Learning how to book gigs is a daunting challenge so we thought we’d write a handy downloadable step by step checklist for you to keep as you start making those calls/emails.
BEFORE YOU GET IN TOUCH
- Research the venue booker, get their name, email and a work phone number. Ask around to see if anyone else has worked with them before, find out what types of music/venues they book. Make sure they are going to be interested in your music. Do you fit the venue’s musical demographic?
- Find out the capacity of the venue. Can you realistically get the room to 60 – 100% full? Is this gig a special event like an EP or album launch?
- What nights are they most likely going to let you play? Are Fri/Sat only for big acts so are you more likely to get a Wednesday slot? Is it worth the work?
- Ask some other bands if they’d be interested in being a part of the lineup, make sure everyone is clear on the play order ahead of contacting the venue. Are you sure the other bands will pull their weight?
- Have a list of potential dates to present the venue.
- Is your support material absolutely ready to be seen by industry professionals: does your website/EPK/bandcamp/facebook/tumblr etc include a fresh bio, great demo songs, great promo photos, contact info on clear display, active social media pages, a list of other gigs you’ve played? Visit the EPK Module at Musiciio to learn more.
- Is your stage plot and list of ideal technical specifications ready to go? If not, chat to a sound engineer and sort out your stage requirements with them ahead of making any bookings.
- Practice the hell out of your live set and make sure you (all) feel confident that you have 45 minutes worth of great material that will hold your audiences attention.
Consider asking someone you trust to come to one of your practices to offer constructive criticism on your live set.
- Email the venue booker with a short spiel about your band/lineup, with links to your various online presences (not attachments) and your preferred dates.
- 1 – 3 weeks later (if you haven’t heard back), follow up with another email or a polite call. Be patient, bookers are crazy busy folks. Check if they’ve had a chance to research your music/proposal. Sometimes it can take ages to get a response, don’t panic! Remain friendly, concise, polite, don’t hassle/nag them and don’t be annoying.
- Allow plenty of breathing space for return contact, if they decide not to offer you a show, try to find out why. It may just be that they just don’t have space for you right now, or maybe they don’t think you’re ready? Maybe they’d prefer you to have an Ep or album launch there instead? Don’t be offended, ask if you can get in touch again down the track.
- Discuss payment methods. Common options include a door deal, a flat fee , a “versus” deal or percentage deal. It’s usually up to the venue unless you can guarantee a full house. Make sure you understand the terms of this payment deal absolutely clearly, and that any ticket prices accurately reflect your band/events worth and ability to pull a crowd. (ie don’t charge $20 unless you are confident people will pay that price to come watch you perform)
- Does the venue provide a PA? What kind of PA is it? Is it enough for your requirements? Is it free for the bands as part of the deal? What production gear (if any?) will you need to bring along?
- Does the venue provide stage lighting?
- Does the venue provide sound/lighting engineers? Are he/she free for the bands as part of the deal? Ask for their contact info and get in touch to discuss your requirements.
- Are you going to bring your own sound/lighting engineer? Make sure she/he gets in touch with the venue’s production team, or at least send the venue your stage plot and tech specs.
- Does the venue provide backline? What is it? Is it free for the bands as part of the deal?
- If the venue doesn’t supply backline, talk to the other bands on the lineup about sharing gear (drums, amps) and make sure that everyone is cool to share whatever gear is on offer. Make sure they all know what gear they have to bring, and make sure it’s all there for soundcheck.
- Does the venue provide a runsheet? If not, as the person responsible for the booking then make one up yourself.
- Have you forwarded the runsheets on to everyone involved, including the sound/lighting engineers, all the other bands and any other staff you might have on the night (ie merchandise, door staff, etc)
- Does the venue provide door staff?
- Will you pre-sell tickets?
- Does the venue have a relationship with any online ticketing companies? Do you have to use them to pre-sell your tickets?
- Does the venue supply an entertainment rider? What can you expect to receive? (It’s up to the venue what they supply you, it depends on how confident they are that you will pull plenty of heads to pump up the bar take)
- Will you be allowed to sell merch and does the venue take a percentage of sales?
- Does the venue have a noise curfew (this includes soundcheck times as well as the main event), and do they always open doors at a certain time?
- Does the venue offer soundchecks? Find out the window of availability for soundchecks.
- Are there any restrictions on loading in or out gear? Where can you park your vehicles for loadin/loadout? Does the venue offer any parking?
- Will the venue help you advertise the gig?
- Have you planned out a marketing strategy to get as many people there as possible? Check out the Marketing Module to learn more.