Booking gigs: Focusing on just my band or more?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by lostcontrol_, Oct 29, 2013.


  1. lostcontrol_

    lostcontrol_

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Messages:
    168
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    So, for some reason the band (industrial rock, think Nine Inch Nails with guitars) put me in charge of booking/sales. I have pretty much zero experience in the music biz, but sales/business in general or in advertising/digital media is a familiar territory.

    In the past 1-2 months or so, I've done my share of networking, sales ops etc. and things are starting to pick up for next year. I guess the main thing I'm doing differently vs. previous sales is that I've established three packages to sell to venues:

    1) Pop/rock-ish
    2) Indie/Goth-ish
    3) Rock/Metal-ish

    All packages contain us at second spot, a better known artist as a headliner and a third artist as an opener. For smaller venues we can do the headline spot but let's face it, at the moment we don't have the sufficient fanbase to headline larger venues. In my opinion, this solution gives us more options and makes our lineup(s) interesting for a more varied audience (and selection of venues).

    Here's the thing:
    Even though the main focus is on getting gigs for my own band, in essence I'm booking gigs for 7-9 bands - of course not exclusively, I have a day job and am definitely not experienced enough to pass my self as a professional agent etc., but who doesn't like someone else getting occasional extra gigs for their band? (Which is something I've been very clear about from the beginning.)

    This has lead me to wonder if I should start acting more like an agency and try to offer "my catalog" to venues instead of (or in addition to) the whole single focused package at a time -thing. Do keep in mind that I'm not intending on creating an actual company etc. here, just thought that this feels like a natural direction and still ok for me to do as a "hobby".

    Pros:
    + Might open up more options on promotion and sales
    + Might be a bit more approachable and interesting to venues
    + A "catalogue" might be easier to sell to some venues/events
    + It's not a huge leap from the current situation
    + Wouldn't be a big deal for me

    Cons:
    - Might accidentally come across as a pro agency, while not actually being one
    - Might result in less focus to my own band, but that might get countered by better relations to venues and their booking agents

    So, what do you think, does all of this sound like a bad idea? I hope I managed to make sense, I've never been good at explaining my thoughts in writing :)
     
  2. bwardmusic

    bwardmusic

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    Messages:
    406
    Location:
    United States
    You've got the right idea, but I think you could need to focus more on structuring your portfolio of bands based on price rather than music style (or some combination of both). Some clients won't pay well, and you don't want to waste your time in contacting them, and then walking away empty handed.

    I would suggest this if you are targeting clubs, festivals or corporate work. Although my trio is having some personnel issues right now, I have this configuration -- a jazz quartet, jazz trio, and a a solo jazz act. If the venue won't pay the quartet price, I pitch the lower trio price. If I can't get the trio price, I get the solo act. I take a booking fee on whichever band I need. The other thing I can do is add a woodwind to the trio (bass, guitar, drums) in case the quartet is not available. This means I walk away with a booking fee no matter what the needs, space for performers, or price of the gig.

    I have had the same members in all three configurations before. This is highly efficient because a) it retains musicians because you can keep them busy b) you can use a lot of the same repertoire in all groups, which reduces rehearsal time and c) communication is easier because you see each other all the time.

    The disadvantage is that they don't always have the skills to play in all three bands. For example, our quartet drummer can't play trio stuff. Doesn't have the chops. Another disadvantage is that if you have a personnel problem in a trio, the guys in the quartet will see it as drama, so it makes it hard to remove people who aren't working out.

    Pick your challenges...

    But overall, you have the right idea. Using this approach I've got my bands really, really busy (so busy their wives are complaining). And I've got more work that I can handle as a musician right now. And I'm taking booking fees occasionally on work at which I don't even play (the solo act, and once, a gig I didn't even play that used a sub).

    One thing, in our state, you can legally represent your own bands, family members, and one other arms length act without a license. After that, you have to post a bond, get a license, etcetera. Check the laws in your state.

    You think like I do, and I think you will do well at this. If you have any questions about promotion, let me know, as I've been doing it for four years and only got the right formula a year ago. I have techniques I could share in a private message. And we don't compete either, as I'm jazz.
     
  3. lostcontrol_

    lostcontrol_

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2011
    Messages:
    168
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    Precisely my point in all of this :) Thanks for offering to help, I'll definitely drop you a PM once I've fleshed out the idea a bit more.

    We're targeting clubs and festivals. While you're able to downsize your group to reach a deal, that's unfortunately not an option for me. I estimate that I'll have to use a tier system of sorts for the bands. I'm currently thinking about the portfolio in terms of style and price with a tier system, the stylistic aspects coming from the areas where we can push our own band. As for the price, it always has to be considered due to varying costs between bands. At least for now, booking fees etc. aren't relevant for me as long as the whole thing benefits my own band (i.e. gigs, yay), but in the improbable situation where this would become more of a job, a fee, even if a symbolic one, has to be negotiated. That's not what what I'm going for, though :)

    The legal side of things is probably not a conversation for this forum, as I'm in a different country & continent (Finland, Europe) - so probably even less to worry about competition between the two of us :D
     

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