Home Touring Booking a Venue for the First Time

Booking a Venue for the First Time

by Head Above Music

Booking a Venue for the First Time and Hopefully a Second Show…
by Chris Wachowiak
Rockford, IL
Owner of Kryptonite Bar

Let me ask you this… why are you out doing the tour?  I don’t care if this is your first tour or years in the business.  I’m writing this for musicians that want to develop a long term and profitable relationship with venues.

Begin with an introductory email. I personally don’t ever read press packets mailed to me, or take phone calls from bands that I don’t know.  I don’t care if you draw 2 million people in your home town, I don’t care if you say you have friends in our neighborhood and you can get 50 people to a show… I quickly dismiss these emails because it shows you’re new and full of optimistic bullshit.  Get real… you’re coming to play a new town where nobody really knows you.  So why should I take my time to even read your email if your not going to be honest, and provide relative information in the most concise manner possible?  Think of your approach as a business deal, because that is what you’re dealing with… a business.  Give all your real pertinent information in the most concise manner… remember this key word: “brevity”.

Get to your point, show some highlights of what you’ve done, what you have coming up.  I want to see video clips, live video clips.  And here is something to think about when posting your videos… have some good lighting, decent sound, and use fingerprinting in your videos.  Fingerprinting is putting your band name in the video, and identify who you are and where more of your music can be found in a non-obtrusive manner. Get some audience response shots, but not drunk idiots telling us that this band F’n rules…

This is what I look for from your email: Myspace link, iLike, Sonic Bids or Reverb Nation and of course your website.  My favorite thing to first look at is your MySpace page… it’s a one-stop shop. I can see how active you are as far as people checking your site, people playing your songs, and where else you’re playing at…

Try to build some rapport.  Sure you may make $500+ minimum dollars at your local venue, but now you’re going to bring your show on the road and you’re going to have to start off from scratch just like when you began.   The best way to get introduced to a new venue is through a trade off with another band that has a local presence.  But if you try to go it on your own try asking a band you know for a referral.  A referral will always ease your way into a venue.  If you must cold call a venue then get ready to work hard and be under paid for it!  First time shows for even established bands will usually yield gas money, a couple drinks and maybe some food.  When booking a show try to get a penciled in follow up show, with a higher guarantee following up your successful first show.

Before you play PROMOTE!!! Here are some ideas that venues would love to see!

Posters & Fliers including show date, and website info

Email MySpace Links, Website Links, blogs,..

Sign up on the venues MySpace Link, Blogs, Podcasts, Facebook Pages

Send in a copy of your music on CD

Remember this one thing when fliering… no one really cares what you look like… they care more about what your music will do to them!  People’s favorite things are themselves, so inform your new audience of how they might enjoy your show.

Ask your new venue for a couple of comps for cover charge and you’ll design your own free entrance tickets for your band.  Then hop on something like Yelp and promote to local like minded shops, coffee shops, hair salons, CD stores, clothing stores and anything else that might float your boat.  Send them some promotional materials, such as fliers, posters, a burned CD of your music and a couple of those custom made free entrance tickets that you personalized to their business and invite them as your guest for helping you promote your show.  Doing something way above and beyond like this might cost you an extra $10 in materials and 30 minutes in work but it might help you look like gold in your new venues eyes!

Now let’s promote with your Facebook and MySpace page… does the venue you are about to play have any of these?  Do they have their own website or blog?  Promote, promote, promote!  Hop on the other bands on your bills website and say how you’re looking forward to playing with them, and hey check out our music as well, but always compliment them!  Kill with kindness at every turn! Utilize every free medium you can including but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, Facebook Fan Pages, iLike, Reverb Nation, YouTube, iGoogle Calander, Blogs Vimeo, Sonic Bids and anything else you can think of… promote, promote, promote everywhere you can! Start with these few things and you’re sure to be demanding bigger dollar guarantees at more venues… and here is another thing with all this promotion, it might increase your merch sales!

Also here is a quick thing to think about when negotiating your first show.  Here are negotiable points:

1.     Merch Sales

2.     Food

3.     Drinks, Free drinks? Or at least a percentage off…

4.     Comps at entrance

5.     Tracking system at door to verify how many come to see you (however this could also backfire on you)

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