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Planning your Give a Gig event

When you decide to put on a Give a Gig event, it’s best to allow at least a month for organisation and promotion. But it’s never too soon to start planning.

You’ll have lots of decisions to make when putting together your gig. Who would you like to play? Who will come and watch? What type of venue will you need? How will you promote it? Where do you start?

Start with a strong team

Organising a live music event is much more fun and much less stressful with a strong team around you, so get your friends and family involved.

Make sure someone is in charge of:

  • Musicians: Making contact with bands, musicians and other performers, answering their questions about timing, equipment and guest lists, and arranging refreshments.
  • Venue: Organising the venue hire, checking all the necessary PA equipment and lights are available or booked, supervising soundcheck and technical set-up for the performers, taking care of practical details on the night.
  • Promotion: Promoting the gig through the Youth Music website, online and print publications, and social media. Setting up advance ticket sales if you decide you need them. Organising any photography or filming on the night and sharing them afterwards.
  • Fundraising: Ensuring your Give a Gig event raises as much money for Youth Music as possible, making sure all attendees are aware that it’s a charity event. Taking care of collecting and paying in all the funds you raise.

Decide on your priorities

Choosing a venue, date, and line-up for your event are all key parts of planning to Give a Gig. But the order in which you prioritise these elements depends on what is most important to you.

  • Date

Do you want your event to take place around a particular date: during Give a Gig Week, or on your birthday, Valentine’s Day or Halloween? Then prioritise the date, choose a venue which is available then, and choose musicians to play based on who is able to make it.

  • Venue

Do you want your gig to take place in your favourite pub, near your house, or somewhere handy for public transport? Then prioritise the venue, choose a date when it’s available, and build your line-up from there.

Make sure you check with the venue for any restrictions which might affect your audience: are under 18s allowed on the premises? Is it accessible to people with disabilities? What time does it close? You also need to check what the venue will provide: do they employ a sound technician and someone to collect money on the door? Do they have a PA for live music, or do you need to hire one?

  • Musicians

Is there a particular band you’re really keen to put on at your Give a Gig event? Do they have a busy tour schedule, day jobs, or do they live far away from you? Then prioritise the musicians. Make contact with the people you’d like to play at your event, ask them for a date they can play, and choose a venue with availability on that date.

Will your own band be playing? Do you want to invite your friends’ groups to play, or would you like to attract a new audience by inviting musicians you don’t know so well? Gig swaps between bands from different towns often work well: you could join together to put on a touring Give a Gig event, where the bands support each other by bringing along a hometown crowd.

Top tips for putting on a gig

Live music promoter and artist MIRI shares five top tips for putting on a gig.

Budget

Careful budgeting will mean that you can raise a large amount to help Youth Music support life-changing music-making around the country, while at the same time ensuring that no-one involved with your event will end up out of pocket.

As your event is for charity, you may find that many people may generously choose to give their time or services free of charge. But for the majority of people working in the music industry, money is tight, so please don’t demand that they go without payment. You can still hold a fantastic fundraising event while paying people fairly: you just need to make sure you cover your costs.

Think about any extra costs which may be involved even if people are volunteering their time and resources. Do the musicians need petrol money to get to your gig? Will you want to buy them a few drinks and snacks on the night? Will you purchase some raffle prizes or ask local businesses to donate them?

Once you know all of your costs for your Give a Gig event, you can decide on your ticket price. Consider the capacity of your venue, and how many people you can realistically bring along. Make sure you can easily break even, and add a little more onto your ticket price so that you can raise plenty for Youth Music.

Example Give a Gig event budget

Venue capacity: 300
Realistic number of people you expect to come along: 100
Band’s transport expenses: £50
Payment for door person: £40
Venue hire: £100
Poster printing and raffle ticket costs: £30

= £220

Break even charge = £2.20 per ticket
Ticket price = £4 per ticket

Charging £4 a ticket means that if 100 people come along, you’ll raise £180 for Youth Music as well as paying back your costs. If you promote hard and sell out the venue, you’ll raise £980 for Youth Music!

Timeline

One week before

  • Contact the venue manager to find out what time you should arrive, and (if necessary) what time musicians should arrive for a soundcheck.
  • Plan your timings for the gig, and contact the bands to make sure they’re happy with the time slots you’ve allocated them. (Remember to include around 15 minutes between each set to allow the musicians time to set up.)
  • Gather anything you need for fundraising at your gig: raffle prizes, collection tins etc.
  • Step up your promotion efforts, especially on social media.
  • Make posters to put up on the night detailing the performance schedule
  • Ensure everyone involved in the gig knows where they should be and when.

On the day

Before you set off

  • Print off the details of any advance ticket sales.
  • Organise your stamp and cash float for ticket sales on the door (the venue may provide this for you).
  • Pack everything you need for fundraising at your gig.

At the venue

  • Arrive early.
  • Introduce yourself and your team to the venue manager, sound engineer and any other staff.
  • Put up posters around the venue.
  • Greet the musicians as they arrive.
  • Carry out a soundcheck to ensure all the equipment is working correctly.

On the night

Shake a bucket
Collection tins on the door or the bar are great, but people tend to overlook them. Take some time to ask people individually to make a donation: you’ll remind them to give and you’ll be able to chat about Youth Music’s work.

Sing it from the stage
The most effective way to get the Give a Gig message across is to ask your performers to mention Youth Music while they’re on stage.

Capture the moment
Make sure you take plenty of photos and videos you can share afterwards.

Afterwards

Let everyone know how it went
Share your gig experience via your Give a Gig profile on the Youth Music website.

Pay in the money you’ve raised
The safest, quickest and easiest way to do this is online via your Give a Gig profile. The amount will automatically show up on your gig page.

Follow up with a press release
For more information, check out our advice on how to publicise your gig in the press.