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Your Band as a Business: Booking Shows

 

 

Booking is an integral facet to your business. Your product is your music and there are only 2 real ways to consume music; listening to recorded material and going to a show to listen to a band. In a lot of ways, booking shows can be very easy.  Often times band members / managers make it harder on themselves than they should. Like anything in the business world, there are do’s and don’t’s that will either help propel you forward or keep you stagnant. 

picture3First and foremost, you need recorded music.  A talent buyer at any venue will require that you send over a physical press kit or an EPK (electronic press kit). Your press kit must have audio files of your music (preferably .mp3 or .wav), band photos, a band biography, a list of venues you have played, a stage plot and input list, a rider (specific needs for the show: i.e. hospitality, lodging, etc.), and bands you have played with.  Additives that help your press kit stand out include a cover page, any accolades or awards, and / or live videos or music videos (more applicable for an EPK).  There are platforms online that can assist you in making a press kit. Reverb Nation and Sonic Bids are both helpful in creating EPK’s within their specific network. If you aren’t interested in connecting with either of those platforms, you can always customize your own via your website. If you don’t have a website, you should consider making one. Websites are a one-stop-shop for talent buyers and promoters to find the information the need from bands. Website building sites like squarespace, wix, or weebly are great for musicians that aren’t familiar with coding.

 
Next, you need to understand your market. If you are a folk group, you probably won’t have great shows playing night clubs (given that the night clubs agree to take you). I say probably because every situation is different. This goes back to really understanding your market.  If the night club specializes in folk music then my example is null and void. The best rule of thumb is booking shows in the places where your colleagues (those playing similar sounding tunes) have previously booked shows.  Understanding your market also derives from understanding who the talent buyer is in each club / venue.  Make a list of names / emails and provide a fun fact about each talent buyer (if possible).  It’s good practice to keep track of who you’re dealing with professionally, but also who they are as people (life skill ALERT). 

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“Music and music business are two different things” – Erykah Badu

With thousands of venues that exist in any one region, it can be difficult to get a grasp for each club’s genre preference.  If you aren’t familiar with your local scene, investigate by going to shows and seeing what clubs are doing. Look for handbills / posters for other shows and investigate the sound of the bands on the line up. If you are looking to book outside of your local scene, you can lean on websites like Indie On The Move or Do DIY.  These sites have concise lists of existing venues and genres of music they have performing. Fair warning, I have run into issues where their websites were out of date and the venue has changed or no longer exists.  Make sure you double check your work by following up with a phone call or email.

A big part of the booking process deals with the onsite behavior of the band you are in/manage. It’s good practice to establish a courteous culture among your group while at your shows.  Often, bands confuse being an artist with being an asshole. If you sell out your show, but are still a pain to work with, the venue has reason not to ask you back. Many artists are plagued by this due to the classic example of musicians demanding only blue m&m’s. Most often these bands ask for blue m&m’s to see if the venue is paying attention to detail. If the m&m’s are different than requested in the rider, that translates to other, potential more damaging mishaps with the rider (i.e. bad sound, no hospitality, etc.).  Simply clean up after yourself, mind your p’s and q’s, and be thankful for the opportunity to play a show.  By and large, you can always conduct your business professionally and courteously.

Lastly, once the show is over and you are moving on to your next venue, be sure to stay in touch with the venues you played previously.  “Thank You” notes are a great way to follow up with the buyer.  It may seem frivolous, but as I mentioned before, we are all human and like being appreciated. At very least, send a follow up email to say thank you. Now go book some shows.

Once again, if you have any questions relating to booking a show, or have any suggestions for me to write specifically on any particular topic, feel free to email me at bcspencer2013@gmail.com

Brian Spencer

Your Band as a Business: The Big Three

Written by: Brian Spencer

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First and foremost, congratulations for taking the time to better curate musical success. Seeking out articles of this nature will take you, as well as those involved in your music, to the next level.

Do yourself a favor and continue to research periodicals that will help advance your knowledge of this ever changing industry. I’ll attach some of my favorites at the end.

You did it. You formed a band, or a band has approached you to help them get to the next level. Now what? There are 3 things that will get you far in the industry. Those 3 things can be incredible assets on their own, but in unity, they will continue to open doors throughout your career.

Talent: Let’s be completely honest. In any business your product needs to reflect what people desire.  You will be hard pressed to sell your work to anyone that isn’t close friends or family (not to discount those folks, but they are your ‘ride or dies’. They are in it for the long haul). Put in the hours in the practice room or put emphasis on the creative process for the band you manage. The better the music, the more people that will gravitate to you. That means more money to put into your pocket or, IDEALLY, to put back into the band (I’ll get into fiscal responsibility later).

 

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“The man at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” – Vince Lombardi JR.

Knowledge: Not knowing how to plan ahead is one of the biggest mistakes made by band operators. You need to constantly check where the best music is being heard, where that music is being played, and what opportunities are best for exposure.  These are the fun questions.  You need to get to know the PRO’s that exist (Performing Rights Organizations) so that your music is protected and you can hopefully start collecting royalties. Learn how to best route your band when putting together a tour.  Learn how to balance your profit / loss with every penny that comes in and out. Watch your favorite bands and see how they put together marketing campaigns for releasing music. Basically, the learning never ends, but this shouldn’t come as a shock. If you want to do something to your best ability then you have to eat, drink, sleep, dream (day / night) whatever it is that you are involved in.

Drive: In my subjective opinion, this is quite possibly the most important asset of the 3.  Without drive, the other two assets can be hampered exponentially.  If you ONLY have drive, you will be better off than someone with talent, knowledge, or potentially even a combination of those two.  You have the ability to work incredibly hard, and nobody should convince you otherwise. If you have the magic combination of all 3 assets, then doors will continually open for you.

 There is a plethora of roads that we’ll go down in the coming articles that will introduce you to specifics within the industry.  Throughout your career, managing your “Big 3” will be incredibly important to the success of your band. Continue to seek out periodicals and learn more about the industry. Ask lots of questions and continue to work at your craft.

Here are some books that have helped my business grow.  Keep in mind that some of this information is out of date, but the themes are still incredibly important.

http://amzn.to/2d8abBV

http://bit.ly/2e29jff

http://bit.ly/2e6vxB6

If you have any questions for me, or want me to write about any specific topic within developing your band as a business, don’t hesitate to email me at bcspencer2013@gmail.com

Brian Spencer