5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show


I’m knee deep in booking shows, and here are some more things I’m learning along the way about booking. If you’ve recently learned a thing or two, put it in the comments section.

1. Call Ahead
If you are  unsure about the venue you’re about to book, call the venue (as if you are a patron) and ask about the space. If storytelling is a big part of your set, ask them if the venue turns into a listening room at night or if live music takes more of an “elevator music” role and hides in the background. If you’re a cover band, you likely won’t have an attentive audience.  Make sure the space is that kind of space

2. Know the Room You’re Playing in
My personal pet-peeve when it comes to booking is not being able to find a full room image of a venue on its website. Before you book a space, make sure you can fill it. Something I do to get a feel for a space is look for YouTube videos of other artists playing in that space.

3. Make Sure the Venue Knows What You Do
Lets say the music on your website features a band, but you travel solo. Make sure the venue knows this.  It might determine
if they book you, what night they book, and in which space they book you (if they have multiple spaces).  Expectations that aren’t meant can often end in bad relationships.

4. Be Aware of Other Artists Who Have Played There
If you’re a jazz artist, don’t play a venue that primarily books garage rock bands. It won’t appeal to the venue’s built-in crowd, and the venues reputation will affect your fanbase’s decision to attend.

5. Don’t be Careless in the Booking Process
If you don’t hash out details with the venue ahead of time, it could really hurt you. Don’t forget to discuss:

  • payment: Can you charge a cover?  If not, do they give artists a percentage of sales? If not, can you put out a tip jar, “pass the hat”, and sell merch?
  • sound: Should you bring sound? Is there a backline? Are they prepared for a band or just solo acts. If it’s a chill atmosphere, your drummer might only be allowed to uses brushes instead of sticks.Stuff like that.
  • location: Is this venue in a central spot. That will make all the difference in determining how heavily you need to promote.
  • set: How long are you expected to play? Do you need to have another artists on the bill? Many venues like having at least two artist for the sake of variety and a crowd composed of each performers’ fanbase.

Check out “The Best Way to Book a Tour”  for more. If you have additional tips, put them in the comments.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Finding/Getting Bookings, Performing, touring, Uncategorized

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2 Comments on “5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show”

  1. Jon Patton Says:

    Your advice in #2 is a particularly wonderful example of taking advantage of technology to solve an problem that bands have always had when touring: How can I check out the space if I’ve never even been to that city? And all bands or artists should have a checklist built on this, especially #5.


  2. […] the new CD! That question has so many answers.  I highly recommend checking out this former post: 5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show. But here are some newer thoughts on that matter that are maybe a little easier to […]


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