Friday, August 20, 2010

How to successfully book and promote a gig

The key to being a successful musician is playing a lot of shows. We understand that when you're new to the scene, the task of getting yourself a show booked may seem daunting. Here's how you do it. It's actually super easy.

1 Stake out a venue

Everyone's gotta play somewhere. Take a look at your local venues (we've got a list of Toronto venues here) and decide which ones you can envision yourself playing at. Make sure you take into consideration the size of the venue (do you have enough fans to fill it?) as well as the genre of the bands that play there normally (if you're an alt-country act and you want to play at a punk bar, it's probably not going to work). If you're not of legal drinking age, consider whether or not the venue has put on all-ages shows in the past.

2 Contact the venue

Call the venue and ask to speak to either the manager or the booking agent If you happen to know the names of either of these individuals, (ask your friends who've played at the venue?) then you've got a better chance of being booked. Essentially, your job while talking to a booker is to convince him that the venue will benefit from having your band play there. Your band are a group of responsible young people with a strong following who plan on doing excellent work promoting the show, right? Also, make sure you know the dates you are available to play before you talk to the booking people, because they don't like when you waste their time (and breath).

3 Promote, promote, promote

Now that you've got a gig lined up, it's time to tell everyone you know. A gig poster is a great way to get the word out and contributes a certain fluidity to your promotion campaign. Put the poster up on community bulletin boards, posts, at your work, at the local skate shop -everywhere. Make it an event on Facebook, MySpace,, Twitter. Tell all your friends (and their friends... and your mom) to come!


Once the date has arrived, be courteous and respectful of the venue and try and play the best show you can. It may also benefit you to set up a merch table, with CDs, posters or stickers to sell to fans. Can't afford a run of CDs? Use the table act as an impromptu meet-and-greet space, or create a sign-up sheet for an email mailing list.


5 Follow up with thanks

Sending the venue an email just saying "Hey, thanks!" a week or so after the show is never wrong.

Have an excellent weekend, Firebranders.

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