• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

How do you guys go about booking gigs?

Messages
3,040
It seems like we end up busting our butts calling/visting every bar in the tri-county, chasing club owners, leaving messages, mailing promo packs, etc... to get gigs. I'm sure there's an easier way to go about it. How do you guys do it? This is easily my least favorite part about being in a band, so I'm looking for pointers to make it not such a hassle.
 

Probos

Member
Messages
7,189
Our drummer does the booking for us. We have around five places we play on a semi-regular basis (once every 2-3 months). The rest of the time is networking with other bands and such. It's really all about who you know, how many people you can pull, etc. Not so much being that good. Most of the really bigger/better clubs to play in our area are tough to get into.
 

Cap'n Fingers

Member
Messages
2,382
Find a good booking agent. If you want to play regularly it's worth the cut they take to not have to deal with it. A lot of us musician types are just not cut out for sales.
 

PatrickE_FenderADV

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,596
Frankie... you're doing the things you should be doing and yes, it's not fun at all.

BUT maybe you can take solace in this... the Tampa Bay area music scene is just about dead. In Clearwater, where do bands play besides the Beach Bar or the Monkey Bar now that Gasoline Alley moved to Larghetto? Latin or dance music has taken over the Green Iguana on Anderson with a turntable platform smack in the middle of the stage... Ybor is too scary to venture into and Skippers is for eclectic stylings only.

You tell me if I'm wrong or not... tell me where there's a good club/bar in central Pinellas that's a great place to book.
 
Messages
3,040
Mr. Bigot, therein lies the problem. This is an extremely hard area to book, which is why it's so frustrating. There aren't many, "Good," bars around, but there are some paying ones.

So, how does one go about finding a booking agent?
 

toneispower

Member
Messages
411
There is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to booking. I've gotten alot of shows just by meeting people, talking with bands at venues. It's all about who you know. That's my view.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,207
It seems like we end up busting our butts calling/visting every bar in the tri-county, chasing club owners, leaving messages, mailing promo packs, etc... to get gigs. I'm sure there's an easier way to go about it. How do you guys do it? This is easily my least favorite part about being in a band, so I'm looking for pointers to make it not such a hassle.
Frankie, one thing that worked for us was to make it simple for the booking person.

If you mail, or even put in hand, a CD, there's no guarantee they'll check it out. If you do, a follow up call (or calls) is necessary.

However, with technology today, you really should have a video demo on You Tube - or at least some audio with still shots (and of course you should still have your "old-fashioned" promo materials with all your contact info as well)

Walk into the bar with your laptop and you can either wi-fi your demo, or keep it on the hard drive (i-pods are not as good an idea because a lot of people don't want to stick someone else's earbuds in their ears - and they feel like you're imposing).

Another good thing to do is, walk in, sit down, and order a drink. If it's a slow time (which is when you should be doing any of this so the right people will have time to talk to you in a non-hurried situation) you can stat chatting with the staff - hey, I see so and so played here last weekend, how were they? Oh really, I have a band - are you guys looking for some fresh acts? Well, we're really good, here, check out this video (pulls out laptop shows video).

They may talk you up to the person who books the band, or at least be more receptive about telling you what's the best way to get in touch with said person.

ALWAYS have your calendar with you so you can book a date "hey, I have my calendar with me right now, can you check out your schedule and see if there are any open dates?"

You need to make it AS EASY AS POSSIBLE for them - basically, you're booking yourself, and they're just happy they don't have to mess with it. All they show you is the open date on the calendar. It helps of course to know your guys' schedule so you don't book and have to cancel, which can cause more trouble.

The other thing to do is not just look at bars. Talk to EVERYONE you know. Someone you know knows someone who's getting married, throwing a party, etc. etc.

If you have to give a "special rate" to get you into a place, with the promise of more gigs, that's not a bad idea (worked for us).

Booking Agents can be good or bad. They're all in it for the money. And it's not a lucrative business in many areas so they're especially greedy. They will usually work you to death if they're able to book you, but, if you do anything wrong, you end up on the bottom of the list (that means you're the last one to be called for a gig). Be careful about "exclusive contracts" and things like that.

Best,
Steve
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,207
Mr. Bigot, therein lies the problem. This is an extremely hard area to book, which is why it's so frustrating. There aren't many, "Good," bars around, but there are some paying ones.

So, how does one go about finding a booking agent?

