it up in a way that allows you to monitor how much you’re spending either on a week-by-week basis or month-to-month. Keeping on top of the budget will help to ensure a more successful event.

5.    Set some SMART objectives

Setting some clear objectives before you start even planning your event is key. A great way to do this is to set your event some SMART objectives. If you’re not sure what SMART objectives are they stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based. Let looks at these in a little more detail:


Make sure that you’re being specific about what it is you’re achieving with an objective. Try to avoid vague language that would be difficult to understand or to quantify. Think about what you specifically want to achieve in the context of the event.


Make sure that you give a measurable and quantifiable element to your objective. For example, this could mean saying that you want to reach 80% of your target audience with your marketing campaign.


Make sure that this objective is something that you can achieve within the time and resources that you have available to complete it. To follow up on the last example a step further, perhaps 80% of your target audience is too high and a more realistic attainable figure would be 50%.  


Very much in common with the previous attainable elements you should ensure that your objective is a realistic challenge for the time frame of delivery.


Consider what time frame you’re looking to achieve this objective in. This could be a day, a week or longer.

Remember that all five of these elements come together in one objective.

6.    Give enough time for marketing the event

It’s often the case with some events that event managers do not allow enough time to promote the event to an audience. The amount of time that needed to promote an event will vary depending on the size of the event and the difficulty in reaching out to the target audience.

Consider at least four to six weeks for local small or medium events like workshops. For music and arts events this may be several months. For bigger or annual events, then maybe anything up to six months or beyond.

For an event that you will organise regularly, you’ll get a better feel for how long this process should be. Remember, a new event may take longer to promote the first time than in subsequent deliveries.

You should consider creating a marketing communications plan which will outline what you will attempt to undertake each day or week in your marketing. This might include thinking across various marketing channels such as newspapers, social media or other and amongst different target audience groups that you have. 

Some audience groups may be quicker to respond to certain types of marketing than others and to a large extent this can be trial and error and you should attempt to try and evaluate this with each event.

7.    Let your attendees help co-create the event

Co-creation in events is a relatively new concept but one that is gaining popularity. By allowing your attendees to help co-create your events, not only do you achieve an event that is more valuable to your audience, but your audience feels part of and feel ownership of the event.

This process goes beyond just engaging your attendees and must truly encourage collaboration and co-creation. You should try to create a space where people can interact and collaborate by harnessing their skills to help generate value for themselves and the event.

8.    Map out who your stakeholders are

Having a clear understanding of who your key stakeholders are is key. At the start of any event planning process put aside some time to map out a list of your stakeholders. Try to imagine anyone who has the power to help you deliver the event or who is influenced or impacted by the event. You should carefully work through this list of stakeholders and use a scoring system to evaluate who are the most important and can have the most influence on the successful delivery of your event.

9.    Evaluate, evaluate and evaluate!

It is quite common when concluding an event to want to start the pack down and get out as quickly as possible. One of the key things that you can do at the end of your event is to evaluate how the event was received by the attendees. This can be done in several ways either in person using tablets or afterwards with email or social networks. There are several creative methods that events can evaluate in quite a simple way. One great method to use as a benchmark for every event that you run is the Net Promoter Score. This simply asks if the attendee would recommend the event to a friend. 

10. Know what is going on!

This might sound like a fairly obvious suggestion, but you need to almost have a sixth sense as an event manager for what is happening in each area of your event at any given time. 

Sufficient planning in advance will help this but you need to be able to check that you have everything in place before the event and that you will have a good event team around you who understand their roles and who will highlight to you when they find problems. 

Another great tool for an event manager is having a backup plan. Consider in advance of the event what you would do if you didn’t sell enough tickets, if your headline artist didn’t arrive or if you had a safety emergency.  

How to organise a film screening

Film Screening

Film screenings are a great way to fill a quiet night in a venue, raise money for charity or even to launch your own event business. In this post I’ll look at some of the key things you need to think about.


I have organised countless film screenings in the last 20 years and there is one piece of advice that I would always give to anybody looking to organise a film screening and that is the choice of the film and alignment to your target audience is key.

