Host a Pop-Up Performance


We can spend vast amounts energy trying to get people to come to our gigs. But what if we take the gig to them? —Asks Craig Lees

It’s time to remember that people love to engage with singing, to experience it, to be part of it.

Why not give our fans (and potential fans) an experience that is memorable and exciting for them, ensuring they return for a second time round.

So how do we do this?

My answer: we give them something they can’t forget.

Plan a pop-up performance.

This is where YOU create the venue, reaching out to fans in a radical way.

It might involve busking, a flashmob or even a house concert (I’ll say more about that below)

PopUp_text_01The Pop Up Performance in Action

Set-up in your local market place or subway, or stage an impromptu performance in a backyard or at a beach.

You can even network with your greatest fans for a private concert.

I attended a pop-up performance after being given an invitation for donating some money to help a colleague record their new E.P.

The idea was to cultivate and thank his most loyal of fans with a one-off performances of new songs.

They hired a church hall and created a fantastic evening. I enjoyed it and the band benefited too: they raised additional funds through merchandise and refreshment sales.

They even produced a film of the event that highlighted the successes of the evening for marketing purposes.

But pop-up concerts aren’t only for dedicated fans – they are for potential fans as well.

Check out how Canadian Crooner Michael Bublé greeted commuters on the New York subway recently:

Notice the smiles on the traveler’s faces, each with a different destination, and each with a different day ahead of them, yet with one thing in common.

They will all spend the day regaling their friends and colleagues of their chance encounter with a singing superstar.

Not a bad publicity tool if you ask me!

More Than Fans

These ‘spur-of-the-moment’ performances can be about more than just making new fans.

Getting ready for to record a new E.P? Why not offer your fan base the opportunity to donate towards the production costs with the incentive of a free gig from the comfort of their own living room.

Or perhaps you could stage an album launch in the location where all the cover art was shot creating a truly immersive experience for your audience.

The Big Five Tips
So here’s my advice on how to stage your own weird & wonderful performances.

Checkbox Set the Scene. The unusual locale for your performance will be one of its biggest selling points, so make it somewhere special, perhaps somewhere poignant to your fan base or a place you reference in the lyrics of your biggest hit. If you want to draw a crowd make sure you are positioned somewhere with high pedestrian footfall, like a city center, landmark or public transport network.

check_02Get Intimate. Don’t be afraid of using small spaces to get up close and personal with your audiences. Unlike regular performances in this instance it’s completely legitimate to perform to just one or two people, it makes the experience feel more exclusive and one of a kind. Perhaps you could provide a novel take on elevator music by performing in a lift at your local shopping precinct, or entertain travelers during a taxi ride. Make sure you clear it with the cabby first though!

PopUp_text_02  check_03  Be Imaginative. As artists we are often shackled by the constraints of conventional performances space. Now is the time to really get your creative juices flowing, make your new venue romantic and beautiful, make it weird and wonderful but most of all make it special. Take a look at this performance from English Jazz/Pop artist Jamie Cullum, filmed on “Vedettes de Paris” Seine River Cruiser as part of the street piano ‘Play Me I’m yours’ campaign.

Accompanying Video.

 check_04Do a Secret Gig. If you’re more interested in cultivating your existing fan base than building a new one then exclusivity is the key. Host your own ‘pop-up performances’ in secret locations, only disclosing the information to your most loyal of followers, such as the ones on your mailing list. Perhaps you could hold a competition on Facebook or Twitter for tickets — or embark on a cryptic ad campaign that only your most loyal of fans can decipher.

 check_05Know the Rules. When your performing outside of a traditional venue there are often new rules to take into consideration: noise curfews, public performance licenses, etc. Make sure you do your research before embarking on such an adventure to make sure the only outcome of your project is a positive one.

It’s a new year – make it “new” for yourself, your music and your fans with a performance you’ve never tried before.

– Craig.

See The Art of Busking and Flash Mob Gigs

Craig Antony Headshot1 copyCraig Antony MA(Dist) is a professional Singer, Composer & Educator. Currently lecturing in vocal performance at Leeds College Of Music, Craig is also gaining attention across the UK as a singer-songwriter whose music has been described as “driving, engaging and passionate”.