Guest Post: How to book your band.


I’ve posted advice for existing and aspiring bands before, and I thought this email from a pro would be useful.  It was sparked when I saw his Facebook status the other day: “Great way to start the day: my favorite venue in the country complimented my email skills in contacting them to booking a date. It’s the highest praise I could hope for.”

The status went on to some comments & basically the author said he’d share the knowledge with those who cared to learn.  I asked if I could post it in a blog, and here we have it.  If you’re in a band on any level, pay heed to the advice below.

As far as background on Bengt, he’s in a band (& been in many), he records bands, he’s booked bands, and he’s generally been in every part of the scene.  He knows what he’s talking about.

Action Camp

Action Camp

On to the advice & the guest part of this guest post:

♪♫♩♬♩♫♪

Alright, so here is what we usually send like 99% of the time. There always a bit of customization but this is the basic format:

1. Greeting, name the booker if you know it (usually listed on indieonthemove.com or their website)

2. Band name (with a link to the website), genre, location.

3. Date(s) requested in bold. They love that, it makes it easier read. If you can swing 3-5 dates that’s best, it gives them room. Do them a favor and check the website for those dates first, they appreciate that a ton. Also make sure to follow their booking procedure to the T. A lot of places have a specific way they like to work (Facebook message, Sonicbids, email format, etc). If you do it right it shows you listened so you’re already at the top of the pile.

Also, if another band that’s played there before suggested it, tell them so. It’s like introducing yourself to anyone else and starting with saying you have a mutual friend. It’s a job reference.

4. Links to music, video, press – let them decide if they want to book you. The more you talk about how awesome you are and why you should be booked, the more they think you probably suck and are trying to gloss over it. It’s like handing someone your demo and saying it’s not your best work.

5. If you played there or in the city before tell them. If you know what you drew and stuff be honest, they love that.

6. Offer to help build the bill, and specifically name bands you know or have contacted already.

7. Thanks in advance, Thanks for your time, etc.

8. ALL of your contact info including phone numbers. It shows you are easy to reach and you have your shit together.

One final thing: DON’T say someone famous produced your record, quote random blog reviews, list facebook or twitter numbers, anything like that. No one cares about that if they know what their doing in the working touring circuit. Steve Albini producing your record won’t make 100 people come out in Dayton on a Monday night, and facebook and twitter followers are ostensibly your imaginary friends that only you can see. Plus, even you have 4,000 people odds are only 10 of them are near the venue you are trying to book.

Here is exactly what I sent to Southgate House:

Hello Morrella,

We are Action Camp, an art rock duo from Pittsburgh, PA.

We’re looking to see if you have Friday February 15th or Saturday the 16th available to book in the Revival Room – both look open on your calendar but I wasn’t sure if you would do a full house those nights. Our music is pretty different from what’s going on those nights so I’m not concerned about audience bleed over. This would be our 4th time to Southgate, 7th time in 3 years in the Cininnati/Newport scene. We know plenty of bands so we’d throw a bill together with 2 or 3 locals to help support.

– You can hear our music at actioncamp.bandcamp.com or at our website below.
– Here is a recent video from our 2012 summer tour
– And some press from our Winter tour just a couple weeks ago.

If these are unavailable I’d love to work something out in the future. Southgate was/is by far our favorite venue on tour, I can only assume the new house is great. Sincerely, I (Bengt) booked a venue in Pittsburgh, and based many of my practices on the way SGH was run by Rick and his crew.

Previous dates:

Parlour 10/1/2010 (Gallery Opening, free show, 100+ attending)
Parlour 1/2/2010 (w/ Duppy a Jamba, 97 paid)
Parlour Summer 2009 (Flux Capacitors last show, well attended, don’t have stats)

Our most recent dates in the area were both in Cincinnati:

12/8/2012 The Comet Cincinnati, OH (100+, free show)
7/5/2012 Sitwells Coffeehouse Cincinnati, OH (smaller acoustic show, last minute add on tour)

Thanks in advance, can’t wait to see the new place,

– Maura + Bengt (Action Camp)
http://www.action-camp.com
actioncamp@gmail.com
###.###.####

So that’s it, pretty simple. Just be honest and to the point. I also should point out that this was 1 of 10 venues we emailed on Christmas, and he got back just a day later with this response:

“Thanks for writing. Those dates aren’t announced yet, but they are spoken for. How about Wed Feb 13, or Sun Feb 17?

