Touring Tip: How to Book Your Band So You’ll Sell Out Every Show

July 8, 2011{ 78 Comments }

iStock 000014285630XSmall 300x300 Touring Tip: How to Book Your Band So Youll Sell Out Every ShowBe Bigger Than the Venue

Part of being a DIY musician is about managing impressions. No matter how much you want to play at the hippest venue or be on a big stage, playing to half-empty clubs is bad for business. Instead, book yourself in a venue that is too small for you and your fans.

Whether you’ve brought out 300 people to a 600-seat theater or sold 5,000 tickets in a 10,000-capacity arena, those vacant chairs are going to weigh on you and your audience. You’ll feel like crap and wonder why you’re not more popular, and your fans will feel bad for you too. But you don’t want their pity. You want their enthusiasm and cheers.

Think smaller.

A concert promoter or talent buyer is not going to pat you on the back for bringing in enough fans to fill a venue halfway. They’re only going to see those empty seats. The dead dance floor. The vacant bar. The missed opportunities. The wasted money.

But conversely, “SOLD OUT” has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? And even if you’ve only “sold out” a coffee shop that holds 30 people, the venue will want to have you back! And more importantly, word will spread to other bookers, bands, music fans, and media that you “packed the place out.” Sure, there were only 30 people there. But a tiny room that’s full of fans can sometimes seem more impressive than a big room that isn’t.

Be realistic about your estimated draw. Don’t get lost in delusions of grandeur. Then approach the venues that will accommodate just UNDER that number. Yes, I know it sounds counterintuitive when you want to build a fan base and make money. While you shouldn’t adopt this strategy in every case, when you’re first starting out, some well-placed “sold-out” shows can go a long way.

-Chris R. at CD Baby

Sell your music on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Rhapsody, Napster, Spotify, and more!

  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

    And now they can pack the fans into stadiums!

    • Stallion

      The part i'm interested in and is left out of this article is: How do you get people in the door weather it's a 1 person venue (I know there is no such thing as a one person venue) or 500 person venue? I think that "Lawrence BaTTEY" tried to answer this at the end of his reply. I still don't know how to get people in the door. To put it another way is how do you convert strangers into fans that will want go to and see you perform live?

      • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

        Well, assuming your music is good and well performed, there are a number of things you can try. First, get all your family, friends, and co-workers to come out to your shows. Strangers will see an enthusiastic audience and maybe they'll be more inclined to really listen in. Or, try opening for an act that already has a fan base. If you don't have any fan base to speak of, they might need a little something extra to let you open for them. Maybe you have some video or audio skills and you could help them make a music video. Maybe you're a dentist and could give them discount health care. Maybe you just make some friends in the local scene and hope that translates into musical opportunities.

  • Rhan

    Yes! I put on shows at this little venue that only holds 50 people and they sell out every time! It looks great, the energy is great, and it's good for press.

  • Rhan

    Yes! I put on shows at this little venue that only holds 50 people and they sell out every time! It looks great, the energy is great, and it’s good for press.

  • http://www.susanmakesmusic.com Susan Lovell

    I agree! I just had my first Release Party for my new album, "Topanga Anthem, Songs to the Canyon", and I held it in a gorgeous Italianate villa venue (The Institute of Courage), in Topanga Canyon, in the 75 capacity salon, and it was filled….so even though I would have preferred a larger audience, it was a good successful start, and the space didn't feel "empty"!
    Susan Lovell

  • Mark Pinkus

    I totally totally agree. All of my concerts are sold out in advance. I play in beautiful theatres that hold 150 or house concerts, doing 2 nights in a row with 30 people. I sell all the tickets in advance. the shows are always sold out before. I don;'t like 1 empty seat. I continue to use this formula for now. but it is still a lot of work. People who think selling 3 nights of 150 tickets at $25 is easy. well surprise, it takes a heavy load of organization and perserverance. I vision the sold out venue and it works. However I would not want to try and sell a venue of 300-500 seats on my own like I have with the smaller venues.. IT's too much stress. no thank you. .www.markpinkus.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/colie.brice Coleman R. Brice

    Except that not every act is suited to play a coffee house. Some rock bands need a stage, play tube driven amps that only open up sonically when they're cranked a bit, and require full monitors, etc to deliver their musical product. I'd argue that an indie act drawing 5,000 fans into a 10,000 seat venue would suitably impress a promoter.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Maybe so, if the tickets were priced high enough for them to make a return. As for loud bands, I know that having a stage (or at least a room) big enough to hold the volume is important. In most medium-large cities, you'll have options when it comes to smaller venues that can still accommodate a big sound. In small cities and towns, I understand you'll have a harder time finding small venues that are comfortable with loud rockin'.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brianandjenna BrianandJenna Gotmar

