When it comes to contacting venues most booking agents will either tell you the horror story behind the fiasco or the tips to provide a smooth transition from behind the curtain to the stage. Either way, there are advantages to booking a band as early as possible (or at least as soon as the band’s/artists label has announced that a tour should be organized) to avoid a mishap.
Below are a few steps to follow to ensure a steady, organized list towards booking shows.
1.) As a booking agent have you already booked a show with a venue, be sure to follow up with that venue. Following up can mean the difference between showing up and having a place to hold a gig, or being forgotten and having another band bumped into the slot. This happens because a booking agent does not follow up, especially with new acts.
2.) Emails are still relevant. Some agents tend to find their way via networking through LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms to contact promoters. However, contacting a promoter through email is still considered a classic approach towards being able to bring in more revenue and promotion for a venue show. The first thing a promoter will tell an agent is “Will this band sell out a venue?” If not, it would be best to start at a lower capacity venue to ensure ticket sales.
3.) What happens when a venue cancels or bumps the act? Do not panic, this is where the creative aspect of this business comes into play. Check in with record stores looking to have an acoustic session, Craigslist (this can pay off fairly well but, do not rely on this outlet), contact other music venues within the area who could use an opening act or another act to add to their set. Most of the time when another act can be added to a single night means more coming in for the venue promoters.
4.) Learn to become a salesman. Yes, a salesman, this is an industry and a business after all. Being able to stay on top of contacting promoters shows tremendous dedication, and this is not easily forgotten. Most booking agents will become well known for their follow through based on being able to bag the venue a band/artist wants to play or having a decent connection with a number of marketing promoters. These network connections can make and break an agents reputation as a reliable source.
Part of this article is already addressing the fact that a tour has been set and dates are arranged, however, setting up a tour is the biggest obstacle of all. A tour can run from 12 to 30 plus dates and this means as an agent contacting every venue in the cities willing to open their doors for your act. A handful of questions will be asked by the venue manager about payment, sales, and, of course, promotion. Because at the end of the day not only will the venue make money but, there is a heavy promotion at stake for the venue if an act cancels or does not bring in enough bodies to fill the seats.
These essential steps are a key component towards booking venues, however, that’s only part of the job. Being able to have the experience and contacts will help immensely as booking shows will become easier.