From releasing an album to holding a concert, planning and hosting a music event is a tedious and challenging undertaking, especially today when almost everything is done virtually. But with proper planning and adequate help, the rewards it can yield are more than just exciting. Joining Bree Noble is singer and vocal coach Danielle Tucker. Danielle shares the most effective strategies in holding music events, both online and in-person, detailing what it takes in terms of time, resources, promotions, expenses, and target audience. She also emphasizes the importance of doing reverse planning when preparing for such events, focusing on why you are doing it rather than what you can get out of it.
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Danielle Tucker On The Right Way To Manage Time And Resources For A Music Event
I’m excited to be with Danielle Tucker. Danielle came on my radar because she was doing this amazing musician summit. I have done summits. I’ve done two of them and they are overwhelming. They take up a lot of time. They’re amazing because you have this interaction with people. You’re able to help people. You’re able to interact with people, but they are a lot of work. Musicians do a lot of online live events, especially now during the pandemic. Things like maybe online festivals where you bring a lot of artists together. Maybe you do live stream where you’re trying to bring in all of your fans or maybe you have big projects that you’re trying to work on. Maybe you’re doing a big release party for your release.
It’s a lot to handle. It‘s a little bit daunting. I thought it would be cool to bring in Danielle and talk about her process of how she put this thing together and how she breaks down a project. I thought it’d be super helpful for you guys for any events that you want to do in the future. Before we get to that, I want Danielle to share her background with you, her background in music and what made her want to do this summit?
Thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to talk to you. When we’ve talked before, I have been a long–time follower of yours. It was probably since 2009 because that’s when I put out my first release. I was digging into, “How do I do all of this?” at that time. I am a professional singer. That’s what I do full-time. I work in a corporate show band called The Mighty Untouchables. I also do some vocal coaching on the side. When COVID hit, all of a sudden, I had a ton of time on my hands. I also had a soft spot for the community of singers and musicians. The pain, confusion and loss that we were all experiencing so I started a weekly interview series called The Pandemic–Proof Singer Series. That spun into The Pandemic–Proof Singer Summit. Coming together as a community, helping to lift one another up and identify ways that we can pave a path forward for the year and continue doing what we love and continue making money at it, if that’s important to you.
It was the right idea, the right time for sure. I know a lot of people got a ton of value out of it. What made you think that you could do this thing? I know when I first did a summit, I had an idea of how hard it was going to be. I’m like, “I can’t do this by myself.” I brought in a partner to help me, especially with all the tech, the setup and everything behind the scenes. Did you have any help putting this together?When you understand why you are doing something, you can decide on every other variable involved. Click To Tweet
I had a lot of help. I’ll say that I’m glad that I didn’t know then what I know now because it was a huge undertaking. I thought I wanted to do this because I myself have attended a lot of virtual events, summits, conferences and everything. I like the format. I get a lot out of it. When the idea struck me, it felt right to me because this planning, organizing and networking is just kind of my bag. It’s something that was a good fit for me. I have my mind organized as well and thrives in these kinds of projects. I knew it was going to be a big undertaking, but I’m glad of my naivete at the time.
What team did you have behind you to help you get this together?
After putting my strategy together and coming up with a mainframe to pull everything together, that was then when I realized that I was going to need a significant amount of help. First and foremost, I had two VAs working with me. I did my very best to delegate as many tasks out as I could for that. I had to line up quite a lot of childcare to handle it. I’ve got two little ones. It was important that I mapped out the time to do this and had all of their bases covered. I reached out to a lot of subcontractors as far as getting graphic design works, website work done, some copy written, all kinds of things. There was a significant amount of help that went into it.
This could be useful for musicians to talk about how you came up with a budget and a plan for this because maybe they’re going to be doing a release show or they want to do like a big online festival or something. You hoped to make income from this, but you didn’t know that you were going to make income for sure. How did you estimate, like, “This is how much I think I’m going to make and this is how much I can pay these people to help me out and childcare?”
From the get-go, I knew what my why was involved in all this. That was the most important thing. I knew above all financial gain or audience growth above that. I knew what the principal is why was in the matter. Everything trickled from there. I set a smart goal. I had identified what my financial goal was, what audience growth was, what other aspects of it I was hoping to achieve and what I hoped the audience would get out of it too. I started reverse engineering everything from there. In event planning, it can go from mild to wild.