“PS – very well done email, especially listing previous show turnouts. You’re way ahead of the curve on that one, and it did persuade me to jump on this, and get you in!”

I always email every venue that would work for us in a city, it’s better to have choices than no show at all.

Hope this all helps,

– Maura + Bengt (Action Camp)
http://www.action-camp.com
actioncamp@gmail.com
###.###.####

♪♫♩♬♩♫♪

So, there you have it.  Got it?  Good.  Doing research in advance before you ask for dates seems like a no-brainer, but apparently it needs to be said.  I guess some bands naturally put more thought into stuff.

I’m not sure how you’d approach this if you had no previous gigs in an area… perhaps we can get Bengt to comment further for new bands, first time tours, etc.?

Check out the Action Camp video here:

The first official Ernie and the Berts interview?


<shameless plug>

Check out this interview with Ernie and the Berts from AZ Productions!

</shameless plug>

Super old music scene rant… Unprofessionalism [2005]


I just mentioned this in a blog, and then I found it.  I think this was on my MySpace blog, but I can’t find it there.  It’s an old rant from 2005 that I emailed to myself for some reason.  I don’t know if I ever posted it anywhere?  Maybe I did then deleted it?  It’s incredibly whiny and laced with profanity.  I sound like a little crybaby.  That’s what happens when you go on the internet & rant, I guess.

Русский: Jim Dunlop - Original Crybaby (GCB-95)

Wrong kind of crybaby...

I felt like posting it since I did reference it.  It wasn’t exactly on the same topic, but it is a guy in a band whining about stupid show-related problems.  When it all comes down to it, I just have fun jamming.  None of this trivial BS outweighs that.  I can’t express that enough.  I’m glad to have a current band that rocks & is a continuance of such fun.

Maybe I made this private or didn’t post it because I named names.  None of the band names or venues exist, or are at all relevant any more, which I guess says a lot.  Maximum effort, minimal results.

-✍-

Unprofessionalism

Is that even a word? Well, now it is. Everyone’s always complaining about the Pittsburgh “scene”, and stating what the problems are or what-not… Okay… not everyone… just people involved in it who like to complain I guess. Well, I have another complaint to add to this mysterious master list that bites my ass… and I don’t know how to put a tag on it other than “Unprofessionalism”. Really, before you pick the term apart… I realize that most bands on the local level & most bands that we deal with aren’t doing this “professionally” per se… they’re not making a living at it, they’re doing it more as a hobby or fun activity. Well, good for you… I do it because I love it too. Sometimes, some people (musicians & booking people) make it hard to love.

People, unintentionally or not… can be assholes. Now, I’m a very laid back kinda guy (ask anyone). Although, I guess I get uptight at certain things… like when I can’t get straight answers… and when things that my name (or my bands’ name as an extension of that) are attached to go otherwise than according to plan.

Two ball-breakers hit for this weekend’s double header.

First one, not so big of a deal, but annoying as all hell in my eyes. We’re put on a last minute show. Okay. No biggie. No notice? Someone pulled out? Okay. All I ask is that I get the details, as I guess I’m the self-appointed show-pimper(-nazi). When I mean details… I mean time, cost, address, website and/or phone # of venue, name of venue, name(s) of band(s) playing, and said bands’ website url’s. Not particularly toilsome information to provide, right? Well, apparently this is the most difficult task to ever assign anyone who calls themselves a musician, booking agent, or club owner. No one ever knows the ☠⚡☣☢ing answer to anything. The ‘confirm the date and I’ll get back to you’ shit is stupid… they get back to you the week before hand, and expect you to have a place packed with your fans and friends. People need to know what the hell is going on before they commit to something. People (me) need to know what the hell is going on before the show… a month before… so they can advertise, flyer, talk about it, get the word out.

