This weekend I had a meeting with some fellow musicians to put our plan for a small concert series into motion. We had already done a "test run" of the planned performance, attended by perhaps 10 or 11 audience members--nonetheless, it was a success in our eyes, as the performance quality was high and the attendees expressed their enjoyment of the program. Our next step is to find more venues and interested potential audience members--but how?
As a young singer nearly out of school, taking initiative to put on my own performances is in the outside world is a fairly new (but exciting!) venture for me. My path as a vocalist seems to have been described to me through most of my career thus far as one of "seriousness" and constant auditioning. This is certainly true, but I have also recently opened my eyes to the plethora of possibilities that are actually open to me: I can put on my own recitals! I can find gigs! I can find my own performance venues! As freeing as this is, however, I've found that it can be difficult to find opportunities to perform; often (even with great collaborators), you must either pay to find a venue, pay a fellow performer, or pay to audition somewhere. Actually making any of the money back is frequently one of the last priorities, since, as I mentioned before, it's more important to gather an interested audience first. Essentially, for most of us, a good deal must be invested--time, effort, expertise, some money, zeal--in order to receive any kind of payoff in the form of an interested audience. There's no doubt that finding that audience is a huge leap forward for career success.
Setting aside the issue of monetary pay (which is clearly heavily concerning me lately, given my posts!) how does one find an interested audience? Advertising, certainly, and a willingness to go to the audience instead of always attempting to bring them to you, can go a long way. How, though, can we predict what will capture an audience's interest? Is there a formula? Does it vary from place to place? Are the topics and performances that interest me necessarily stepping stones to success?
I'm not sure there's a clear-cut answer for any of this. As performers, I suppose its our job to figure it out.