      If you are a rock band with a "big sound" maybe doing the whole "acoustic set" would boost your image and following. Remember what GNR did with Patience? All those bands that went acoustic gained a lot of listeners who otherwise may have never bothered listening to all that "noise"

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ty-Gerhardt/100000050761040 Ty Gerhardt

    That's all well and good, but even if the bigger venue hears about you and wants to book you in the future, that's no guarantee you'll get more than the 30 people who saw you at that smaller venue…hell, that's no guarantee those 30 will show up even…and then you're back where you would have been had you just booked the bigger venue in the first place where you won't have to deal with an angry barista asking you to turn it down after every song because they can't hear their coffee orders, poor PA systems, etc.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      The idea is that those 30 people will be more likely to follow you into the big club the next time you play because you gave them a sense of excitement at the show that was "sold out." They'll feel like they were a part of something cool, hip, buzz-worthy, important, and that will make them feel better about themselves. They'll crave that feeling again. Yes, it's like a subtle form of brainwashing, but so is everything else.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ty-Gerhardt/100000050761040 Ty Gerhardt

        No, I understand the point of it all…I'm just saying that when those 30 people follow you to the big club when they book you because they heard you pack a club and those 30 people end up being maybe 25 or 30 because life happens…maybe they invite a few friends and you end up with 30-35 people, you're still not packing the larger venue and you'll leave the club thinking, "I heard these guys could pack 'em in…I guess it was all hype." If that's how it's going to end up, you may as well just book the bigger club in the first place and avoid all the BS that comes with playing the smaller venue. If the booker in the larger venue likes your band and your numbers are a little low, just get them high after the show. It's not like they're Harvard business school grads. A few bucks worth of their drug of choice and a few road tales and you're back at the venue in no time.

  • http://keaneiscool.com keane

    I liked this article. Simple and thinking outside the norm. Thank you!

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Thanks, K!

  • ian bruce

    good advice especially if you have a line waiting to get in.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Lines do wonders for your career.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LYREDave Dave Hoskins

    This was a core element to U2's strategy when they were just trying to get noticed in London. It's considered a very sound brand-building strategy. People love to buzz about lines around the block and.

  • Jackodell

    Dang I thought you were gonna tell us something. Instead it's REDUCE YOUR EXPECTATIONS YOUR INDUSTRY IS FREE FALLING GET A JOB. All stuff we already know bud.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      J, this technique is nothing new, as several commenters have already pointed out. It was integral to U2's early success. The point was not "PLAY SMALL SHOWS BECAUSE YOU SHOULD REDUCE EXPECTATIONS." It was "play small shows at FIRST so you can better CONTROL your image, public opinion, and build upon a fully successful show, rather than having to beg or explain things away after a half-full show."

  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

    Exactly! Not only are you controlling the perceptions of the crowd and club owner, but you're boosting your own level of excitement, which usually yields a more engaging, energetic show.

  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

    Everyone's a critic. At least you can feed the kids!

  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

    Indeed. Surreal. Like the guy in this photo: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/2011/01/live-gigs-g

  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

    Are you baking brownies, too?

  • Music man

    How can you depend on your fans to fill a club? I mean, don't you wear out the welcome mat expecting them to show up at every concert. People have lives and schedules that don't always coordinate with a show date. What about out of town gigs where your fans don't reside? It seems to me that the weight is largely placed on the shoulders of the entertainers to fill the club. What happened to the promoters and the clubs PROMOTING the event?

    Your article is a good one and it certainly is wise to book into a smaller venue. However, even a small club can be sparsely populated unless EVERYONE involved in promoting the show does their job.

    Time and time again, I have heard complaints from entertainers about clubs not paying very well and the club owners appear to want the entertainers to do all the legwork and complain about their overhead. Promoting their venue and the acts they present is part of their overhead and the cost of doing business. Sure, the club should expect the entertainers to spread the word but I would think if they are concerned about the reputation of their business and wish to stay in business they would realize that running a club is more than paying minimum wage to their servers and counting their profits from pushing booze. Anybody out there know of a list of clubs that treat their entertainers with respect, pay decently, maintain a clean club (bathrooms that are actually supplied with soap), have a god sound system, do a decent job of promoting and cut off drinking customers before they kill someone or themselves?

    • Paddylulu

      I couldn't have put it better myself. I can’t take any more of sending out emails, drafting, producing, printing and putting up posters, handing out flyers to the world and his wife in the pouring rain, only to turn up on the night to find a half empty bar, a useless PA and – you guessed it – toilets with no soap OR hand towels that smell as if they haven’t been cleaned since the middle ages.

      Then comes the grumpy manager who accuses me of personally committing a crime against humanity by not bringing enough alcohol sales his way even though he has the cheek to put up a big sign outside his venue saying “WE ACTIVELY PROMOTE LIVE MUSIC IN MELBOURNE”. Yes: I’m the Duke of Clarence, pigs can fly and my cat can programme in Visual Basic 6.

