I wrote about this marketing technique in Six-Figure Musician and get a lot of questions about it, so here is a great example from a circus that I hope will provide you with more clarity should you with to use it when marketing your live performances...
Within your audience, there are people who attend your show because of the show itself and other people who attend because they're followers. For example, in the case of the circus, kids are the ones who want to attend, while most adults go because the kids are there.
In short, if kids are going to the circus, adults follow, because kids don't have the resources to attend events like this alone.
For your act, the situation is probably something more similar to one of these situations:
1. Men attend your shows because women are attending.
2. Women attend your shows because men are attending.
3. Either gender attends your shows because their friends are attending.
Think about this. In your years of attending shows, how many of them did you attend because your friends were already going? Or because there would be attractive members of the opposite sex there? Or, if you're gay, because there would be attractive members of the same sex there?
If you're like most people, your answer is probably "a lot."
And if your answer is, "I always go to shows for the music," remember that you are a musician and not a typical fan. And think about the people who attended with you -- were they attending the show because you were going?
How do you get more of your core audience to a show?
That's the basic question. And the answer is to give them free tickets.
This example, and what I suggest you do, isn't simply giving free tickets though -- it's giving "buy one, get one free" (also known as BOGO) tickets. It gives you the best of both worlds, because it lets you treat your most loyal fans in a special way (a free ticket) but also encourages them to spread the word about the show to somebody who pays.
And here is what you get...
1. A fan telling somebody else about your music.
2. A fan potentially bringing somebody else with him to the show.
3. A fan potentially having a shared experience with his friend, anchored by your music.
4. A potential second fan.
Obviously, all of these are great, but the most powerful is #3.
What if your show is a date?
What if it's a first date? You always remember your first date with somebody and that experience, especially if the relationship works out well, is always a special one with good memories.
Wouldn't you like for your music to be part of that experience?
Even if the two people seeing your show aren't on a date, friendship works in a similar way. A shared experience among friends is the backbone of friendship.
The next show you do, I encourage you to try this marketing technique. It will grow your fanbase and pay dividends for years to come.