Why are the other bands important? Well… people are more likely to go out to a show if there’s 3 bands they like vs. just one. Which brings me back to the point where I think I was going before I got to a rant inside of a rant inside of a rant…

The early show at the Spider Lounge… we were given a list of bands that’re playing. I start promoting on last minute notice that there’s a show going on, we’re playing, & this is who else is playing… The Abbitoir Murders see said advertising… and they’re like… “Hey, we’re not on that…” Apparently, one guy is even going to be out of town, so there’s no way they could. Turns out they were asked the vague ‘wanna play a show’ question, never heard anything as far as details, and assumed it went kaput. Now, this is not their fault. It’s the fault of whoever set up the show. Who did set up the show? I dunno. I thought we had set up a central booking guy in order to keep all of the shit in line… so all details & info could go through him and he could ask the right questions… but apparently no one passes show info to him other than me. There was a reason for my madness that apparently no one else sees here. The way I see it though, I’ll play anywhere… so I go along with this, even though I have no idea what the ☠⚡☣☢ is going on. Don’t blame me if we can’t bring any people out because I can’t answer any detailed questions. One thing I hate more than other people being dumb, is looking dumb myself. I get word out on everything I know… then everything changes, and I look like an idiot that doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.

In with this gripe goes websites… I ask for band or venue urls.., and I’m surprised at how many have none or incredibly out-dated information. It’s 2005. Everyone knows someone with the internet. There are free sites out there, like this one, that can get information about your place up & out. Message me if you want help with this. I’ll do it gladly. That way… when people are like “I don’t know”, we can go to the website to check out times, directions, schedules, lists of bands, etc… but even at that, the shit changes so often because bands are pulling out, or people are saying the so-and-so band is gonna be there when what they meant is that they were thinking about asking that band to maybe play… so what’s the f’n use I guess? Then I get the band’s “too new” to have a website. Well, if you’re too new to have a website, you’re too new to play a show. Get the word out there before you play. Start some hype. Tell people about yourself.

In with all the above is what I call the AMC/Club Angel’s Phenomenon. This includes some strange practices indeed… the AMC part is where you book three bands after telling the club you’ll take care of it… then you get there and 3 more bands have been added to the show, yet it’s set to start at the same time as previously advertised… and somehow, the bands that were added go on 1st, take way too long to set up, play for 45 min., and the bands you’ve booked & your bands get ☠⚡☣☢ed into short sets and playing after PA’s teen-driving curfew time so no one’s left to watch you anyway… not even the fans that were pissed that they came out too see you & had to leave before you went on, or face the possible wrath of a bored state trooper, or irate parent. The Club Angel’s side is where they call you and put you on a show… tell you the names of 2 other bands that’re playing… so you advertise those bands… get there, and find there’s five other bands on the show… none of which are the two you’ve been advertising.

Wow… all of that ranting and confusion from one little show?

The next show… we’ve had planned for how long? I dunno… a long time. Us, Moment of Tragedy, & the Have Nots. This show? Jason booked it so we have all the bands set, all the details set, things were confirmed, flyers were made & put up, and all is good to go. No problem, right?

Well, today… (the day before the show) We’re informed that the Have Nots are no longer a band. Okay. The Have Nots are a great band. They’ve put us on shows before. I love to watch them play. They all seem like nice guys. But, seriously… WHAT THE ☠⚡☣☢? I know, shit happens. You might not get along anymore. You might not have practiced a lot lately. All things that don’t happen overnight… so this falls under “Things that should have been brought to our attention prior to yesterday” (to paraphrase Robbie the wedding singer). And… again… this show has been planned for a while. Is there no such thing as being honor-bound to play, or finding someone to take your place? We still haven’t gotten “official” word. Were they just gonna be a no-show tomorrow had Mike not talked to Ed?

I’ve only ever backed out of a show one time… that’s when Boner & Ben quit AiXeLsyD the morning of a video shoot that we were to have at Angry Johnny’s for “Stand Up” in order to appear on Pittsburgh cable show The Venue. There was a whole lot of chaos going on that day, so it was understandable IMO. Other than that, any time shit arose… we either played w/o a band member, got someone to replace a band member & learn a set within weeks (Thanks Jake, now of the Last Hope, for helping form the Fismits and opening for the Undead when AiXeLsyD couldn’t do it!), and An-Die and I have even played acoustic sets when a drummer bailed. The Rally Ally loved that shit. Even that day we cancelled… I called around like a mother-☠⚡☣☢er trying to get someone out who knew our drum parts… and then, eventually called everyone putting the show together and told them we couldn’t make it. I’d never just bail & not pass the word on.

