Time to Drop the Booking Agent, Here’s How to Book Your Own Shows
No one knows better than an indie artist how frustrating and stressful it can be to book shows, tour, and perform. The struggle, when it comes to getting in touch with venues, managers and bookers, is quite real. Hiring a booking agent may seem like the easy answer, but if the royalties aren’t exactly flowing in yet, you might not be in the financial position to do this. What to do, then? Let’s not forget that we are the DIY generation, we do it ourselves. Here’s how to book your own shows.
Perhaps you’ve made a list of all the venues that would fit your music, sound, and style, and yet it’s nearly impossible to get them to give you a decent time slot. You will most likely get an 11pm weeknight spot or a 3pm Sunday afternoon one, and we all know that no one is going to miss brunch to catch your new band at what promises to be an empty, desolated venue.
When you ask for a better, higher profile slot, the booking agent usually says: “Well, how many people can you draw?”. If the answer is more than 20, then you’ve got yourself a Friday night show. However, if your response is anything less, you’ll have to wait patiently in line until your following is bigger.
Which brings us to our next point.
Book Others, to Book Yourself.
How is a band supposed to grow a fan base if the only shows they can play occur when people are watching Netflix or in a yoga class? Good question indeed. Those who manage to bring a good crowd are those who are either already established or have a lot of friends in town. Venues are not going to bet on a new indie artist nor are they looking for the next big act to feature before they blow up. Venues want to break even. They want to see the money they spend on a typical Friday night come back in full, and if possible make a little profit.
Be your own booking agent. Look for an equally unknown band that shares your ambitions, ethos, and sound and put a show together. Perhaps, pick a less reputable venue in your town; smaller and more intimate is ideal. Make sure you market the show as a party; a night to have some fun and enjoy some live music. Startups like Sofar Sounds have built a brand around this exact experience and platforms like youbloomConnect match local indie artists with one another, making it easy for bands to come together and book.
Each band will bring their friends, and if you advertised the event properly, their friends will bring other friends looking for a fun night.
Play the show, distribute some t-shirts, have a beer and repeat.
One of two things will happen. You will either get a call from the bigger venues looking to book your band or you won’t need them anymore because your fan base has been growing without their help.
You should hope for the latter.
About the Blogger
Luca a freelance writer, blogger, musician and songwriter. Born and
raised in Italy, his passion for Rock n Roll made him move to London where he
lived for one year and gained a certificate in Songwriting from ICMP.
Luca relocated in NYC in 2014 to pursue jazz music and liberal arts at the
The New School from which he graduated in December 2017. Luca currently
resides in Nashville, TN