Every musician faces the initial angst of finding the right booking their first gig. The venue owner or promoter is basically someone that pays for your talent. The more people you bring in, the more tickets they sell, the more drinks they serve, the more money they make. Their top interest is you bringing in the numbers. So it's important not only to get the right venue for your band but also to be aware of promotion plans in order to prove to your promoter you can capture an audience.
We can't emphasize enough how important searching out the right venue is. Think about your fan base and follow that lead. Don't book venues that don't fit your fan base. If you have a loyal following of 18 yr olds, obviously don't book a 21 yr. old + venue. Watch out for age restrictions and what type of demographic usually go to that venue. Check out the venues website in depth before you reach out.
After you've researched and made a list of venues you'd like to play and have a good understanding of where you should begin, make sure your band is free on certain choice dates. Then it's time to contact the venue. If you're reaching out via email, keep it short, sweet and to the point. Put your band's name and the ideal date in the headline. Explain in the body what gigs you've played in the area and your success stories. If you have any personal connections to venue owner or promoter, mention them at this time.
Whether via email or phone call, once you book the venue, ask some pertinent questions to make sure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event.
Availability and Rental fee are at the top of this list. How much is the rental fee? And do you they have availability on dates that matches yours? These questions alone may determine whether you’d like to keep pursuing this venue.
Also ask questions like:
These are just a few examples of details you should know in advance. Many artists have a solid list of questions mapped out and on file for each time they book a venue. Each time you have a “gig day” you'll probably learn new things and most likely add new questions to the list for next time.
Even though there may not be much flexibility in venue pricing, it's always worth a shot. Why not try and negotiate? Commonly there are two main factors that could help you get a better deal.
Publicity can change pricing. Plan ahead with ideas of how you promote the venue. Make a promotion plan. For example, this could be contacting a local radio station to see if they have an interview slot for you. This could be a win – win. Promoting yourself and the venue at the same time. Your social media channels and email list are important assets at this time. Spread the word.
As mentioned before, for the promotor or venue owner, it's a numbers game. They want nothing more than to have a packed place where drinks are flowing.
A rental fee is usually a minimum amount that has to be made at the door. Proving you'll deliver a big crowd will show the venue that you can cover the door money and make extra income on drinks sales at the same time.
Many smaller venues will not have contracts but be sure to ask ahead of time.
Be aware that as you move into larger venues they will ask for a signed contract before the show. This contract will confirm the date for the show, payment details and any other special arrangements.
If the show falls through, you'll be liable for paying them the fee. So as always, make sure you read thoroughly contracts ahead of time and cover all bases.