I have had free-entry film screenings where I’ve had audience members on the floor because it was so busy and others where I have allowed my own ego to pick the film but the room has been remarkably empty!

Compared to 20 years ago competition now exists from the likes of Netflix and Amazon along with other streaming services that are able to provide a wide range or films six months or even earlier after they’ve been in the cinema. It is not always possible to gain a license to show such films any earlier and you’ll need to consider properly licensing each screening.

A word of caution (here in the UK) you are NOT allowed to simply raid your home DVD collection and play a film of your choice to a group. We will get into the legalities of film screenings later in this post.

You may be hosting a film screening for a few reasons, such as:

  • Community Cinema in local libraries
  • Film societies in Universities
  • Film Festivals
  • Charity fundraisers
  • Pop-up events
  • Experiential cinema events

Who is your target audience

Film Screening Target Market

As with all events, starting off by considering who is your target audience is important. Doing enough market research at this stage can save you time and money further down the line and it will help to ensure that your event is a success. You should try to think about the kinds of people who would be attracted to the film or films you want to show.

For example not everybody will want to attend a film screening of an offbeat indie film, but a wider audience may want to attend the latest Hollywood blockbuster. This is not too say that that the indie film doesn’t have the potential for a great event (indeed whole film festivals are based on this!). What you must consider is who the audience is and how to reach them and how you will add value before, during, and after the film screening.

A great resource you might want to look at here in the UK is the ‘Audience Finder’ tool from The Audience Agency. It’s totally free to use and provides some great insight and pre-made target profiles within arts and entertainments in every post code across the UK.

What will be your added value?

As always providing value is key. In the world of online streaming video services where people can watch from the comfort of their homes, delivering a remarkable and memorable experience is key to the success of any film screening event.

There are some great examples of companies such as Secret Cinema making fantastic experiences out of films . No doubt the production cost of such experiences are huge, so you’ll have to balance this with what you feel that you’re able to charge in terms of ticket price if you go down this route. Be careful not to oversell the experience and then underdeliver on the actual event.

It may still be possible to pick out certain elements of the film and translate this into a live experience on the event. For example, organisations like Secret Cinema use actors as attendees are entering the screening who are in character from the film. This adds a completely different dimension to the experience of going to see a film. You are no longer simply a passenger but an active actor in that experience.

You should consider how this value can be delivered during three phases of the event delivery; before, during and after. Much of the before will be connected to your marketing and promotion for the film screening so try to think about how you can pick out elements of the film and deliver those as valuable touchpoints to your audience before they buy a ticket. Here are some of the ideas used by film screening companies to engage on a deeper level with their target audience:


Think about the following touchpoints that an audience member is likely to experience in the build-up to buying a ticket and attending your film screening:

  • your website,
  • your social media,
  • your ticketing page,
  • your emails.

You should endeavour to deliver a consistent experience as customer through each.


During the screening you should think about touchpoints from the moment the customers arrive to the moment they leave and how you can take them on a journey that ties into the film. This doesn’t require huge amounts of money and try to be creative in the way that you bring the film alive on the evening!

I would advise consideration is given to how to serve food and drink during the film, what kind of seating is provided (note try not to use hard seats!) and the kind of service that they will receive from your staff or volunteers. Giving a good experience at this point helps to build your reputation especially if you’re considering future film screenings.


Depending on the film screening and the amount of time and money you have available, it may be worth attempting to do undertake some evaluation with your audience to enable you to get feedback on how to improve future events.

This doesn’t have to be an onerous task. You could send an email survey to all the people who bought tickets from you or you could simply look to do something creative at the end of the event.

One example I came across a few years ago was during a film screening for the film Seven (with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman). At the end of the event the organizers had somehow located large quantities of doll heads and each person was asked to place the head in one of 10 boxes. This is quite a creative use of what is a well-established evaluation tool known as The Net Promoter score. Essentially, they were asked to rate if they would recommend this film screening to a friend you can check out the theory behind this at this link.


