Archive for the ‘Venues’ category

Starting a Music Series

October 25, 2010

Have you ever wanted to start a music series – a Coffeehouse series up the street from your house, a regular singer-songwriter night residency with your favorite venue, or maybe a ticketed house show that’s known for quality music, good food and company? Fall is a really good time to do this. I recently had a friend email me for suggestions about starting a series and here are some things that came to mind…

It’s a good change of pace
Picking one thing and doing it well is a really great idea. Maybe the idea of booking X number of shows in X number of places exhausts you. If you think about it, doing one show at the same place is much easier and will definitely help you build a solid fanbase. It might limit you to a geographical area, but it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to focus on this approach and take the occasional show elsewhere whenever its offered.

Don’t do it too often
Once a month. If you want to do a show well, give yourself time to promote, host, rest, and then do it all over again. A monthly series will stick in people’s minds. Every 2 months is a bit too infrequent and every week will wear you out. Some things don’t take much preparation (i.e. weekly open mic…etc) but to do a show and really do it well, you need time, strategy, and rest so you don’t burnout. note: also remember that location has alot to do with how heavily you’ll have to promote. Maybe you could get away with a show ever two weeks if you’re at a central location with alot of walk-ins.

First time is a charm
Promote that first show like your life depends on it. Do it up so big and get the biggest turnout you can. If the first one is a success it will do all the work for all shows to follow. A good first show means people will come back. It means people will tell others. It means people will make Facebook comments about how much they enjoyed the first one and can’t wait for the next one.  I’m convinced that the key to the success of a music series is the very first installment and the maintenance of that vibe…which leads us to the next point.

Establish the vibe and stick with it
Pick a good name for the music series.  Make sure the space you’re hosting the show matches the type of vibe you want your event to give off.  Pick the most important aspect of your series and never change it. This is what will keep your core audience coming back.

The wonderful thing about hosting a music series is that you can bring in so many different artists over the life of the series, you can make yourself the resident musician (if you wish), and you can build a fanbase for the series and for yourself. Its like killing two birds with one stone.


***Subscribe to Grassrootsy


Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig

June 23, 2010

Chloe's Coffee in Gaithersburg, MD

Here’s a follow-up to last week’s post: Making the Most of Your Club Gig.
So, coffeeshops are great, but you probably won’t make a whole lotta mula.  Well, it all really depends. Even if you don’t, playing coffeeshops has huge perks that you won’t get from a club.  Here are some thoughts on the matter.

Learn the Community.
Coffeeshops are known for their presence in the community. Take advantage of this. Make the most of the location by reaching out to be people who live around the corner instead of your whole fanbase. It’s a little less work and you’ll probably get more of a response from the locals. And hopefully the coffeeshop will buy into your approach since they exists for their locals.

Have Fun!
Community is almost synonymous with coffeeeshops these days.  The great things about these types of shows is that pressure is usually low. People are there to spend time with each other and exist in a place when others are…even if they’re not talking to anyone. All this to say, don’t take yourself too seriously. Talk with your audience and have fun. Keep it laid back. If you can, make it feel like your living room.

The More the Merrier
Considering that most coffeehouse gigs don’t pay, go ahead and put more people on the bill. Invite 7 songwriters out and do an in-the-round event. You’ll get a great turnout if everyone tells a few people and you don’t have the stress of splitting $10 between 7 people. hehe.

Don’t forget to have a Tip Jar
Be nice and remind people that you are a working artist and that you would appreciate their support. You can pass the hat as well. You’d be surprised at how some people make a decent killing off tips (sometimes that depends on the neighborhood).

Just Because You’re A Band…
Doesn’t mean you can’t play in coffeeshops. Some of them are fine with full bands.  You can do an unplugged set, a setup with 1/2 of your band, or just tone things down a bit.

The Ugly Side of Coffeeshops
A few things that make coffeeshops hard…

  • That grinder. There’s nothing worse than trying to compete with that blendy thing. Make sure the stage you’re playing on in’t right beside the front counter. I just had this experience and it was miserable.
  • All ages venues can sometimes mean young kids with nothing better to do and nowhere else to be. Ask them questions to make them part of your show. This will keep them engaged.
  • Everyone isn’t there for music. Some people are there to study…so don’t always expect everyone to close the laptop or stop your conversations and give you their full attention. Its the nature of the beast.

