In 2008 I wrote this post. The gist of it was that people don't attend artistic events for the reasons people expect. For example, many people don't attend classic musical productions because they "love" Bach. They attend because it is their date night and they want to do something that feels romatic and cultured.
It's almost 2012 and people are still figuring this out. Check out this article that talks about the marketing efforts of a group of orchestra managers. They wanted to encourage repeat visits from patrons. They came up with a list of 16 attributes that had the greatest impact on attendance.
Here's a quote from the article:
"It turns out the quality of the orchestra, magnificence of the hall, and virtuosity of the conductor were not particularly important attributes. What was? Drum roll! The most powerful "driver of revisitation" was parking! As with other orchestras, veteran members of the core BSO audience had figured out where to park, but trialists identified it as a huge hassle--so they didn't come back."
Turns out that the best "marketing" investment these orchestras could make was to help people understand how to park at the events. Just like a song about a crazy squirrel can be the bets marketing a riverboat company can create.
I think that's the first lesson, that a lot of different things that you wouldn't call marketing actually is marketing.
The second lesson is that when people choose to attend your live artistic event they do it for a bunch of reasons. This isn't like TV where people can choose to watch any channel just for the hell of it. If people are choosing to leave their comfy homes, it isn't an accident. It's vital that you understand why they are coming and how to get them to return.
Just remember that the reasons they come (and come back) may not be what you think.