When considering how you’re proposing to promote the film screening you should always reference back to your target audience. This is key in understanding how to reach them and what will resonate with them to help build a desire to attend your event.

Consider which social media channels your target audience uses and how likely it is that any posts you add will be seen by them. Remember that the algorithms on social networks like Facebook are weighted heavily against organic natural posts. It may be worth giving some consideration to a small budget for paid advertisements on these networks.

Try to tap into any community groups local to where your film screening is taking place and if you’re choosing to use the event to fundraise consider tapping into any groups or mailing lists that your charity may have.

You may be undertaking the film screening as part of a University or College film society so be sure to communicate the information through any social media groups or email lists.

If you’re considering this as a business idea, with plans to run more film screenings in the future, you should consider starting an email list as this one of the most effective ways to sell event tickets.


Film Screening Tickets

The first thing you’ll need to consider with your budget is how much you need to pay for the screening of the film. In the UK there is a requirement under Copyright Law to ensure any film screenings for entertainment purposes require a license.

Luckily there are organisations that license film screenings. One such organization in the UK is a company called Filmbank Media. They license film screenings in several ways. If you are simply showing one screening, then you can buy something called a Single Title Screening License or STSL. This allows you to show the film to an audience once. Within the STSL there are non-commercial screenings and commercial screening options.

Non-commercial screenings are those where the audience attends for free and you pay a fixed fee from £83 pounds for indoor screenings or from £139 pounds for outdoor screenings.

Commercial screenings allow you to charge the audience a ticket price but the difference here is that you are required to pay a percentage of your box office takings if they are greater than the non-commercial fees.

For an indoor screening you will be required to pay from £83 or 35% of your box office (whichever is greater) and for outdoor screenings from £139 pounds or 40% of your box office takings (whichever is greater). These prices are illustrative of the price you could pay and the fees increase with the venue capacity. (prices are correct as of April 2020)

You can find further information on the Filmbank Media website.

The choice to pursue the non-commercial or commercial routes is therefore dictated by whether you feel you need to charge for entry to the film. You may consider that you can make up the revenue through other avenues at the screening such as selling snacks or drinks or by offering additional experiences that tie into the film. These are fine as long as entry to the venue is free.

You will also need to consider costs such as venue hire, staffing (before and during the event), the cost of any marketing materials or advertising, any website hosting fees or design, and any theming you wish to include with the venue.

Picking a venue or location

External Cinema

The choice of venue or location will play a huge part in the experience you deliver. As I mentioned earlier you should consider how the audience will watch the film. You will need a large screen and projector along with a suitable sound system for the size of venue you have chosen.

Many smaller independent cinemas allow you to hire out their screens. This may be the easiest solution if you are looking to host a charity film screening that will fundraise but if you are considering a more in-depth experience then you might want to consider a more bespoke venue.

The previous example of the Seven film screening that I mentioned was actually screened in a disused retail outlet and careful thought was given to the ambiance, lighting and decoration to match the dark nature of the film.

If you’re considering screening the film outside, then you may want to consider using specialist audio visual company to provide the screen projector and sound. You will also need to consider other infrastructure that is needed such as seating fencing and lighting. you should also check if any additional licenses or permits are required wherever you are planning to host the event.

In the UK a Premises Licence is required only if you aim to generate a profit from the tickets being sold. Please check the Licensing Act 2003 for more information.

You should make sure that your venue or location is completely accessible to all people who would want to attend your event. This may also include:

  • Subtitles or sign interpreters,
  • ensuring people are aware of any flashing lights used in the film,
  • preferential seating for those who are partially sighted,
  • ensuring the venue has wheelchair access.

Other paperwork to consider

As with most events you should consider any other paperwork such as insurance and safety documents (such as a site plan) as key elements of your event plan. Check with your venue for any procedures to do with fire safety they may have and what your role would be in any emergency such as an evacuation. It’s very important to work with the venue if you are planning to include props and theming to ensure this doesn’t become additional hazards during the event.

Best of luck with your film screening!

