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It IS about how you sell it.


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As I've talked about before, my band does private events almost exclusively and, as such, really has no following, so virtually all of our gigs are booked on the strength of our promo material and how well we can sell it.

 

And I always have worries about whether it's good enough, or if I try too hard with it, etc. because you can only ever really know so much and only have control over so much. All I can do is put together the best promo I can, hope it connects with people enough to want to hire the band, and then hope we live up to the promises. And since you never know how people will perceive things, I'm always a bit worried that they will get the wrong impression about this or that and be dissapointed. Luckily we have really good follow-up response to almost every gig, so I don't think we're dissapointing many. Which is a good thing.

 

Another thing is it is hard to tell how it is working compared to what other bands are doing, or knowing what they charge, etc. But I got a couple of bits of good confirmation along those lines this week.

 

One was regarding the charity event I posted about in another thread. We ended up not really having to negotiate too much because the guy kept saying "well, based on all the bands we've looked at, you're our #1 choice and we REALLY want you guys."

 

Another was talking with a potential client this morning about a private party he was having. He had narrowed it down to two bands, us and another band that we often seem to be competing with in the area for similar gigs, and he told us he wanted to hire us even though we were charging more money & even though that other band said they'd not only do the gig for several hundred dollars less, but they'd show up with 8 pieces, and do an extra jazz set during dinner and not charge for travel even though they'd be travelling (while it's a local gig for us).

 

I'm surprised (and a bit worried!) that they are willing to do all that for the money he said they were willing to do it for, but I'm not totally surprised he wanted to hire us over them because, frankly, their EPK isn't that great.

 

Again, it's all in the sell.

 

So we buttoned down the gig by telling the client "yeah, they are a good band, but they don't have the energy we do and...frankly...you get what you pay for." Actually, I've never seen them play. I don't know WHAT their energy level is like, but it doesn't look like much from their promo.

 

Now we've just gotta deliver on the promises....

 

But the moral of this long story is---DON'T underestimate the power of your promo kits and the need to sell the band. DON'T be shy or too humble about any of it. Competition is fierce in this business and you've got to give 100% in every area. If there is something you think your band does well and/or better than the competition---make sure to exploit that attribute. Most of your competition is probably playing a similar songlist and looks similar to you and does many of the same things in the same way. Really focus on what makes you stand out and on what is different from the competition.

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So we buttoned down the gig by telling the client "yeah, they are a good band, but they don't have the energy we do and...frankly...you get what you pay for."

 

 

I would never try to sell a client by capping on another band. I sell my positives and never comment on other bands even if asked, unless it's to say they're good (and I know I'm not competing with them for the gig-otherwise, I just say "I'm not familiar with those guys"). I've seen too many instances where things that were said got back to ears not meant to hear them. And if I was a client, and someone told me how much better they were than another specific band, I'd think it unprofessional, even if it was true.

 

I guess I'm just saying you don't need to do that. You guys have the goods.

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I would never try to sell a client by capping on another band. I sell my positives and never comment on other bands even if asked, unless it's to say they're good (and I know I'm not competing with them for the gig-otherwise, I just say "I'm not familiar with those guys"). I've seen too many instances where things that were said got back to ears not meant to hear them. And if I was a client, and someone told me how much better they were than another specific band, I'd think it unprofessional, even if it was true.


I guess I'm just saying you don't need to do that. You guys have the goods.

 

 

Thanks for the compliment, but such things are all in the wording and the course of the conversation. I agree that capping on other bands isn't the way to get gigs. But at the same time, you are at some point... selling. The band was complimented, and then was "dissed" by saying "they don't have the energy we do and that's why we are charging more." It's a bit like any other sales pitch at that point: "Sure, the Cadillac is a great car, but it doesn't get the gas mileage of this Lexus right here". So, while I get your point, I don't feel bad about it. What was I supposed to say? "Yes, they are every bit as good as we are, and you're getting a 8 piece with them instead of a 6 piece, but hire us instead and pay us more anyway"? Nah. Of COURSE we needed to talk up what we think are our strengths!

