The energy of an in-person concert is undeniable. The way that people come together, even for just that one night to celebrate their favorite band, to meet with others who feel the same as them, to really come together as a community for those precious few hours—there’s nothing like it. And as much as I would never say I straight up like being crammed against a wall of sweaty smelly people I didn’t know, or getting back from a concert at 1am, I have to admit, I really do miss it.
But, these are the times we’re in. And while some artists have been really creative hosting things like drive in shows or IG streams, it’s time to think about upleveling your online game—and in a world suffering from a pandemic, that means knowing how to throw your release party—and do it online.
Whether you’ve never hosted an online stream before or you consider yourself a seasoned vet, this article is for you. We’re going to dive into 5 ways you can throw a killer online virtual party that leaves your fans just as — if not more—excited as they would have if the whole thing happened in person.
Sell actual tickets
I recently interviewed someone for my podcast who talked about how in her business she was offering workshops, and in doing so offered tickets to the event, even though it was all virtual. All the messaging she had about this event, from her emails to her website, to her socials, all referenced “getting your ticket” and not to forget your ticket on the big day.
I instantly loved this.
In a time where we are all virtual all the time, it’s refreshing to feel some sense of normalcy for the things we love, and by offering your fans an actual ticket (which you can whip up simply and quickly in Canva and either snail mail or email it out to them when they sign up) you’re giving them just a little something extra to make them feel like they’re right there with you.
Give them the VIP experience
Naturally, you should always be treating your fans to the best, and I’m all about making sure each and every show,—virtual or not—feels like a one of a kind experience for your fans. That goes without saying. BUT if you want to take it a step further for your special release show, go ahead and give them the option to upgrade to a VIP experience.
This can include:
-Exclusive one of a kind merch you made for the release (or hand made if you’re cutting costs and want to stay super DIY)
-VIP hang with you 30 min before the concert
-30-minute group guitar/drum/piano/etc lesson
-Free ticket to their first in-person show in your city
-and of course, a social media shoutout
These are just a few ways to help your fans feel extra special and really go above and beyond for them. Just because you aren’t in person, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the VIP treatment.
Offer exclusive incentives for concert-goers
Like I said, every show you do should feel like an experience, so be sure you’re offering your concert goers something that only they can get. Maybe this is something digital like, special access to the album a full 24 hours in advance, or first pick at a special line of merch, or getting invited to hang in a special FB group for release week where you go live for special performances a few times, they can share their songs, you listen to their music or check out their passion project, etc.
In some ways, this makes virtual even better than in person because it allows you so much more flexibility in what you can offer.
As for the concert itself and making that feel one of a kind, a few things you can do:
-make sure there’s a chat box. This is going to be crucial for engaging the community
-Make it for a time/date that most fans will be able to make it. IE: 7pm EST on a Saturday
-Make it as interactive as possible. Take real-time requests for songs, chat with the audience, every few songs stop and read the chat box, and just make it as interactive as possible
Invite them “on stage”
Speaking of interactive, why not invite your fans on stage? Regardless of where you’re hosting the concert, there should be an option to bring fans on video with you and this can be an incredible way to really connect with them. Sure, maybe they can play the guitar part or sing along for a few lines, like you’ve seen your favorite bands do. Or maybe you just take 5 min to chat with them. They’ll love it, and your other fans will love it too because it’ll show how much you care and they’ll be hoping the next person you invite on stage is them!
Create tons of social proof
What is a concert without social proof? Just because they won’t be recording in person video while you do your thing on stage, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be encouraging your fans to share everything they can both pre and post show, including videos they take of your online performance, screenshots they may take, photos of their VIP packages and experiences, and anything else you/they can think of.
Don’t forget to ask them to tag you and share all of that—it’s where the social proof come in!
Simply put, there’s something to be said for the versatility and creativity that these online concerts inspire, and the opportunities they create. After all, where else can you connect with fans, play music you love, and have an incredible night, all without leaving the house?
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more. You can learn more about how to get more fans + make more money with your music in her workshop.