Guide to getting and playing better gigs


   

Gig Fees

     
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Whether you're booking your own band or have an agent, it's important to establish your value within your particular market. When there's demand for your act, your fees will increase and bookings will be easier to contract. At the beginning of your touring career, there's probably little or no demand, therefore, the fees are low and there's more difficulty booking dates. While you're building your reputation and following, it's important to keep track of the following factors, enabling you to begin to establish a track record and some value. Establishing value for your act helps to create some leverage when negotiating with promoters and booking personnel at each venue. So how do you begin to establish your value?

Start with your bio. Within the bio, it's important to have information and facts that the promoter can use to sell your act to their audience. Make sure it's clear and concise with little or no fluff or exaggeration. Highlight your accomplishments to date so the reader doesn't have to search through lengthy paragraphs in order to get to the important facts that help him sell your act. For example, if you were interviewed on a regional TV or radio show which is meaningful to the area where you regularly perform, don't bury it within the text, bullet the information to make it stand out. Have someone other then yourself read over your materials to pull out the interesting facts and then rework the page graphically to emphasize the selling points.

Create a user friendly press pack. When your press materials are designed with the promoter and media in mind, mention that to the promoter when attempting to book the date. For example, supply the venue with ready to use flyers or posters. Let them know you'll send promo CDs to local radio along with a press release for the date. Send them a sample ready-to-use-fill-in-the-blank press release so they may also send one to their media list. Ask to contact their publicity person and let them know you're ready to work with them in order to insure local media is covered.

Let the promoter know how large your mailing list is in their area and that you mail or email to your list for each tour. If you don't have a mailing list, it's the easiest direct marketing tool you can create. Start one at your very next date. It only takes a pad of paper and a pen when keeping it simple, or a nicely designed form or fill-out card for the more elaborate. Mentioning how many people are on your mailing list and that you target your mailing for each gig, lets the promoter know you will tap your fans to buy tickets for their club.


When establishing and growing your value in the market, creating a record of all previously played dates is one of the most important things you can do. Keep track of the following information and review it before making your booking calls.

a) The venue's seating or standing capacity
b) How many tickets you sold at the venue
c) The ticket-price or cover charge
d) What the weather was like that night (it may influence sales)
e) How much merchandise you sold
f) What the gross sales were/what you got paid
g) What kind of promotion was done? Press releases, advertising, posters/flyers, media coverage
h) Was there any other major event in town that night? (Large cities will always have many other events occurring on the same night, small towns may only have one other event which could influence the outcome of your date.)

As you call new venues in a town where you've previously played, having the above information close at hand will help you negotiate a better deal. If you've previously sold out a 150-seat venue at 10 per ticket and now you're attempting to book a 200-seat venue, the promoter has something for reference. This establishes your value. This information places you on equal footing with other acts that are able to sell 150 tickets. Now you can begin to command fees according to your established track record in that area. When booking dates in a new area where you've never played, you can still use the above information for comparison and to demonstrate what you have been able to accomplish. Don't expect to get the same kind of fees in an untested market, but the information lets the promoter know something about your professionalism and methods you use to develop your audience.

Once you get in the habit of keeping records, you'll begin to refer to the information automatically. Booking calls will become more conversational and you'll find yourself using these pertinent facts which continually boost your acts value. Your negotiations will be based on factual information rather than emotion. As you become more adept at this, you'll find you have some leverage in many of the venues where you regularly perform. As you establish your value in each new market, demand for your act will increase and booking the act will become easier.

See also:
Getting Paid

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