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.
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.
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,
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.?
So, bands… where & how do you advertise shows these days? There is of course your own website (if you even bother to have one), social media, and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Do you still print physical show fliers? Where do put them? Do you pass out handbills? How many friends, family members, classmates, co-workers, and casual acquaintances do you annoy with news of your shows & how often?
Which ones do you use & which ones do you find effective? I know bands helped animated gifs with glittering text kill MySpace. At what point of posting about your band / shows / music / merchandise does it become over-saturation?
Do you hit the local papers or their websites with classified ads or event listings? Do you post on local radio websites?
Do you post on the venue’s (and/or promoter’s) website/Facebook/Twitter/etc.?
Do you have an email list?
If you hang flyers, where do you hang them? If you pass them out, where do you pass them out?
Here are some local sites where I’ve listed (or tried to list) our stuff… Not sure if it’s drawing anyone out.
Insanity. Chaos. Deafening yet hooky melodies. Beer. If these all seem like good things to you, you need to be at this show. Add this to your Google calendar, Yahoo! Calendar, Facebook Events, or whatever you do with Google+ or AOL or MSN or Compuserve or Outlook or whatever you’re using. Tweet about it. Get a car full of idiots and find a non-idiot DD.
Ernie would like to remind you to drink responsibly, tip your bartender, buy some of the various bands’ merchandise, and to wash your hands before returning to work or play.
Get the flyer below tattooed on someone’s ass that you see frequently, so you don’t forget.
There’s all kinds of stuff going on in the Ernie and the Berts world You ought to check it out…
A while ago we played at a crazy show in Sheffield Lanes, above the Fallout Shelter. It was all ages, it was madness, it was beautiful. This is some of what you missed: “Toybox”: A lot of screwing around, then “Ikea”: Video by Ernie’s mom, Terrie Cobb. This is just a sample of the awesomeness that you can get full-on by supporting our Kicks … Read More
I love Gooski’s. It’s a relaxing hole in the wall with a killer jukebox and ridiculously awesome honey BBQ wings. It’s always cool to play a place you’re so comfortable in, so please come out to this one, hang out, & have a fun time with Ernie and the Berts as we rock out with the Dirty Charms & What Else?.
GOOSKI’S. That’s all I need to say. Come early, stay late. Rock out with some cheap beers, tasty wings & pierogies. We all need a night of debauchery in Polish Hill every once in a while. That’s what your favorite local rock n’ roll bands are for! What Else? channels some glam, Ernie and the Berts will make you feel scuzzy & fuzzy, and the Dirty Charms just may make you need to take a shower… Read More
☢ Ernie and the Berts ☢ Hopeless Otis ☢ The Awful Waffles
$5 / 21+ / 9:00pm
Click the link for details & links to the venue & other bands.
Beat the heat, not your meat! Hang out in the cool relaxing not-humid soothing basement of Sheffield Lanes… a little place we like to call the Fallout Shelter. Well, they called it that, so that’s why we call it that. We didn’t name it. Although, it is a pretty good name. For some reason, they like us there, and keep letting us come back. Randy just may be a little insane. That’s OK, I think we are too. At any rate, they have good drink … Read More
If you didn’t catch us last night at the Fallout Shelter… and you probably didn’t… you have the chance to try again this weekend, and eat some pierogies!
This promises to be absolutely ridiculous. Peep the links. Come out & get the best Polish food in the ‘Burgh in the corner of “Little Italy”. The Bands: Awful Waffles / Ernie and the Berts / Uke & Tuba – The Place: Th… Read More
So, Ernie and one Bert decided to crash a Houlihan's open stage last night in Robinson. Apparently it enters us into a contest. We'd like to take the other Bert to round 2, so we'd like you to vote for us. How do you do that? Like Houlihan's Robinson on Facebook. Vote for us here. This is what we sounded like: …sort of. Imagine that you ca … Read More
Feb. 5th at Excuses… you really ought to come out to this one. The Hang Lows are cool dudes, and ska bands are always a great time!
So, we've got a new sort-of last minute kind of gig. Details just got pulled together, but they're all below. Keep in mind that this is an early one… it starts at 8:00pm and will most likely actually be an 8:00 start with us on first, and the Hang Lows hitting the stage around 9:00pm. We hope to see you there! The Bands: The Hang Lows – Facebook / MySpace / Reverb Nation / Twitter Ernie and the Berts – Facebook / Reverb Nation / MySpace / Tw … Read More