From our good friends over at Grassrootsy , here is a great guide on booking gigs:
As I painstakingly work to finish booking my Fall tour, this post has popped into my head. If you have other questions that you find yourself asking on a regular basis, stick them in the comments section.
In no particular order…
1. Is it Worth the Trip?It’s not a home gig?
Then you need to decide if you’ll be wasting your time or not. Nothing like driving home from a gig that was 4 hours away and saying to yourself, Wow I cant believe I just wasted a tank of gas for that!.
2. Will it Move Me Forward?
Will the show put you in front of a new audience? Will it be a a door opener? Will it be a resume builder? In every situation (or as many as possible), you want to be playing for new potential fans in addition to existing ones. You don’t want to be a fly on the wall b/c anyone can do that. Make sure the shows you pick truly allow you to show off your talent and uniqueness. This will be what moves you forward.
3. Do I Want to Do it?
Sometimes you have to play the sucky gigs that pay well in order to play the good ones that don’t. But with those exceptions aside, you just shouldn’t take gigs you’re not excited about. Nothing worse than playing a show because you felt you had to. You never have to do it.
4. Is This the Right Room For Me?
Don’t play rooms that don’t make sense. If you do alot of covers, you’re not going to go over well with an audience that goes to shows for original music. If you don’t play covers, you most likely wont go over well at a 4-hour long gig. If you’re a rock band, playing in a listening room just wont work for your sound no matter how much you like the space. Be smart in your room-picking decisions.
5. Can I Draw People Out?
Truth be told, you could be playing in the same city and on the same street, but it’s often much harder to pull people out to a venue that’s under the radar verses a venue that everyone knows. Sometimes you have to pick the venue with the better reputation simply because you know it will increase your turnout by 20 people…even if it means you’ll make less of a cut or have a harder time dealing with their management.
6. Can I Fill The Room?
If you cant pull out 100 people, don’t play the larger room. Filling a small room is exponentially more important than scraping to fill a larger room. Also, keep in mind: just because you can fill a room in a city on a Friday night doesn’t mean you can fill it on on a Monday. Consider date of event, time of event, and whether its an all-ages or 21+ crowd. These little details factor heavily into the night’s turnout.
7. Is it Worth the Work?
Nothing wrong with a little work, right? Right! But there’s also nothing worse than lugging all your equipment, spending your whole evening setting up, playing, and tearing down only to get paid $50 to play to a crowd that didn’t even notice you were there. It wasn’t worth it…especially if you didn’t make some serious new fans or sell alot of CDs. You’re wasting your time. Re-evaluate and ask yourself if this type of gig is helping you reach your long term goals.
8. Will The Other Artists Pull Their Own Weight?
If there are 3 bands on the bill, each band should be helping to promote. You should not be doing all the work…and if you are, you should get out of that situation quickly. If the money is being split 3 ways, then each group needs to contribute what they can to make the show a success. No slackers allowed. It’s not fair to the people who are working their butt off.
9. Will I Go There Again?
This isn’t the average question most of us ask, but it’s a good one. Try to play in cities that you want to visit on a regular basis. When you consistently visit that city every 2-3 months, building a following becomes very easy and systematic. But when you’re playing cities that you’ll never return to, its hard to build upon your fanbase in that area. Read: ”How to Get From “Local Artist” to “Touring Musician”.
10. Is it Good Money?
Money isn’t everything. Trust me. Making money is secondary to making fans. Once you make die-hard fans, the money will come. However, making money is still important if you are a working musician. Some terrible gigs are worthwhile simply b/c they pay. When you are considering whether or not to take a gig, it is often important to consider whether or not it will pay. It can also affect your booking process and you may have to leave your Fridays/Saturdays open only to paid gigs (maybe until a month out) before giving them away so quickly to pro-bono events.
Ok, so use these questions to guide your booking process and let us know if it helps!