Band Booking – how to contact a venue

Booking gigs can be one of the most daunting tasks for your band, but I’ve found that once I get started with contacting a few venues and get the ball rolling, it becomes easy to build momentum.

When I first started booking for Greenfoot back in the mid-2000’s, I would often build physical press kits that included a bio sheet, photo, and CD, then hand deliver it to bars and venues. Now that I’m booking for Amy and the Peace Pipes, that technique has gone by the wayside but luckily todays requires a lot less (and cheaper) effort, as long as you’re willing to stay on top of follow-ups.

Here are some of the booking scripts that I use. I’ve tended to get better responses when I do two things with the emails: keep them very short and direct, frame in the context that I’m helping them fill a date. A lot of times we assume that bars and venues are giving us exclusive attention and are thoroughly listening to our demo to see if we’re a good fit, but the reality is that they’re just quickly trying to fill dates before they can move onto the other 50 things they need to do to run their business.

One last note: none of these ideas are particularly my own or original, but are a conglomerate of many articles and techniques I’ve read at some great DIY musician blogs, like DIY Musician Blog, HypeBot, and Music Think Tank to name a few.

Prework

  • Make sure you have a website that includes all the basics about your band but specifically has direct access to your music/videos. The more professional your site, the better, but make sure you have an attractive homepage (with a great professional picture of your band) that is intuitive for a booking manager to hear what you sound like.
  • Go to the venue’s web site and try to find the email address for the booking manager/coordinator. If they don’t make that clear, you can use the general email address. If all else fails, contact them through Facebook Messenger, but you just change your email a bit. I’ll give two templates below.
  • Come up with a 1-sentence “elevator pitch” about your band. It doesn’t have to change the world, but it does need to describe you’re niche (for Amy and the Peace Pipes I say, “We’re a woman-fronted piano rock band out of Fort Collins.”
  • If they have a calendar, go double check your wanted to date to see if it’s open, and better yet if you’re planning 2-3 months ahead and the calendar happens to look blank, they may have more openings and be more apt to give you the date that you requested. Also check to see if there’s a pattern for dates they have live music (whether they typically have them on a Friday or Saturday, or if there’s a specific night of the week)
  • Pick 1-4 dates that you would like to request. I typically give them 3. Don’t be afraid to ask for the ideal date, but also give them some options as well (e.g. if they book music on Thursday, Fridays or Saturdays, ask for 2 Saturdays then throw in a Thursday).

Sending the email

Subject: Booking Inquiry: Amy and the Peace Pipes for <Month Name>

If you know the name of the booking contact:

Hi <Booking Contact>,

I hope you are doing well. I was wondering if you are actively booking bands for <Season or Month Name> at the <Venue Name>? If so, my band, <Band Name>, would love to help you out. We're a <1 sentence "elevator pitch" description about your band>.

Could we help you fill any of the following dates:
- <Date Option 1>
- <Date Option 2>
- <Date Option 3>

If you have another date where you'd need some help, just let us know.

Thanks,
<Your Name> from <Your Band Name>
<Your Band's Web Site>

If you don’t know the name of the booking contact, I include all of the information in there as there’s a good chance they’ll just forward this email to the booking manager:

Hi <Venue Name>,

Could you help me get in touch with the person responsible for band bookings? If you're looking to fill any dates this <season or month>, my band, <Band Name> would be a great fit. We're a <1 sentence "elevator pitch" description about your band>.

Could we help you fill any of the following dates:
- <Date Option 1>
- <Date Option 2>
- <Date Option 3>

If you have another date where you'd need some help, just let us know.

Thanks,
<Your Name> from <Your Band Name>
<Your Band's Web Site>

Email Tips

  • Adding the web site at the bottom of the page is crucial. I also always add the “from <My band name>” at the bottom too, making it easy if they end up searching their email later.
  • I typically send the emails on Tuesday through Thursday during the day. I try to avoid sending emails at night, as those will be part of the pileup they get when they come into work the next day. I want that email to come in either mid-morning or early afternoon when they’ll hopefully want to react to it quickly and get it out of their inbox. I stay away from weekends (when they’re busy doing bar/venue stuff, and Sundays and Mondays are likely the days off for most of them).
  • I’ll still work on them the night before and write the email, just store it in my drafts, then go in and just send the email when the time is right

The Most Important Step: Following Up

Chances are you won’t hear back from that original message. Venues tend to get a lot of emails from various vendors and often will treat your original email like spam or white noise. After sending the message, I’ll go snooze the message in Gmail (if you use Gmail, this is an awesome tool for reminders and follow-ups) from 7-9 days later, then when it pops up, I send a quick follow-up email:

Hi <Booking Agent Name>,

I just wanted to follow up on my email from last week, wondering if we can help you fill any of the following dates:
- <Date Option 1>
- <Date Option 2>
- <Date Option 3>
Please let us know if we can be of any help. Thanks so much!

