Panels: Book My Band!

Written by Aidan Rush Posted in: Panels on November 29, 2011

Selling tickets to your shows in today's music economy is paramount. As most of you reading this probably know, it's likely that local, independent musicians make more money from ticket sales than they do from selling music in any format. However, understanding that is only half the battle; you still need to convince concert promoters that you'll bring in enough heads for them to turn a profit, which is much more complicated than it sounds. November's Rock Shop  panel was awesome from front to back and we're psyched to have it for you.

Panelists Kevin Hoskins (CQ Presents), Mike Bishop (Brighton Music Hall), Jenny Applebaum (Pitchfork, formerly of Stubbs/C3 Presents), and Ryan Agate (RTT Presents) dissect the topic of landing shows, as musicians in the audience fired away some great questions. Who better to tell you how to get shows than the gatekeepers themselves? Check out the video playlist and quick tips below for some in-depth info on a topic that will without a doubt help you score your next gig.

Note: We had some technical trouble with the audio feed, so please accept our apologies for the spotty sound. Regardless, the content is awesome and we're pysched to have it for you!

Rock Shop: Book My Band! Quick Tips

  • Trying to draw in a new market? One great way to do this is to get in touch with a band native to that market that has a proven draw and ask if you can open for them. If things go well, you can ask them to open for you when they play in your market. These relationships formed through gig swapping may pay dividends down the road when bands grow and start touring nationally.
  • Promoters are much more apt to book your small band if you come to them with a bill already built and a date selected (6 weeks in advance on average).
  • Of course you should try as hard as possible to bring people to your gig, but make sure the promoter knows you’re trying hard as well, whether that’s asking them for a press contact list so you can reach out to journalists, or asking them to connect you with other bands on the bill that night so all groups can work together. Promoters love to see proactive bands doing things like this, and are more likely to have you back if they see it.
  • Standing out from the crowd in a promoter’s email inbox is the holy grail. Some tips: Keep your emails short and sweet (past venues played, what you drew there, proposed show date, potential bands to throw on your bill at their venue, etc.). As always, be honest and polite. Do NOT send a CD, because it will get filed somewhere that will never see the light of day.
  • In your initial email to a promoter, send links to your sites that look the best – Bandcamp, Facebook or SoundCloud, not Myspace. If you choose to send out a one sheet, make sure there are links to other sites and pages on that one sheet.
  • Want to stay in a venue’s good graces? Promote your show online instead of with flyers. However, if you're intent on going the flyering route, post them where it is legal. Otherwise the venue will have to pay any fine incurred from an illegally posted flyer, and will probably pass it on to you. More importantly, handing flyers out after a similar show is probably more effective than hanging them across the city.
  • Looking for online strategy beyond the obvious? Try posting your shows on Songkick and Bands in Town. Also, college radio stations often have message boards on their websites that you can post events to.
  • Invest time in going to other local band’s shows. The more of these shows you go to the more likely these bands will be to come to your shows.
  • Team up with other bands on the bill and promoters when creating the facebook event page and/or flyer. This is much more efficient than having 5 separate event pages, and the event will be more attractive to onlookers because it shows a larger number of attendees.


Created by Steve Theo of Pirate Promotions and Kevin Hoskins of Rogue, Boston’s Rock Shop exists to give back to the Boston music community by hosting monthly seminars, panels, guest speakers, and more on topics artists and bands can benefit from. 

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