Working with promoters

28th April 2012 by Emma Scott

Here are some handy tips for bands who are booking gigs and dealing with promoters and venues!  Hope they help you.

Before you book any gig, make sure you know which dates each band member can do – and more importantly CAN’T do. So many times I book a band for a gig one day and am told the next that their drummer is at college or at a doctors appointment on the day of the gig or even on holiday – so they can’t play.

Sometimes I have already spent time and money organising a flyer for the gig – this has to be re-designed and paid for again.

Upon booking a gig, it’s well worth finding out about equipment sharing and load in times even if it’s months away. Some early curfew gigs start at 6pm and load ins start at 3pm. This is very early of course, especially on a week-day, but they are early for a reason. Sound checking 5 bands in a 3 hour window can be quite hard for the sound-guy.

Imagine how hard it is when the headlining band arrive at 4.45pm instead of 3pm!

Making other bands wait for gear and for their sound checks – or even making other bands miss their sound checks is very unprofessional and it won’t make you any friends. It will also cause the venue and promoters a lot of stress, so get your load in time and be there for it! Be early for it in fact; people will love you!

Are you fed up with emailing promoters but never getting a reply? Instead of ranting about how rude promoters are, remember they are very busy people – especially the ones at popular venues. Send a polite reminder and ask again every couple of weeks.  You may have to do this a few times before you get a reply.

Think about your actual email to the promoter. Have you included all the information that a promoter needs from you? Do you know what the promoter needs from you?

This is what I ask for on this site:

Band name (you’d be surprised how many bands leave this off!)

Where you’re from/based:  Important for me as I book gigs in Wolverhampton and Birmingham. I will therefore be able to match up each band to the best venue for them.

Your genre:  (particularly handy if the promoter has a slot to fill urgently and can only skim through emails looking for bands of a certain genre)

Your band links:  (Facebook/website/Myspace/Band Camp/Reverbnation etc) If the promoter can’t hear you or can’t find you on line – they won’t be able to book you.

Your contact details:  It’s amazing how many bands fill in my contact form incorrectly. If you have to fill in your email address on a contact form, check it before sending!

Interesting information:  Have you been on UK tour with Slash? Are you currently number 7 in the iTunes charts with your new single? Which other bands have you played with?  Sell your band, because your email will be sitting in an inbox with hundreds, maybe thousands of other bands – and you need to make yourselves look as good as possible.

Finally, once you have booked a gig, make sure you tell everyone about it. It’s not down to the promoter alone. If you don’t tell your fans about your gigs, you can expect to play in front of the sound engineer. It is up to each band on the bill AND the promoter to tell as many people as possible about the gig. Plugging the gig on the day of the event is great, but you need to be plugging everyday.

If you are given an allocation of tickets to sell, you have been given these for a reason. Venues are not free to hire. The costs can escalate (for a 200 capacity venue) into hundreds of pounds, and the promoter will have to pay these costs even if there’s no one at the gig.

If your band has 4 members and you’ve been given 25/30 tickets to sell, then split them up and sell as many as possible to fans, friends and family members. If you sell your allocation you will undoubtedly be rebooked and play higher up the bill next time.  If you don’t sell your allocation (or sell less then 10) you will very rarely be booked again by the same promoter.

Remember,  this is the music business. If you don’t bring people to a gig (or have fans that want to see you) you haven’t contributed much, have you? With the huge number of unsigned bands looking for gigs, the promoters have a lot of choice.

Promoters don’t walk away from each gig with all the money from tickets. They have to pay everyone before that happens, and if they haven’t broken-even on costs, they’ll be running to the cashpoint.  They can’t afford to keep putting gigs on if no one comes:-(

Circuit venues, like the O2 academies, make a note of high ticket-selling bands and will keep them on file for touring band support.  You could be playing to 3000 people at one of these gigs, so it’s well worth shifting those tickets at the smaller gigs.

If each band on the bill sells between 20 and 30 tickets, the room will be quite full and there’s more of a chance of growing your fan-base, handing out more CD’s and selling more merchandise. You do have merchandise, don’t you?

Anyway, enough for now. Keep working the band, keep promoting the band and good things will come!

These days, being a good band, writing good songs isn’t enough, sadly! You have to work hard to progress.

Good luck!





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