By Dave Poe
Booking Agent for: The Green, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Seeed, The Cat Empire, Trevor Hall, etc.
Ah, the question that every band or manager has heard before while in negotiations (or begging pleas for that matter) to book a show at a music venue… big or small. It may seem trivial, but it’s an important question that always gets brought up. You’d think that after working at an agency, it’s a bit more about the relationships and friends you’ve made along the way, but at the core of it, it’s the draw that stands tall at the centerpiece of these aforementioned dealings of music business stuff (the relationships do help of course).
Quantitative is probably what most people would assume I’m discussing, but its more than that. As a band, you have to know your angles. What can you stand behind to sell your case to the promoter, manager, or other decision maker of said show? Is it the amount of people that you coerce to come watch you on a late Tuesday night? Do you have backline to offer an international band? Do you have a small footprint on stage or play for cheap? Or, what it should be about: does your band help the vibe of the show? What you have to remember, as much as it should be about the music, is a lot of it is more about the business. The promoters you deal with on the regular are businessmen (and women), but most, if not all, are music fans too. They invest in bands just like you invest in countless hours of practicing Sublime songs. Before you can show people the new wave of roots music you’ve invented, you’ll need to be a salesman first. Best part is you don’t need a suit and tie – just some well constructed emails, solid links to music and quick business dealings.
Get the people who make decisions on your side and they will help you get on the important and somewhat strategic shows. When I receive an email from a local band, it usually gets filtered down in the line of importance in my day, which sadly, sometimes never gets read. But, if the promoter sends your band to me, revealing his pick for support, that goes right to management. I trust that his submission passed all the tests before getting to me (good draw). Same band, same links, different outcome (usually). Even on a bigger level for tours playing 2,000+ capacity rooms, the question is still asked… what is the draw?
It’s all about the music, but sometimes you’ll need to sell yourself to impact people with it. Use what you have and get the right people invested in you. Every Rocky needs a Mickey in their corner.