You've put in the time and effort to write great music, hone your skills, and build a following, but you're still not getting booked for good shows.
You’re probably thinking, “what's going on?”
Chances are, with a few small tweaks to your process, you’ll start getting those dream shows sooner rather than later.
In this week’s episode, I go over five reasons you aren't getting booked, and the solutions to those five problems. Listen now to start booking more shows for your band!
What you’ll learn:
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It is time for another episode of the Bandhive Podcast. My name is James Cross, and I'm doing yet another solo episode this week, going to talk about common booking mistakes. before we jump into it, though, I just wanted to say this episode drops on March 8th of 2022, which happens to be my 29th birthday. So happy birthday to me, I hope you're all having a great day. And if I had the budget for you, I would send some amazing vegan baked goods to every single listener. But because I can't do that. Just going to say, Hey, thank you for being a part of the Bandhive journey.
It's super cool to have such an amazing audience who wants to learn how to grow their band as a business. And that makes me really happy. So thank you for being along for the ride. And if we ever meet up in person, I will do my best to get you some vegan pastries and delicious. But that's not what we're here to talk about today.
Instead, we are going to [00:01:00] talk about common booking mistakes, because I see a lot of bands who want to play more shows and I'm assuming that's you too, right? You want to play more shows? Yeah. Well, it takes a lot of effort as you've figured out by now. And if you're like me, it's one of the things you dread most booking is just not fun.
It is always a drag. I've honestly, never booked a show and said, oh, this was fun and easy. I've enjoyed booking shows from the promoter side of things. But as an artist, it is, oh, it's like getting teeth pulled and especially there's some, some things that can go wrong that are pretty common.
Unfortunately. So for example, we've all had that one promoter who takes forever to reply emails, if at all, or a local band who flaked out at the last minute, which you just had. Perfect lineup. And then the band bales and it sucks. And the show just ends up flopping. Those are never fun. Or this one's happened to me.
Unfortunately, the venue we were going to play in Boston a while back, they got [00:02:00] shut down by the city just a few days before the show was supposed to happen, which meant scrambling to find a new venue ensued, which didn't happen. So we lost a show on that tour. It was just a weekend tour, but still it was no fun.
Yeah, not a good time. The good news is that most of these situations and many other situations that can come up while you're on the road are avoidable. For the most part, the question is what do we do? And really it comes down to avoiding some key mistakes, because if these situations are happening, it's typically a sign that we ignored some red flags or made a mistake along the way.
That's not to say though, that if a show does go sideways, it's your fault. It's just kind of, you know, observed the red flags and these will be less likely to have. So in this episode, I'm going to share my top five biggest mistakes to avoid when you're booking shows and the first one it's low hanging fruit.
This one's super easy. This mistake is just not asking other [00:03:00] bands who they prefer to work with in their home market. So let's say I want to play Boston before I reach out to any venues, unless I have an existing relationship with somebody I know and trust their. I'm going to hit up local bands that I know and ask them who they like to play with, you know, like, do they enjoy playing with X, Y, Z promoter?
Who do they recommend? Same for venues. Like where would they prefer to play? What's the best venue to play in the specific size that you're looking for And by all means get details. Ask how often they've played at that venue or worked with that promoter and what they like about it.
And most importantly, what they don't like. a lot of bands will tell you the good stuff and they'll just kind of leave out the bad stuff, unless there's something really cringy that they want you to know about. So it's always better to get the full scoop and give them little prompts to get the necessary information out of them.
It's really useful and can help you avoid bad promoters and bad venues quite easily. Really, if you do your due diligence before you're reaching out to. The next thing [00:04:00] is ignoring an artist's flaky past. So if you want to add locals to your lineup, it's a lineup that you have control over. It's not, you know, like the, the promoter or venue building the lineup.
Before you invite a band to the show, go through their social media for the last year or so. Look at all the shows they announced and see how many of those they actually played, obviously with COVID, if it was canceled for COVID reasons, there's nothing you can really do about that.
And it just, it is what it is. COVID aside, an artist should not be canceling more than one to two shows a year, tops. Like that's already a bit of a red flag, but if they've canceled more than one to two shows a year, skip them and choose somebody else. it's not worth working with them.
They are flaky again. COVID cancellations aside if somebody cancels for COVID, that's absolutely valid. And I support that decision. Like it's always better safe than sorry.
