A lot of bands bitch about the booking process…
“They want the band to prove itself on Tuesday, to get to Wednesday, then Thursday…!”
“They won’t commit to a date!”
“They still haven’t listened to our demo!”
“He said ‘call back tomorrow!’”
Do any of these sound familiar? You may get angry and want to point a finger at the venue, but most of these comments above are just symptoms of a break-down in your own booking process. In other words “you’re doing it wrong.” In re-thinking your strategy, here are seven simple ways to get booked sooner:
1) Have quality music, and have it readily available for them to sample. While the CD is on its last leg, this is still an acceptable way to be heard for review. Online samples can work just as well, and if you incorporate them with clever video (DVD) you make the package that much more appealing.
2) “Them” are the Decision Makers. They are not always the owners. Find out the proper booking contacts and the proper channels for reaching them. Some will want an email, a text, a BJ (yes, joking here), but you will have more success when you approach them the way they want to be approached.
3) Don’t forget about Decision-Influencers. These are the rest of the staff: sound techs, door guys, wait staff, perhaps even the booking agent’s friends and family, and some of the “regulars.” They all could carry clout – don’t spurn anyone!
4) The best way to converse with a booking agent is in person. Go to their shows. Buy food and drink to support the venue. Don’t get drunk. Don’t grab someone inappropriately or start a fight. Do compliment the venue but don’t kiss up. Do mention that you’re in a band (that would like to play there).
5) Don’t over promise and under delivery. Be realistic about your band’s draw, your promotion efforts, your stage experience, etc.
6) Network with other bands. Sometimes you don’t even need to speak with the booking agent to get a gig. Find some partner bands that you could work well with and support each other. Find bands that are better than yours and ride their coattails. Offer to do the dirty jobs, like promotion, and then be true to your word.
7) Create a venue. Then you become the booking agent. What do you need? A room (with good acoustics). A PA (and capable sound tech). And a little entrepreneurship. We’ll talk about that next…