It can be very simple or it can be very grandiose. It took a lot of planning upfront to decide, “Am I going big with this?” It was a balance of I had a certain amount of money to work with from the beginning. I made a lot of estimates. As time went on and everything started rolling out, budgets changed. It ended up being a numbers game. I knew what my financial goal was and how many people I needed to attract to the summit and what sales would have to unfold out of that. Lots of planning, lots of number crunching.
That’s useful to have those numbers. Do you have any suggestions for artists if they don’t have those numbers? They’ve never done an event like this. You hadn’t either. How did you extrapolate? Did you decide like that this percentage of people are going to pay for it? Thinking about artists, when they’re setting up an event, maybe a festival, how many people are they going to be able to get to buy a ticket that they attract, or if they’re doing a release party, how many people are they going to be able to get to by their bundle or something like that?
It’s breaking it down from deciding what profit do I need or want from this? What are all of the expenses that are going to go into that? I added up all of that. Let’s say $10,000 was my end revenue goal. That would include all of the expenses that went into it plus what I wanted to profit out of it. I began breaking down, if I needed that amount of money, here’s how many packages I would need to sell in order to do that and at various price points. I played a little bit with that based on what I thought was a reasonable price to pay something and had a couple of different tiers of pricing.
I broke down how many people would I need to purchase that? From there on, there are some marketing numbers that would be a little more substantial with this answer, but you’ve got to then identify, if I have X amount of people come of that, how many will pay at that point? I base things off of a 1% to 10% rule. I figured if I had 1,000 people, 10% of those people would pay, which would then translate to this amount of money. There are many variables at play there. You’ve got to map out the whole formula, knowing if it’s a release party, determining how much is it going to cost for me to put this event on? If I’m selling CDs or downloads, what is my price point for all of those? How many would I need to sell at that point, which then will tell you how many people do you need to attract or invite to the event?
If you’re lucky you have some historical data, if you’ve done an event and you know that there are 100 people in the room and you sell five of your super fan bundles and you sell 10 CDs and 30 stickers or something, you know percentage-wise, you can see that over time. If you’ve been keeping track of your numbers, then you can extrapolate that into your future thing. It doesn’t even have to be the same items. It can be like she said tiers. I have these fans that are like up here, they’ll buy everything I put out. There’s this level where they want to buy something, but they won’t buy the most expensive. They want to support me, but they only have a few dollars. They’re buying stickers or something. You can see percentage-wise what that is of your audience. That’s a helpful breakdown that you did for any event that we’re doing. Especially when we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but we have to at least come up with some data to start with.
Another factor too is if you identify these huge gaps and possibility where if you’re trying to throw a $20,000 event and you have a $10 CD that you’re selling, that’s going to be an enormous amount of quantity that you’d have to put out. There are other things that you could consider like bringing in sponsors, that could make up for some of those gaps.
That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you about next. Did you consider bringing in sponsors? I encourage artists in my Rock Your Next Release Program, we talk about actual physical release parties when they’re available. There are many ways to bring in sponsors to those. I know artists that have gotten all their food, drink, decorations, flowers, chairs and all that stuff sponsored by local companies. Online is a little bit different. It can be better and it can be not as better. Local is great because people want to support local people. I find that companies are great in supporting local artists and wanting to be out in the community as a company. Online, it opens up like a much bigger array of people that you can talk to, but the deliverables are different for sponsors. We had sponsors both years in our summit, but the second year we dug into that and had some great sponsors at higher levels that helped us, paid for all of our advertising, which was fantastic. Did you have sponsors?
I did not, but it was a big consideration. It was a plan. I had a strategy in place if I was going to go into that. Based on the timeline that I was working under, I got to a point where I realized, I don’t think I need to go down this avenue. I knew what a time investment I’d have to make and approaching everybody and fulfilling all of the things that you do to accommodate a sponsor. I decided not to. I would have loved to though. Should I do this type of event? That would be a major thing that I would definitely plan for. I get why. Our first year, we have heartedly tried. I had someone reaching out for me, but it wasn’t organized. It was not early enough. We started to find that companies had already spent all of their budget for the year.
