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Selling Out Your Shows Every Time

A sold out show is a day that every artist looks forward to. Nothing’s better than a packed house where the energy emanates from the audience to the stage and back again.

Unfortunately, many artists don’t get to experience sold out shows that often, if at all. Perhaps, only at the occasional CD release show, or a coveted opening spot for a more established act.

Thankfully, there is an easy way for you to change this and begin playing sold out shows more often. It’s quite simple in fact.

The key is to play in venues you can sell out.

The typical artist wants to play the best venue in town, regardless of their draw. The club where you have to play Tuesday nights for months, until the booker notices you and maybe bumps you up to a Thursday. It doesn’t matter that the venue has a 500 person capacity and you can only bring out 50 people.

A show is a show, right?


The atypical artist sees this situation and thinks differently.

Instead of spreading out the fans you do have in a cavernous room, start booking your own shows in smaller venues. Really small venues if you have to.

Do you have a city where you routinely draw 50 people? Then book a venue with a capacity of 40. If you can bring out 250 people, play a 200 capacity club.

The benefits to this are numerous.

1. Capacity Crowd

The gigs will feel bigger. Those 50 people who would have been spread out all over the cavernous club are now in a much smaller space, giving the overall show a “full” feeling, and  a better vibe as a result.

2. An Experience

You’re providing a better concert experience for both the fans and yourself by creating a full house of audience members who are there solely to hear your music.

3. Building Buzz

Having the words “sold out” posted on your website, and the venue’s marquee, will help create buzz around you and your music. And, having a line up to get into a club never hurts your credibility.

Get started!

Start making a list of smaller venues you know that you can sell out. Contact the promoters of those venues and start developing a relationship with them. If you routinely pack their space, you will be invited back.

Keep in mind…

You don’t need to rely on promoters to book smaller shows. Take control. Rent out a venue and book your own shows. Many cities have smaller art spaces available, take a look around for any place you can transform into an atypical music venue.

Advertise your sold out shows to the world.

After the show has been sold out, don’t stop there. Start spreading the word. Announce the sold out dates on your social networking sites. Doing so will help build buzz and entice more people to come check you out, where you can hopefully covert them into fans.


Routinely selling out your shows is as much up to you as it is your fans. By booking proper sized venues to showcase your music you can work towards the goal of making every gig a sold out show.

Have you played a sold out show? How was the experience any different from a regular gig?


Image by: Jeremy Brooks

Mike Venti is a musician and creator of the Wayward Musician blog, which provides ideas and advice for atypical artists. This post was originally published on Wayward Musician on June 4, 2010. You can connect with Mike on Twitter and Facebook

Reader Comments (8)

Playing the right size room is very important. The show feels so much more exciting when there are fans lined up to get in. And the energy level is much higher when the room is full.

Sometimes you can put a number of bands together to try to fill up a room, but what often happens there is that people leave after they have seen the band they want to see and by the last band of the evening, there's hardly anyone there.

August 19 | Registered CommenterSuzanne Lainson

This can backfire on you. Last year, I was selling out this venue/restaurant in Nashville called Cafe Coco. Would play there once every two or three months. But then also, I was hosting a monthly showcase there featuring other artists. We built the audience to a point where the fire marshal was frequently harassing the establishment. So they canceled all live music shows indefinitely and now it's just a restaurant. Since then, I've had trouble establishing in a new place. I will take your advice in this post and see if there is another way.

Great post.

Couldn't agree more - I've done both (empty cavernous room and sold out small venue) and the buzz and interest you generate from a packed small room is amazing.

Let's face it - people (your fans) like the affirmation that their choice of music doesn't suck...lots of people having fun around them will give them that - which lets them relax and enjoy your show even more.

August 20 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Jolie

Great stuff here, Mike! Thanks for linking to your post about atypical venues, I found a lot of value in that one.

August 20 | Registered CommenterChris Bracco

@Suzanne That's the problem with being entirely dependent on bookers or club owners when booking a gig. Much of the time the bands are a terrible match for each other and there is no opportunity to convert new fans. Great observation!

@Quiet Entertainer Good to hear that small venue method was working out for you. Just make sure that you're never violating the capacity of the room your playing.

@Chris I'm glad you found some value in those posts Chris!

Thanks for the comments!

August 20 | Registered CommenterMike Venti

I've taken your advice. There was an old pay phone booth abandoned by Bell Atlantic on the corner of a downtown street in the industrial district. There was a bum in there so I gave him a dollar to get out so I could play. At show time I still had capacity for 1 more person, luckily there was a bum right outside the venue, so I charged him a dollar and sold out the show. Anyways, great tip, I hope Fairpoint doesn't notice they need to tear that phone booth down so I can keep selling out shows. Also I hope the bum doesn't move under a highway overpass so I don't lose my audience.


August 25 | Unregistered CommenterCrowfeatheR

Great post. Always ideal to find the right size venue for not only your crowd/draw, but also the size in which you as an artist perform the best. You build with your crowd, which is absolutely logical and makes perfect sense.

August 29 | Registered CommenterKelly Greene

Interesting advice. Will have to try this out in practice. Never occurred to me even, but it makes perfect sense.

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