The Four P’s of Booking Your Own Gigs

You’ve mastered your live show, but maybe you haven’t really had the chance to really show them what you’re made of. Learning how to book shows can make the difference between being a broke artist and a successful entrepreneur. Mastering this skill is essential for any artist who is craving the creative freedom of pursuing their dream full-time!

Booking your own gigs is as simple as the four P’s: persistence, preparedness, promotion, and professionalism.

1. Persistence

Aim to get in contact with the booking agent for the venue. Keep calling until you speak with the right person. Choose 3-5 venues in the local area, and drop by during busy times to scope the scene and feel the crowd. Call each venue once a day, and email them once a week. In the emails, include a link to your website and a few songs that will appeal to that specific venue.

If no one is replying, then go to the venue during slow times to meet them in person. Never give up, because even a 5% success rate is still a contact made! After the first successful contact, the approach can be easily replicated.

2. Preparedness

There’s only one chance to make a good first impression, and preparation makes all the difference. Perfect your elevator pitch. Think of additional skills outside of music that you can offer the venue. Be prepared to answer any questions that a booker may have. Every business card, website, flyer, T-shirt, and CD needs to look professional! Search Google for a booking agreement template, and iron out the terms ahead of time.

Be prepared to offer your services for free until you develop a relationship with the venue, or start performing regularly at other venues in the area.

be prepared

3. Promotion

Continue to perform at open mic nights to perfect your stage presence. Work extra hard to promote any upcoming shows. After booking a show, blast it to everyone you know! Create an event on Facebook, and post preview promotion videos on Twitter and Instagram. Hit up local shows with two or three friend to network and market to potential fans with different artists.

Pass out free demos with your website and social media information on a flyer for the upcoming show. Socialize and connect with local promoters to help get the word out. The better the turnout, the higher the chance of being invited back for another show.

Road sign pointing to exit with promotion written on it

4. Professionalism

On the day of the show, be early and look the part. Let the employees know that you can be of assistance, but don’t get in the way if they don’t need it. Instead, socialize with potential fans and other artists that are waiting to perform. Never drink before a gig; treat this job with respect as if it were a 9-5. Always have a copy of your show disc, and don’t use the karaoke version unless you are sure that the venue has good sound quality. Don’t perform a song that wasn’t thoroughly practiced, and make sure to memorize every word!

Show em’ that awesome live show, and thank the booker and venue owner for the opportunity. Build your fan base and make some money by selling and giving away CD’s (and merchandise) after every performance.

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

Persistence, preparedness, promotion, and professionalism- when these four things are mastered, the artist can become the booking agent. Booking your own shows means beings in charge of your pockets. No more waiting around for someone else to get the job done. Set some goals, get some contacts, and book some shows! Remember that you miss 100% of the shots you never take.

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Shauna Respass is a writer in every way, whether it be music, poetry, articles, think-pieces, or screenplays. She also enjoys listening to music, reading, discussing viewpoints on various topics, and spending time with her dogs, bunnies, and snakes.

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