3 Reasons to take risks on booking new artists in 2018

Cristina Peralta

Apr. 06, 2018

By Bill Leigh, originally published on the Eventbrite blog

It’s almost an unwritten rule: in the live music business, big-name headliners are nearly always a safe bet, and new artists are risky.

But in this ever-changing industry, rules can quickly turn upside down.

With increasing consolidation and the rise of streaming, this is one of those rule-changing times. Here are three reasons why now is the right time to take more chances on rising talent.

1. It’s getting tougher to book top talent

The big national concert promoters have big budgets, deep pockets, and the ability to book an artist for their entire tour. As these nation-wide promoters increasingly extend their reach into local markets, you’ll be going head-to-head for headliners, and the odds aren’t in your favor. Even if you’re not competing directly, the huge outlays of money are driving up artists’ pricing.

What this means for you:

You can and should try to book bigger acts when you can, especially if you can partner with other independents to book an artist for a full leg of their tour. But if you’re outbid, don’t sweat it. You can still do well with emerging artists the big guys would never take risks on. Why? Because…

2. Streaming is driving the larger music business

The rapid consumer shift toward streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music has caused seismic changes in the music business as a whole. No longer do record companies act as gatekeepers, determining the relatively small number of acts that are able to distribute their music to the masses.

While that model has gone the way of the mastodon, a new paradigm is evolving. This paradigm shift has many more artists building fanbases with streaming hits. Inclusion in a popular playlist is all it takes to make a one-hit wonder, and this rise gives you more opportunities to appeal to a broader variety of music fans.

What this means for you:

The artist development curve has changed, with artists getting in front of live audiences sooner in their career than ever before. Many artist managers and booking agents are taking on artists with only one big Spotify hit. You can, too. Increasingly, one streaming hit is all that’s needed to drive fans to a show. And this will help you, because…

3. Fans are looking for curation

One way to set yourself apart from the competition is to emphasize your independent character, your local credibility, and your ability to stay on the cutting edge.

If you commit to giving more opportunities to emerging artists, you’ll bring in new fans while building a reputation for cool new music.

National competitors won’t have the option to make fast decisions on rising local stars because they’ll need corporate approval of every decision.

What this means for you:

You can mix up your show calendar by including touring acts with one or two streaming hits. Consider ways to give opportunities to local bands you’ve worked with that you’d like to bring up and that you know draw crowds.

And remember, booking smaller artists doesn’t mean presenting smaller events. You can offer smaller artists opportunities to play multi-day or multi-venue festivals, or the chance for rising regional acts to support national touring artists.

For more strategies on competing, check out 2018 Music Trends: The Top Predictions.

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