      • http://www.gregparke.com Greg Parke

        I agree with you and the other posters…club owners need to get off their duffs and do more to promote! I have played a certain club on a regular basis for about 4 years. I used to pack the place. Then suddenly this past year it dropped off to 1/4 of what it was. What changed? The person that used to handle the publicity for the club got replaced by someone else. They figure having a sign up on a reader board that simply states "live music" is enough. Obviously not!

        One thing we as musicians can do…….don't rely on a crappy house PA, or so called sound companies that are mostly frustrated musicians who have more gear than talent! (My aplologies to the real professional sound companies out there!)

        Sure a decent PA can be expensive, and setting it up, tearing it down, and transporting it can be a chore, but from experience I have proven to myself it is worth it. I may have insulted a few a few "sound men" by politely declining to use their equipment and "experience", but I no longer have to worry about my shows being ruined by some knob twister getting drunk behind the board while trying to impress chicks instead of doing his job. I know how my own system works, how it is supposed to sound, and how to set it up properly. I have also heard from many club owners, and customers how good my system sounds compared to the "house system" Any venue that is too big for my own system is going to be too big for most wannabe's anyway, and will most likely have real pros providing sound.

        I have yet to see a bar or large dance club, or even the average outdoor venue that couldn't be covered with a quality PA that any serious musician could afford to own, maintain, and control. The payback is worth every penny. If you really think you need a sound man during performances, then hire one as an equal band member, so he/she knows the songs as well as any other member, and knows the equipment. You wouldn't go into a gig with a completly unfamiliar instrument, or a vocalist you had never heard before…..(I hope!) so why trust your entire show to a soundman and/or PA that you know nothing about?

    • http://www.facebook.com/taztaylorband Taz Taylor

      I thought this was a common sense approach. Looking back at tours I have done, the smaller but packed shows were always more satisfying than the larger half empty halls. Music Man, I'm afraid you missed the point right from your opening paragrap, didn't you notice it says "Touring Tip" in the headline ? This completely negates your questions about expecting people to show up repeatedly to see you, as well as your question about out of town gigs. When you're on tour, they are all out of town gigs and you are only asking people to show up once a year ! Other than that I agree with you. These days the venues don't do anything to promote whatsoever. It should be the band's job to show up on time and perform. The venue should be advertising their business and the entertainment that they have booked…unfortunately they do not.

  • Roundtrip

    How about something on how solid drawing established bands can break into all the Live Nation-type venues to open for bigger nationals? How do you get their attention and how do you reach their booking people? It's a huge problem in NYC.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Secret handshakes. Favors. Money. For real. Not always, but a lot of the time. Smaller acts often pay for the chance to open for larger bands on tour, hoping to recoup in merch and exposure. Also, sometimes if your manager, label, or booking agent has connections with other labels, managers, or agents, they'll trade favors. "I'll let The Pink Hogs In Heat open for Thumb Plant on their West Coast tour if my new act called RaceRats can open for the Brand New Bears when they play NYC and Boston. Deal?"

  • http://www.facebook.com/christina.horn2 Christina Horn

    I HAVE worked from both ends of the industry and this is best advice you can give artists who want to develop a career in live touring.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Thanks, C. Do you have any thoughts on when it is best to jump from this strategy into the more risky waters of a bigger club, or a show where you're not certain of the draw potential?

