10 Things Bands Can Do to Book More Live Shows

Stage Show - How to book Gigs

Guest Post by Chris Bracco.
Originally published
on the Live Music Machine Blog

Assuming that you have strong songs and an kickass live show, here are ten (10) simple things you can do to get more gigs:

1. Create a YouTube channel for your band.

Upload a live performance video on YouTube that represents your band at its best. Include a phone number and e-mail address too, so that anyone who wants to book you can contact you easily. Say something like “Contact ________ to book us for a live show.”  To show professionalism and interest, try your best to respond to every inquiry within 48 hours.

2. Print up nice business cards

…with your band name, links to your music, live videos, and a phone number and e-mail address that can be reached for booking purposes. Also, include a link to your website so they can learn more about you. You’d be surprised how many bands STILL write down their phone numbers on dirty napkins and torn pieces of paper. Wherever you go, tell people who you are, how good you are, where you are playing next, and how easy it is for them to book you directly.

3. Go watch other bands that sound like you.

If there are any bands in your area with large followings, get out to a couple shows and become friends with other bands. Ask the bigger bands to let you open for them, maybe in exchange for some kind of help like designing a website, flyer, banner, etc. The harder you work for a band bigger than your band, and the more respectful you are to them and their efforts, the more likely they will consider you for an opening slot. Talk up how good your band is and why you are better than similar bands in the area.

4. Tell your fans how easy it is to book you.

Wherever you play – the street, house party, club or major venue, make sure your fans are aware that you’re willing to play anywhere. After playing a gig, you should walk around the audience, engage people, ask them what they thought of the show, and let them know you are available to play live anywhere they want you too. Telling them that will definitely help you stand out from the pack.

5. Get guerrilla.

Set up wherever there is a crowd of people who might like your music and play for them. Club, high school, venue, and stadium parking lots. How many tailgate parties do you think would love some free entertainment? Play outside clubs where bands are playing that fit in with your style of music. Those people waiting in line are going to be bored, so playing a spontaneous gig right on the spot will definitely make an unforgettable impression.

6. Don’t forget the old school.

Hand out flyers and post cards at events that have a link to free stuff and a way to book you for a gig.

7. Network with key industry people at events and conferences.

Radio PD’s and DJ’s, club owners, band managers, label executives, and others all attend music conferences quite regularly. Say hello to these people, maybe buy them a drink or dinner, but don’t make a nuisance of yourself. Respect their space and don’t try shoving a CD in their face two minutes after meeting them. Introduce yourself casually, let them know who you are and where they can see you play. If it’s a club owner, tell them you would love to come in during the day and do a free audition for a free gig. Just make sure you can get a place to sell your merchandise if you nab a gig. Offer to play at places that may not always host live music, like restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and malls.

8. Get creative.

Write up a proposal and present it to the appropriate person at your local school board, offering to do a series of free shows to raise money for the school athletic or band program. Ask to perform during a school assembly when they can provide you with a built-in audience.

9. Find places where bands similar to yours play.

Use the wide variety of gig finding services available on the internet to figure out where local bands around you are getting gigs. E-mailing clubs with your RPK or EPK usually won’t get any results, because many venues get tons of similar e-mails and it will be really easy for yours to get lost in their inbox. Instead, after finding some good places, print out your press kit and mail it to them, or better yet, personally drop it off it in a nice professional package along with a CD to any decision maker at the club. Follow up with a call within a couple of days so you stay fresh in their minds. If the decision maker has an assistant, get to know that person and you will find that it will be much easier to get in the door. If you email them anything at all, make it your MySpace link along with a concise paragraph stating why they should book you. For some reason, most clubs still feel most comfortable checking you out on MySpace, so play by their rules.

10. Do a gig swap!

If you have a respectable following or are an up and coming band try gig swapping with a band in another city or town.  Connect with a band or musician on MySpace, Facebook or one of the many gig swapping websites, like Indieonthemove.com or Splitgigs.com. Set up a show in your neck of the woods and let them open for you.  Make sure to bring out all your local fans and then some.  In turn they’ll set up a show in their city and have you open for them.  This is a great way to reach a new audience and make valuable connections.

BONUS TIP! Everywhere you go, wherever you play, whomever you talk to about your band… collect as many e-mail addresses as you can. E-mail is still one of the best ways to communicate directly with your fan base, and develop long-lasting relationships.

Image Credit: Click here

This post was originally published by Chris Bracco on his music industry blog, Tight Mix. Chris is currently the digital marketing coordinator for Intrigue Music, LLC, a boutique management and publishing house in NYC. Feel free to subscribe to his blog’s RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter.

Links –
Tight Mix: http://www.tightmixblog.com
RSS feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/tightmixblog
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cbracco

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5 comments to 10 Things Bands Can Do to Book More Live Shows

  • This is great and concise info Chris.

  • KENNY FEINBERG

    These are all very good to great ideas. I read it twice today and will keep it to refresh.

  • Another thing… venues pay more attention to their paying customers then to the bands they are paying. Let your fans know THEY HAVE A VOICE and if they continually ask a venue to book a band, the venue will see you have audience that will turn out as opposed to you going there and telling them how great and cool you are and how much they should book you.

    Plan 3-6 months in advance. Contact places NOW and ask to book a show in February or March. Venues wanna book their calendar and be done with it.

    Find your niche. We are a Celtic rock band. We play Irish bars, 3 hours of music for hundreds of $ in pay and we’re the only band. A LOT better then sharing a bill with 3-5 other rock bands then the venue taking a cut, then the door guy and sound guy taking a cut, than them giving the 5 bands the remaining $50 to divide up. Reminds me of seeing chickens fight over feed. Not saying “sell your soul” but you are a creative band. If rock music isn’t paying the bills, create a side project, a 2nd avenue to get out there and play and make money. I’ve known bands that have had 2-3 different names and performed 2-3 different styles of music. They stayed busy year round because if someone needed a rock band, they were it. If someone needed an 80’s cover band for their wedding, they were it. If someone needed a Alt-Country band, they were it. Plus, playing different genre’s of music challenges you and you’ll see you abilities in whatever your primary style of music is grow.

    Always be humble with venue owners. They deal with a LOT of crap and a lot of pretentious bands. Show them you appreciate the show you got, find out what you can do to help and… do something that we do at our shows that BLOWS BAR OWNERS AWAY! Clean up after yourself. We always leave the stage cleaner then it was when we got there. Wrapping up cables, bringing drink glasses to the bars. You wont believe how much the staff and the bar owners are blown away that you are doing this.

  • Great info and insights here. Thanks!

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