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Organizing a Rock Against Bigotry Show PDF PDF PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 06 July 2004

There are three essential components to hosting a successful Rock (or any other style of music) Against Bigotry show. First, you need bands, rappers, or deejays willing to donate their time. Second, you need a venue that will host the show-preferably for free, or at least for a reduced rate. Finally, you need to get out in the community and promote the show so that people will know it is happening and they will come. No matter what sort of show you put on, it is important to recognize that you can't do it all by yourself. Reach out for help and involve as many people as possible and your show will be an even greater success. By organizing a successful show you can accomplish several things including raising community awareness about the issues, earning money for the work of your group, and bringing in new people to the organization. This will make your work that much more effective.

The first element of pulling off a successful benefit show is the music. Attracting a DJ, rapper, or band willing to donate their talent can be a rather daunting task. If you have been tabling at shows, talk to the bands that have hosted your tables. If you are starting from scratch, ask around at your school or among your group of friends. Chances are, someone knows somebody in a band. When you get a commitment from one band, ask them what other groups they think may be interested. Be persistent and be sure to get firm commitments from bands rather than vague statements that they might be interested in playing a show, "you know, sometime in the future."

Then you have to find a venue. Here, there are two possible routes. If you have gotten to know the owner or manager of a local for-profit or non-profit venue, ask them to host the concert. They may, however, ask to take a portion of the proceeds to cover their expenses. If they are taking more than 50% of the profits, it is not worth it.

You can also host an event in a backyard or church basement. If you decide to do this, there are a few details to notice. If it is in a backyard, investigate if there are noise ordinances and parking laws that may cause problems. If it is in a church basement, be certain that there are no other functions going on at the same time and figure out the firecode-mandated maximum occupancy for the area. Attention to detail is very important. Try to find a venue that has successfully hosted concerts before.

Finally, you have to promote the show, heavily. It is important to allow at least 4 weeks for best results. Be sure to lock down the venue and acts before your promotion efforts begin. When you advertise, make it clear that this is not just another concert, but a benefit show for a very important cause (i.e. a Ska Against Racism, Rock Against Racism, Country Against Racism, etc.). If it is in a non-traditional venue (backyard or church basement), be sure to include directions on how to get there from a major intersection or highway, the availability of public transportation, and where people can and cannot park. Include a contact e-mail address and phone number for people to get more information (remember, using your home phone number is not a good idea).

Given your probable financial situation, the best promotion is free promotion. Talk to local record stores and café owners and ask them to post fliers in their windows. Go to other nearby concerts and hand out fliers to people there. Post fliers wherever you see other fliers posted. Call the college radio station, or any local alternative station, and ask them if you can make a PSA (public service announcement) on tape that they can play over and over again announcing the show. In some areas, even mainstream radio stations will air a PSA for a concert against racism.

Also, contact your local daily, weekly and alternative newspapers to request that your event be added to their entertainment section. Be sure to contact them at least two weeks in advance of when you would want the listing to appear, giving all the information you would put on a flier.

Advance ticket sales can be a nightmare; it can be extremely difficult to collect the money, even when stores agree to sell them for you. Selling tickets at the door is simpler and more effective.

There are a few other elements to hosting a benefit show that are important to consider. First, decide what you will do with the funds that you raise before the show happens. Do you want to use the money to put on another show? Buy supplies for your organization? Donate them to established anti-bigotry organizations? Donate them to local efforts? It is very important that you have a plan for the money before it is raised. And since ticket buyers can be a curious lot, make sure that you tell them how their money will be spent.

During the show, there are other important issues to consider. You need to know who will be providing the security and how you are going to encourage the crowd to respect the venue. This will insure than you can go back and have shows there at a future date.

Also, recognize that a benefit show is not just a place to raise funds. In fact, there are other things that are important as well. For starters, you are setting a fantastic example, demonstrating in a very real way the connection between music and politics. You are also taking a public stand against bigotry, encouraging other people who are struggling for racial equality. Finally, you are attracting a group of young people who can help you produce the next show or become members of your organization.

Before the last band takes the stage, make sure to have a spokesperson go on stage, take the mic, and give people the information they need to get more involved. Be sure your table has both information and a sign-up sheet for people to give you their names, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers, so you can contact them later.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 July 2004 )
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