 

Sorry, but it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. And as long as it's done professionally and respectfully, I really don't have a problem with stuff like that. I imagine they probably do the same thing, and when a call comes in for a date we're already booked or otherwise can't do, these same 'competition' bands are the first to be recommended.

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Also, I should say that direct "it's between you and Band X" conversations RARELY come up. It was interesting that it did and it gave me the opportunity to see what another band is doing, but RARELY are we ever in a position of directly comparing our strengths vs. another bands.

 

And had this guy said "well, yes I'm sure you guys are higher energy, but I really think they'd be a better value for my money" then that would have been the end of it. It wouldn't have gone to "DON'T HIRE THOSE GUYS!!! THEY SUCK!!! YOU'LL BE SORRY!!!!" or anything like that.

 

It was simply about just making sure to emphasize what we feel are our strengths and why we feel we'd be a better band for the gig. Which I think is what the focus of any band's promo should be about.

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Great post....gotta do the sell....gotta work hard to represent what you do well and position yourself. Great point.

 

But this kinda bothered me:

 

 

So we buttoned down the gig by telling the client "yeah, they are a good band, but they don't have the energy we do and...frankly...you get what you pay for." Actually, I've never seen them play. I don't know WHAT their energy level is like, but it doesn't look like much from their promo.

 

 

So you kinda fibbed? You don't know what their energy is live and yet you say you have more energy....a bit of obfuscation there.

 

But no harm done really....just being competitive. I get that. But I think it is wise to heed Blue's advice....borderline stuff like that can get blown out of proportion after it passes thru a few folks. I've had that happen before...it resulted in a confrontation at a gig. Not pretty.

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Great post....gotta do the sell....gotta work hard to represent what you do well and position yourself. Great point.


But this kinda bothered me:




So you kinda fibbed? You don't know what their energy is live and yet you say you have more energy....a bit of obfuscation there.

 

 

Well, I don't think I 'fibbed' as much as just selling based on the available information. All either I or the client knows about the other band is the online promo kit. (And that's all he knows about us). Our band DOES look more energetic so was I fibbing or just selling the promo kit? If they are actually more energetic than us but don't show it in their promo? That's THEIR bad, and that's exactly what I'm talking about here: sell your strengths. And if you fail to, you're gonna lose out on money/gigs.

 

Other side of that? If their main strength is that they are an 8-piece for-about-the-same-price as our 6-piece? Then that probably gets them some gigs that we don't get. And I'll bet they don't hesitate to mention that "strength" of theirs.

 

 

But I think it is wise to heed Blue's advice....borderline stuff like that can get blown out of proportion after it passes thru a few folks. I've had that happen before...it resulted in a confrontation at a gig. Not pretty.

 

 

I agree and it was good for him to offer that counterpoint. I certainly see where that could come into play more at the club/local level where bands are more able to cross paths. In this circle, I HEAR of these bands and are certainly AWARE of them (as I sure they are of us) but the odds of us crossing paths or even attending each other gigs are pretty rare.

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I agree and it was good for him to offer that counterpoint. I certainly see where that could come into play more at the club/local level where bands are more able to cross paths. In this circle, I HEAR of these bands and are certainly AWARE of them (as I sure they are of us) but the odds of us crossing paths or even attending each other gigs are pretty rare.

 

All it takes is one sentence...after it exchanged hands...to make it into the wrong ears...and they get mad enough, for whatever crazy reason.....

 

But you do have an ace in the hole, g. Let's say the rival band is sitting around drinking after rehearsal:

 

"So why didn't we get the Blahblah gig?"

 

"That guido guy nutted us to the client."

 

"What? {censored} him. That gig is tonight, right?"

 

"Yeah."

 

"Lets go down there and find out why he did that!"

 

"I wouldn't do that if I were you."

 

"Why?"

