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Tools & Resources

Wed, Mar 11, 2020

Gabriel Kittle-Cervine

Gabriel Kittle-Cervine - Performing Arts Coordinator

9 Tips for Booking Your Band

For the past few years, hundreds of people have gathered in Abbott Square ready to dance under the stars to the hottest local bands every Friday and Saturday night. Since booking over 100 bands every year we've learned a lot about how to make live music shows enjoyable for everyone involved.

Below, we want to share some of the most important things we've learned to help you get booked, reach new audiences, and amplify your brand.

Looking to play in Abbott Square? Reach out here.

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1. Perfect Your EPK

An EPK, or Electronic Press Kit, is an ideal way to show booking managers who you are. Include links to music available online, photos, and videos of you playing. Detail the venues you’ve played in and how long you’ve been playing. This will make it much easier for booking managers to get to know your sound and stay on brand when promoting your music.

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2. Communicate Professionally & Promptly

Booking managers are generally looking to book experienced musicians, who make a living off their music, are good at self-promotion, and communicate clearly. Show whoever you’re talking to that you are professional and you take the opportunity seriously.

Timing is everything. Sometimes if you leave messages unanswered for a day, or even less, you can lose out on a gig. Don't leave a deal hanging. Try to get on the same page about setup details, compensation, and anything else that is relevant to the show as soon as possible.

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3. Utilize Your Network

You can’t rely on the venue who booked you to bring out your audience. Different venues do various levels of promotion, some do a lot and some do next to none. Get a good idea of how much you can expect from the venue, and no matter what, do your own promotion. Invite your friends and family, but also look into your wider community, invite some strangers, or tell friends to bring friends. It’s always ideal when there’s a mix of new and familiar faces.

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4. Diversify Promotion

Making an event page on Facebook is a good start, but that should just be the beginning. Design a flyer and put it up across town. We love the free design program, Canva.

Increase promotion by:

  • Networking at other music shows, if you support someone’s art that makes them much more likely to support you in yours.
  • Think about the crowd you want to see, and intentionally reach out to those people you’d like to rock with.
  • Make it sound like the most exciting event around when you tell friends, family, coworkers, classmates, etc.
  • Try getting your gig into a local newspaper, on an online public calendar, or on-air with a local radio station.
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5. Practice

It’s always awkward when you show up to a gig, set up, get on stage, and then realize that it’s been a few weeks since the band has practiced together. Take pride in your work, and strive for excellence. Take sufficient time to practice and prepare for the show, so that you feel fulfilled by the quality of your performance.

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6. Setting Up Sound

Most venues (like the MAH) have sound engineers on-site to help you set up the show, do a soundcheck, and operate the mixer while you play. If this is the case, collaborate with the person there to support you, treat them with respect, and work with them to maintain a comfortable volume.

Sometimes venues do not provide any sound support. In this case, bring everything you’ll need to be successful. It’s better to bring more equipment than you need than to get stuck at the venue without a necessary piece of gear.

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7. Stay on Time

There is a common occurrence in the circles of live music, where concerts tend to start late to allow as much time as possible for people to arrive, and to give the musicians time to prepare. This can, however, make audience members grow impatient or confused. It is best to stay true to the timeline that was agreed upon, and remember, if you start late that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to make up that time at the end of your show. Always intend to start on time, and do your very best to end on time too.

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8. Making Money

When booking a gig, you want to be on the exact same page with the booking manager and have it in writing about how much money you’ll be guaranteed. Don’t leave the venue until you’ve been paid, unless you’ve made other arrangements for receiving the payment.

Bring a tip jar, and plug it often. Without a doubt, the folks who make the most tips are musicians who tell their audience that the tip jar exists and show gratitude to people who do drop some dollars in.

Get some merchandise together, and have various pricing options. It’s awesome when you make a new fan, and they want to take a bit of the experience back home with them. For people who have $50 to burn, give them a cozy hoodie, but for those who only have a couple of bucks to spend, try to have some stickers or pins available too. Accessibility is key.

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9. Enjoy Yourself!

The most important part of playing a gig, that many working musicians sometimes forget, is to have fun on stage. Music is a magical tool that brings people together, opens us up emotionally and physically, and turns everyone regardless of age into their most childlike self. Don’t get too caught up in the logistical sides of things, remember the core of why you booked this gig: an opportunity to let your creativity flow, melt into the music, and be moved.

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