Booking

Published on November 18th, 2013 | by Dylan Lott

10

The Importance of Relationships As a Local Band

Relationship

noun
1.
the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.

Every band needs to build relationships within their community. Whether it’s with promoters, other bands or production companies and the people within the community. Without good relationships between all the aforementioned your band is probably destined for failure. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure and great fortune of learning the ins and outs of a music community through first hand experience. I’ve been involved in promotion for almost a decade and have cross promoted with other promoters in the community hundreds of times over. But probably the best experience I’ve gotten has been through all the local production companies I’ve been lucky enough to work for and with over the years.

Production companies are quite literally the backbone of any event that’s in existence. Wrestling, conferences, awards ceremonies, concerts, you name it, a production company is involved. If you want your band to have a slight edge, you’re going to want to get in tight with at least one production company in your area. Not only will it offer great learning experiences in regards to the sound/lighting aspects of a show, but you’ll also create a solid relationship in which you can reap some extra benefits i.e; discounted costs for production, extra gear or lighting etc.

If you’re a local band, you need to begin by working with the promoter. This includes promoting the event just as much if not more than the promoter. This should be a very obvious point, but honestly, people are stupid, and chances are, if you’re reading this you fall into the stupid category by default(no offence bruh). Your “job” as a local band isn’t to show up and play. Your “job” is to get people to the show.
You might be asking yourself, “But how does that make any sense? We started this band so we can play shows.”

And the answer to that is, because you’re a local band. Plain and simple.

You know your scene, you know the people that go to shows. As the local band it’s your job to get those people TO THE SHOW. And the only way to do that is to promote the show alongside the promoter.

Things to do include but are not limited to;

  • Stay in constant contact with the promoter, in case things change(which they almost always do)
  • Do not rely solely on social networking to promote the show(too many bands now spam their friends with event invitations and then wonder why only 1/4 of those people attended)
  • Tell, don’t ask, the promoter for a high res .jpg of the show flyer to print out hand out flyers. You know those little ones that fit 4 per page? Yeah, those ones. Print the living shit out of them and drop them off everywhere, keep them in your coat and give them to anyone you see wearing a band shirt or even remotely looks like they might be interested in the show. Hell, throw them off of buildings if that’s your thing.
    Just make sure you’re getting the word out there that there’s a show, and you’re playing, and that they need to be there.

These are just a few “preshow” things for your band to do that will not only help with attendance for the event, but will also build a strong relationship and trust with the promoter. And that’s important. If a promoter sees that your band is doing nothing to assist with the show(and they know, trust me) the chances of them offering another show will drop dramatically.

More often than not, bands coming through your city, or any city for that matter, have next to no fan base in your area. That’s why they’re touring, to build their fan base. So they can’t possibly be counted on to promote the event to any extent of what you as a local band have the capacity for. If they did, they wouldn’t need you opening for them.

Another great, and probably obvious to most, way to build good relationships with not only the promoter but the production company if you’re a local band is to BE ON TIME. Not very many things are more frustrating and detrimental than when as a promoter you tell the bands that “load in times are at x o’clock, and that sound check is at y o’clock” and the local bands with less than 10 minutes of driving to get to the venue show up at doors.
Actually, come to think of it, nothing is fucking worse than that. If you can’t have your band at the venue on time in your own city, how can you possibly expect to be taken seriously?
Get to the venue on fucking time. End of story. There’s literally nothing else to add to this point, and if you think there is, you’re wrong. Just fucking wrong.

Now let’s get into some things about the production company. First, generally, they aren’t cheap. If the promoter has half a brain, and half as much business sense, they’re going to be getting a quality system and lighting. If as a local band you want to strengthen your already great relationship with the promoter because you’ve been doing what I said earlier in this article, ask them what time the production crew is supposed to load in, and have your entire band there 15 minutes early to assist with the load in and setup. Not only will this facilitate the entire process and potentially allow for early sound checks for all the bands, but it will more than likely lower some costs for the promoter, and the sound guy will have a little bit more respect for your band.
When the show is done, your band stays behind to help tear down and load in. This is something that too many local bands ignore and think they’re “too good” for.
And the fact is, if you’re one of those people or bands. You’re fucking wrong. Again.

If you plan to make music your career, you’re going to have to get used to slinging gear and lugging road cases back and forth, in and out of trucks and venues.

It comes with the territory, and the sooner you get over that ego, the smoother things will go for you.

Not only will helping the production crew help the show run smoothly, but it will build a relationship with them, as the whole point of this article describes. Over time, when your band is in a pinch and you need to rent a PA or some lighting equipment, and your band is a little short on funds because you just got that sick new music video made, they’ll remember. And if they remember, chances are they’ll be willing to offer discounts or offer the gear in exchange for some help with a different gig they may have booked in the future.