Number three is booking venues without doing any research into the venue for how long they've been established, what other bands think of them, that kind of stuff. [00:05:00] And this really ties into the first mistake, but also goes a little more in depth. So once you've asked friends who they recommend. And they've given you some venues look up those venues.
I like to use Indy on the move. They have reviews from artists. Also read the venues website and see just how legit and put together does the venue look like if it's a dive bar and it's brand new, okay. Are they going to be around? But if they've been around for five or 10 years or more, they're probably not going anywhere because they're an established business.
And I forget the statistic, but it's. 80% of all new hospitality, businesses, restaurants, and bars close within the first three years. So if a business is brand new, I would typically view that with a little more skepticism when I'm booking a show than if they've been around for a decade. and don't get me wrong.
I'm not saying don't play venues that are newer, but tread with caution and kind of have a backup plan in mind, just because if the venues not backed by a good promoter, who's respected in the scene, you might not be able to find on their show last [00:06:00] minute. Or even if there is a good promoter or maybe you can't find something else because all the other venues are booked by the time the city shuts down the venue or the venue runs out of money or whatever, just a couple of days before your show is a set to take place.
Number four. This is a big mistake that I see a lot of artists make when they are desperate and it's booking the first show you find. And it's because it's the only show that that artists can find. You don't want to do that. If you get turned down for a bunch of shows and have to go with a last resort, promoter or venue, it might be better just to skip that market.
Or you can try to book a show for different night with a better venue. If they have availability at that time. with this, you just have to keep in mind that it reflects badly on you. If the venue's awful or the show gets canceled, even if it's beyond your control, your fans want to enjoy the show,
and if they can't because it gets canceled or something's wrong with the venue, their attitude towards you might sour, and that's not something you ever want to have happen. [00:07:00] So even if it's beyond your control, you always want to be looking out for your fans and giving. best experience possible.
That's absolutely something you had to do without compromise. I've seen this at smaller levels. I've seen this at bigger. One thing that don't personally like, House of Blues does this, is they let fans into the show earlier if that fan has eaten at the house of blues restaurant or bought house of blues merch, it's a longstanding policy.
They've been doing it for, I don't even know how long, but quite some time over a decade at least. Most artists just say, ah, yeah, whatever. But I have seen some artists go up and say, no, our fan club gets in first. Then the regular line. We're not letting your people skip the line because that's not fair to the people who were in line for 10 hours all day or something like that.
And at smaller venues, it's the same thing. You know, maybe the venue, like the bathrooms don't have a door and people don't feel comfortable that I've seen one venue with that where. You know, like the guys could go in duck around the corner and no big deal, but [00:08:00] women were not comfortable going into the bathroom at that venue.
Like, I can understand that. Look out for your fans, make sure there's nothing sketchy going on at the venue and don't play venues. That don't seem legit. It's just not a good idea. If there is a red flag there, don't ignore it. And if it's the venue of last resort, just say, Hey, no, we're going to skip this market or we're going to try a different night and get a better venue.
We're not going to accept this show because it's the only show we can find. It doesn't matter. We're not playing it.
Now number five, not following up. This is absolutely the biggest mistake that I see artists don't want to bother people. And that's great. Like I'm not against that. Not bothering people is really good. And being self-aware about bothering people is really valuable, especially in the music industry, but what's not good is sending one email and then never following up.
Honestly, if you want to book a show, you absolutely need to follow up. There's no way around it because promoters and the talent buyers are so overloaded in their inbox. They [00:09:00] are going to miss your email at some point. So here's a quick rundown of how I suggest follow up now.
No, this is for cold emails, meaning you've never talked to this person before. You send them an email saying, this is the show we want at this venue on this date. Here are our links. Here's the live video link. It don't attach, it never attach anything that can get flagged by spam filters and stuff like that.
And just tell them what you want and why they should be. Keep it to a couple paragraphs. You don't want it to be super long. You want them to be able to read it and reply quickly. You don't want them to have to ask a bunch of follow-up questions. You just want to give them the necessary information. three days after you send that first email, if you haven't heard anything back follow up, but give a reason.
Don't just say, Hey, I'm checking in. Everybody hates. Instead, if you've put out, let's say a new live video I think live videos are really great for booking shows because that way the promoter can [00:10:00] see what you look like when you perform live, how the crowd reacts, all that kind of stuff.
