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Booking Good Shows on Your Own

(By Richard Morales)
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One of the hardest things for a new band to do is book shows, especially good shows.  There are scams out there, ranging from bad venues that can’t count heads to “pay to play” or the infamous “battle of the bands”.  For these reasons some musicians either don’t book shows on their own or they give a booking agent a cut of each show just so they don’t have to deal with it. 

For most bands, with a little work and a little time, booking decent shows can become second nature. There are three keys to getting into booking good shows:

1. Network,
2. Research and
3. Support Live Music.

Find the members of your band that can fulfill these functions and you’ll be on your way.

1.   Network

Networking with other bands is the single best way to get good shows.  If you find bands in your area that are similar in style, offer to open for them.  If they are established bands they will already know the good venues and this will give you an in for the venue itself.  It also helps guarantee you get a decent night to play.

It is really horrible when a venue expects a new band to show up and draw a crowd on a Wednesday night or Sunday afternoon.  Established bands couldn’t do that, how could a new band?

Networking also works for the band bringing you on.  It gives them some fresh blood to help with promotion; so be prepared to promote!   It also helps expand their fan base, so encourage your fans to stick around.  This can be done onstage as well as prior to the show.

When a band sees that you are doing this, it validates their decision and makes them want you as an opener again.  When a venue sees this, they know that your band is a team player and will be more willing to book you again.

As part of the networking, be sure to have a band representative go up and meet the person that books shows the night of the show.  Thank them for allowing your band to play and offer them contact information for booking your band in the future.

Your rehearsal studio is the perfect place to meet and talk with other bands about booking shows.

2.   Research 

If you see a venue looking for acts, be prepared to ask around about the venue.  Checking with other bands in your rehearsal studio or on a local band forum will yield stories both good and bad.  From there it is a matter of weighing the good and the bad.

Find out where local bands you like play.  Most bands post their gig dates on their websites or social networking pages.  These gigs will give you ideas on venues to hit up and shows to go to.

3.   Support Live Music

The final and oftentimes most important thing to do is support live music in your city.  If your band has t-shirts, be sure to wear your band’s shirt in an effort to act like a representative for the band wherever you are. 

Go see live shows, enjoy the music and meet the bands.  This is a great way to network with bands that you otherwise would have no contact with.  Don’t pester them but talk to them, make a good impression then find them on the internet and contact them that way.

This falls under research as well.  If a band gets short changed on the door, you may find this out.  Ask the band for an honest appraisal of the venue, you may be surprised what you find out from this.  You may also find out quirks about the venue, including what types of music they typically book and other details that can be used later.

Being at a club regularly can help get your band into a venue as well.    Making your presence known, in a positive way, a few times by just showing up, paying cover, enjoying the music and leaving establishes you as a regular visitor of the venue. 

If you tip well, the bartenders will remember you and by your third or fourth visit you may even be able to get them to hand your press pack to the person that books shows at the venue.

There are venues out there that prefer to book bands that have members that just go there to hang out.  The venue invests in you by having you on stage.  By investing in them first it makes them more willing to go out on a limb for you.

Booking gigs can be a bit tedious at times.  Common sense is required to avoid obvious scams, diligence is required to root out the less obvious ones and being unabashed about being paid or asking for a written contract is absolutely required.

If a member of your band can fulfill all these functions, they would be the person to send out to find shows for your band.



Updated: May 10, 2010

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Topic
Rehearsal Techniques
Presenter: Richard Morales
562.945.1311

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