If you’re wondering how to get yourself booked for shows without a booking agent this article will provide you with the insight needed to set realistic expectations for yourself and become more aware of the opportunities that surround you. So let’s cut the crap and get straight to it shall we?
How Many Fans Will You Bring?
First things first. If you were to book a show at a venue in your area how many of your fans would realistically show up? Five? Fifty? One Hundred?…Zero? Before even approaching a venue it’s important that you know this answer. And again be realistic with your expectations. The reason I say this is because the more people you’re able to bring to a venue the more likely you are to get booked for the venue.
As an artist your fan base is your support system and it’s the greatest leverage that you have when negotiating with people at venues. The more people you bring through the door the more money the venue makes and the more money you’re likely to make and life is good for everyone!
Don’t Have Enough Fans For The Venue?
Hypothetically speaking let’s say you’re wanting to perform at a nice club nearby and you’re required to bring at least one hundred people to the venue but realistically you can only rely on fifty fans to show up. Then you may want to consider doing something called gig swapping. Which basically means you reach out to another artist to perform with you who can also bring fifty of their fans. This is a great example of why it’s important to collaborate with artists who add value so that it’s mutually beneficial for both of you.
Don’t Have Any Fans For The Venue?
If you can’t bring any fans to the venue then truthfully you will find it difficult to get booked at most venues unless it’s an open mic event. From the perspective of the venue owner you’re not adding any value to their establishment since you can’t bring anyone with you which doesn’t make them any money.
But try to think of other ways you can add value. Maybe tell them you’re willing to open up for another artist for free, provide free help with labor around the venue, build them a new awesome website or provide graphic design work for an upcoming show, hand out promotional flyers for them, cook them a meal, wash their cars. It may sound silly but you never know until you ask…it just might work! The worst they can tell you is no right?
Finding venues to potentially perform at isn’t that hard unless you live in the middle of a desert. Do you remember that big yellow book appropriately called the yellow pages? Yeah, break that thing out and look up all the clubs, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, fairgrounds and any other place you may think provides live music on occasions. Write down their information and see if you can find them on the internet via their website or social media so you can get a sense of what they have coming up.
While you’re on the internet do a search on Facebook for live events that are happening near you and make note of any that peak your interest. Do a google search for “your cities name” concert to see what concerts have taken place in the past, where they were and who was involved with it and again keep writing down any information you come across.
If your city has seasonal events and festivals look more into those as well and get ahead of approaching events and dig for information to find the right person to get in touch with. Keep your eye out for any local publications such as newspapers and their websites which typically will post about upcoming events.
Stay in touch with local radio stations to see what events their promoting and do more digging to gain contacts.
Look up any companies or DJ’s that provide live sound services for venues. Introduce yourself, be friendly and let them know you’re available if someone in your musics genre ever needs an extra act to perform.
Keep a look out for artists that have been performing in your area recently. Contact them and see if they will let you open up for them sometime. Again always remember to add value! If they are adding more value than you see if you can balance the scales by helping them in return any way that you can.
Approaching A Venue
When approaching a venue be polite, personable and confident. Try to find out as much information about them before hand. This will give you an idea of what type of artists they’ve booked in the past and also some talking points during the conversation to let them know you’ve taken the time to check them out.
Be prepared to provide them with an E.P.K “Electronic Press Kit” if they ask for one. An E.P.K is basically all the relevant information about you as an artist that they can easily access online. This should include a picture of you, Album artwork, bio, a few of your best tracks, video footage, stats, relevant press you have received and all of your contact and social media information.
If the venue is particularly important to you and you want to make a strong first impression consider visiting them in person during a time when they are not busy. This will make your initial contact much more personable and memorable. Make sure to bring something physical with you that you can leave behind such as a CD, business card or a simple gift basket to show them that you appreciate their time.
As an artist your local surroundings is your turf and it’s your business to know what, when and where events are going on. Make sure you have a grasp on your local scene and get engaged with key contacts which may be the gatekeeper that lands you your next gig! Once you hit it off well with someone who’s able to help you out make sure you stay connected with them and keep adding value to their lives. A Happy Birthday text message or e-mailing them a funny picture on a mundane Monday is a great way to let someone know that you truly appreciate them!
How Did I Do?
Did you find this article helpful? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear from you so make sure you drop your 2 cents in the comments section below!