Since live performance schedules are coming back after over a year of you not performing live & in-person, this means you need to start pitching yourself to land some gigs very soon. This blog is going to concentrate on how to pick the right gigs, how to contact the booker AND what will impress that entertainment coordinator to book you for a performance.
PICKING THE RIGHT VENUES.
Almost every city I know has a few entertainment newspapers, that highlight all types of entertainment, movies, concerts, clubs, festivals and anything live the public can attend. Start here! You should be able to get a feel of the type of music featured from the venue ads or list of the musicians already booked.
If you want to book bigger gigs look for any outdoor performances like summer concerts, city street fairs, monthly art walks, food festivals or even to local colleges to reach just the right audience for your music. (I did an entire blog & FBlive event on April 23rd will give you the details how to connect to gigs that will pay you to perform.)
Once you pick whatever venue you are interested in, take some time to explore the venue website. The calendar can tell you many things!
- What days certain music is presented. If you can’t see an updated calendar, check the Facebook business page and see if you can tell from the past, how many music events they advertise. Knowing they have music on Thursdays and Saturdays only, will prevent you from picking a Friday, that will just give you a big NO to your email to the venue.
- Contact a band/musician that has played the venue. This may sound strange to you, but many musicians will give you true details about the venue and how the gig is. Most will share who the contact is with you and then you can use them as a referral…In your email subject line say: Referred by XYZ band. If you really connect with one of those band members, you or they may suggest opening for them the next time they are booked.
- Admission Requirements. If you have under 21 fans, some places will not allow entry. If there is an admission price to get in, most regular venues will give you the amount of the tickets paid for as your salary for the night; others may include a percentage of the food and bar sold. So if you see there is an admission price, most likely you will be paid for your performance.
- No Entry Fees. This usually means it is free for anyone to enter, and the venue has a regular crowd that comes in nightly. People in the real world, really may pick a night to hit the live venues. I find Thursdays and Fridays are typical “Let’s go out” night for the working class. OR if you find it strange the venue has music on a Monday or Wednesday, it may because there is a group, like an adult softball team that comes in those days after their game. Go with the flow of when the venue knows there will be a good crowd for you to play for.
CONTACTING THE BOOKER
Most times you can find a booking button, “Submit to perform” or an email for you to contact the person in charge of choosing the entertainment for a venue. Also always check out the FAQ section of the venue website. Below are some suggestions on how to reach the right contact.
Email submissions. If there is a specific email to send your request to, remember to pick a date and put that in the subject line. KEEP THE EMAIL SHORT! Only send what is requested. Sending more, will disturb the booking person, and they may not even read your email.
- If it does not say what to send, give your 15-second, two line max, description of your music. If you have any credits or just finished a great show at nearby venue, you can mention that; but PLEAS MAKE IT BRIEF! Make sure you ADD A LIVE PERFORMANCE VIDEO and either just your website or a link to your most active social media page. PLUS your contact information, yes, an email and a phone number!
- Emailed and no response after a week? Take your original email and hit the forward button and in the subject line put: 2nd request & the date again. You don’t have to re-write the last email, just say: “I know you are busy but we would really like to perform on YOUR DATE. Our information and video are below for your review. MANY THANKS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION!” I find 8 out of 10 times, I get a response if I put the 2nd request in the subject line, but send the first email before trying this.
Filling out an application. Bigger venues like a county fair or festival usually take applications at least 6 to 9 months before the festival. Be ready to give a short 50 word bio, all your social media and website links, maybe a list of a few venues you have already performed, list how many member and what equipment you need. You will need a hi-res photo and the live vides and maybe event an MP3 of a song. Get that all together so you don’t take too much time and reach a time-out situation and have to start again.
I can’t find a contact! I am guessing 5 out of 10 times, you will not easily find the booking contact, so you will have to do some searching. If the contact button sends you to one of those general FILL OUT THIS FORM contact, do that plus hit the Facebook and send a general message that says: Can you connect me with the entertainment coordinator? And add your email. Don’t give them any other information. The person manning the FB page usually will direct you.
Still no contact after your research? You may have to actually call the venue; yes, talk on the phone! Get the general phone number and call a few hours before the venue opens. Most likely a bartender, office person or even the ticket reservationist, will answer. Ask of the booking email is correct or if there is another way to contact the entertainment coordinator.
WHAT WILL IMPRESS THE BOOKER?
After you do your research on the venue you will already know some things about the venue…the performance schedule, what kind of acts perform and maybe have some hints as to how you may be paid.
Here are some items that seem to impress a booker.
- Sending required information. Again, the bookers have limited time to review new requests, sending exact what they asked for AND keeping your copy short, will get it review quickly.
- Describing your music. Here I go again convincing you to find that 2 line elevator pitch to describe your music. Using band/music comparisons, will allow the person to play the music in their heads even before they push the video button!
- List credits, accomplishments or other venues you have performed. Saying you just finished a performance at a familiar venue or outdoor event in the same area as the venue, will show the booker that you may have a growing fan base. But just list one or two.
- Sharing accolades. If you just had a feature in a music blog, got 5000 hits on your new YouTube video or sharing you’re an impress engagement on one of your social media pages will impress everyone.
- Show Promotion. If you have an have over 300 on a band email list and do live virtual posts to advertise your shows….that will show you are interested in promoting all of the shows on your calendar.
- Attendance numbers. If you just did a show at a nearby venue and sold out or had over 50 people come to that show, tout those numbers. If you don’t have those type of number, be volunteer that information BUT if the booker ask how many you can draw…be honest. If you don’t have a big following, most venues will have a certain day and time for you to play to break you in. Be flexible in taking those offers; you have to start somewhere.
- Confirming performance details. Once it looks like that date is a go….ask if the venue or do they want the artist to submit a contract. Get a stage plot and technical rider together.
- Contracts. If they say they don’t do contacts or just want togive you a thumbs-up on Facebook, tell them you need to do some type of confirmation. Items most important to confirm on at least an email: Date, time & how long is your music set, keeping 100% of your merch, payment & when you get paid and load in & sound check. Make sure the venue has the sound you need or make sure you get extra payment if you have to bring and run your own sound!
Hopefully, some of these things will really help you book your next performances. This is the time to submit! If it is May, and you are looking to book local gigs, start looking for July gigs. If you are getting stuck, email us your questions at MusicBizMentors@gmail.com.