And that, I think, is a pretty damn good trade for your band.

All in all, these are just a few small, sometimes tiring and physically demanding things that you and your band can do within your local scene to not only build great standing relationships with promoters and production companies. But they will also help build a strong reputation for your band as being a committed and important aspect of the scene.

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  • Eddie Dwyer

    +100000 on this, couldnt agree more.

  • Anthony Cabrera

    spot on, perfect article

  • Frank Chartrand

    great points, can’t agree more on the production aspect.

  • deflatormouse

    you’re a lazy promoter. ive been in bands and promoting shows for 15+ years. if you expect small local bands to lick your balls and crowd your rooms while opening for out of towners with no fanbase who you’ve indulged, you’re fucking stupid. also i’ve never asked a band to help set up or tear down the sound system and lighting, that is the job of the production company, and if you’re the promoter/producer and you’re not doing that alone, then why do you exist?. that’s lazy and exploitative. bottom line, if you’re a promoter, its your job to promote shows. my rule is and has always been – if the show’s headliners plus one local can’t draw enough to break even, don’t do the show. as a promoter, you’re a businessman, you’re not doing people favors, and if you are frequently asking small local bands to go the extra mile to make your shows successful, then you’re doing it wrong.

    • DrewDePietro

      While I respect your opinion, you have to understand that this was not written with the intent of having already established local bands go out of their way to basically run the show while the promoter(not myself) makes a quick buck off them.

      This is directed towards new bands trying to establish themselves within the community. And more so within a smaller town or city where the chances of people actually knowing who most bands coming through even are is slim regardless of the band. This isn’t about indulging some random bands that said “hey, can you hook us up with a show”. This is in regards to bands like Kataklysm and Napalm Death playing for less than 80 people regardless of the amount of promotion you’ve done because that’s just how the city works. If you don’t live here, or you do and have not been to a local metal show within the last 10 years, you probably have no idea what’s changed. But they have. And big bands, just don’t sell out like they used to. Not in small towns.

      And in regards to local bands and the production company. I specifically wrote this for bands. Not promoters. This isn’t a step by step on how to manipulate bands. These are just some things that local bands can do to help things along. There’s nothing mandated saying these are absolute musts. There’s nothing even saying the promoter, again not myself, as this is a generalized article, but thanks again for attacking my character, is or has to ask the bands for anything.

      But speaking for myself this time, I have no idea if you’re from the same area as I am again, as your handle is taken from The Tick, unlike the other commenters who used their names. But where I’m from, the two production companies available are both independently operated by single individuals pushing 70. They have very limited staff,(read none) and quite frankly, they can’t be hauling gear anymore like they did 20 years ago. They are both the stage crew, and the sound man in 98% of the situations.

      So why shouldn’t local bands offer to make themselves available to assist?

  • Guest

    Why no band should ever work with a pre-sale “Promoter.” They expect the bands to promote while they collect money. And this guy wants you to haul their gear for them to boot!

    • DrewDePietro

      No one said anything anywhere about pre sale tickets(bands being forced to sell tickets for the show). That’s just a ridiculous practice that I’ve only ever seen happening in the states through word of mouth via bands.
      This simply is saying that if you’re a local band, pass out mini flyers for the show, tell people about it.
      They don’t have to sell tickets, and really, that’s on the promoters discretion if they want the band to be able to sell tickets.
      That doesn’t, and in no way did I say anything remotely even related to the topic, mean that the band has to sell a certain number of tickets to play, as you’re insinuating.
      But thanks for reading.

  • KWalker_09

    I completely understand the point of this article.
    But I have never played a show where the promoter did anything other than promote.
    9 out of 10 times the promoters don’t have to do anything because the venue already has all the lighting and sound equipment set up. And the people who run the venue control the lighting and sound so there’s really nothing I’ve ever been able to do in that aspect. I don’t know how it is other places, but in California, 99% of shows occur at established venues with lighting and sound that is always set up and ready to go.
    And like I said I understand the point of this article, to help out the promoters, but for someone like me, some of these options usually aren’t available.
    Would love to hear of other ways a band could help promotion companies and strengthen their relationships and whatnot though! 🙂

  • Jake Lake

    Great read! I agree with most of this article, except helping the production company load in. As a tech for an event production company, I can safely say that the LAST thing I want is some random band members with who knows how much experience (or drugs in their system) handling thousands of $$s worth of my gear. Not to mention the insurance nightmare if a non-employee gets injured or breaks some of my equipment!

    We love to hear from bands about their needs/wants and stageplots before a gig, but it’s best to steer clear of setup and tear-down.

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