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.
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:
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.
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)
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)
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: