One of the education panels at third annual FoCoMX was on how to book a show. The panelists covered best practices, band etiquette and took many questions from the eager audience.
Below are the notes I took on my iPad while I was attending. They are live/really rough notes, which is why it bounces around a lot, but there is some great advice in here for bands. Enjoy!
Kyle Stych from the Aggie – Great bands do not always equal good shows. Do not just send me a CD of your music, you need to convince us that you put on a good show. Prove to us via Myspace hits/plays etc, tell us what your other biggest shows were with ticket sales and attendance.
Eric Imbrosciano – Be professional, don’t email me ‘Hey dude! Book our band!’ Put availability, include links to your Facebook, Myspace, Sonic Bids etc
Greta Cornett – And please don’t say ‘google me’, or ‘find me on facebook’ give me a link, I do not have time to google, or find you on fb
Jim Norris – Cut to the chase, give me links, although myspace is dead I think. Tell me when you’re going to be available. Know my venues. Punk, country, metal, indie rock, not so much jam bands. 3 kings tavern. Do your own background research.
Kyle - 3 sentences? Awesome. 2 pages? Not so much, I don’t have time to read your email, let alone respond. Say something simple: “We are this type of band and we want to book with this band.” Boom, done.
Eric - I do not know why I said Sonic Bids earlier, that’s bullshit, we don’t need to pay to get into clubs. Not a fan of sonic bids.
Q from audience – Online press kits, where do we go if not sonic bids? A reverb nation?
Evan - festivals fund Internet, gas, etc off of sonic bids and only choose 3 out of millions that pay/apply. I try and find other means ie William Morris doesn’t need to use sonic bids
Eric - If you don’t know William Morris, he is the Ari Gold of music for those entourage fans out there
Greta - sonic bids might not be the best, but it is a good backbone for what we want in a website (so go there and copy them)
Kyle - 100 people at Aggie looks bad for the band, at least at Hodi’s when there are 100 people it’s half full. I don’t use Sonic Bids, I use Greta she is a wealth of information. Knows all the local bands. I call her up and say “I have this show coming through, who do you know that sounds like xxx, and she will come back to me with a list of bands.”
Evan - Opening acts, might take awhile to book. Especially for big acts that know they will sell out. Sometimes they do not book the support until a few weeks out.
Eric - $20 – A bands friends will not pay that much to pay to see the band as an opening act, so know your audience and what they are willing to pay to see you.
Kyle - Support band is the support. We are leaning on the band to help us push the venue, but we are putting you on the bill with national acts. This is your time to network with them. I will do a metal show every night of the week. Those fans are awesome and show up right when doors open, ready to go. Jam bands? Not so much, they roll up at like 11 pm, and do not drink as much.
Jim - If you don’t bring anything to the table why should I book you? You need to network with a touring band, it’s a huge opportunity. Don’t waste it.
Kyle - Exactly, take Jim from Railbenders. He has opened for Roger Clyne many times and they became friends. When Roger needed a new guitarist they looked to him and now Jim is on tour with Roger Clyne.
Eric - You need to show me that you are getting word out about your show, but don’t email me everyday ‘I put up posters today on campus,’ and the next day ‘hey I printed handbills’ etc.
Greta - band etiquette – It is really hard to book a band that plays every weekend in Fort Collins, you do not want to over saturate the market. Also don’t disrespect other bands playing with you. And be nice to the bar staff
Anthony Casale – There was this one band, that was on stage 10 mins, started a fight, after the singer said something about the drummers mom, and then wanted to get paid. Don’t do that. Also Motorhome is a great example: there are only so many times in a month that you dip into your audience’s pocket for shows.
Jim - 9/10 times if we agree on it, I will reimburse you for the flyers you make. You want people to show up for you, market yourselves, put your name at the top, even if you are not the headliner. So what? It is still your show and you want your audience there for you.
Evan – Also it is nice if you are able to sometimes share a back line, makes it easier for everyone, especially the drums. Like at Walnut Room, where you have to load in across the bar. Another band etiquette – if you have a free tab, you still need to tip 20% on it. It is all about respect. If the bar backs are treated badly, it will get back to management and you may not be asked back to that venue.
Kyle - The Aggies posters are effective – they work. Keep it simple – band, venue, date, time, photo. Small print is for website, where to get tickets. If I have to spend more than 3 seconds figuring it out where and when you are playing, I won’t go.
Greta - Also we will gladly share our press email lists with bands wanting to get their names out there. Just ask. You may want to ask people in other states for their lists also, we do it all the time. If you have a website, put your shows up on websites!
Anthony - Contracts are not necessary, but you should always get something in writing, email etc. Even for bar tab, or 10 spots on the guest list.
Kyle - even if you agree over the phone, send an email followup confirmation.
Q from audience – should we be asking for stuff?
A-Kyle- definitely ask, ‘whats the compensation for this?’ It might be $100, or a case of beer, or a guest list, but it is worth a shot.
Evan- If it’s over 3 hours away? Ask if they have deals with hotels, or if they have a band apartment.
Greta- You don’t always need to play a free show, don’t train your audience to never pay to see you, but work your way up slowly. Do a few free shows, then charge $5, after a few times charge $10.
Jim- I like the word compensation. Seems better and less coarse than other words.
Anthony-s how your worth and we will pay more
Q – rider?
A- Anthony - You can always email with what you want, no guarantee you will get it though.
Evan- Tech rider? Yes. Hospitality? Can be a little diva-ish. One exception? Allergies. If someone in the band is super allergic to something, let us know. I mean he could die! That wouldn’t be a good show!
Kyle- Opening bands riders won’t get read until day of show. Water and towels? Expected. Beer? Maybe. You can always ask for it. Tech riders? Necessary. If you have specific needs, let us know, or bring your own. ‘House must have a system that can support…… Etc.’
Evan- Also, bring stuff that works and always have a spare with you, not out in the van that is parked 3 blocks away.
Greta- If you have more than 6 people, you should give the venue a stage plot with the rider so they know how many people/mics etc.
Kyle- Only have 1 guy deal with the sound guy. Don’t have everyone go ask the same question. Be ready to go on, don’t dick around.
Greta- I said earlier that you should not over saturate the market, but there is a time early on where you can play every weekend. Slowly start charging and see if people show. Start a business plan, write out what you want the next 6 months to look like and stick to it.
Eric- I like the idea of a business plan. But take baby steps. Open at Hodi’s, Open at Aggie, Headline at Road, but space it out. Don’t go immediately from $5 at hodi’s, to $10 at aggie and expect your audience to follow you.
Greta- Make friends with bands in Denver and cross book. Reciprocrate. Open for them one month and have them come to FoCo the next month and show them the love.
Jim- Hit the full Colorado market, and play these mountain shows. Go to Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins in a weekend. A lot of bands are doing this now.
Kyle- Remember that music fans are fickle. I may have loved your band 2 years ago, but if you didn’t get out there and tell me you were coming back, then I missed your show last month. Build a community together. Find other bands from other states and tour with them. Reciprocate.