Some other great resources:

UK Film Screening licenses:

Making film screenings accessible for communities:

How to organise a music concert: Top Tips

Live Music Events

Organising music concerts is a challenge and there are a variety of issues you’ll need to take into consideration. I was a music venue manager for the best of ten years and was involved in hundreds of music concerts.

This post is designed to be a helpful guide to the steps you should consider when planning an event like this.

But, before you do anything, think about why you’re putting the event on and what do you want to get out of it? Maybe you’re looking to help build the reputation of the band or artist, perhaps you’re looking make money from this, build your own reputation or maybe as a fundraiser.

Once you understand why you are organising the concert, consider the following ten steps to sucess:

1. Set a budget

One of the first things that you’ll want to do when planning any music concert or gig is to set a comprehensive and realistic budget that covers how your event makes money and how the event spends money.

For most music concerts or gigs, income will come from tickets, but you might want to consider other alternatives such as sponsorship and online fundraising platforms like gofundme or patreon if you’re just getting started and this is something that you’re thinking of doing regularly.

Within your expenditure you will need to consider what are the fixed costs and what are the variable costs. A fixed cost is a one that doesn’t vary as the number of people increases.

For example, a fixed cost could be your basic venue hire fee. This is a fixed cost because normally it won’t change anything different if you have 10 people or 100 people. Here are some examples of more fixed costs:

  • Basic venue hire
  • Band or artist fee
  • Technical cost of putting the show on

In addition to fixed costs you need to also consider the variable costs. These are costs that will alter depending on the number of people that you have in the venue.

So, let’s say that you start off planning for 50 people to attend your event. You may think you only need two members of security at this point. Now imagine ticket sales go really well and you expect 100 people to attend.

Now, this cost has varied and potentially you may need 4 security staff. Here are some examples of other variable expenditure:

  • Ticket printing
  • Staff (security/bar staff)
  • Promotional materials

A final word on this topic, don’t forget to account for any taxes you may be liable for depending on the country you operate in.

2. Identify your target audience

One of the single most important things that you can do to ensure the success of your music concert or gig is to identify who your target audience is through the creation of a target audience profile.

Now you might think: ‘this is easy, it is simply the fans of the bands that are performing’. And yes, you would be right in one respect this is true.

But knowing this doesn’t give the full picture and it certainly will not always help you to market and promote your music concert or gig successfully.

You should try to consider both geographic and demographic elements that make up your target audience. If you are based in the UK, a good free resource for this is Audience Finder.

This will pay dividends and save you money because you will not be advertising in those geographical areas, on websites or on social media platforms that your target audience just isn’t looking at. So how do you start this process?

Geographic elements are those which describe where people live. There are many ways to do this and it depends very much in which country in which you live.

You may decide to restrict advertising to just your local area, and this may be largely dictated by the artist appeal for who is playing. The bigger the artist the wider the advertising radius you may need to consider.

Demographic elements describe those characteristics of your target audience which help you too target them better with your advertising. Demographic elements include things like:

  • gender
  • age
  • income
  • educational level
  • ethnicity
  • family life cycle

…and many more.

Using these elements, you can create the ideal profile of a person most likely to come to your event and therefore be highly precise with your marketing (see marketing below).

3. Book your artists

This step may be undertaken in parallel with step 4. There are several ways that you can approach booking artists or bands for your music concert or gig. Having contacts can be key, but reaching out to artists or their respresentatives will require good communication skills.

If the event is a local band night, it may be as simple as reaching out to the band through their appropriate social media channel. If the band has a slightly higher profile this route may still work but it is likely you will need to speak to their management or booking agent.

Sometimes this information is included in the footer or about us page on the band’s website, but other times this may not be readily available and may require further investigation using Google or another search engine. Check out Showcase for agents in the UK.

You will want to negotiate a fee with the band. This is highly dependent on the bands current profile and standing. Be prepared to negotiate and to haggle and don’t be surprised if the band fee is higher than you expected.

Many bands now rely heavily on playing live events as their income through music sales has declined in recent years with the move to online streaming services.

