You have been practicing for months and now you are ready to get out there and let people actually hear what you have been working so hard on. When you are in a band with a group of people, sometimes it is hard to actually start booking shows. Everyone has a different schedule and everyone has a different idea of how many nights a week they want to play. Money is also a big factor. While you may want to play just to get your music out there, your bass payer may want at least $100 per show. How to you juggle all of that?
So here are some things to be ready with:
How much do you want to play?
You’ve got five members in your band. Each member is going to have different ideas about how much they want, and are available, to play. Some of them may have jobs and families that they have to book around.
Maybe no one in the band wants to be a full time musician, or maybe everyone does. Maybe everyone only wants to play two gigs a month. Figure this out early in the life of your band.
What nights can/do you want to play?
Bars have different booking schedules. Some will have live music every night of the week while others may only have music on the weekends or just one weekend night.
Just like the above example, band mates may be limited to certain nights of the week they are available to play.
They may also have certain dates they can’t play because of other obligations. Maybe the bass player has to go out of town for work or has to attend his sister’s college graduation.
Before you start booking, establish each member’s “blackout dates.” Those are the dates that each member cannot play. Find out as far in advance as possible and mark it on your calendar. Even if it’s 6 months away, find out and mark it down.
Book out as far in advance as you can
We always try to book as far in advance as possible. This ensures the dates my bands are available are booked and we’re not scrambling trying to find gigs at the last minute. It also locks in dates at the venues you want to play before they’re all gone. Nothing sucks more than to call your favorite bar and find that they’re all booked up.
Speaking of bars (and clubs/halls, etc.), some clubs will book an entire year in advance and some will only book a little at a time, like three months out. This will depend on their booking policy and how established you are. Some clubs that book out only three months at a time may book you for an entire year if you bring in lots of business for them.
Cancelling a gig (try not to)
Bands can have a reputation for being unreliable. We think that’s because everyone thinks bands are all about “sex, drugs & rock-n-roll”. Ok, this can be true to some extent, but mostly it’s about musicians doing something they love.
Cancelling gigs can add to that unreliable image.
When a club puts you on their schedule, they are closing off that date for any other bands that they may want to book. They know those bands will book elsewhere, so, if you have to cancel a date, they could be left with no band for that night.
They don’t like that. It can mean lost revenue and no one likes to lose money.
So, if you cancel, all of a sudden you are seen as unreliable and you may lose a favored position on the booking schedule.
There will be times that you absolutely have to cancel — everyone understands. Make sure it’s a solid reason. Being sick usually isn’t one of those unless it’s got you bedridden.
If you do have to cancel, do it as soon as possible. The further in advance that you can tell the venue owner that you are unable to play the sooner they can find a replacement.
And while you’re cancelling, apologize your ass off!
Best times to book your band
There are times of the year when the crowds will be best. Where you are located can have a big effect on this.
Holidays – This can be tricky. Some holidays see lots of people leaving town to visit family, but it can also see a lot of people coming back to town to visit. Thanksgiving weekend is usually a great weekend.
On the flip side of that, 4th of July is almost always a bust because people are out on the lake partying and aren’t going to the clubs.
The two best holidays to book are Halloween and New Year’s Eve. Those two nights are when people are out in force to party hard. Most of the time you can even charge a premium to play those nights because the bars want great bands to get people buying as much food and drink as possible. Colder seasons can be great because those people are now doing more indoor activities.
[Reprinted From: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/]