I Took a Band From Zero to Selling 10,000 Tickets in London in 18 months. Here’s What I Learned:
The Exact Oversubscribed Formula You Need to Follow to Make It Happen...
The notion of being 'Oversubscribed' has long been leveraged in the business world as a mechanism to fuel demand, by creating a situation where the lack of supply leads to 'fear of missing out' (FOMO) and successfully drives sales.
This strategy is a great way to drive up the stock price when there are multiple funding rounds (if stock demand exceeds supply) or if you plan on releasing new products or versions of existing ones and limit their availability, leading to an increase in sales each time these products become available.
I've mentioned the power of momentum here on my Substack already and in terms of creating it, there are few things more powerful than becoming 'oversubscribed' in whatever it is you are selling.
Being 'oversubscribed' is so powerful, that if you can consistently create it, you will always be increasing the demand for what it is you're offering and as such, you'll be in a situation where you can achieve constant and unprecedented levels of growth.
Further, when you're sure that you're going to be 'Oversubscribed', you can be so confident that you're going to be 'sold out', that you can plan far ahead into the future and with a great deal of predictability.
If you're an artist trying to find a way to break through, being able to get to a place of being constantly 'Oversubscribed' is quite literally the holy grail.
Imagine if you could not only understand what you need to do to make it happen but also had the strategies and tactics necessary to do so.
I've personally leveraged the power of being 'Oversubscribed' myself in business and specifically within the music business and so I'm well placed to be able to give you insights on how you can leverage it yourself to make amazing progress in your artist business.
As I have with previous posts (read my post on the Tipping Point here), I'm going to outline specifically using examples of how I used the power of being 'Oversubscribed' to take UK alternative rock band, The Hunna from zero to selling over 10,000 tickets in London in less than 2 years from starting.
Before I get into the specific strategies and tactics you need to adopt, I want to explain to you the fundamental components that must first be in place to be able to pull this off.
The Pre-requisites to being 'Oversubscribed'
You must have a product the market wants
As with achieving 'The Tipping Point', to consistently be 'oversubscribed' you must be sure that you have a product (in your case primarily music), that the market wants. By this I mean there must be evidence that this is the case, not just that you believe the market wants it. As an artist, you can easily create a focus group or even leverage an advertising platform like Meta (Facebook and Instagram ads) to test your music, to get feedback from your target audience. Finally, it isn't enough for you to just have one or two songs already recorded, you need to have enough music recorded so that once you start to create momentum, you can maintain it ongoing - read my post here on initiating and creating momentum.
You must have a Brand DNA in place to connect with your audience
While it's romantic to believe that if your music is exceptional, it'll be enough to ride the wave and keep the momentum going long-term, the truth is that people connect don't want to just connect with your music, they also want to connect with you as an artist. If you do not have a fully defined Brand DNA then it will be very difficult to create a situation where your audience understands who you are, why you do what you do, and why they need to support you. I've discussed what components should go into your Brand DNA in this post, so I'm not going to go into those details here, only to say that you absolutely must get this in place before you should attempt to become 'Oversubscribed'.
You must have a clearly defined marketing and strategic plan
You wouldn't set off on a road trip from one side of the US to the other without having a very well-thought-out route and it should be no different for your artist business. So before you attempt to become 'Oversubscribed' you need to know:
What it is you're trying to achieve AKA goals.
What it is you need to do to make it happen AKA your strategic plan.
What strategies and tools you need to use in order to reach your target audience AKA your marketing plan.
What KPIs you need to measure to determine if you're on course to reach your goals.
I can write entire articles about each of these, so I won't go into detail, but I will outline below in full each part of this in terms of how it looked before we started attempting to get 'Oversubscribed' on everything we did with The Hunna.
Providing all of the above is true for you, then the exciting thing is that if you follow what I'm going to outline next, you'll be guaranteed to become 'oversubscribed' in anything you do ahead.
My Simple Formula to Guarantee You Become 'Oversubscribed'
It's always bold when you include the word 'guarantee' in a conversation or written words, but, in many instances when you apply logic to a given situation, you can be certain that a desired outcome will be achieved.
