Eight tips for getting the gig

guitar cat

Over the years I’ve been on both sides of the booking game, as a performer and as a booker. It’s like a first date — you don’t have a lot of time to make a good first impression. Beyond being nice to the waiter, here’s what you should do: 

1. Don’t send out a generic inquiry to everyone

Here’s a note I got recently:

“We are contacting you in consideration of adding Band XYZ to your 2015 lineup. Band XYZ is a recent nominee at the Blah Blah Blah. This nomination also earned Band XYZ a showcase at The Blah Blah Blah. As well, they have recently been selected to perform at the <festival not in my area>. Band XYZ would love the opportunity to perform at your venue, and believe they would be a great fit. Please feel free to contact us at blah blah blah.”

I was definitely not feeling the love.

2. Do your homework

If you’re a metal band, do not contact the mom and pop coffeehouse in your neighborhood unless they have a late night metal showcase. Find venues that play the kind of music you do. This may seem like DUH advice but you can’t believe the emails I’ve received. One time I was booking a showcase of female singer-songwriters and a guy tried to convince me to book him. Dude, how do you look in a dress?

3. Know their names

At least know the name of the venue and the city. Bonus if you know the name of the booker. That one can be tough, though, because some clubs change bookers more often than Charlie Sheen changes girlfriends.

charlie sheen

4. Don’t spam

Contacting a venue every week is not going to get you the gig. An occasional reminder – “Hey we’re out here and we’re available” is fine — the squeaky wheel and all that.

spam5. Don’t add venues to your mailing list

It’s just noise that gets dumped in a spam file. However, if it’s a venue that’s booked you and loves you, ask and maybe they’ll say yes.

6. Try different methods of reaching them

Sometimes a phone call is better than an email, or a text is better than showing up at the club. Not getting answers to your texts? Maybe it’s a land line. No response to your emails? Try the phone. Get all old-school on them.

talking on phone7. Keep it short

“We are Band ABC and we’ll be in Gotham City in July and we’d love to bring our brand of metal polka to The Bat Cave. We played in GC six months ago at the popular Bat Love Festival and have a current mailing list. Here’s a link to our YouTube channel and to our website. You can reach us at 555-BATS or BandABC@aol.com. Thanks.” That’s it. You don’t need to go on about how your mama thinks you’re the best thing since Polka Floyd.

 8. Forget the attached files

No one looks at them.

Now go get that gig at The Bat Cave. Your public awaits.

If you found this post helpful, please consider making a $2 donation with the button below and keep me in coffee. Merci y’all. 


About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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