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How are you booking gigs in 2018?

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  • How are you booking gigs in 2018?

    Email, Phone Call, In Person, Facebook Message, other?

    I've been playing music for my living since last year. Been difficult trying to stay booked. I've had best luck with Facebook Messages and email behind it. Phone calls are almost always a miss for me. In person doesn't usually work because I playing gigs 60+ miles from my home.
    Will work for guitars..

  • #2
    Man I feel for you playing that far, my max is a fifteen minute drive and it must have nearby parking.
    As to bookings I was having a meal in a restaurant ten days ago with "she who must be obeyed" and the owner came over to ask if everything was ok with the meal. I asked if he had entertainment on Fridays as my missus was out of town visiting and I had nothing on, if he wanted I would play for free if he and his punters liked we would talk about more gigs. It was a nice place and I have fancied playing there. So Friday I played and now am booked there, not for free obviously, every Friday for the rest of the season.
    I know the free thing frightens some but a one off to get regular work, when I would have been home doing nothing anyway is fine with me.
    Cheers Steve


    • #3
      How are we booking gigs?

      Fortunately we've been a duo in the areal since 1985 so word of mouth and/or repeat business keeps us busy. An agency throws us a little work from time to time, but not enough to live on. A free GIG Salad and Craigslist ads bring in 1 to 3 gigs each per year, and most become regular customers. We have a website, which I think is better than Facebook, because Facebook is exclusive, only FB people can reach you while a website is available to anyone on the Internet.

      In the early days I did a lot of 'cold calls' and got my share of rejection. I took 3 years of cruise ship gigs while gigging in the area during my vacation time off the ships, and we built up a reputation. I worked with several agencies then, but most of them have gone out of business, because the live gig business is diminishing. I'm thankful for our regular clients, and do everything I can to stay fresh and desirable for them.

      Your reputation takes time to build and it has to be golden and flawless. Bad news sticks around for a long time.

      I generally travel less than a half hour to get to a gig, but if it pays well, I'll go farther.
      Bob "Notes" Norton
      Owner, Norton Music
      Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
      The Sophisticats >^. .^< >^. .^<


      • #4
        I'm having a busy summer. For the last few years I've been going with the retirement home gigs which are during the week days including Fridays. In fact, Friday is the most popular day for theses gigs.

        Earlier this year a female singer I worked with many decades ago got me connected with a new agent in the area that has booked me a few restaurant gigs. The in May the chick singer asked me to do a duo with her. Our first gig was the first week of June. Between her former venues, the agent's venues, and venues I've booked in the past we've been getting quite a few gigs. Some of the gigs coming in from the agent are due to other acts that had to cancel.

        Between this new duo and the retirement gigs It's not unusual for me to have two gigs in one day. I'm averaging ~$500 per week during July and August. I'm sure things will slow down by November, but I'll still have the retirement home gigs to keep some some cash flow.


        • #5
          How are you booking gigs in 2018?

          Not fast enough...
          "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

          Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting ', what a ride!'

          "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

          Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick


          • #6
            Through an agency. I book very few gigs on my own. Too much work and they always want me to bring in a crowd. I mean, if I can consistently get 25 people out each and every week for a net pay of $150, I might as well do a house concert and clear $500

            This year. I played a place a few times for a friend who's booking it. We both have come to an understanding that if he needs someone in a pinch, I'll do it, but otherwise he's not interested, and I'm not interested in generating money for a venue as opposed to generating money for myself.


            • #7
              im getting calls from festival promoters and turning them down... i may play a few small, local events but for the next year or so? im a therapist again... so...
              Last edited by Voltan; 08-26-2018, 08:57 AM.
              Originally posted by isaac42;n32240445

              Voltan is correct.


              • #8
                I primarily do festivals and event gigs, and most of these are repeats from previous years. They are usually booked a year in advance. New bookings usually come from those festivals and events. We have a very limited gig schedule each year, as most of our gigs require a flight, so we have to pick and choose.


