Planning and organizing a music clinic can be a long and difficult task. Part of my job as President of the Indiana Percussion Association is to plan a yearly Clinic Day for students and directors. This job requires extensive communication and preparation between the host school, sponsors, and artists involved with the event. After organizing a few events, I asked myself, "why not share what I've learned with others?" This article is designed to help those who are interested in organizing a successful music event, with the hope that the artists, support staff, and participants have a memorable experience.
In the preliminary stages it is important to ask yourself the questions others will probably ask you, such as, "When is the event?" or "Who is performing?" To you these seem like obvious, no-brainer questions because you have been working to put the event together. Some other questions you need to answer may not be so obvious. Here are a few to consider when deciding to plan for a clinic event:
Who is your target audience for the event?
What is your budget?
What do you expect the audience to take away from the event?
How do you plan to collect money for the event?
Where will the event be held and what are the limitations with the facility?
When is the event?
Plan in Advance
It is very important to make sure you plan your event well in advance. Depending on how involved the event may be and what artists you anticipate being involved, you will want to begin planning about a year in advance. Many big-ticket artists will begin having full schedules four to six months before your event. You want to make sure that you get to them before anyone else has the opportunity to ask for their services. If the artist is not ready to commit because of their schedule, ask them when they may be able to provide an answer and that you will check back in with them closer to that date. This will give you an idea of whether the artist you are after will actually work for your event or if you need to start looking for other talents. Your big-ticket artists may need to work within specific time constraints due to travel logistics and other commitments too. Coordinate in advance what their expected time commitments would be. Once you have this figured out you’ll be able to ask medium-ticket or small-ticket artists. These artists are usually local and have different price points based on their experience in clinic presentations.
Once all your artists are confirmed, advertise! Be sure to use all social media resources you have available to reach your target audience. I've found that most adults have Facebook or Twitter while students typically gravitate towards Instagram. It is possible to link all three accounts together so that when you post to one, it will post to all. This can save you a lot of time and get all advertising information out to your audience much easier. For more information on how to do that send me an email.
Who is your target audience for the event? This can help you decide who might be the best kind of artist to bring out. There are many great performers and educators and you want to make sure you pick towards what your target audience members' interests are. If you want to expose your audience to new experiences, make sure to still add in something familiar or exciting to them. This can hook your audience in and allow them to try something new while still getting what they were looking for. This is a win-win situation!
What is your budget? Creating a budget is pretty important, especially for the person or organization that is looking to plan an event for the first time. Whether the plan is to create an annual event or just a one-time experience you want to be prepared for the expected expenditures while not losing too much money (keeping in mind that losing money doesn’t mean the event was unsuccessful). When a budget is in place you will be able to figure out how to better organize your artist roster in the future.
Part of your budget may also be to get non-liability insurance to protect the host school and your representing organization. A one-million dollar non-liability claim is pretty inexpensive and can save you lots of money if there were a traumatic event. Some venues will require this anyways.
For other further budget ideas, send me an email.
Collecting Registration Fees
How do you plan to collect money for the event? Providing advanced payment online as well as day-of-event for registration can aid in the overall experience for your participants. It is common to give discounts for early registration and in some cases a group rate may be appropriate. Just make sure deadlines, dates, and price points are clearly indicated. For those that are interested in online pre-registration you can use web companies such as:
Be sure to look in to potential costs associated with using these services. I have found that Competition Suite fit our organization's needs perfectly. The company is very easy and friendly to work with.
Where will the event be held and what are the limitations associated with the facility? Finding a venue that is appropriate for your event will greatly impact the overall pleasure and excitement. Figure out what else might be happening in the venue on the days leading up to your event. Sometimes you will need to coordinate with other activities or plan around certain situations. Thinking through these details will create more interest for future events as the participants and artists will feel as though your event is well organized.
Date of the Event
When will the event be held? This question should be answered alongside where the event is held as that might ultimately lock you in to a specific date. If you need to reserve a space somewhere it is in your best interest to begin that process at least one year in advance. If you are looking at holding the event annually and keeping it at the same venue you might consider getting something in the books a few years down the road as well. It never hurts to have something in the calendar, even if that date will need to change later.
Seek Out Sponsorship Support.
