Here’s a few thoughts on this.
Venues have very limited marketing capacity, now more than ever. It’s increasingly commonplace that a commercial venue will put the show on sale, and that’s pretty much it – its on the artist to sell it.
Several venues will now send on a marketing pack, outlining what they do and don’t do – somewhat brutal at times, but at least artists know where they stand. That’s very often accompanied by a local press list, for press releases – the more traditional media should never be overlooked, particularly with folk audiences as I’m not sure your arts centre crowds are going to be spending hours scrolling TikTok.
Venues do what they can, but when they have four or five gigs a week its very easy to calculate they just don’t have the time to focus on every show, and particularly for those with more than one space – are they going to focus their efforts on a show in a 200 cap room, or the 2,000 cap one with a five figure guarantee? Also when they are only getting 20% of the return, vs 80% to the artist…
The best route I find is to ensure artists are kept in the loop with their ticket sales – most box offices can send out automated reports, you just need to ask for them to be turned on (and if not, its very easy to ask the promoter, who will appreciate the engagement in the artists’ own show) – and in particular the month leading up to a tour artists need to invest in social adverts to target those audiences with say a 30-mile radius. It can look expensive on the surface, but even £50-100 a gig only needs four to ten extra tickets sold to recover the cost, and thereafter its entirely profit, and strong sales from which to sell/grow future shows. I don’t claim to know anywhere near enough about how FB and Insta adverts work, and would likewise discourage artists just throwing money without learning more but if folk are serious about what they’re doing it should be via a digital agency, who can monitor click-throughs and even sales as a direct result of the ad placement, and have far, far more targeted demographic reaches than you or I can manage.
Also important to align your efforts with platforms you know your audience are on, rather than jumping on the next big thing before any audience are there (who are you reaching out to, then?). FB is clearly the biggest platform, with the widest range of ages and algorithms that are scarily accurate to target the correct crows.
Unfortunately you get very little for free, and artists need to invest to see growth – much like any business.