They’d already earmarked all of their budgets. I found it was a much longer game than I realized the first time. The second time I started talking to people like a year in advance. I started putting out those breadcrumbs about it. I say, for artists, if you’ve got sponsors that you want to work with for anything in the future, I would start putting those breadcrumbs out there and be like, “We’re thinking of doing this big festival with all of these Americana artists next year, would you guys be interested in being a sponsor or at least putting this up to your budget committee or whatever?” Bigger companies have budgets for this stuff, but they have to go and say like, “We’re going to earmark this amount for this and this amount for this.” You have to start thinking way in advance.
Fortunately, too, for you, that having been a 2nd or 3rd time around too, you had data to back up what you’re asking for. That’s so important when you’re going to ask for support that you be ready and prepared to let them know what they’ll be getting out of this. As an indie artist, you may want to be able to tell them what size your audience is and historically what a response you get to your releases so they know why they would be jumping into this in the first place.
If you’re doing something with other artists, in a festival, online or offline, some collaboration with a few artists that you’re holding a themed event or something, you can get the data from all those other artists as well, and be like, “They have a list of 1,000, 2,000, 500 and then this is their social media numbers.” You can make it look pretty good if you do that.
Did you do advertising for this outside of the speakers that were involved promoting it to their lists and stuff?
I did run some Facebook ads and I use the help of a Facebook ads manager to do that for me. I had a lot of good success with that, Facebook ads or something. I have done them in the past on my own with not good results. I was very leery of investing any money into that. I thought that through and decided, “I’m going to take this to somebody who knows what they’re doing.” I had the amount of money that I wanted to invest into the ads and the amount of money that I would have to pay the manager. Between the two of us, we crunched those numbers again, too. We knew what kinds of numbers we needed to hit in order to make all of that worthwhile to begin with. If you haven’t done Facebook ads, it’s a big learning curve and you can blow a lot of money, but if you have somebody who knows what they’re doing, I highly recommend it.The more time you can give yourself in advance, the better. Click To Tweet
Don’t jump in there and think that you can do it by yourself at first. You will spend enough for a full education in Facebook ads on losing money on the advertising that you start doing it first. There are many facets to it, for sure. I would love to know is there any other advice that you can give artists if they’re planning a big project like this, how do they break it down? What software or ways to keep track of tasks? How did you communicate with your team?
I have always followed the same formula my entire life on how I break down big projects. This is something I love getting involved with. I’ve done CD releases, this huge virtual event, live streams and everything. The way I always tackle it is by identifying the who, what, when, where, why, how, all of those. I do reverse engineer that. I’m always beginning with the why. Why am I doing this to begin with? What do I personally expect to get out of it? What do I professionally financially expect to get out of it? What do the people being involved should they expect to get out of it? What do my attendees get out of it? I need to know what that is going into anything.
That’s going to be the thing that helps me set all my goals in the first place, but it’s going to be the thing that fuels me through the difficult parts of the planning and when it gets to be a hassle and it will. When you know why you’re gunning for it and it helps you decide on every other variable of what you’re doing. I’ll usually determine the where, what platform am I going to be using? What venue am I going to be using? Where’s all of this happening? Is it happening from my office? That’s a great jumping off point.
I had determined that I was going to run the event from my website. Everything was prerecorded. I knew that was my major platform, but there are so many others like Zoom, StreamYard, OBS. There are a million different online streaming platforms that you can use nowadays. You’ve got to look into it and figure out what would be best for you. What would make the most sense and work for your audience and your budget? Determining the win, a lot of consideration goes into are we going to be conflicting with any holiday?
Are we going to be conflicting with other similar events? If you have other artists that are in your genre that might also be hosting event and a similar event within close proximity, you might want to consider spacing that out a little bit. You don’t want to plan something like this on Super Bowl Sunday, where your audience is going to be distracted. My win was interesting because I did it mid–November. It was right after the election and right before the holidays. I had a super tight timeline to work with. I had a strategy behind that. Fortunately, it worked out.
Did your ads manager mentioned that ads costs might be quite high around the election time?