-<Your Name> from <Your Band Name>
<Band Web Site Address>

If you’re lucky, you’ll get a response, but I often follow up 1-2 more times, again 7-9 days apart. I’ve never had anyone yell at me for spamming them, sometimes you’ll get the “thanks, but no thanks”, but at least you got a response.

I’ve had a lot of success with this technique, but the key is staying on top of your follow-ups. If you don’t get the answer you want, remain respectful and offer to help them in pinch. You’re trying to help venue owners and booking managers realize that you’re eager to partner with them to make everyone successful. I’d love to hear booking tips others may have.

New GigPoster: Amy’s Birthday Bash

Last week Amy and the Peace Pipes played at Surfside 7 (which has become one of our favorite venues) for Amy’s Birthday Bash. We had a great lineup with Wolfer and The Happy Dapples.  Since this show was being pitched as a birthday bash, I wanted the gig poster to feature Amy a little more than usual, ending up with this result:

My Band’s New Single!

It’s been a crazy-busy January. I’ve been cooking a few different blog topics in my head, but time has gotten the better of me this month. However, I’m really excited to announce that my band, Amy and the Peace Pipes, has released a new single, “Burning Bridges”. Go check it out!

I know many of us are now using streaming services (and why not), but if you’d like to download your own copy, we’re giving it away for free to our Peace Pipers mailing list subscribers, just join up and you’ll get the download link!  Even if you don’t download music, you should join up anyway.  In the age of prevalent social media, it’s become increasingly difficult for bands to reach their audience across all of the noise (especially when Facebook wants to force people into buying ads to reach all of the people who liked their page).  The mailing list is really the one true place where everyone who is interested in us has an opportunity to receive our updates – whether they open the emails or get too many emails to open them is another story, but at least I know that our updates were at least delivered.

Thanks so much to everyone for supporting me and my band. When I stop and think about it, it’s really incredible to think that we can put stuff onto iTunes and Spotify and make it available for the world to hear.

New Gigposter: Stuff A Truck Benefit Concert

We have a really exciting gig coming up with Amy and the Peace Pipes on Friday, where we’ll be playing with Aires Attic and South to Cedars to benefit Homeless Gear.  Members from the three bands has been doing a lot of work towards things, getting some generous businesses to donate really cool prizes that we’ll be giving away.  I got a chance to design some artwork for it, I do have to confess that I did borrow from a previous design that I put together 8 years ago – but I figured the Statute of Limitations for my artwork expired and I could make it useful again.

20161118-HomelessGearBenefit

One of the biggest challenges was the use of all of the logos for the sponsors. Everyone’s managed to come in different shapes, sizes and colors.  I also found it difficult to striking the balance to providing the logos enough prominence without detracting too much from the other information I was trying to convey.

I also played around a lot with the new Facebook banner design, coming up with this guy:

20161118-HomelessGearBenefit-FB

The gap in the middle was allocated to give space for the event title and date that Facebook imposes. People who would click onto the cover art would see the full “donate items” text, but I wanted to put the most striking content above the fold. Here’s what it looks like over on Facebook:

StuffATruckFB

I played around with the art some more, making a 1×1 image for our Twitter and Instragram profile pictures:

20161118-HomelessGearBenefit-1x1

I’d definitely welcome any thoughts or input!

Girls Rock! (Gig Poster)

Just wanted to share out my latest gig poster design for the recent showcase that Amy and the Peace Pipes took part in at the Downtown Artery.

20160618-GirlsRock_11x17

One of our goals for this show was to stress that this was a showcase of all three bands, rather than having a headline with supporting acts, so I tried to keep all of the image sizes relatively equal (also working on constraint with the images that I was given).

As you can see there was also a significant amount of information that I had to include in the poster, so I was a bit worried that I may have made things too busy.  Overall I’m pretty pleased with the poster, especially when considering I also had to rush the design a bit.  I’m already looking forward to playing with some more original artwork for the next gig poster.