It is not untypical for booking agents to attempt to charge a higher fee to new promoters over ones which they have worked with for years, something to watch out for!

Bigger bands can command multiple thousands of pounds to perform, so you should do some research to understand those bands available in your price category.  

One possible tactic to help reduce the fee that you pay (and this works particularly well for festivals) is to buddy up with another event, so the band effectively gets 2 dates rather than one.

A small word of caution here you will need to make sure that both events all within reasonable travel distance and consider any other technical requirements of the band playing two gigs in quick succession.

Once negotiation is complete you should agree a contract with the artist. For local bands and artists this may be an informal agreement between you although it is good to have it in writing.

Larger bands will have pre-made performance contracts. It is important to read these through thoroughly before signing as you are committing yourself to paying the fee and providing all technical and refreshment riders that are included with it.

4. Find a venue

When you set your initial budget, you will have an idea for the number of people you expect to attend your event, and this should be the first thing you look at in any potential venue.

Search the local area for venues with the required capacity and then check that the venues have the capabilities to host live music concerts or gig. Here are some examples of the criteria you need to check with any venue to see if it is suitable to host live music

  • What is the venue capacity?
  • Is there a stage or raised platform big enough to accommodate the bands you want to book?
  • Are there changing rooms or dressing rooms with direct access to the stage? Most bands usually require these.
  • Is there sufficient electrical power for a sound system or PA?
  • Does that the venue have its own PA set up for live music? This is typically two banks of speakers either side of the stage in a stereo format.
  • What other technical equipment does the venue have to mix live band?
  • Is there stage lighting?
  • Is there a bar if required?
  • Does the venue have the correct licences for hosting live music?

5. Set a date

Once you’ve set the budget and found your venue then you will need to set a date. You should allow for at least four to six weeks to market and promote the music concert or gig.

Any less than this and you risk the event being unsuccessful. Ideally you should book the date in many months in advance to allow for enough marketing and promotion.

It is likely that bands and venues also book months in advance, so you’ll need to be on top of your game in this aspect.

Many bands will tour indoor venues through the autumn and winter while playing outdoor events during the spring and summer months when the weather is better.

Of course, this is true only for the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the opposite for the Southern Hemisphere!

6. Organise tickets to go on sale

You will want to put tickets on sale as soon as possible. Before you do, consider what your ticketing strategy as this may encourage some early sales, which can be particularly useful when cash flow is tight.

One technique to get early ticket sales is to offer an early bird ticket price. This is a lower ticket price which is set either for a limited time or for a limited number of tickets.

You could decide to offer a free number of tickets in exchange for users sharing your event on their own social media. This will help with the reach of your event especially if you are just getting started.

You may want to have different pricing levels for different target audiences such as Under-18s, students or other concessions.

A final suggestion is to use the countdown clock strategy. This is like the early bird strategy, but you will need to set further price tiers and then display or notify attendees of any impeding change in price. Letting people know they have a limited time to buy a ticket at this price often works quite well in selling more tickets.

7. Promote the Event

One of the key reasons for considering your target audience before considering any type of marketing is that now you know which channels are likely to have the most effect in selling tickets for your music concert or gig.

You should allow for at least four to six weeks for promoting any event. In the case of music concerts or gigs and with long booking lead times you may be spending several months marketing the event.

To start, you should consider the target audience profile or profiles that you have drawn up.

It is perfectly acceptable to have more than one target market for an event. In fact, this allows you to operate several different efficient marketing strategies to reach each of your target audiences.

For example, one target audience may use Facebook as their social network of choice, while another chooses to use Instagram. You, therefore, need to consider different strategies for each of these two target audiences to have the most effect.

One marketing plan will focus on Facebook while the other will focus on Instagram and each of these social networks have very different content and presentation.

It is highly recommended that you then draw up a marketing plan to cover the time you will promote the event.

Often the simplest way to do this is to use a spreadsheet to identify the weeks and the different marketing channels you need to use for your target audience.