Because of that, my advertising began two days after the election. I wanted things to chill a little bit. I figured everybody’s going to need a breath of fresh air here and see something else popping up on their screen. That was something that I thought through. The win also should tell you what timeline do you need to work with? If you’ve got a big undertaking, there are lots of things to consider. Looking back, the more time you can give yourself in advance, the better. You started talking to sponsors a year in advance. That may seem like a long time, but when you consider how busy people’s schedules are and agendas, you’ve got to get ahead of those things. Give yourself as much time as possible.
I usually will dive into the what. What is this event going to look like? What’s it going to feel like? What are the objectives? What content are we going to be creating? What’s the feel of it? Is it a party? Is it a celebration? Is it more of educational experiences? It’s something to relax everyone or inspire everyone? I like to know what that greater vision is. Knowing the who, who is the audience who’s perfect for this so that you’re not getting too general. That will also dictate who else is involved with it. If you’re going to have a supporting act or if you’re going to have other musicians involved with this, do you have similar audiences that could help support, bringing in more numbers? It gets down to the nitty-gritty of the how. I am a huge believer in strategy and scheduling everything, creating a timeline and no detail should be missed or taken for granted. I will calendar and schedule every single move I’m going to make and the moves of everyone else that I have involved, whether it’s a VA or someone in general.
No detail is too small to put on your Asana task list or whatever you’re using to keep track of that because otherwise, it will fall through the cracks.
Speaking of Asana, there were many great resources that I used. If you’re planning a big event, there’s a lot of frameworks and coursework that you can find online nowadays that will help you execute a bigger event like this. If it’s something a little bit more small scale that you can use on your own, there are many great resources like Asana. Asana is a task management thing online, but there are a ton of them too, Airtable, Basecamp, Trello, Monday.com. Even using a spreadsheet to track everything too, but you’ve got to have those things in place for sure.
I was starting with sponsors like way out, but every week I had on my Asana checklist speak to three new potential sponsors or something like that, or follow up with these people. I wasn’t doing anything with the summit until about three months out is when I started getting like, “I need to contact all the speakers. I need to set up our appointments.” How much time did you give yourself for all this stuff?
I had a 90–day timeline. Looking back, if I were to do it again, I would have given myself at least 120 days to do it. If not more time because 90 days is a pretty quick turnaround considering all of the schedules that you need to organize with other attendees and participants in everything. It felt like a big crunch.
Not to mention things going wrong. When I was doing my summit interviews, we had a ginormous snowstorm and it shut down our power for days. I had to cancel 5 or 6 interviews and reschedule.
The only reason I chose that 90–day turnaround was because I had pinpointed mid–November as the time that I wanted to do it. By that time, we were about 90 days out.
On the other hand, if you give yourself too long, it’ll always fill up the space. You can always keep doing more. It’s got to be that balance of not too long, something that’s going to stress you out either.
Being realistic too about the time commitment that these things take, I would consider something like this a little season of your life where you need to clear the space to do something like this. If you’re planning a big release party or release in general, clear away as much obligation as possible so that this can be the center point of what you’re doing and that it can get your time and energy. The time, the energy, the brain juice that it takes to pull all of this off, it can be exhausting. If you’ve got a million other things going on at the same time, it’s tough. If you can clear away as much space as possible for it, I highly recommend that also.Asking for help is a crucial part of any music event planning, but many people tend to ignore that. Click To Tweet
Releasing an album or an AP, I recommend releasing a single a month for the three months before it to have this lead up and this ramp of excitement. You have to be on. You have to be focused on that for those three months. Hit the single as hard as you can. Now hit this single as hard as you can. You’re not going to do this forever. This is going to be a short window of time that you’re focused on this, but it’s going to be worth it. Otherwise, you put all this time and money and effort into this thing. It’s not going to be as effective as you want because you didn’t give yourself the absolute, total focus that you needed to put into it.
This has been helpful to break down how you put together an event like this. It got me thinking about my summits and why I didn’t do one in 2020 because it is very overwhelming. Some people ask me shouldn’t I release a single every month for a year and then release my album. I’m like, “I get why some people say that in the Spotify world, algorithms and things,” but in my opinion, you cannot give yourself fully to promote a single every month. By the time you get to the album, you’ll be so burned out. You won’t even care. You’ll drop the album and you’ll be done. Why not put your full effort into something that is a season? It’s not taking over your entire life. I used to say, “It’s summit season. This is what I’m doing from February through April.” I’m fine with that because I know exactly what I’m going to get out of it. I know my why, and I know that it’s okay that I’m not paying attention to other things because this is my focus right now.