Frankie, go to a club, and when the band takes a break, ask them how they got the gig. Some clubs have contracts with agents so they don't have to bother with booking bands, and you'll need to go through that agent.

Most of the bands can tell you that kind of info, and are often willing to share when you walk up and start talking, "hey you sound great tonight, who's doing your sound. I have a band too and we're trying to get into some places like this, how'd you get this gig?"

You get the idea.

Steve
 

panoramic

Member
Messages
1,006
I don't actively seek out gigs but my bands get offered them, so i just wait back and see what happens, with my old band I was really doing alot of footwork to play shows all the time and it drained me heavily to the point of ruining that whole project for me, i felt like a martyr.
 

franksguitar

Member
Messages
3,683
It's like being a salesman with a hit or miss finding the owner of booking person the first time and persistence pays off, have a good promo kit, a website link and MP3's snippets of live not overdubbed produced stuff.
 

jjboogie

Member
Messages
3,780
Many places in Atlanta don't really care how great you are.....they just wanna know that you can pull in 60-100 people.
 

germs

Member
Messages
6,022
...and that's sad b/c it's not band's responsibility to provide a customer base on a given night, especially weekends...

Sounds like some people are choosing the wrong venues to play, and GM's are taking advantage of that...

Otherwise, booking IS tedious, and forces you to get out there and promote yourself in person, be told "no" and all sorts of uncomfortable stuff. All goes with the territory.

I don't know what kind of music anyone plays on the board, but maybe try catering to that specific crowd? You'll likely find more success in the long run, albeit fewer gigs.
 

buddaman71

Student of Life
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
12,929
This is just my experience; take it or leave it.

We focus online for live videos/tunes/comments from bar owners/tenders/waitstaff,etc. If a potential new venue opens up, it's reassuring to them to see positive comments and remarks from their competition/peers/patrons. For the last 3.5 years, my band (a silly red dirt country/80's rock mashup) has played 2-4 nights a week, typically booked out 2-4 months and all booked 100% by us. (A little less lately, as we are recording.) We may not be the best sounding band ever, but we get top dollar in our area and venues tend to call us now, because we put on a SHOW and play every gig like it's Madison Square Garden. (I don't mean a choreographed/costumed douche-fest, I just mean we are tight and tailor our sets to get the crowd involved start to finish.)

When you do play a club, keep the floor packed and think like a DJ. Don't have long, silent pauses between tunes. Really work on your set list, so that tunes, even originals, flow into each other and only break to tune/etc every 3-4 tunes. (If you have tuning issues, get your guitar set up better....) If the crowd's sweaty and hot and hoping to get some action, they will drink more.

Be professional and don't have tension on stage! Save that $hit for breaks or the drive home. I've seen great sounding bands KILL the mood in the room by stupid, petty bickering and even just dirty looks onstage. (If you're in a Sex Pistols Tribute Band, you can get away with that) Have a great time and make sure the crowd knows you want them to come along for the ride. If you're making the bar several grand a night when you play, it's easy to make the top amount feasible for the venue based upon its capacity.

Remember: You're part of the bar's overhead any night you play, so the owner HAS to see an ROI, or it's "negative on the fly-by Ghostrider."

Be ENTERTAINING and interact with the crowd; don't just play your tunes. If you try to be too cool for the room, then the room will be typically be empty.

As for the pulling a crowd, we ALWAYS tell the owners upfront, "Our job is to provide music and entertainment. That's the only thing we can guarantee. Take us or leave us."

If you are REALLY good and entertaining, the crowds will come.

Hope that helps a little...
 
Last edited:
Messages
3,040
Well then something is wrong because what I described works.
What we're doing works, it's just very tedious. I wasn't sure if we were just doing it the hard way, but it looks like the only way is the hard way.

I also don't agree on having to fill an entire bar. A band is just one aspect of a bar's allure, and if the rest of the bar sucks, the band ain't gonna help it. I always bring a decent drinking crowd with me, but the bar needs to have regulars too.

Buddaman: Exactly! Here's what one of the local papers said about us:

“Much better. Cowboy Mafia came out strong and lasted that way for their whole set. Smooth rockabilly-infused metal makes for a good (if odd) mix. Even though the club wasn't packed, these guys played like they were at the Ford Amphitheater. If you ever get a chance to see them around town, make sure to be there. They're one of those truly unique Tampa Bay Groups that actually have some talent.” – Leigh Armstrong, The Tampa Bay Times
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom