5 Tips for Getting Your Band Booked in Clubs
If you’re an aspiring musician with dreams of superstardom, you’re probably wondering how exactly to break into the industry. Everyone has to start somewhere, and unless you somehow manage to become an internet sensation overnight stardom is probably not in the cards. You’re going to have to get a band together, and spend months or even years performing at small clubs until the right person catches the right show and you get that first big break. But what if you can’t even seem to get your foot in the door at the local clubs? You might not be going about the process the right way. You’ve got to perform for people, build a fan base and have your music heard. So here are five tips for getting your band booked in clubs.
First of all, put together a demo tape. You’ve got to have some quality music recorded if you hope to earn a spot at a club. You can put this demo music on your website, on a CD or even on one of those small memory cards. But the key is to make sure the songs you choose to record puts your absolute best out there. It can be covers or original songs, but it should represent a band that’s worth paying to see in a busy club. Keep in mind that all of your contact information should be included however you put the demo out there, as much of your outreach won’t be in person.
Once you have the demo put together, consider creating some additional materials that make your band even more attractive for venue owners and concert promoters. These days that usually means crafting a press kit. This could be as simple as a single page, or as complicated as a full color booklet. The complexity of your press kit will probably hinge on the budget you have to spend, but if your band is relatively inexperienced you won’t have much information to print regardless. Don’t pad this document, as promoters can smell desperation. But it should certainly make your band sound compelling, and the music seem to be of a quality and style that will draw fans.
Now that you have a demo and press kit together, it’s time to get it out there. You’ll need to send this package out to every single club, bar, coffee house and related venue you can think of. And don’t forget about the less traditional events that normally offer live music. That means you should also check the upcoming community schedule for festivals, farmers markets, library events and county fairs. If you have a large group of friends, don’t forget about house parties as an opportunity as well. Right now the pay doesn’t matter. All you need is opportunity, and you’ll have to get through a lot of no’s before you finally get a yes. Look for booking agents to target as well, as they might know about events before they become public knowledge.
You’ve now gone the traditional route, but networking must be part of your approach. Who you know is often more important than what you know, and the right contacts can help even mediocre musicians get gigs. Go to as many shows as you can and meet the people involved. Become friendly with concert promoters and the owners of venues. Play open mic nights, meet other musicians and share war stories. The larger your network, the greater the chance that you’ll luck into a good opportunity.
If the clubs still don’t come calling, consider booking yourself for a gig. This may not be the most traditional way to go about things, but sometimes you have to create your own opportunities. Look for venues you might be able to secure for free and set yourself up as the entertainment. Consider adding other bands to the lineup, so you are guaranteed a larger audience. Keep the ticket prices low, and get the show listed on SonicBids to draw dedicated music fans. This might not be the most glamorous option, and you’ll probably have to spend some money. But it’s a great way to start building an audience and getting yourself noticed if no traditional bookings show up.