Getting into the College Market

Nelly's Echo
Nelly’s Echo

I was recently asked by someone how to get into the college market so I thought I’d address this.  If you have other suggestions, please post them in the comments section.  I’ve only recently learned about the whole college scene so I’m just passing on what i know.

Student Organizations
The great thing about the college market (from my experience)  is that much of the booking is in the hands of the average student.  Student Organizations are your key to performing at any given college.  Organizations are always holding fundraisers, benefit concerts, parties, galas, cocktails…etc.  There is so much potential in the college market.  Play a show, do well, and you’ll probably get referred to some other organization because a friend of a friend saw you at your first gig.  Its endless, really.

So, how do you get in to this loop? You’ve got alot of options…

  • 1] Do a little research: Do you plan to visit Philly in the fall?  Start now.  Look into local colleges…like University of Pennsylvania, for example. Find out a little more about their various orgs. Send an email to various organization presidents and ask them to consider you/your band for any events they plan to have in the new semester (ya i guess its ok to send a mass email if you accumulate several contacts).
  • 2] Use what you already have/know: Alot of my fans are college students so I always ask them to keep me in mind if any of the organizatons they belong to are planning upcoming events and looking for entertainment.  If you already have fans in college, ask them to pass your music on  to their orgs.  This has been the most successful approach for me. Its all about the power of suggestion.
  • 3.] Plan a benefit concert: Team up with your local colleges Habitat For Humanity, for example.  Ask them if you can put together a benefit and raise money for their cause.  Most orgs would willingly accept them.  Once you get the go-ahead, have your band, and a couple other bands do a show at the University  – maybe the Student Union, outside, or a venue on campus.  If you’re raising money for the organization, they will definitely tell their members, who will tell their friends…and you’ll get a great turnout.  The key is to do the event on school property.  p.s. don’t plan a benefit just because you want to get exposure. hopefully you actually want to raise money and promote the cause.


National Association for Campus Activities (NACA)
In the grand scale of things, NACA dominates the college market.  NACA has relationships with over 1000 major Universities in the United States, and through membership, creates connections for musicians (and booking agents) to book gigs with campus organizations and college venues. 

Annual membership for a self-represented artists is $351.  NACA then holds regional conferences where you have an opportunity to attend workshops, meet college event planners/bookers, and perform at their showcases.  Bookers take on the role of  “scouts” at these conferences and scout out talent for their schools. 

You will still need to pay seperately for these coferences, and entering into the showcase, but from what I hear, its  competley worth it!  Even if you spent $300 for conference fees, you could easily make that back in one college gig secured through NACA.  This recently happened for Nelly’s Echo.  He was able to get 9 college bookings by performing at last March’s Mid-Atlantic Regional conference showcase.

Take the time to read more about NACA.  Remember…sometimes you gotta spend money to make money.


Check back on Wednesday for another post with more facts and tips on college booking.

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3 Comments on “Getting into the College Market”

  1. KSE Says:

    Great post and good information for all artists.

  2. […] Grassrootsy grassroots marketing for independent artists « Getting into the College Market […]

  3. […] 2. You’ve do have quite a calendar with alot of college shows. Are you part of NACA? If so, what are you thoughts on becoming a member and going to regional showcases.  For those who aren’t part of NACA, what do you suggest is the best method for college booking & touring. NACA (National Association of Campus Activities)! Yes, I am a part of it. Let me explain it to those who don’t know what it is. NACA is an organization that holds regional conferences for college student activity boards across the country. The conferences consist of showcases, exhibit halls and educational sessions. The showcases can be anything from singer/songwriters to magicians, bands, jugglers, comedians, etc. The exhibit hall (which is called the Market Place) is where everyone has booths and the students can walk around and get info from the various entertainers.  More on NACA. […]

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