How to Book Better Shows for Your Band

by Mitch
The horns at Motley Crue.  MN State Fair 8/29/12.  Flickr.  Dustin Gaffke (Dusty J).  CC-SA

The horns at Motley Crue. MN State Fair 8/29/12. Flickr. Dustin Gaffke (Dusty J). CC-SA

We’ve all been there. You book a gig that you think may be your big break into the local circuit. You’ve spent weeks rehearsing. You’ve called, emailed, tweeted and sent smoke signals to make sure everyone you have ever known, knows about your show. You get there with your leather pants shining, your mohawk standing tall, and all of your social networking contacts are on their way, only to find out that the door guy won’t let you load in because not everyone in your band is over 21. Even though your bassist’s mom says she’ll vouch for you all, the venue is not going to let you play. You realize not only did you just put in weeks of hard work preparing for a gig you aren’t going to play, you’re also about to be very embarrassed when your family and 732 Facebook friends who travelled who-knows-how-many miles, find out they aren’t even going to see you play.

Of course the exact scenario described above may never have happened to you and your band, but chances are, at one point during your career, something similar probably has.

There are countless ways a show can end up ruined before it begins, even if due to no fault of your own. You may not get the local crowd you were hoping for. The stage may not be big enough for your act. The sound system might suck. The possibilities are endless. There are also other issues that could arise that may not end the show before it begins, but could still cause some grief and embarrassment if you weren’t aware ahead of time. Maybe there’s no parking near the venue, the drinks are expensive, or the food is terrible.

Whatever the reason may be, there are ways to avoid most every such issue, if you simply take some time and plan ahead. One quick and easy thing you can do, is simply call the venue beforehand. Below is a checklist of common things you can use when calling, to help you cover your bases. Certainly you would want to edit the list as you feel necessary, adding or removing items as they pertain to you.

  • How big is your venue? (capacity)
  • What are the venue’s hours of operation?
  • If venue is outdoors, what is the plan for inclement weather?
  • Is the show all ages? If not is it 18+ or 21+?

If anyone in your band or crew is outside of the age restrictions, be sure to verify ahead of time if this will be an issue for band members.

  • Is alcohol served at your venue and until what time?
  • Is food served at your venue and until what time?
  • Is parking free? If not, what is the cost?
  • Is parking a dedicated lot? On-street? If not, how far from the venue?
  • Do we need to bring our own PA or does the venue provide?
  • Do we need to bring our own sound person or does the venue provide?

If the venue provides a sound person but you would still like to bring your own, be sure this is allowed as some venues may not want anyone else using their sound equipment.

  • Ask about stage setup/location/size as it pertains to your act.

We also recommend a short checklist of items to confirm with the venue/promoter the night before any event:

  • Event is still scheduled
  • Load-in Time
  • Arrival Time (if different from load-in)
  • Set time
  • Set duration
  • If no dedicated parking, where can the band pull up vehicle to unload equipment

We recommend that you always negotiate and sign a contract before committing to any event. We know that’s not always an option, so be sure to at the very least know what you can expect to be paid, if pay is based on draw and if so, what is the required draw, as well as if your band will be compensated via additional hospitalities such as food, drinks, or a room to unwind in.

Booking shows will always be a necessary part in getting your band up on that stage playing live, strengthening and growing your fan base. Using the tips we’ve mentioned, will get you on your way to booking better shows for you band. This is exactly the idea behind As you browse through the gig opportunities, all the pertinent information is on one easy to read listing with all the details clearly listed, from the show agreement to parking to age restrictions. We want to help bands book better shows and we also know your time is precious. Now you can let take care of organizing all of these details, so your band can use that time for rehearsal and trying on those new leather pants.

One Response to How to Book Better Shows for Your Band

  1. Doug Quattrochi says:

    I saw Evan Goodrow band at one venue where they really could have used a dolly or something. They had to park so far away for loading… They probably knew they could lug it all but that’s a good example of making sure you know the situation…

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