You want to play festival stages. You even want to tour the world. Or maybe you just want to start to get recognition in your own hometown. But, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to land a gig.
Whatever the dream or struggle, all musicians start out exactly where you are — but there are a couple key differences that set those who find success apart from those who don’t. That’s why we decided to speak directly with promoters to find out what exactly they look for when new bands reach out to them, and how you can make sure you’re grabbing their attention every time.
1. Craft a professional EPK
Now, you might think you know what should be in a good EPK, but do you really? I want to be super clear on this, because it’s one of the most important takeaways from this article. Having a professionally done, fully filled-out EPK is essential. This means live video on full display, past show dates are front and center, and everything is easily accessible in one place.
There’s a ton of ways to put together a great EPK, including a private one-page on your website, but of course, Sonicbids offers our own EPK-creation platform, which was designed with feedback from promoters and venues themselves, so you know you’re giving yourself the best advantage.
2. Make sure your show history is clearly outlined
If you want to book more shows, you have to make clear that there’s an audience, you know what you’re doing, and that if a venue books you, people will come out. A huge part of this is your show history.
“Personally, the first thing I look at is show history,” says Sonicbids’ Dan Melnick. “By looking at the size of the rooms they are playing and the nights on which they are booked, I can take a pretty accurate guess on how many tickets the band will sell. It’s also important to realize that the most important thing as a booker is making sure the band will sell tickets. As much as musicians think it should be about the music, real life involves bills, and filling your venue is how you pay the bills.”
It’s also a huge bonus if you’ve played the same venue more than once, so definitely include that on there. Dan continues, “Something else I look for is repeat plays. If a band plays a venue more than once, that means they were able to have a successful show and the venue wanted them back. It’s good indicator that I’d want to work with that band.”
Lastly, make sure in any pitch emails you’re highlighting where you’ve played in that city that you’re requesting a date. It’s good to have your show history on there for the reasons listed above, but when you’re pitching a venue, make sure you highlight your success in their city.
“The most important thing is gig history in the city I’m booking them in,” says Dan. “It doesn’t matter as much to me where they’ve played in Boston if I’m booking them for New York. This, of course, is only relevant to bands who aren’t at the stage where they’re touring nationally.”
3. Create a memorable pitch
The last thing you want to do is bog a venue down with your life story and none of the stats they actually care about. When asked about the pitches that have stood out, Chris Goyzueta, Production Manager at AEG Presents and host of the podcast Making It with Chris G., says:
“Keep it short. Don’t go over eight-to-10 sentences. Stick to only the facts. Those include market history, links, and one or two most recent accolades. Be honest about your history in the market. Include links to where I can stream music and to your social media sites. If you’re an unsigned regional or local artist, it helps A LOT if you can bring a show package with one to three local bands that are on board.
“One of the most time-consuming things is booking a regional artist that most likely doesn’t sell more than 10-20 tickets, and then having to find the local bands to play with them. If you can do the leg work, find those locals in advance, and have them all on board, and even copy them on the email, you just made my job easier, and less pressure to have to put a whole show together.”
4. Keep up with socials
You knew this one was coming. While show history and proof that you can pack a room reign supreme, there’s a lot of power in a strong and engaging social media presence. Nina Swint of Out of Context Entertainment, says,
“Bands need to have a holistic approach to growing their fanbase, and I want to see you engaging with your fans. Poor socials show me there’s a poor strategy in place and I won’t be able to trust that my show will be fairly marketed from the band’s end.”
5. Don’t lose hope
If you got this far and you’re thinking, “But how am I supposed to get more shows when I need more shows to get them?!” do not lose hope, because there’s still plenty you can do! Chris Goyzueta says if you’re local, you have a much better shot at getting in with venues, especially if you’ve built a decent following in your hometown,
Nina Swint also advices that pre-built show strategy we talked about earlier (IE: all the bands ready to go).
Be prepared, be honest and realistic, and work with the venue’s needs and expectations and you’ll be building those shows up in no time.
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