 

"Dude, he is REALLY REALLY good at arguing....." :p:p:lol::thu:

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All it takes is one sentence...after it exchanged hands...to make it into the wrong ears...and they get mad enough, for whatever crazy reason.....


But you do have an ace in the hole, g. Let's say the rival band is sitting around drinking after rehearsal:


"So why didn't we get the Blahblah gig?"


"That guido guy nutted us to the client."


"What? {censored} him. That gig is tonight, right?"


"Yeah."


"Lets go down there and find out why he did that!"


"I wouldn't do that if I were you."


"Why?"


"Dude, he is REALLY REALLY good at arguing....."
:p
:p:lol:
:thu:

 

haha!!

 

But the truth is...things aren't quite the same doing these sorts of gigs as they are doing club gigs.

 

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that word DID get back to these guys that they lost the gig because I told the client "we're more energetic then they are and you get what you pay for"...

 

...so what? What are they gonna do? Be mad at us? They don't even know us. Talk smack about us the next time we go "head-to-head"? OK. But again, these sorts of situations are very rare. (And I talk good smack...)

 

Or...maybe...they'll up their game and work on improving their show and/or promo.....

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Yeah, seems like a bit of a hard sell. But you can't argue with the results I guess! Thing is, your band is good - better than good - so maybe you get a pass and you got the gig IN SPITE OF and not BECAUSE OF your sales pitch?

 

Something to think about.

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Yeah, seems like a bit of a hard sell. But you can't argue with the results I guess! Thing is, your band is good - better than good - so maybe you get a pass and you got the gig IN SPITE OF and not BECAUSE OF your sales pitch?


Something to think about.

 

 

Always something to think about. Always need to work on refining stuff. It can always be better. But, as I hope I made clear in later posts, it wasn't really as "hard sell" as maybe I made it sound in the initial post? That's one reason why we always like to get the client on the phone as quickly as possible. Booking a gig just via email leaves way too many things exposed that can easily be taken the wrong way. Much better when you're actually talking with someone. "Tone of voice" can mean SO much!

 

But hey...good to see you back, dude! Everything going well, I hope?

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Yeah, seems like a bit of a hard sell. But you can't argue with the results I guess! Thing is, your band is good - better than good - so maybe you get a pass and you got the gig IN SPITE OF and not BECAUSE OF your sales pitch?


Something to think about.

 

 

Wades? Muhfukaz back! You all dusted off, bro? Good to see you back!

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....borderline stuff like that can get blown out of proportion after it passes thru a few folks. I've had that happen before...it resulted in a confrontation at a gig. Not pretty.

 

 

I have a hard time with the "cause and effect" behind this situation. Anybody willing to come to your gig and initiate a confrontation over something they've heard you said is more than just a couple of bricks lighter than a full load. If you're dealing with somebody confronting you at your gig - you're battling somebody's warped perception. Anybody crazy enough to come and confront you at your gig - is exactly that: Crazy! ...and when crazy is involved - it doesn't much matter what you've said or didn't say. Crazy is governed by an entirely different set of rules.

 

There's wisdom in the "don't talk about others" advice - but the "because you might be confronted at your gig if you do" reasoning simply isn't a valid reason for not doing it. Once crazy comes into play - the normal "cause and effect" reasoning ceases to apply.

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can you prove the client wasn't trying to work you over for a couple of hundred dollars? you're competing for contract to perform a vaguely defined service... the best BS-artist always wins.

 

and at this point, as long as you deliver, you win.

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can you prove the client wasn't trying to work you over for a couple of hundred dollars?

 

 

No. That's part of the art of these negotiations. "know when to hold em; know when to fold em" and all of that. In this particular case, I BELIEVE the guy was telling the truth based on my reading of the guy, but I certainly could have been wrong.

 

Another recent negotiation story: last year we played a private birthday party for a bit less than our usual fee. One of the selling points the client through at us was "I have a lot of friends coming to this who will be getting married soon. You'll probably get some gigs out of it."

