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The 7 steps: Practising what you preach

In 2002, I wrote my first book entitled 'The Survival of your choir'. Why, might you ask, since I am a composer and conductor of music and not a renowned author? Bear with me whilst I explain:

I was fortunate enough to have been given the grounding and inspiration from the late Dr Francis Jackson and many others who took the time to share their knowledge and experience with me which has shaped (and still does) my career and life as a musician. Choral directing and training work has taken me all over the UK and also to Canada, the USA, Holland and Norway and, for over 30 years, I have been promoting and running many concerts a year with a variety of choirs, from mixed to male voice; sacred to secular.

With my choirs, orchestras and other music groups, I have taken music into churches, stately homes, museums, railway stations, abbeys, market squares and boats! I have explored almost every type of concert, from free ones to restricted audience ‘Exclusive VIP’ ones. Some have been amazing, some have been so hare brained that I can’t believe we ever did them – but it’s an ever-changing world and the old way of a concert at 7.30 in the local church publicised by a handwritten handbill attached to a tree in the village main street by the local bobby on his bike is as much a thing of the past as the local bobby himself!

Along the way, I have tried to pass on my experiences, good and bad, to fellow choir directors and concert organisers so that others might learn from my mistakes, avoid some of the pitfalls, and hopefully gain some knowledge and inspiration from my successes. Hence, the first book came along... since then, there have been 3 more! Each book tries to address the different aspects and challenges faced of being involved with a choir or musical group from the point of view of the committee, choir leader or concert organiser.

It struck me yet again after two successful concerts with my mixed voice and male voice choirs recently the reason why I wrote 'Seven steps to more successful concerts' - those that are concert and event organisers know how much is involved in planning events and how much can go right and wrong! We all know how disheartening it can be to spend weeks rehearsing and perfecting music to then arrive at the venue on concert night and find only a handful of people in the audience, and even then, these people are friends and family coming out of loyalty to a participant, with the occasional interloper sheltering from the rain! Which picture would you rather see here.... ??

This sort of scenario is common, and it can lead to losing talented and valued members of your group, making financial losses and the inevitable round of questions as to whose fault the whole thing was. Or, it can lead to a worse scenario: that apathy sets in and it is accepted that events are expected to be like this and it’s ‘just one of those things’!

Is there a magic wand that can cure all of this and make every concert by every performing group full of rows of smiling concertgoers, all eager to mob you with wads of money for the next concert? Frankly no! (sorry about that!) but there is a lot that can be done to help in raising the chances of more people coming to your events.

By using the methods that businesses use, you can drastically improve your group’s efforts at building audiences. Starting with serious planning and thought about what you will perform (and why you are performing certain music), to where you will perform and how you will publicise it, to thinking about your concerts as the audience will see them and looking at it all from the ‘customer’s’ point of view.

Some groups will not see the need for this book: their audiences are large and tickets sell like hot cakes the minute they are released - the secrets of successful concerts are theirs! But to most, it’s hard work, and this book will help the reader to explore new avenues of thought that they can use in their own circumstances to build an audience utilising ideas that have been tried and tested. Yes, I have had my fair share of disasters, but I have had more events full to capacity with standing room only (in fact at one we exceeded the seating limit and had to send 50 people away!).

There are audiences out there so try some of these ideas and get your share of them. Then learn how to keep them and you will be well on your way to more successful concerts.

Tim Knight

So, just what are the 7 steps and what do you need to do about them?

1. Why are we actually having a concert? It seems a strange question, but answering this at the outset is essential to your success.

2. Concert content: Do you know your audience? Do you know what they might like to hear? Choosing the right music is critical and then being able to market it so they get to know about it.

3. Marketing plan: Who are you going to tell? How are you going to reach them? When are you going to start? Do ticket prices make a difference? Are you open to new ideas?

4. Publicity and printing: Do you use all the possible channels in print and online? Do you go for the very best quality fliers you can afford? Do you use social media effectively?

5. The event and after: Do you make your audience welcome? Do you make the best of the event to help sell the next event? Do your audiences leave happy? Do you speak to them between concerts? Do you share pictures?

6. Concert resources: Are you worried that you don't know where to get your printing, or your tickets, or your publicity design? ... Tim's book tells you.

7. Fitting it altogether: The 7 steps organised in a timetable with helpful reminders to plan your entire event.

Here are some reviews of 'Seven Steps to More Successful Concerts'

“’Seven Steps to More Successful Concerts’ by Tim Knight is a fine follow up to his previous “The Survival of Your Choir”. With an estimated 20,000 choirs across the UK the market share of audience for each choir is diminishing. Tim Knight’s book shows how, by applying commercial & social media marketing techniques and strategic planning, it is possible not just to increase audience share and choir revenue, but also to encourage new repertoire and utilize diverse venues to help spread the reach of choral music as public entertainment and education. The great thing is that this is not a theoretical guide but is based on real life tried and tested practical experience.”

Phillip Tolley - British Choirs on the Net

“We've been crying out for a book like this for years! Tim Knight provides an invaluable and much needed resource for any choir, indeed ideal for anyone preparing an event.”

Dominic Goodwin - Banks Music Publications

“Tim Knight has written a companion which is a 'must have' for every choir. He continually looks beyond the latest trends and thus the result is a book which provides excellent advice. With real examples given in an honest and frank way, he has provided a premium source from which choirs could, and should, easily flourish.”

Robert T. Elliott - Choral Conductor and Adjudicator



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