Published on July 11th, 2014 | by Dylan Lott0
4 Reasons Your Shows Suck
4 Reasons Your Shows Suck
I got my start in the music industry by mistake. I did not know even half of what I had gotten myself into. I had been drinking and interjected a Facebook conversation about a tour in the process of being booked – “I will book that fucking date.” I didn’t know what a guarantee was. I didn’t know what set times and load in were. I just set out blindly to do it.
I woke up the next morning with a whole shitload of responsibilities that I did not begin to know how to handle. I’d never even played a show, much less booked one. A ways down the road it’s apparent that a lot of people get their starts the same exact way I did. And in chronological order, here’s everything I fucked up for my first group of shows.
4. Get Off the Internet
Social media is the deceiver of all careers in the music industry unless you’re a booking agent. Booking agents don’t count and generally should not be allowed to vote.
This is not to say I don’t think you should have a large and maintained presence online for your booking operations – you totally should. What you handle on the internet should be professional and minimal. Anyone who knew me early on knows how guilty I was of this. When you make a post to your Facebook, keep it to once a day – maintain your events pages on a daily basis, make a post once a day – but unless you’re running some sort of advertising campaign using social media, don’t overdo it. When you post too much about a show, your potential ticket holders are now hiding everything you fucking post or deleting you.
3. Don’t Make Ticket Holders, Make Friends
Ayyy, baby, how much?
No one likes to feel sold on anything. Have you ever bought a used car? Did you walk away from the experience thinking the salesman was a gentleman and he had your best interests in mind?
The same implications can be drawn to a promoter. No one likes to feel sold, but everyone loves to have a friend. I don’t mean make friends just to sell tickets to. I mean make genuine friends with everyone. These people will come to your shows if they know they are more than just a ticket sale to you. It’s not hard to talk to someone about music. Don’t make it awkward, just wait until you see them talk about some band, find common ground and build a real friendship. A friendship has the weight of ten thousand business relationships.
Making a real friendship, that benefits your life beyond just music. It benefits them too. The people I have sold tickets to for both small shows are all friends I have made that don’t necessarily even care about the touring acts. They’re there because they know it will be a good time with friends around.
Queue Christopher Robin.
2. Handshakes and Handouts
Did he wash his hands? Or even wipe?
Establish a physical presence in your scene. Don’t undermine the power of a flyer. In previous endeavors, there was a spreadsheet – and this spreadsheet had full information on every single event in Salt Lake City every single night. Without fail, we had someone at every competitor’s event with a stack of a thousand flyers. The parking lot gets hit. Cardstock slides nicely right into a driver’s window. You can’t stop it there. You have to wait [respectfully to your competitors] by the crowds as they exit the venue. A simple “thank you for coming out tonight,” or “have a good night,” as you hand a flyer to everyone exiting the venue, whether it was your event or not.
Don’t be afraid to paint the town red. This is your scene. It is time to take responsibility for it.
Invest in a staple gun, research your city’s laws and make sure every city block has flyers for YOUR event posted. Hit the record shops, ask if you can post them. Build a positive relationship with the venue owners. Nine times out of ten, if the venue owner likes you, they’ll let you put a flyer up in the front window.
1. Don’t just book your locals, work with them.
Some of my closest friends are people I met booking shows. Local bands that I found I actually enjoyed – so using what I can offer, I built on them. By offering something positive to your scene and the local bands in it, you’re building their fan base. When you build a band’s fan base… Well, you get to book them, and they have people paying to see them.
That’s kind of the point of this whole fucking thing.
Everyone talks about the big bad presale wolf. Presales are always so evil, ‘we won’t sell presales no matter what the circumstance.’ Yeah? Fuck you.
I am not a pay to play promoter. I work a scenario in which 30 tickets are distributed to a local at 10 dollars each. If all the tickets are sold, I don’t want you to pay me back for 30 of them. Pay me back for 20, thanks for working hard.
If you sell 16 tickets, please give me 160 dollars for what you’ve sold and the remaining 14 tickets.
If you sell 1 ticket, please give me 10 dollars for what you’ve sold and the remaining 29 tickets.
I would never tell a band they can’t play, but this allows me to get presales in circulation, evaluate my risk and measure a local’s draw. If an affiliated local is not selling well, it is the responsibility of the promoter to evaluate why their act is not drawing, get in there and help that band rectify the fucking problem. If a band is refusing to improve, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the established business relationship. Nothing personal, but this is covering assets.
You’re not just booking a band. You’re working with them. Treat it as such.