Perhaps one of the most basic principles in the business world is the notion of being easy to do business with. Is it going to be a painless process, or will barriers surface the minute someone tries to interact with you? Some of this comes down to efficiency and some to psychology – is your band up to the challenge? Your success will certainly depend upon it.
First and foremost, can someone get a hold of you when they are most in need of your product (your music)? Can they easily preview a web site with sample recordings? Can they purchase your songs and download them without a hassle? Can they find out where you are playing next without having to push through 17 web links? Here are some ways to make sure you are accessible:
Rapid Response Time
Then, when they try to reach you, how soon are you able to reply? A venue trying to connect you with a performance date can’t keep the calendar open forever. When a fan wants that T-shirt…they probably want it while your band is still relevant. Response time is also important when you are trying to find new band members – if someone replies to your Craig’s List ad, you owe it to them to keep the dialog going. Flaky behavior usually means you are going to be playing in someone’s basement forever.
Can you adapt your band configuration and sound system to match the room? Many times, scaling back can be an opportunity to increase your pay (follow this link to give yourself a raise).
Occam’s Razor: the simplest solution tends to be the correct one. Are you trying to convolute things? When a talent buyer asks you if you are available for a date, don’t tell him/her that you are waiting on five flaky bandmates to confirm. They won’t want to know if the drummer is on vacation, the guitarist has strep throat or the bassist is trying to make parole. Just tell them “yes” and go out with the best configuration you can muster. Veteran local band leader, Chuck Hughes of the Hillbilly Hellcats used to book shows on tour and then figure out the lineup as he went along (sometimes you just have to fly in a drummer).
As a business, you are constantly developing your credibility. Are you going to show up for the gig? Are you going to pay off your bar tab at the end of the night? If you are playing a showcase, do you respectfully watch your time, pack your gear off stage and stick around to support the next act? Or are you the band that pulls out a 20 minute Jazz Odyssey when the soundman is indicating “one last song?” Reliability is more valuable than any other quality.
If your band is easy to do business with, your band is going to be asked back again and again. And each time you will have an opportunity for greater impact, better shows…and a chance to negotiate a better offer. Are you prepared to negotiate? Stay tuned…