It’s the virtual event planning too is such a blessing now and so worth learning the nuts and bolts of. We all anticipate and excited for when we can do these events in person and execute everything in person. That’s great. We also have this additional resource where you can do both at once. Have your live person event, but also make it virtually available so you’re not only able to accommodate people who are within your location or can get to your location, but you’re broadening your reach so much by having the ability to do it online as well. These things are going to follow us into the future no matter what.
I recommend a physical release and an online release, no matter what, whether we’re where we are now in the world or not, you should always do both if you can. I did want to mention, too, the non–tangible things that came out of this event and that can come out of events, especially when you’re collaborating with other artists, maybe a festival or something like that. I’d never met you before. That’s a relationship that came out of this. I’ve got introduced by you to some other people that I didn’t know. I have always found that summits and events in general are relationship builders that can build up these assets of relationships that go with you into the future. Would you agree that did that for you? Was that one of your goals or was it a very happy byproduct?
I wholeheartedly agree with that. While the financial aspect of it was great, those intangibles were far outweighed anything that I financially gained from this, those relationships that I built and how they roll from one thing to another, to another. The lives that were affected with attending the event itself. The joy that it brought into my life personally pulling everything together. As a full-time performer, I have that void in my life. This was meaningful. It made me so happy. It made other people happy. It expanded my network of friends and colleagues. There’s lots of other opportunities that I’m sure are still going to come out of it. It’s so much to gain from it.
I’m glad you said that because that has been my biggest thing with summits is, I enjoyed it. I love the interviews. I love the content. I’m glad that I’m able to share that with artists. For me, I gained many new friends, people that I now mastermind with, people that I consider friends, I see at conferences. When that comes back, I can give them a big hug. It’s great to develop those relationships. I encourage artists that work with me to do the same thing, collaborate, do a show with three of you. I used to be in a group that was like three artists that came together and we put on a show together. We had a name when we were performing together, but we were also individual artists. It was such a cool experience.
It promotes all of you as artists, as well as that new thing that you create coming together as artists. It gives you another venue to get your talent out there and be able to connect with fans. I highly recommend you guys do some collaborative events after hearing how Danielle did this. Thank you so much for all of your explanation of how you did this and encouraging artists that they can do it as well. Do you have any last words of wisdom for people that want to put together either a physical or virtual event?
If you have an idea that has sparked around doing something like this, but you’re a little fearful of the unknowns. I know it can seem a bit daunting and overwhelming, but if you do, break it down as far as you possibly can into the smallest of details and ask for help. That’s the big thing. Our resources are absolutely unlimited. You can find anybody in anything that you need or any answer you need online nowadays, and also reach out to the people that are around you too.
If you want to reach out to Danielle and ask her more questions about how she did it, how can they reach out to you online?
You can find me at DanielleTucker.com. Everything that I do is there. You’ll find all of my social links there. I’m on Instagram and Facebook. I have a summit group, which is the Pandemic-Proof Singer on Facebook. Anyone is welcome to join that group as well, but the best thing to do would be to go to DanielleTucker.com, join my email list, and I’m always sending out updates and you can also reach me personally there.
Thank you so much, Danielle. I appreciate you sharing all of this with us.
Thank you, Bree. I appreciate you having me.
- The Mighty Untouchables
- The Pandemic-Proof Singer Summit
- Rock Your Next Release Program
- Instagram – Danielle Tucker
- Facebook – Danielle Tucker Music
- Pandemic-Proof Singer – Facebook group
About Danielle Tucker
Danielle Tucker is a San Diego-based singer, vocal coach, and virtual event producer. She’s best known as a lead vocalist for the Mighty Untouchables band.
A few months into the 2020 lock-down, Danielle was inspired to create a weekly live interview series to support and encourage the professional singer community.
This series led her to host and produce the highly successful Pandemic-Proof Singer Summit that helped singers create a path forward for their careers in 2021.