                • daddymack
                  daddymack commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Harry, has the volcano settled down finally? We were planning on going to the Big Island in July, but canceled because we wanted to go to Volcanoes Nat'l Park again...

              • #9
                I have been visiting places in person, buying a coffee/lunch and asking if I can speak to the owner/booker. Most times they were around and could spare a little time.
                Some I had to make an appointment and go back to again.
                Then I've tried to cold sell my Duo to them. I offered to play a free 45 minute set at a future date.
                I've found emailing first a waste of time.
                If they hear you play they will book you.
                Ive started going straight in and shown them little audio/video clips on my tablet or phone but pushed it upon them that nothing beats LIVE because films and recordings cannot give them the feel of a performance.

                There are not too many good gigs locally, so I made a list of places I had looked at online that I thought my Act would be a good match for and I visited a few per day over a few weeks in the Summer.
                All but one have booked us for paid gigs.
                The one that hasn't is a Retirement centre.
                Over in the UK, these places do not pay well. This one only has live music once every few months anyway - but it looked Promising from the internet!!!

                I think you have to take the time to make a personal connection with the bookers - look them in the eye.
                You also get to check out the venue personally to see if there is parking for your van, if its clean, if the performance space is big enough/near enough to the exit for getting gear in & out etc.
                Photos of venues online are not reliable - lets face it, they bring in the photographers used by Real estate Agents which make matchboxes look the size of a shopping Mall!



                • #10
                  Must admit - I'm a bit fed up.
                  You do all the ground work to try and get in at a new venue - sometimes a personal visit but when it is a long distance from your home, you do try and sell your self via email.
                  And I get fed up when they have said they like your song from the clips you sent them to view, you agree a fee, and they ask you to email them your available dates.
                  You email them ......and nothing.

                  I had one venue - I had not cold called them - they found our Duo page on facebook - they asked for our fee. We quoted a fee and they replied asking for available dates in December. Sent the dates.......nothing.

                  Then one local one - which we would LOVE to play, is proving very frustrating.

                  There is a tiny restaurant in my town and the owner has been building an annexe all summer.
                  The annexe will be a cocktail lounge/champagne bar and a place for people to lounge before they go in to eat or after they have eaten.

                  A friend of mine was dining there and the Owner came over to chat. She asked what all the building work was. He told her what it was going to be and that he intended to have a classy jazz act playing in there before dinner but he was looking for one.
                  My friend told him about us, showed him our Facebook page and got his interest. He told her to tell me to go in and see him.
                  I waited a couple of weeks. Didn't want to look too desperate.
                  This was July and the opening date was due to be September.

                  He said he was interested but did not want to book any dates until he was certain the building work was not going to be delayed and he had a definite date for opening.
                  He said to go in again in August.
                  Both of us went in for dinner. He introduced us to the new Manager he had appointed to run the new Lounge.
                  They showed us around the building area, explained where we would set up etc etc.
                  And said to call in again in a couple of weeks.

                  Both the owner and the new Manager were given our Business cards with contact details. I nipped in again for coffee one morning. The New Lounge Manager was friendly but didn't mention booking us. I chickened out and didn't push it. I saw the Owner - he was showing a group of people around the new build. He patted my arm as he went past me and smiled a hello. He didn't come back, so after I had finished my coffee, I left.
                  My Duo partner went crazt at me for going in again. He said I shouldn't have done that - if they are interested, they would have booked us by now.

                  He may be right. It opened two weeks ago.
                  First night was for the Town Mayor and investor types. He had a karaoke type singer.
                  Second night was his restaurant customers and friends etc. This time an Amy Winehouse Tribute.

                  Two days after opening night, I got a Facebook message from him, " Hi Susie, please can you message me your phone number and I will call you tomorrow.''

                  Two weeks later......haven't heard a word.

                  And typically a Pub Manager who we played for before has left 2 voicemails asking us to call him for another gig.

