Most online tutorials teaching your band how to book shows are missing pertinent information, just like the underwear gnomes. They usually have three steps: 1. select dates and venue, 2. contact venue and then 3. play the show. Hunh? What happened in that second step? How do you contact the venue? What do you even say? This second step is often the hardest and prevents bands from getting booked. At Bandcamp: BOOKING PARTY party we attempted to overcome that knowledge gap for local bands. Several old faces mixed with newcomers to Bandcamp. In attendance were:
- Prairie Cadets
- Montgomery Walker
- Stateside Stereo
- Western Civilization
- The Favorites (Nominated for a Houston Press Music award 2009)
- Wayside Drive
- The Liquid Kitchen
- Insert Name Here
- Spin Alley
- Joe Stone
The goal of the day was simple: work together to book shows for bands in and around their geographical area. To begin doing this bands should already have 1. their press kit including (bio, photo, previous accolades, upcoming events, previous press) and 2. a home base (band’s own website) and/or outposts (last.fm, myspace, facebook). Without these items, initiating a conversation with a booker is more difficult.
The workflow for booking a show in and around your geographical area is as follows. The initial assumptions were that a band had zero contacts in this geographical area. If you do have contacts in a specific area, that would be the first place to start, before you go through this procedure.
- Select Dates
- City and Venue
- Initiate a conversation with the venue
If you’re booking a tour for your band with multiple dates, the rule of thumb is 3 months in advance. If you’re booking just a single show for your band in the surrounding geographical area, you should be able to work in a 1.5 month advance.
Selecting the correct venue can be the most time consuming step. Luckily, we have compiled a comprehensive venue list for major cities within a four hour drive of Houston. The venue selection process begins with a trip to their website (if they have one) where you should look at the type of music they play, paying special attention to their calendar. If the calendar shows nationally popular artists that align with your genre, great, but it may be difficult to get onto the shows as an outsider. If the calendar shows mid-level artists in the same vein as your music, you have a better chance.
Start by following the stated booking procedure listed on the website, if there is one. If not, start with an email or a myspace (*gasp*) message to the venue (a mad libs style email was handed out to attendees). Follow up with the venue by phone later that week (a mad libs style phone script was handed out to attendees). The key points are to be polite and to talk to the booking agent / talent buyer. Follow up as needed with the appropriate contact and be persistent but not annoying.
Knowing all of this allows the group to start booking. The slowest process is researching venues and writing the first mad-libs style email but after the first email it requires just a couple copy-and-paste word switches. A couple hours into writing emails bands expressed comfort in booking alongside other bands and that the booking process was simplified to something they feel is manageable.
Coming later this week:
- a comprehensive venue list for Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Victoria/Corpus Christi that your band can use to book shows
- A mad-libs style email for your band to contact a venue to get booked
- A mad-libs style phone script for your band to a contact a venue to get booked
- a to-do list for your band to contact venues and get booked