Updated: May 16, 2019
Hello Friends and welcome to the first article in the Riq Recommends column. In this series I will be addressing questions and hurdles we local musicians encounter and what we can do to overcome them. This article will focus on booking emails. What to be aware of, what to do, and what not to do.
When drafting a booking solicitation most people find themselves in a whirlwind of self-imposed questions. What should I say? Who do I get in touch with? Where are the good places to play? What the hell is an EPK and do I even need one? Thankfully, there are answers to your questions and hopefully answers to some questions you didn’t know you were asking.
Who and Where?
Where should I play? Who do I talk to? These are questions everyone asks themselves and should keep asking themselves throughout their career. First question: Where should I play? Where you should play is where bands like you are doing well. Take chances, play lesser known spots, and always branch out, however setting a home playing field is priority.
Second question: Who should I talk to? When you want to book at a venue you want to talk to who runs the calendar or who helps with/influences the calendar. There’s not a lot of magic to this situation. You should find the info and if possible make a personal interaction, but getting said persons email or social media contact is most important. There are far too many times where someone has tried to give me a business card and say their spiel while I’m in the middle of some task (most likely bartending) and can’t properly take in the information.
Promoters don’t have their entire calendar memorized and especially by genre. Business cards are great for mingling and getting lost in a pile of pocket debrit. To get dates booked email and messaging are the most practical to everyone’s situation. Email/message promoters. If you have a personal interaction, follow up with an email or message.
Be Prepared And Get To The Point.
When contacting a venue or promoter, or whoever, you should always have your essentials figured out. Promoters, booking agents, and calendar runners get far too many emails a day and you want to stick out. When I’m looking through booking solicitations I immediately look for the basics. Who are you? Where are you from? What date are you looking for? What do you sound like? What do you look like? How popular are you? Can I sell you on a bill?
When emailing or messaging a venue you should be completely upfront about all of these things and not write a novel while doing so. Try your best to answer these questions in the most efficient way. Format your emails with the following details.
A Greeting: Tell your band name. You wouldn’t believe how many emails and messages I’ve read over the years that say “I have a band looking for a show”. Like no shit dude everyone has a band and is looking for shows. This detail is something to always do. You shouldn’t expect for someone to have you memorized for life. People live complicated lives and dont always know or remember everyones band and which one is active.
What Your Genre Is: Give a broad but accurate description. No one cares about your specific sub-sub-genre but calling yourself a rock band doesn’t help much unless you really are generally just a rock band.
Where Are You From?: Reference what major metropolitan area you live in or are closest to. This is to see if you’re a local, local enough, or out of town. It’s not an opportunity for you to rep “Huber Heights tha Brick City 937”.
What Do You Sound Like?: Use links to widely accepted and easily navigable hosting sites. Bandcamp is my personal favorite since its free, very easy to use, and gives you a personality. Soundcloud is kind of a nightmare. Reverbnation can be frustrating to use due to its shoddy website design. Attaching music downloads is annoying, takes time, and could have a promoter judge you harder since it turns a two minute email read into a process. Video is an exceptional tool and can help boost your bookability, but always have links to your music that are easy to find.
What Do You Look Like?: Have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever is working these days and put time into it. If you have a Facebook with three likes and a stock image background literally everyone will ignore you. Have good pictures, engaging posts with show details, and evidence that you exist and that at least a few hundred people like you. This is also a reassurance that your band wasn’t born yesterday and that you will actually show up and know what your doing, to a degree.
What Do You Want?: Ask for specific things. A specific date or open weekend dates that you want to book. If you’re a newer local band or unfamiliar with a venue its good to send a general email stating the above things and that you’re looking for shows. Also, contacting other similar bands or friends bands in your area is a great way to get started, but be humble and accept that it might take awhile or won’t happen with some people/places. Especially if you are very new to the scene.
Get To The Point: When booking out of town shows, tour dates, or with larger entities it’s good to have EPK’s or descriptive bios, but put all that at the bottom so the promoter can get the details they immediately need first. I have rarely ever opened someone’s EPK or read a detailed bio when I staff booked for venues, but it was hardly necessary for my situation and it’s a very good idea to have these things ready.
As a local promoter I mostly look for what a band sounds like and if I can find locals like them that people will come to see. Just be practical. When someone wants more details they’ll look, but no one wants to sift through your gigantic email riddled with bear trap details on how the band formed at a Waffle House one crazy night after a rowdy foosball tournament to see that you’re looking for a Friday in January.
All in all, the main goal is to be objective and easy to deal with. Even if you aren’t the best band ever, people remember how you were a breeze to deal with and prompt. Business is business and its best kept light.
Stay thirsty friends,
Dayton needs you.