                  He's an arse.
                  He's always.......
                  Don't park your van there.
                  Don't leave your flight cases there.
                  Finish playing at 10pm and make no noise getting your gear in to the van because we have a baby upstairs.
                  And one time he saw on Facebook that we were playing at a local restaurant in the same week we were playing at his Pub.

                  He messaged saying " I see that you are playing at another venue this week. I am not too happy about that. We will have to look more closely when booking future dates."
                  The other gig was in a Restaurant, not a Pub and it was the party room at the back of the restaurant which had been hired by a Charity to raise funds. So there was no real conflict of interest.
                  The customers attending the Charity evening would not be customers in his Pub - and even if they were, it isn't up to him to tell us what gigs we can accept and which we can't.
                  He doesn't even pay the going rate. We only took the gig because it was a slow period for us.
                  Sometimes no money is better than a pain in the bum gig.

                  But of course, he's on the phone wanting to book us again for a gig we do not want to do and the ones we want to do are asking for dates and then not getting back to us when the dates have been sent..

                  Honestly, the performance is the easy bit.
                  It's the rest of it that's hard work.


                  • daddymack
                    daddymack commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Your partner is wrong, Susie...the secret to getting bookings, at lease here in L.A., is follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, and then... follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, and...well you get the picture. Look, people who run bars/pubs, restaurants, wine tasting rooms etc. are busy, and they are focused on making money, not spending it, so if you want to get a piece of their cash flow, ... follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up, follow-up...

                • #11
                  Just did a gig at a place that is considered prestigious around these parts. The leader made a lot of calls to the venue, somehow found the home number of the booker, and then "by accident" found them on vacation, and pestered them there. Short story long, we had a sold out show and the owners were happy. But we wouldn't have played there if the leader hadn't persevered. I've even had people say, that they've given us a gig just to stop the leader from pestering them! doesn't always work of course and it can backfire, but luckily when we do get a gig, we deliver.
                  Last edited by Shaster; 09-27-2018, 07:11 PM.


                  • #12
                    This is for my full band. Our leader books the great majority of our gigs for the year right around now. He does it mostly in person, visiting the clubs and bars we play at. He gives them a "discount" for booking multiple gigs. Result is we will be fully booked for 2019 in a few weeks with 3 - 7 gigs at each venue. We are also sensitive to competition between venues and tend to book only 1 place in any given town. Our regular places do appreciate that. It helps, a lot, that he is a salesman in his day job.

                    We never book more than 3 gigs per month though and leave summers open for festival and outdoor concert gigs. Plus the bar scene is pretty dead around here in the summer. We also all share a calendar where we list any dates we know we won't be available


                    • #13
                      hee hee - I just got an email from a place asking for our fee and dates available - when I reply it will be the third time in 3 weeks I have sent them that info.
                      Bloody Hell, it's like dealing with an elderly relative with alzheimers!


                      • #14
                        If it weren't for my long-time clients and referrals from those gigs, I'd probably starve

                        I'm not a good band salesman. In the time it takes to do a couple of cold calls, I can write a style or two for Band-in-a-Box that will trickle in income for years. And I don't have to face the rejection of people who don't want my styles, as I never see them

                        We have an agent that throws us about a half dozen gigs per year, but the rest is repeat/referral. Late October we start our 11th year doing a weekday lunch gig at a marina. The rainy season should end by then.

                        I'm lucky to have so many regular clients. But new work is hard to get. Here we have a lot of singers who buy karaoke software and sing along, not playing any instruments, and undercutting us by half or more. The clubs that used to hire 6 nights of bands now do one, plus a karaoke night, plus an open-mic night, plus a sports TV night, and so on.

                        The music business isn't what it used to be.

                        Insights and incites by Notes
                        Bob "Notes" Norton
                        Owner, Norton Music
                        Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                        The Sophisticats >^. .^< >^. .^<


                        • #15
                          It is annoying when a venue does not promote or advertise musical acts they have booked even though they have hundreds or thousands of Facebook/twitter followers.
                          The Act will promote the Hell out of that gig but they only have a fraction of the number of followers the Venue has.
                          Also, it is hard to bring a crowd of supporters with you to a venue if music is your full time job.
                          You can't expect your friends and family to come to every gig when you play regularly.