***Subscribe to Grassrootsy

10 Things I Learned from my 10-day Tour

June 21, 2010

Ok, so it was an 11-day tour, but 10 sounds better.

1. Think Locally. You don’t have to put 5 hours of driving between every show. That’s lame.  Put show 1, 2, or 3 hours apart. You’ll minimize your driving and have more time to lay low in between gigs. Just because you’re on tour doesn’t mean you have to hit up every major city. Pick a region and do it up!

2. Small cities are still where it’s at. Everyone always wants to play out in the bigger cities, but i still hold to the opinion that you get more bang for your buck in smaller cities. There’s less going on and more interest. It’s easier to get media coverage, and more people will come out because news travels fast(er). More on this: Big Fish, Small Fish.

3. Do two shows in one city. Play a gig and tell attendees you’ll be back in the area in a few days. Your first show will be a great way to promote the second one. Don’t forget to split gigs with local bands or singer/songwriters.

4. Pull out that email list! An email list is more important than ever when you’re touring. You drove all that way so make sure you get people’s emails. Follow up the day after by welcoming them to your newsletter and inviting them to connect with you on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. If you don’t get emails, you’ve missed a huge opportunity to stay connected with new fans.

5. Stop in and say hi. Visiting a new city? Take some time to stop into venues that you might light to perform at next time you’re in town. Scope at the space and be in the know so you’ll know what to expect. You can also talk to the management directly to get a better idea of what they look for when booking. But don’t forget to follow-up with an email.

6. You don’t have to book a show for every single day. Its pretty ambitious, after all the goal is to make the most of your trip. BUT, take a day off. If you’re on the road for 10 days, find one day in the middle to take for yourself. All that driving and performing can wear a body out. Take a day to rest up, wander around town, and hang out with people.

7.  It’s ok to do an open mic. It’s not an official gig, but with advance notice, you can be the evening’s featured artist. Just tell them you’re in town for the day and looking to learn more about the local scene.  And it’ll be a great opportunity to meet local artists that you can split a gig when you’re next in the area.

8. Consider sticking in at least 1 good paying gig even if you’re not so excited about playing it.  At least it will help subsidize your trip and pay for gas.

9. Give them a deal they can’t refuse. Have a few items on your merch table? Sell them in bundles. 1 CD for $10. 2 for $15. 3 for $20. Yea, this is a useful tip whether you’re touring or not…but you’ll be able to cover traveling expenses alot easier if you do bundle deals. More on this: Creating a Black Friday Buzz.

10. Take vitamins and drink alot of water. It might not be a marketing tip, but, like I said, touring really wears on the body. Keep your immune system up and ward off any sickness. And be careful of what you eat too…b/c you’ll probably be eating out every day.

Subscribe to Grassrootsy

Making the Most of Your Club Gig

June 10, 2010

On Monday’s post, we talked about the pros/cons of booking nightclubs: Coffeeshop or Club? Pros and Cons of “Nightlife” Booking. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your show.

Who’s on the Bill?
Don’t just play with any artist, play with artists who will willingly help you promote the gig. You can get a big name to headline your event, but if they don’t tell their fans, it wont get the turnout you’re shooting for. We talked about this extensively in a post a few months back in a post worth reading: “So What Did I Do Wrong?”

Also, make sure you’re billing with bands that are communicative.  Don’t book bands that don’t respond to your emails or any of your communication. How can you expect them to be on the same page with you when you’re not corresponding.

Also check out this post: Be The Artist You’d Want to Play With

Space Your Shows
Since your draw is such an important factor, don’t try to book another big show in the same time frame. This might be a no-brainer But maybe consider doing 1 big show a month. Doing shows close together is possible (especially if you plan to target very different audiences) but in most cases, both shows will detract from each other.
Also make sure that the other band(s) you’re playing with don’t have any competing shows.
Since it sometimes feels harder to draw people out, give people a reason to come. Consider talking with the venue and ask if they can have a drink special or a discounted menu for patrons.

You can’t set up a show today for next week. You need to set aside a solid 1-2 months to do it right. You probably won’t have a successful show if you don’t give yourself time to promote. Read
Planning Ahead – The Key to a Successful Show for a 4-week plan to a successful show.

Also check out 5 Tips for a Booking a Successful Show for more useful details.

***Subscribe to Grassrootsy