Indie rapper Kosha Dillz does it all pretty much himself. There's no agent, no label and only occasional help with marketing. Despite those obstacles he's carved out a touring career thanks to his impressive hustle and some tips he shares here.
Guest post by Kosha Dillz
To be honest I have only sold out one show in my life as a headliner. It was in a seattle and I got to say some people wanted to play with me so bad after meeting me at warped tour (Hi to the wild fang family) they really helped me get tons of people there. The 2nd most close sell out show came in NYC, at Arlene's Grocery, which is such a great place to play in regards to the industry, and St Louis was a sleeper on my last tour that bumped us up to a bigger room. I am gonna give you a play by play of how to sell out your show. It is possible and there are always different reasons why someone can aim to do it.
1. Go Hard on your statement. Aim high!
First off if you are gonna sell out a show, you need to let everyone know you are going to sell the show out. This creates urgency. Even if you have never done that before, it is possible. I made a big effort to do it for NYC, and we fell short by 7. With the amount of people there for free, it kinda happened.
2. Find people who would love to play with you
There is a difference between promoting a show that will be yours and one that is done together with people who are honored to play with you. Find the ones who will do it with you to make you reach your goal. This is how my seattle show worked perfectly.
3. Be willing to invest in advertising
This works from Facebook ads to Instagram ads to fliers and posters. Bare minimum are looking at $100 for your Facebook ads. 1000 fliers can be made at staples in paper with 225 sheets and a cutter, or you can go to jakprints.com and get a great array of posters and fliers for super cheap. They also have custom stickers, if your show could be a holiday show or something similar.
4. Sell physical tickets
Many people hate this idea, but there is nothing like getting this from the source. If you have never sold out a show before, chances are you are going to be asking every single fan and friend to buy these tickets. They can buy them online, but they can also buy them physically. If you are at work and friend wants to buy 8, sell them to him! Majority of shows that sell out are al because of pre-sale buzz.
5. Make it a big event.
When you make it an event with purpose, it is bound to sell more tickets. It can be a fundraiser for a friend in need or a charity, or a birthday party (Sean Anonymous does one every year in MPLS at First Ave.) or a festival like SNOWTA (also in MPLS) on New Years. The bigger the event, the more it attracts. Yes that might mean you have to invest more in it and get bigger acts to play. This happens even on release shows.
6. Live Stream Promo - I think artists should do once a day or every other day about making a call to action. One time a guy bought 8 tickets just because he wanted to be supportive. When you are pushing a big show, for instance in New York…you always want to do this. Someone knows someone in NYC. Someone is always visiting. Going live is always REAL. And gets results. People also go back too watch it.
7. Give a item with the door entry
Whether its a t shirt or a album or a digital album or a poster, make this event memorable. If you want people to come back to a physical experience, they need to take away something physical. If you give them a physical CD or digital CD, it also counts toward your sound scan.
8. Choose the show experience over the numbers
As long as everyone thinks it is gonna be the biggest picture, it will be. In St. Louis at the Fubar, we were bumped from a small room to the bigger room due to the amount of tickets we moved. We could’ve either stayed in the small room where we had about 125 of 120 space, or bump to the bigger room for more space. We opted for more comfort based on the crowd, and ultimately made more money on merchandise with more breathing space. This isn’t a one time thing for us, so we want people to hang out and stay with us in the future. Make sure we can get invited back and the crowd wants to come back. EXPERIENCE is better than NUMBERS.
9. Don't be afraid to lose money on your event.
If you want to achieve the perfect video that will make you $50,000 in future gigs, why not book a co-headliner that will draw a massive amount of people to come out? Then you go on before them and collaborate with them on stage. For my Album release party in NYC at Webster Hall, I had Matisyahu come out and Peter Rosenberg. I lost a bit of money but we did great numbers and the result was massive. An album premiere on Billboard, a packed out show, and all the right people in one place at the same time.
10. Release the best music ever -
Ultimately , your music is what will make you fans for ever. If you have the best music in the world, there will be a time when the line will be around the door if you connect it to the people. Have you done this yet? Get the best music you ever had and get everyone to fall in love with it. You won't have a problem if people can't stop taking about you. Ultimately that is up to the artist.
Kosha Dillz is a super tight rapper that just finished the Nobody Cares Except You Tour with Devmo around the USA. His album Nobody Cares Except You will come out in the Spring and this year at SXSW he will curate the 5th annual official OY VEY SXSW Showcase. His new music video features Alvarez Kings and was filmed in Paris and just hit 100k streams on Spotify.