Jumping the Gun – Booking for the Spring and Summer


The Powdered Kegs (busking on a street corner)

The Powder Kegs (busking on a street corner)

It’s the end of February…the perfect time to begin booking for the Spring.  February has always been a busy month for me as this is the time I start planning my April shows.  And April has always been the busiest performance month for me b/c bookers are finally taking advantage of the good weather and trying to set up as many outside events as possible. Here are some tips for making sure you have a successful Spring/Summer season.

Set a Goal…

Try to get as many outside gigs this year as possible.  Spring and Summer are really the best times to get exposure for the simple reason that your audience is easily doubled/tripled/quadrupled by the fact that a show is outside.

Using resources to find good outside gigs
As mentioned in the Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go post, it is so important to visit local community sites and read local papers to see what’s around the corner. Its easy to find out about upcoming arts festivals if you’re subscribed to various local newsletters or listening to local radio. Its definitely worth visiting the myspace pages of your music peers to see what gigs they’ve scored.

Creating Your Own Outside Event
This is one of my favorite things to do.  All you need is a sound system, a couple artists and space (a good central spot).  Suppose there’s a restaurant with a nice outside patio or a mall with a huge walkway. Find out who’s in charge and find out what you need to do to make it happen.  If you have to prove that you’re professional enough to make it work, prove it.

Doing events on a College campus are a plus!  A University usually wont let you use their facilities unless its in conjunction with one of their organizations. Soooo…find an student organization and ask them if they’d be interested in working with you to put on an event for the students – maybe a benefit or an end of the semester type thing.  Sky is the limit.

The great thing about creating your own outside event is that you don’t have to spend as much time promoting. You can almost always count on drawing people in with musuc.

Farmers  Markets
Do not underestimate the Farmers Market crowd. You can make an unexpected amout of income at a Farmers Market. People are there specifically to shop and buy produce so they’re already in a buying mood. If you provide a tip jar and CDs, they will come through.  Farmers Market attendees are generally artsy people who like to support.  So start looking into local farmers market. If they regularly book musicians ask them how you can get on the list.  If they don’t have music, ask if they would consider it. Offer to bring your amp, mic and stand and reassure them that they don’t have to put any effort into it.   Also, make sure to setup in a prime spot

Busking many times gets a bad rap. But if you sound good, busking is a really great way to make money while playing for tons of random people. Pick a quality street corner, open your guitar case and play your heart out.  Bring a small card table and display your CDs, business cards, and newsletter sign-up form.  You’ll look less like a person who wants quick cash and mor like a distinguished musician.  If you ask a business if they will allow you to perform in front of their storefront, they might say yes.  And if you need power, they’ll probably let you use their outlets as well.

Revisit old gigs
Did you play a really great outside gig last year?  Ok, so contact the booker from that event and ask if they will consider having you back.


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2 Comments on “Jumping the Gun – Booking for the Spring and Summer”

  1. KSE Says:

    Great reminder post.

    In Texas, most of the top fair & festival spots need to be booked a min of 6 months out here. If you wait until the last minute, say a month before the event, you either won’t get a slot (because they have been filled) or you will have to play for tips and merchandise sales.

    Texas has an official music site….all states may, but, I don’t know for sure. On the Texas Music site, there is a listing by month of all the events like fairs and festivals with all the contact information. You can view it at:


    There is a ton of information there as well on music, music law, etc. I think you can even list your business and your band there if your from out-of-state. It’s a free resource, so please make use of it.

    The events calendar can be view on line; they will email you a PDF file, or if you live in Texas they will mail one to you. The 2008 events calendar was approximately 100 pages with about 5-8 events listed per page, front & back.

    Take care….wishing everyone successful booking…if we can be of service, please let us know.

    Oh, one of the biggest music events is coming up next month in Austin, Texas. It’s too late to send in an application for your band to play/perform, but, if you can budget it, it’s certainly a few days of your time and money well spent.

    You can view their site at:


    South By Southwest

    and at the same time of SXSW, the Red Gorilla Music Fest is going on in Austin.


    This year there will be many hundreds of bands performing at SXSW; lots of showcases; seminars, etc. Big names and small names will all be there. I believe Quincy Adams is giving the ‘keynote’ address, to kick off the event. It’s not cheap to attend, but, if you work the event each day and night, I think you will more than recoup your cost, plus, what you learn cannot be valued in money terms.

    If nothing else you will have a great time!


  2. KSE Says:


    Quincy Jones

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