Booking Your Own Gigs

Booking your own gigs is a job in and of itself. We are going to share with you some tools to make your job easier and list as many helpful resources and techniques as we can think of, but effective booking requires a certain intuition and business savvy. Let’s begin with trying to get a booking at one or more clubs.

In a bit, we are going to offer you a list of online resources where you can search venues by genre and quickly generate a tentative itinerary simply by picking up the phone and speaking with the resulting contacts in your search. But first let’s take a look at the business of engaging a performance venue. Make sure to get in touch with the person who actually does the booking for the club in your genre of music (many clubs work with various promoters who specialize in a certain genre). Once you know you are speaking with the correct contact person, get the ball rolling:

  • “Hi, I am the managing member of the Polka band, Jane’s Donut Shop, and we are interested in learning more about your venue for a possible tour date. Does this interest you?”
  • “Excellent, what is the capacity at your club?” If the club is too small, you may want to reconsider playing there.
  • “Are sound and lights provided? Can you describe the setup?” A personal note: sound at many clubs, although loud, may not be great. It may be worth investing in your own PA system.
  • “We require that all gigs be confirmed in writing. Will you be comfortable with that if you decide to book us?” If the contact says no, politely decline to pursue the matter further.
  • “Great. I’d like to send you our press kit along with a live recording (if possible, video is even better—if it’s good). I’ll contact you a couple days after you receive it and we can try to nail down a date if you are still interested at that time.”

Once you confirm that the club wants you, here are a few specific checklists you can review and combine to create your own thorough checklist of what to address with the person in charge of booking.

Booking issues aside for a moment, we found this cool Gig Equipment Checklist (stuff you should bring with you) that will help you keep your sanity and predict most mishaps that could otherwise have an adverse effect on your experience. We came across another nice one here.

Now for some good stuff. You can search some of these sites by genre.

Now, if you wish to kick it up a notch, here’s a little trick that can give you some really good booking leads. Visit Pollstar (the very best method of tracking concerts), then conduct a search for a band or artist of similar style to yours. Make sure to pick one that is doing smaller venues and not stadium shows (unless of course you think you can fill a stadium—now be real, folks). The point here is to pick a band or artist at a fairly obscure level because they are likely to be booked at venues that are interested in breaking new artists and don’t pose the same risk to the promoter or owner. This is a good inroad to booking at the right clubs for you since some other hard-working individual or business has done the deed of canvassing venues across the country that cater to your style of music. Crafty, eh? Pollstar will list the venues on a tour in a column. If you click on the venues which have an “i” within a solid circle, the resulting page will include the contact information for that venue under a header called “Related”. Even better, most of these results include a link directly to the venue Web site. For venues that do not offer any of this information, at least you still have the venue name, city and state. With that, you can simply go to Club Planet, enter the state and search for the club. We would suggest Verizon, but even that wasn’t as reliable as Club Planet. Go figure. Anyway, if worse comes to worst, simply do a Google search including the club, city and state all in the search field. You’re bound to strike oil. There it is. Have fun kids!

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