The term 'oversubscribed' is not at all complex, it very simply means that you have more people in your audience who want to acquire what it is you're offering than the quantity you have available.
So if you have 100 tickets for sale for the show and 150 people want to purchase them, then you have a show that is now 'oversubscribed'.
What this means is that everyone who comes to the show is going to have the best experience, because being in a room with others who are all there for the same reason is very compelling vs going to a half-empty show.
Further, in the social media-driven world that we live in today, everyone who is unable to attend will see footage and photos that demonstrate how great it was - be this via friends or family, or through shared content on social channels.
The following is my simple formula to guarantee you become oversubscribed in every endeavor and will do so ongoing for every single round of product you release:
Before you release a new product, ensure that you have at least double the demand for the quantity you create - this means you have a margin for error, even if it turns out that you were wrong, it's unlikely you'll have overestimated demand by more than double.
When you launch the product, demonstrate that there is massive demand, by using social proof e.g. if you have a post on Facebook that says 'Hey there will only be 100 of X product ever created, comment below if you want the link to purchase' and immediately, you get 150 people comment, everyone can see that there is the demand. This proof of demand is super powerful in that it will create instant FOMO resulting in people taking action right away.
As you start to supply the demand, add fuel to the fire by keeping your audience updated with sales progress, e.g. telling your audience when 50% of the product has already sold and continuing to do this until you finally say there are now only 10 left, etc. A note here is that you should never apply fake scarcity, doing so will almost always backfire.
When you've 'sold out' make sure everyone knows and provide a way for people to get onto your email list to make sure that they don't miss out in the next round.
If your product is a live event, make sure to be aggressive with releasing content after the show itself that provides evidence that it was sold out and was a great experience.
Maintain momentum by releasing new products / releasing new stock frequently, while continuing to stay connected with your audience through social media and direct-to-fan channels between each round.
How I Used This Formula to Get The Hunna Oversubscribed
As I mentioned earlier, this isn't a formula that I have a theory about, it's one I know works, because I've used it successfully in many different verticals, and specifically, in music, I used it extensively to mastermind a situation where every single show that The Hunna ever did while we were working together was sold in advance, and every show we did got bigger.
I spoke in detail about the plan that was created for The Hunna in my article on 'The Tipping Point', so you should read that to get a deeper understanding, but we of course had all of the prerequisites that I mentioned above in place before we started.
The music business is very much a place where many people use smoke and mirrors in the hope that they can 'fake it until they make it'.
Almost every metric can be faked, however, creating a situation where real people are super engaged to the point where they are voting with their money to come to live shows, is one area that is impossible to fake.
The foundation to the success created with The Hunna, was in devising a strategy where we could know in advance that when we put a show on sale, we would not only be oversubscribed, but we'd also sell out quickly.
This strategy was incredibly powerful, because not only was it a great situation to be in from a business perspective, but it also meant that we could use the story itself to build further demand, and generate interest within the music business itself and the wider media.
By leveraging the power of becoming 'oversubscribed', some of the key things we were able to do included:
Securing a major distribution deal with Warner Music for my (then) brand new music company High Time Records.
Securing a licensing agreement on The Hunna's masters in North America with the independent 300 Entertainment, now wholly owned by Warner Music.
Securing a similar licensing agreement in Germany, Switzerland and Austria with Warner Music.
Securing a major publishing agreement with Kobalt Music.
Selling over 85,000 tickets across the UK in less than 2 years from starting, including selling 2 x 5,000 capacity Brixton Academy in London.
Selling more than 60,000 albums in the UK, securing a gold certificate in the process.
Achieving a top 15 album position in the UK album chart, only 10 months in from releasing the band's first-ever song.
Generating more than 150 million streams on Spotify alone in 2 years.
Securing 6 top-level playlist places on BBC Radio, despite there being little room for guitar music on these playlists.
These are just some of the things we were able to achieve through leveraging the power of consistently being 'oversubscribed'.