Is there no code of honor among musicians? No common bond? No feeling of being on the same team or striving for the same goal? Get some convictions, people.

The whole booking thing before… I could get involved in our whole deal with Shadrag’s Entertainment, but I digress… and we’ll save that story for another day.

So… in conclusion (you were following that I was making a point here, right?) maybe all the Pittsburgh scene needs is for all of us to get our shit together. We need to plan, organize, and follow through. It’s not that hard. Well, I know it’s hard for artists of any type to do anything so regimented… but if you stay regimented in this facet, maybe it will push you to be even more free on the artistic side. Who knows? Try it, you might like it. If we all got our facts straight before we answered questions, if we all advertised the same shit for the same day & time, if we all stuck to our commitments, and if we all communicated better… we’d have a hell of a lot more fun in a less stressful environment.

The night view of Pittsburgh skyline from Moun...

Yinzburgh

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Pittsburgh’s Food Allergy Walk 2011 Recap


4th out of the 5 top individual earners!

4th out of the 5 top individual earners!

So, we had a great time on Sunday at the Pittsburgh Food Allergy Walk!  I was honored to receive a certificate for being a top individual fundraiser, and glad I could help.  I was also asked to perhaps take part in getting the word out next year, and maybe be in on some of the planning.  My online chatter was picked up by this year’s volunteer chair Uwe Winzen, as well as the founder of EpiMoms (I’m a terrible person, I forgot her name already).  How cool is that?

(I say next year, we get the 501st Legion out there!  –  Looks like they appeared at some other cities’ food allergy walks!)

Campaign Progress | Goal: $50,000.00 Achieved: $39,333.05

Campaign Progress - Goal: $50,000.00 Achieved: $39,333.05

As of right now, the site states that we raised $39,333.05 toward the $50k goal.  I head a number in the $40 range on Sunday, but perhaps they’re still tallying cash & check donations made the day of the walk.  With online & offline donations, I raised $560.55 and Bethany raised $106.85… so we raised a total of $667.40.  We quite literally could not have done it without the support of our friends & family.

I did notice that I was in the minority… all the walkers received a ribbon: Blue for people with food allergies, green for friends & family supporters.  I didn’t see too many people my age or older with blue ribbons.  It seemed to be a core of families who had small children & young teens with food allergies.

Kyle Dine

Kyle Dine

It was fun to finally meet & see a performance from Kyle Dine after talking via Twitter & Facebook.  After all, we do represent the #FoodAllergyDudeArmy.  Kyle does great work educating kids on what to do regarding not taking food from just anyone, getting an adult to read labels, and speaking out right away about reactions…  as well as letting them know they’re not alone.  I also got to personally thank local celebrity Sally Wiggin for her generous donation!  She called me a sweetheart.

I have some photos up on Facebook, and hope to send them to FAAN so they can be placed in their Flickr photostream.  Hopefully others will comment on the day’s events at the Pittsburgh Food Allergy Walk Facebook Page.

Got a nice little video thank-you from FAAN too:

Smiley Cookie

Smiley Cookie

One of the coolest things I took away from the day was talking to Chef Regis Holden from Eat ‘n Park about their food allergy policies & procedures.  He told us how he worked with Bill Moore, their Director of Safety and Security, to develop practices from marking the order, to looking up all of the ingredients with possible cross-contaminants, to this awesome little purple kit with a sterile sanitary contaminant-free cutting board, knife, tongs, and other tools.  Chef Holden also spoke of yearly allergen training video refreshers, and of how he had just recently heard good things about the Eat ‘n Park on Banksville Road which is nearby.  I may just have to go see for myself, and blog about their process and my adventure!

Thanks again to everyone who gave us donations, and to the walk organizers.  I think we did some good work for FAAN!