The different marketing channels should be based on the profile of your target audience.

7.1 Promote the Event on Social Media

Social media is the undisputed king of promoting events (although lets not totally rule out using local press still).

Saying this is only scratching the surface and digging deeper you need to understand how often you will need to post and what you will need to post.

Each social network will have different requirements.

Also consider that most social media platforms have algorithms designed to promote paid content over organic free content.

This means that if you have a Facebook group or page then not every member who likes that page or post group will see every post that you make.

You should, therefore, give some consideration to spending some advertising money on your social network of choice.

What you post is also key. the type of content should relate to your event and the artistes that are playing.

You could engage potential attendees with snippets of artist material, videos or shorts interviews.

One tactic that seems to work quite well is showing behind the scenes footage. The aim of this is to get people excited about your events before buying a ticket.

In recent times one of the more popular methods for promoting any event is to engage with influencers on social media networks.

In the case of music concerts and gigs you should engage with your bands or artistes who may have a following already on social networks but also try to identify influencers in your local area.

You could do this by offering them a free ticket to your event in exchange for some promotion to their audience.

7.2 Promote the Event in Local Press

While most of your promotion may take place on social networks, do not dismiss the power of your local press either in print or on listing websites.

Very often these will have their own email databases and are regularly sending out new events that they have listed and so this becomes an additional opportunity fee to increase the reach of your event.

8. Filming & Photography at the Event

You should consider having someone come to film or photograph your music concert or gig especially if you plan to run more events again in the future.

A photographer with a high-quality camera (DSLR etc.) should be used to ensure that the photos look professional. It can be difficult to photograph live music in dark lit venues so check they have experience in these areas.

The photos or video that are produced can then provide you with social media content after the event and for promoting your next show.

The concert photos and video will also help to build your own social media profile as people will be keen to like and share them after the event.

9. Health and Safety for the Event

Ensuring the safety of your event attendees, staff and performers is paramount. Not only to your business but also that of the venue.

You should familiarise yourself with the health and safety legislation in the country or region in which your event takes place.

In the UK the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have a great website that gives an overview of responsibilities in this area.

It is likely that your venue will have overall responsibility for the safety of attendees during any event, but it is equally important that you familiarise yourself with their risk assessments and procedures in the event of an emergency.

You should also work with the venue to make them aware of all activities you will be undertaking as part of the event as it is likely that these will also need a risk assessment and method statement.

Safety in the UK is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1979 , but there are also numerous other laws and regulations that you may need to consider, these include:

  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002
  • Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • Noise at Work Regulations 2005
  • Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015
  • Electricity at Work Regulations 1989

10. Running the Show On the night

Before the event you will need to liaise with the band or the band’s management to decide what technical requirements are needed for the gig.

This is commonly referred to as a technical rider and will detail all of the setup requirements for the various instruments and vocals that the band needs to perform.

If your venue has an in-house technical team it is your responsibility to liaise this information to them.

The same goes if you are providing the technical sound system for the venue.

You should also consider where you might store any equipment such as flight cases and boxes while not in use. This is particularly challenging in small venues with little or no backstage area.

The post will not cover the specific technical requirements of mixing live music, but you should employ an experienced sound desk operator who will be able to mix the live concerts.

Larger bands often provide their own sound engineer for familiarity purposes.

You should draw up a plan of the day with a detailed timeline of when you need to be at the venue and when you require artistes to be at the venue.

You should allow some contingency time in this as it is not uncommon for artists to be running late. All artistes performing will require a sound check before they play at the event, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

You will also need to provide any additional food and drink riders not only for the artist members but also for any of their technical crew.

This is likely to be included with the booking contract and you will be given this information in advance.

Depending on the band and or the band manager present at the event there can be issues if the correct rider items are not provided!


So, there you have it a short overview of how to run a musical concerts or gig. These types of events are not for the faint-hearted and many people who operate in this sector have a passion for music that helps to drive them and their events forward.

The margins on live music can often be slim, especially where local bands are involved so you need to keep and grow your business acumen if you want to make this a regular business.