There are many areas within the overall business that we leveraged being 'oversubscribed', including in selling merchandise and physical albums, but for this piece, I'll focus on how we used it to create insane levels of growth in the band's live business.
For context and focusing on the band's rise through the venues in London (and key moments), this is the timeline of how it went.
October 2015 - we released the band's debut tracks Bonfire / She's Casual
November 2015 - we went out on sale with the band's first show in London at 250 cap Boston Music Room. This show sold out in the first 48 hours and we added a second. This show sold out within 24 hours and we added a third show just before Xmas, selling out instantly.
March 2016 - 3 x sold out shows at Bostom Music room, on sale with 1100 capacity Electric Ballroom for June 2016. This show sold out within days.
June 2016 - sold out Electric Ballroom show, on sale with 2500 capacity Kentish Town Forum. This show sold out within a month.
August 2016 - the band's debut album 100 entered the UK chart at number 13 (10 months in)
October 2016 - sold out Kentish Town Forum, first BBC R1 playlist slot was secured shortly after.
February 2017 - the band played another sold out show at 2000 capacity Shepherds Bush (it sold out in 24 hours from going on sale).
March 2017 - on sale with 3500 capacity Roundhouse, sold out in just 48 hours.
May 2017 - sold out Roundhouse show, on sale with 5,000 capacity Brixton Academy.
June 2017 - Brixton Academy sold out, second Brixton Academy on sale.
August 2017 - second Brixton Academy sold out.
This timeline outlines how we leveraged being 'oversubscribed' to see the band go from zero to selling 10,000 tickets in London in less than 2 years from the release of their first-ever track, having started with no fans.
As I mentioned previously, part of our strategy was designed to create 'Tipping Points' to happen, and I talk about that in detail in my full write-up about it, however, being 'oversubscribed' was one of the biggest factors in creating the various tipping points along the journey.
My Exact Strategy that got The Hunna Oversubscribed
Before we launched The Hunna, we created a plan to get the band to play Brixton Academy within 2 years of starting. This in itself was a very ambitious plan, because at the time (and is still the case), guitar bands were seen as being very difficult to break in the UK.
If a band was playing at a 500 capacity venue in London within 2 years, that was seen as big result, so aiming to do 5,000 was seen as impossible.
I believed we could do it and our plan was designed to make it happen.
Before we started, we had an abundance of songs already in the bank - the foundation to having the product we needed to initiate and maintain momentum.
We had both a strategic and a marketing plan in place.
I also knew what our KPIs were to help us understand if we were on course to achieve our goals.
Our strategy looked like this:
Release music frequently - we released music every 6-8 weeks from launch.
Create lots of content to maintain a connection to the audience between releases.
Drive content to our target audience (see my The Tipping Point article).
Connect with our target audience in DMs.
Monitor the social channel data - page likes, engagement, and specifically store details on every fan who connected in the DMs.
Our main KPI formula was this (focusing on London): Facebook Followers in London + Facebook DMs in London / 2 x 20% = our oversubscribe target. If we wanted to sell 250 tickets in London, we would need our KPI to be at least 500.
When we hit our target KPI, we set up a presale where 50% of the tickets were available. We let fans know this in advance so that when we announced that our presale was sold out, they knew there were only 50% of the tickets left on general sale.
When our show sold out, we marketed this fact aggressively and gave fans the chance to join the mailing list to get make sure they didn't miss out next time.
When we went on sale with presales for the next shows, we continued to use our main KPI formula, but also knew that we now had buyers and fans who missed out. This fact added extra fuel to the fire, and helped us to sell bigger shows.
A key factor in our success was that we tried to do a show every 3 months as a way to maintain the fan connection.
Our approach was to always focus initially on selling out our London shows, then we'd market the fact that London had sold out aggressively into other major UK towns and cities. This approach created massive levels of FOMO in those locations, on top of the fact that we used the same KPI formula to determine when we were ready to go on sale.
That’s an in depth, yet relatively simple overview of how you can get ‘Oversubscribed’ with your artist project.
This strategy is one that will work in any genre of music, in any town or city in the world.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about the strategy!