                          Easier for a hobby band to bring a crowd because they tend to have fewer regular gigs.
                          They can also lowball us full-timers because they have income from their day jobs to live on.

                          The venue I wrote about earlier [who was building the Annexe] has come good.
                          I ignored my Duo partner and went in again. I dragged my partner with me.
                          I slapped my Diary on the table and said to the Owner, 'right, what date can we come and play a taster gig for you? 45 minutes so you can see if we are what you want.'
                          He smiled and committed to a date. We played for an hour and he has booked us for 2 gigs so far.
                          Good fee plus food.

                          So I still think the offering to play a free set gets you the job in the end.


                          • pogo97
                            pogo97 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Never... ever suggest they don't have to pay you. What they pay for, they'll value. What they get for free, they'll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear.
                            Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign, 1999

                            or, maybe

                            If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don't hoard it. Don't dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke.
                            Brendan Francis

                            Who's to say…

                          • Pat'sStrat
                            Pat'sStrat commented
                            Editing a comment
                            When I was 12 years old, I watched my dad trying to get a job with the State Highway Department as a heavy equipment operator. We went to the office, he filled out an application, they interviewed him for 5 minutes and then told him he was qualified but they didn't have anything for him. He thanked them and then we left. The following day, he let the house at 6:30 AM with his lunchbox and thermos, drove to the Highway Department building, and said he was there to work if they had a need. He sat and waited for an hour before the crews all left for the day and he came back home. He did this for four days, until on the fourth day somebody didn't show up for work. They said "hey. you, you still want a job?" And he went on to work for them for 7 more years and became one of their top diesel equipment training instructors.

                            I mostly book through "agents" these days (actually "headhunters" hired by the venues, three of them). But I have gone to venues I wanted to play but couldn't get in and brought my guitar in the car. I have told some of them I'd like to join their rotation but some of them said "we have a steady rotation, and if we hire more guys, it makes their gigs fewer and farther between, and we like to take care of our regular guys." I said I respected it, offered to play a few tunes for them as an audition, and left them a card. And then a week or two later I'd follow up. In two of those cases, somebody dropped out of the rotation- one guy moved and another got fired for being a no-show for the third time. And they called me, and now I'm in those rotations.

                            The point is, there's no one "right" way to go about getting gigs. Each area is different. Each venue is different., Each player is different. Just be open to new methods and ideas for booking, because that seems to be where we are in 2018 and beyond. And FWIW, I deleted my Facebook account in August and haven't regretted it for a minute. Nor have I lost any work than I can tell. Since I play almost exclusively restaurants, golf courses, wineries and the like, it is their product, not the entertainment, that is the draw, so they don't expect me to bring their clientele. A few years ago, I played for a fledgling restaurant and when I set up, the owner said "where's all your people? We were told you had a big following." I said that I played 3 to 5 nights a week, and my "following" does not follow me around to every gig, or even most of them. I then reminded him that he is a restaurant, and if he is depending on the guy in the corner with the guitar to make his business profitable, he may instead want to take a good look a the menu, the staff, the facility or his pricing. He didn't like hearing that, and I was not booked back. 6 weeks later their doors closed for good.
                            Last edited by Pat'sStrat; 11-14-2018, 10:40 AM.

                          • Notes_Norton
                            Notes_Norton commented
                            Editing a comment
                            It worked for you. I've thought about doing a free 'audition' but to tell the truth, have never done one.

                            In these days of fewer venues to play and seeming more competition, with a lot of that competition coming from part-time low-ballers I think I would have to feel pretty secure that we had a real good chance of landing the gig before doing that.

                            I'm still getting by with a couple of agents but mostly long-term customers and referrals.