As a musician, it can seem like you don’t know where to start when you’re trying to book a music show.
There’s a lot you need to do, and without a plan, it can seem overwhelming.Never fear, because below, we’ve included the perfect checklist to get you in gear.
There’s no substitute for quality when it comes to playing your music.
The better you play, the better your chances of being booked for a show.
Quality attracts an audience and impresses a venue.
Practice your sets until you can pull it off perfectly, even on a bad day.
Become familiar with your sound equipment and have everything neatly packed, arranged, labeled, and stored to avoid any confusion.
Make sure everyone knows what to do when you walk onstage.
You and your band are a team of pros, so it’s time to act the part.
Mastery of your craft will lend you a confidence you can’t fake.
Have your contact info, pitch templates, press kit, mailing lists, schedule, and business cards ready to go before you start emailing venues.
Ask yourself these questions, and have the answers decided before you begin:
- When the venue asks who is arranging your shows, what will you say? Who is the main contact for your band or group?
- If the venue asks to see your press kit or listen to a demo song, are you ready to provide it?
- Do you know how to explain what kind of music you play?
- When exactly are you available, and how much time do you need to advertise the event beforehand?
- How long do you need to set up your equipment before the show and break it down afterward?
- How many songs do you play in a typical show, and how long does it take, accounting for a break?
- How many covers do you perform, and what are they?
The better you can answer these questions, the more seriously a venue manager is likely to take you.
Get yourself out there.
No one is going to beat down your door asking you to play at their venue.
It’s up to you to take the reins and make it happen.
You need a killer press kit and a great pitch email.
Your press kit should include:
- Band name (very important!)
- Demo CD/hosting site links
- Press clippings/news site links
- A brief history of your band (long and short form)
- Contact info
- Social media handles/links
- Previous shows played (even if you didn’t make money)
- Quality band photo (not album art!)
Start with something explaining how you found the venue, such as how much you love attending shows there, or a recommendation from a friend, especially if they’re known in the industry.
This will tie you into the situation as a real person instead of someone randomly emailing them.
Don’t be too picky about where you perform or the rates that you charge.
When you’re starting out, your focus should be exposure, not money.
You need people to know who you are before you can charge them for showing up.
Offer to open for larger bands, or share billing with them at an event.
Play at parties, charity events, and local fairs and festivals, even if you aren’t making any money.
Any well-done performance is a positive note on your resume.
Venues don’t struggle to find bands who want to play at their location–they struggle to find good, reliable artists.
Are you talented? Do you show up on time and fulfill your obligations?
Good. Then you’re a perfect fit for a venue that works with bands in your genre.
It may take time to get a rep as reliable, but it’s so worth it.
Write a great pitch, and follow through with anything you offer.
That means not canceling shows without a very good reason, such as an unexpected catastrophe.
Not feeling like it or finding a better offer isn’t a good reason.
Honor your commitments and give everything you’ve got at each and every show.
Your pitch goes far beyond your email.
You can’t just say, we’re a reliable band that plays well without backing it up.
Your behavior is also part of the pitch, and it’s just as important as your contact info.
Remain professional in all your dealings, and people will love working with you, both now and in the future.
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