So you could say, Hey again, we just dropped a new live performance video, and we want to send it your way because it shows what our show is like. So if you have a chance, check it out and please let us know if we can book a show for this date at your venue.
When you do this, though, do it as a reply to the original email, do not ever start a new thread because then they're going to have to find the original email. And it's just now you don't want them to have to do that.
Then, if this first full up doesn't get a response. Wait, one week after that one week, see if the venue lists of phone number, if they do call them and ask for the person you've been emailing, or if you don't know the name of the person, you've just been emailing like a booking at venue.
name.com. Address asked for the booking department. If that person's not available. Ask the person on the phone to confirm the best email address for booking shows. And when you do this, don't say, oh, is [00:11:00] booking at venue, name.com the right email address, ask them to give you the email address, because if you say, oh, is [email protected] the right address?
They're just going to say yes. But if you say, oh, could you please let me know what the best email address for booking is, then they're going to have to either tell you what it is and they know it, or they're going to have to find out for you.
And that way you can get the absolute best information. And they're not just going to say yes to whatever you say on the phone, even if that's not necessarily the best. If it's a different email than what you had send your cold, pitched that email right away. And if it's the same one, then that's great.
You've been emailing the right person and they're just ignoring you or they've been busy or on vacation or something like that. But either way now, you know exactly which email to use and sorry, millennials, but picking up the phone is a necessary evil. In this case, it will help you book more shows on the other hand, if the venue doesn't list a phone number, just send them another email. Follow-up again, don't say [00:12:00] anything like just checking in, give them a reason to reply. Tell them some new piece of information. If you still don't get a reply after your call or email, wait a week and then follow up one more time.
This is going to be a third and final follow-up.
in this follow-up, you're going to do things a little differently. You're not going to be mean or aggressive, but you want to mention that this is your last follow-up and you're going to try looking at somewhere else. So something along the lines of, Hey, so-and-so we would really love to book your venue for this date, but it seems that you're not interested in booking the show, or maybe you have another show that night, no hard feelings if it doesn't work out, but I wanted to follow up one last time. If we don't hear back from you, we'll try somewhere else in the city and won't bother you again.
But we wanted to thank you for your time in reading this email. Simple. If this last follow-up doesn't get a response, that's fine. Call it a day and pursue other options in the market. But by saying, this is the last follow-up. [00:13:00] Sometimes you will hook them and they will reach back out to you. Not always, it's not a guarantee.
Nothing in life is guaranteed, but it's worth a shot. And I've seen this work for quite a few shows. So take my advice. On your last follow-up tell them it's your last follow-up because you will increase your chances of hearing back. Otherwise they think you're just going to follow up again in another week and then say, oh yeah, I'll get to it next time.
You don't want to be that person that keeps getting pushed down the road because they know you're going to follow up again. Now I want to hear from you just to recap, these five mistakes are number one, not asking other bands who they prefer to work with. Number two, ignoring an artists flaky.
Number three booking venues without any research into how long they've been established or what other bands think number four, booking the first show you find, because it's the only show you can find. And number five, not following up. Those are all five really huge [00:14:00] mistakes that I see artists make all the time.
And I would love for artists to not make those mistakes anymore, But there are so many other mistakes that an artist can make when booking a show or things that can go wrong. I want to hear what your top five mistakes for booking shows would be.
So head on over to the Bandhive Facebook group. You can find it at Bandhive.rocks/group, which will automatically redirect you to the Facebook.
That does it for this episode of the Bandhive Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I do also hope that you will share your top five mistakes for booking shows. If you have them or just say, Hey, you know what? We agree either way, let us know Bandhive dot rock slash group.
Like I mentioned at the start of the episode, this one actually drops on my birthday. So I might not be online a lot when that thread goes up, but I'm flying to Germany tomorrow. If COVID, doesn't throw a wrench in the works. So I will have time when I'm on the way to the airport and all that stuff to get back to all your comments.
And then we'll start that discussion. We'll get in there and start talking about how [00:15:00] to book better show. Thanks again for listening. We'll be back with another brand new episode next Tuesday at 6:00 AM. Eastern time right here in your favorite podcast app. Don't forget to subscribe. If you haven't already, that really helps us out and make sure that you don't miss out on Any of the advice we share every single Tuesday. so again, I hope this episode was helpful for you and you'll hear from us next Tuesday until then.
I hope you have a great week stay safe. And of course, as always keep rockin'.
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