The good folks at Deep South hosted a forum (as part of their on-going “Angles” series held the first Weds of every month) entitled “Rookie Booking Mistakes and How To Avoid Them”. Panelists included John Booker (Deep South Entertainment), Kristen Hill (Cat’s Cradle), Glenn Boothe (Motorco Music Hall), and Chris Malarkey (Lincoln Theatre). The local music scene should be grateful to them for donating an evening to help musicians.
The event was attended by about 50 musicians who showed that they are serious about their careers by attending. The forum was both entertaining, with strong input from Glenn and Chris, and informative, with strong input from John and Kristen. All were entertaining and informative but the stories Glenn and Chris told were especially so, as was the information passed down from Kristen and John.
This forum focused on “how NOT to get a gig” at the local music venues. Some take away messages…
- “We hire bands to sell more beer” was quoted by all panelists. Booking agents do not care how good or bad the band is; they care about how many people your band will bring in the door. Therefore, when you email them for a gig, provide them with some evidence that your band can bring out a lot of people (e.g. Facebook likes, social media stats, etc.).
- Make sure your band is appropriate for the venue by doing a little research on the venue before contacting. Find the booking email address and use it. Requests for booking on Facebook or over the phone will be ignored.
- There are no guaranteed payments to bands or performers, all these venues only provide a percentage of the door. In other words, if nobody shows up, nobody makes any money…you or the venue.
- Booking agents get “thousands of emails” and hate them. But that is the only way they want to communicate with you. Kristen Hill provides a template for how your email should be written (and other helpful tips) which she shares here.
- Only one person should communicate with venue, e.g. only the band’s “promotor” (could be a band member).
- In the subject line be very specific about dates and band name so its easy to find.
- Provide some tangible evidence that indicates you can pull in a crowd.
- Use the same email string for all emails pertaining to that booking so the agent has to only keep track of a single email string. Do not change subject line.
- Having details in writing, in one place, prevents confusion for the band and for the venue.
- Be dependable, professional, and courteous (easy to work with) when you get a gig if you want more gigs. The easier you make the venue’s job, the better your reputation will be. If you act like an aardvark, it won’t matter how good you band is, they won’t book you.
- Don’t book gigs in the same geographic location within a month of your other gigs in that area. You will dilute your turnout.
- “Build your own bill”. Get a couple of other bands you like and who have a good following to go together with you to build your bill. The venue does not know which other bands will compliment your music and doesn’t want to be involved in creating synergies and don’t want the hassle of building the bill.
- You are responsible for promoting the show, not the venue. If you don’t “hit the streets” and promote on social media to get people out, you won’t make any money…and won’t get invited back.
Rookie Booking Mistakes Forum Summary by Dr. d’Neau