Find sponsors that are applicable to the field and scope of your event and remember to open conversations well in advance. You will need to be prepared to answer questions on the expected attendance, how you will advertise for the event, and if the event will occur again in the future. Begin by asking local companies. Don't worry about the size or specialization of the company too much. Chances are they will want to be involved within their own community to some capacity. Their help may come in the form of advertisement, equipment, rehearsal space, venue space, etc. Not all sponsorships have to be a literal dollar amount.
Reach out to local, non-music businesses too. These businesses can supply opportunities to make your event special with discounted rates for services, product donations, door prizes, food and coffee, or apparel.
Once you have some sponsorship support for your event be sure to coordinate clinician fees, equipment, door prizes, and potential raffle items with your support team. Some companies will cover a portion of an artist fee for participating in clinics. Most are also happy to share door prizes that can further connect your participants to their product.
You may also ask if a sponsor is interested in supplying a larger item that may be available to raffle. Proceeds could go to offset expenses or raise funds for a future event. If you anticipate holding a raffle, make sure you check with your local gaming commission. In order to legally hold a raffle and retain all profit, the appropriate paperwork will need to be completed within 30 days of the event. Your state government website will all have information on completing this process appropriately.
Get a Support Team
All successful events happen when tasks can be divided out amongst many people rather than an individual. A support team will be able to help make your event one that all involved will want to be a part of again. I recommend choosing a host site that can make the event happen without your involvement (don't plan to stay at the registration table all day). You may have to pay for this service but there will be something throughout the day that will require your immediate attention and you will want to make sure you can do that.
A list of items you will need to consider:
A person assigned to all artists for general directions, water, etc.
A person to introduce artists at the beginning and end of their clinic. This person can administer instruction on when the artist should conclude their clinic as well.
Transportation organization. Someone that can pick up/drop off artists from the airport/hotel to the event site. Other options may be rental cars, shuttle bus, or taxi services.
Pictures. Someone to take high-resolution pictures of your event. This can help with archiving, advertising, and newsletters in the future.
Equipment. Coordinate with the venue host and a team of people what equipment will be needed for the artists. Depending on your situation you may need to search for further equipment, especially if an artist requires specific brands or models on which to perform. Once you have the equipment locked in you will want to share a list with all involved that displays where each instrument will need to go. Most people will forget at some point and giving your help a guide where they can find the information can save a lot of time and headaches. Check out the Schedule of Events I created with the instrument list attached at the bottom of this section
Participant needs. A few people will be needed to address participant needs in terms of chairs, equipment for artist participation, meals (if provided), directions to and at the venue, and printed artist handouts.
Set up and tear down. A team of people will be needed to help set up and tear down your event. If you are utilizing more than one room for your event and they are not being used for the duration of the day, have your team begin tear down right away to save the amount of work later.
Create a Map and Schedule of Events
All events are different so you can’t expect your audience to know what the day is supposed to look like. Plan to give information on specific timing of events so that your audience can make plans. Not everyone will be able to attend the entire event but many will want to try and make multiple commitments work. Below is a schedule from our most recent clinic event at the Indiana Percussion Association.
This schedule example was created with Microsoft Excel and shows how I chose to coordinate the day of events. I gave the time, location, and basic information for each clinic. By color coordinating the locations it helped with participants knowing where to go quicker. Nothing is more difficult than trying to read a detailed schedule that has no color separation.
A map of the venue where your event is being held will be handy for your participants too. Things to consider would be: where to park, where to enter, registration location, and where the scheduled events are located. It would be helpful to post the map and schedule of events throughout the building for those that get confused or lost. You can easily create something like this in a Microsoft Word document. I would be happy to share any of my past documents with you.
After your event, be sure to jot down thoughts on what worked well and what didn’t work so well. That way it is fresh in your mind and you can plan better in the future or help others that may be interested in providing an opportunity in their community. Be sure to get others involved through short surveys from participants. I have found easy and quick surveys through Survey Monkey and Google Forms. Google Forms is free to use and has many of the functions you would need for quick feedback. For more advanced analytics, Survey Monkey may be more appropriate.
Remember to send out a follow up email to all event artists and thank them for their participation. If you have pictures taken on the day of the event, share those with the artist too. Pictures can go a long way for them in future clinics, their personal website, and their sponsor companies.
By answering the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how you are now on the right path to hosting a successful clinic day event. I would be more than happy to answer questions or share any information and documents with those that are interested.
Call to Action
Are you planning an event in the future? Hopefully this article has created information for you to get your next event planned with relative ease. If you have any questions, let me know how I can help you get started or refine your next event.
Send questions or inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org