As much as we would like to believe that every single live entertainment event sells out of tickets, the reality is that sometimes an event flops.  Whatever the reasons behind low ticket sales, you’re already committed.  You don’t want to let down the audience that is excited about coming.  And remember, you are obligated to pay the artist.  You also don’t want to let the artist perform to a half-empty room.

Thus, it’s time to “paper the house.”  That means you need to make the audience larger, in whatever ways you can.

Use the following tactics quietly, because the people that did pay for a ticket won’t appreciate finding out there were several ways to get a free or discounted ticket after they purchased theirs.

  1. Call your media sources and give them additional tickets for giveaways and promotions.  This will give you more marketing exposure at the same time as getting more people into your venue.
  2. Contact specific organizations that will find the event appealing and send them free tickets.
  3. Offer social media contests for free tickets.  Again, this will give you more marketing exposure at the same time as getting more people there.
  4. Hand out free tickets to local high schools.  If you are on a college campus, consider this recruitment.
  5. Offer free tickets to anyone working the event to give to their family.
  6. Offer promotional ticket giveaways at every other event in your building leading up to that event.
  7. Offer a discounted ticket price through Groupon or a similar discount service.
  8. If you are in a seated theater, close the upper balcony and move those people down to other areas.  If you can curtain off that balcony or shut off the lights, it will make your venue look smaller and the audience look larger.
  9. If you are in an arena, gymnasium, or other GA space, move your stage further into the room and curtain behind it if you can.  It will make your venue look smaller and the audience look larger.  Your production/rigging may be affected, so make sure it’s possible before committing to this.
  10. If you are in a venue with a floor space and a bowl seat space, block off the seats so everyone must remain on the floor.  This will also create the illusion of a full audience. 

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]