 

So this same guy calls recently and says his brother is getting married and wants to hire us, but he doesn't have a lot of money and wants to know if we can do the gig for --- surprise, surprise--- the same amount we did the birthday party for.

 

"No" was our reply. "That low rate was a one-time deal and certainly doesn't apply to weddings." (That birthday gig was really, really easy--one of the reasons we did it for less.)

 

Surprise, surprise...the brother managed to come up with the money.....

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good lord, you're lawyer, right?

 

 

Nah. Just pretty good at reading people after all these years.

 

In this case it was pretty simple.

 

1) we played the birthday party last year. First of all, it was obvious from attending the party that these people had money. Second of all, anybody who has enough money to spend what they did for a live band for a simple birthday party would have more to spend for a wedding.

 

2) at the risk of ethnic stereotyping....the guy is Indian and not only are Indian notorious for wanting to bargain, but he's having the wedding on Dec. 23rd. Hmmm....why so close to Christmas? Well, Christmas doesn't many anything to most Indians and all sorts of typical wedding vendors and venues are slow that close to Christmas. Nobody is probably even going to be having any Christmas parties by the 23rd.

 

3) Confirming #2, he MENTIONS "you're probably slow that time of year...." during the negotiations.

 

So, standing our ground with the price makes sense in this case.

 

We WILL be learning a couple of traditional Indian songs for the wedding. THAT will be a first and oughta be interesting.....I hope they involve Western scales at least!

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HA! nice work... I was going to guess some version of Asian ethnicity.


and if the songs are well-documented traditional songs, there should be transcribed music available for them somewhere...

 

 

He says they are. Usually we just get the client to send us a recorded version of this stuff and we go from there. I'm guessing they'll be some traditional Indian music. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I like having to learn oddball stuff, and I like Indian music in general for the most part.

 

Besides, how often do I ever get to use my "Sitar" patch?

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That whole "more guys in the band equals a better show" really bugs me. So you have 6 band members and the other band has 8. Does that really make them better? Would ZZ Top be a better band if they added more members? Should the Beatles have added more members? (Yeah, yeah, I know about the guest keyboard players, but you get my point). Since when did club owners/managers get the idea that they should pay for the band based on the number of performers?

 

I formed an oldies/classic rock trio specifically because I was tired of working in a five piece all the time. In my opinion, the sound of the trio is better. It's cleaner and we never fluff a solo or miss a cue, since basically it all comes from me. But every once in a while, I'll come across an owner/manager who tells me that he'd hire us if we had a keyboard player or a sax player. It drives me nuts.

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That whole "more guys in the band equals a better show" really bugs me. So you have 6 band members and the other band has 8. Does that really make them better? Would ZZ Top be a better band if they added more members? Should the Beatles have added more members? (Yeah, yeah, I know about the guest keyboard players, but you get my point). Since when did club owners/managers get the idea that they should pay for the band based on the number of performers?


I formed an oldies/classic rock trio specifically because I was tired of working in a five piece all the time. In my opinion, the sound of the trio is better. It's cleaner and we never fluff a solo or miss a cue, since basically it all comes from me. But every once in a while, I'll come across an owner/manager who tells me that he'd hire us if we had a keyboard player or a sax player. It drives me nuts.

 

 

So says the guy with the solo act... :poke:

 

Everything you say is TRUE, but a bigger (if unfortunate) truth in our society is PERCEPTION IS REALITY. People see more people on stage and they automatically think "hey---these guys must be GOOD!" and once that is in their brain, everything else gets filtered through it. It might not even be the owner/manager's opinion that he'd hire you if you had another member as much as he's going by his audience's reaction.

 

One of the reasons we were able to sell our 6 piece over the 8 piece? We've got 2 girls up front and they only have one. Now, MY belief is that we SOUND better with two girls because we are better able to do harmonies are female-vocal songs and they both sing so well together. But do you really think THAT'S what this guy was thinking about? No. He was likely thinking he'd just rather look at a 6 piece with two girls than at an 8 piece with one....

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