$10 for me to book you a gig?

Yep. Let me explain.
I have been approached by 17 different musicians on the subject of booking. Each one of them tells me that I have a knack for sales. They say that I have been missing my calling, and my calling is as a booking agent or a promoter.

I have experience in sales and I seem to remember that I was pretty good at it. The problem that I ran into with sales is how mundane the field can be. It’s a numbers game and you have to get a certain number of no’s in order to reach your goal of yes’s.

It is also important to be a fan of the product. If you believe in something, it will come out in your conversation with the potential buyer. Once they believe that you believe in your product…you’re at least half way to closing the sale.
The number one problem salesmen have is asking for the money. A salesman can deliver the best sales pitch the world has ever seen, and the potential buyer is absolutely aching to make the purchase, and suddenly the salesman gets nervous. He gets nervous because he has finally reached the moment of truth. It all comes down to this. All the preparation, all the practicing, all of the cold calls have brought him to this one defining moment- and no matter how sure the salesman is that the sale is in the bag, he will get nervous at this moment. A “no” at this point will be devastating; so he’ll do almost anything to get a yes.

Chances are; he’ll totally blow it.
He’ll likely accept less than his asking price….Or he’ll agree to less than optimum circumstances, just to relieve some of the pressure and make the product or service EVEN MORE inviting. What he doesn’t realize is that the potential customer sees these “accommodations” as evidence that the salesman believes that the product isn’t worth the asking price; so he’ll lower it and ask again. The buyer now has it in his head that the prices are too high. He thinks this because this is what the salesman sold him on.
Knowing how to close the sale, and ask for the money have always been somewhat easy for me. At least, that’s what my supervisors, customers and coworkers have always thought.

Another problem salesmen have to confront is choosing a customer who would most likely be interested in the product for sale. Obviously, if you are selling 4 wheelers, a retiree is probably not going to be your optimum target.
 In order to leverage the odds in his favor, a car salesman will set up a lot full of cars that are for sale where potential customers will COME TO HIM! He knows they need his product, so part of the work is done. This is why this MidGaLIVE Music database is such a promising idea.

Booking bands is just another type of sales job. A good Booking agent will find a venue where your style would be popular with the patrons. Don’t send Holocaustion to a country and western night at some restaurant. The fact is-Lance will be fine and he will totally entertain these people -but that is not what he had in mind when it was booked.

Another thing the booking agent has to deal with is ensuring that the band doesn’t have any underlying issues at this particular venue. If the bass players ex-wife is the bar manager, chances are pretty good that the gig is going to suck. People can be very petty sometimes. Of course. You can’t be expected to know things like this….but you can bet that the bass player knows, and when the booking agent says; “I’ve got you booked at Rivalry’s Friday night.” The band will savor cancelling the gig at the last minute.

Finally, a problem that seems to always be an issue is the date of the gig. I don’t know how many times bands have told me that a particular date is available, and then after I book the gig- “Oh, damn. I forgot about the drummer’s girlfriend’s birthday….sorry.”
So; We finally come down to my explanation. You were wanting to know how I could book you a gig and you would only have to pay me $10. How I can I do this?….You are going to help me make the sale.

STEP ONE: Tell me WHERE you want to play.

First, you are going to find a venue that you believe you will do well in. Maybe you’re a biker, and this club has a “Bike Night”. Maybe most of the bands that play at this venue play a similar type of music but your band plays it better.  Whatever. It’s totally your decision, and one that I am not qualified to make.
Step Two: Tell me WHEN you want to play there.
Tip: When you are trying to make a sale, it sometimes helps to get the potential customer to say yes to you a few times leading up to the close. The idea is that the customer is agreeing with you which establishes a positive connection to you. So when you follow it with; “You’re going to love hearing my band.” The venue manager thinks, “You know what?.... I will!”
 If I try to book your band on a night that they historically have other things going on ( such as karaoke, open mic, trivia, poker, etc.) she will have to tell me no. At that point, I will have lost momentum. It is easy enough to find out if a day’s event is pre planned: while you’re there checking out the band, ASK SOMEBODY about the other things they do besides live music.

Step Three: How much do you want to charge this venue?
There are no set rules on this sort of thing. I know that some bands charge $100 per member of the band and encourage others to go no lower. This is totally your call, but if you are playing a venue that is out of town, you don’t want me to suggest you for $400 when everyone else is getting $600. Not only is it leaving money on the table, it makes you appear to offer a lower quality service than the next guy. Also, if they think that your band is of lower quality, they are not going to spend money to promote it. THEY WILL ONLY WORK HARD TO PROMOTE BANDS THAT THEY BELIEVE ARE GOING TO BE AMAZING. Setting the right price will help you convince them that you are just that AMAZING. Ask the band that is playing, about the bars budget, or act like a non-musician and ask a waitress “So how much do bands get paid?”

Step Four: Give me $10.
I will be paid before I do any work, AND I will be paid whether you get the gig or not.
I will NOT be booking your band. I WILL, however, contact the venue and tell them I am your booking agent. I will tell them that you are available on a certain date (the one you choose) which will be 2 months in advance. I will tell them that you normally play for more, but that you would be willing to play their venue for ‘X’ dollars which happens to be a little more than what the band that played last week did it for. I will tell them that, if they are interested, they will have to call you to confirm the details.
THEN, I will tell YOU the deal and YOU will book the gig.

Now, it is possible that you will pick a venue that doesn’t cater to your style. You may choose a venue that doesn’t consistently cater live music. Or, you may choose a venue who can barely afford $250 plus bar tab while you demand $500. Normally, a booking agent will be responsible for getting these details right and he will be able to navigate around these simple issues.
I am not a booking agent. I am a salesman.
I will sell the venue on the idea of you. That is all I promise. It is up to you to make your product and service worthwhile to the customer. I just tell them all about how your band is perfect for their venue. I tell them when YOU are available, and how fortunate they are to have this opportunity. I will tell them that your band is one of the best bands in Ga. and that your frontman makes the women go crazy. I will tell them that they are going to LOVE your band and let’s go ahead and nail this thing down.

Together, we won’t book every venue we try. But we will succeed sometimes, and the more we try, the better we will get at it. The more you try to find the venues that are good for you, the better you’ll get. No one can do this with %100 success.
 But with practice, we will get good at it won’t we?
Do you want more gigs?

Do you want to play out more often?
Do you want to make more money?
$10 per phone call is cheap, isn’t it?
Ok, then, let’s get started.
Now, at this point, you are probably itching to contact me. Don't. I don't do booking. This article should have given you ALL you need to know to do it yourself. Once you do it a few times, you'll realize how expensive the offer above is.
Get to work and quit trying to find someone else to do your job for you.

Good Luck! 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After booking bands for the last 9yrs for my events I can tell you why most bands are broke.

1. Contact info. I can't tell you how many times I've spend hours trying to track a band with out of date contact info,demo disks with no contact info, etc.

2 The money issue. When I ask how much, it really pisses me off to get an "I don't know" or get a price that is double or triple what I know the bands in the area play for,just to see if I am a moron. I think you all would work more if you would play it straight with people. Give it a try.

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