  • Ta' fxkz

    great advice thanks

  • http://www.lawrencebattey.com Lawrence BaTTEY

    I'm scratching my head as I wonder why bands who are starting out and "industry pundits" (funny, industry pundits in an industry that has completely failed to adapt. So wouldn't they be considered "industry failures"?) and CD Baby/Disk Makers are still trying to beat a dead horse with this old outdated irrelevant model?
    The Music/Media model is simple and will never change and that is; create niche compelling content and serve it up to a niche audience via the most relevant, cost effective, streamlined platform. Simply put; in today’s digital age an artist makes music in any format (video/audio) and then pushes that to fans and potential fans direct via this crazy thing called the internet (social media, website, etc,) at a click.
    This is where this sound advice is good if we were back 60, 30, 20, 10 years ago, but we are in the 21st century digital age. What does that mean? As the music model will never change, and that is to raise the profile of an artist to the masses. So If this "sound advice" is about building fans and controlling brand and image by selling out small shows that will make little or no impact and will cost a ton of money to continue to do on a consistent basis and you will lose money as you will spend for travel (gas $4.00 gal/van, hotel, etc), public relations, marketing, and promotions. So you are giving this advice in a day and age where an artist can record a song today and serve it up to millions of people at a click with in minutes with no cost and have world wide reach? You would be fired as my agent/manager.
    Why the hell would an artist or band that is starting out care about selling themselves to a talent buyer of a club that does not have their best interest at heart and wants to pay you nothing (as the next crap band will play for nothing and bring their 20 friends the will pay for the cost of keeping the club open for the night with beer sales) and will make minimal impact for "press"? Especially in a day and age of crap media that is streaming online and is being televised 24/7 has muddied up the waters for even the biggest artists.
    Not to mention the fact, which has boggled my mind; for some reason club owners, talent buyers, and promoters seem to think that there is no cost to a band playing when there is rehearsal cost, rehearsal space cost, paid musicians cost, marketing (as a club doesn’t’ market anymore), travel and gear expenses, etc). An artist actually spends more than a club to do a show, and that is a fixed cost. There is no one show cost less than the other. It will only cost more for an artist to do a show.
    So why are you calling this “sound advice” when today you can stream your show live and out of your rehearsal studio in real-time and serve it up to millions world wide? Since the name of the game is building your fan base (which means creating volume), wouldn't you try and do this the most cost effective, timely, streamlined way with the most pay off, creating the most fans for low acquisition cost? Once again, if you worked for me you would be fired.
    I’m not trying to be harsh, but quit b/sing the millions of indie artists out there to continue to bang their head against the wall. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same result. STOP THE MADNESS ALREADY.
    My sound advice for indie/DIY artists… spend 2-3k on a Macbook Pro Quodcore laptop and HD video camera and start streaming your shows, rehearsals, behind the scenes content through UStream, for FREE, and push it out to your fans and potential fans through your website or social media sites. That will get you press and fans.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Concert streaming is a great option for many folks (even as a supplement for acts who normally like to perform in front of a live audience), but this article is intended for people who have decided they want to play music face-to-face. I, for one, still believe music is best shared in-person. I've seen Radiohead live in concert 5 times. I shut their streaming concert off after 3 songs, and it was in HD! Last night I stood in a room with a thousand other people while we all sang "I'll Fly Away" with Gillian Welch. That would be difficult with computer latency.

      • Graeme Leslie

        You can’t beat that: face to face, full on, sweat laden experience you get between a band an audience in a club/venue – streaming has a place but the above can’t be bettered!

    • Axuality

      Strong reply, guy. But you're pretty much right, I think.

  • http://www.lawrencebattey.com Lawrence BaTTEY

    I’m scratching my head as I wonder why bands who are starting out and “industry pundits” (funny, industry pundits in an industry that has completely failed to adapt. So wouldn’t they be considered “industry failures”?) and CD Baby/Disk Makers are still trying to beat a dead horse with this old outdated irrelevant model?
    The Music/Media model is simple and will never change and that is; create niche compelling content and serve it up to a niche audience via the most relevant, cost effective, streamlined platform. Simply put; in today’s digital age an artist makes music in any format (video/audio) and then pushes that to fans and potential fans direct via this crazy thing called the internet (social media, website, etc,) at a click.
    This is where this sound advice is good if we were back 60, 30, 20, 10 years ago, but we are in the 21st century digital age. What does that mean? As the music model will never change, and that is to raise the profile of an artist to the masses. So If this “sound advice” is about building fans and controlling brand and image by selling out small shows that will make little or no impact and will cost a ton of money to continue to do on a consistent basis and you will lose money as you will spend for travel (gas $4.00 gal/van, hotel, etc), public relations, marketing, and promotions. So you are giving this advice in a day and age where an artist can record a song today and serve it up to millions of people at a click with in minutes with no cost and have world wide reach? You would be fired as my agent/manager.
    Why the hell would an artist or band that is starting out care about selling themselves to a talent buyer of a club that does not have their best interest at heart and wants to pay you nothing (as the next crap band will play for nothing and bring their 20 friends the will pay for the cost of keeping the club open for the night with beer sales) and will make minimal impact for “press”? Especially in a day and age of crap media that is streaming online and is being televised 24/7 has muddied up the waters for even the biggest artists.
    Not to mention the fact, which has boggled my mind; for some reason club owners, talent buyers, and promoters seem to think that there is no cost to a band playing when there is rehearsal cost, rehearsal space cost, paid musicians cost, marketing (as a club doesn’t’ market anymore), travel and gear expenses, etc). An artist actually spends more than a club to do a show, and that is a fixed cost. There is no one show cost less than the other. It will only cost more for an artist to do a show.
    So why are you calling this “sound advice” when today you can stream your show live and out of your rehearsal studio in real-time and serve it up to millions world wide? Since the name of the game is building your fan base (which means creating volume), wouldn’t you try and do this the most cost effective, timely, streamlined way with the most pay off, creating the most fans for low acquisition cost? Once again, if you worked for me you would be fired.
    I’m not trying to be harsh, but quit b/sing the millions of indie artists out there to continue to bang their head against the wall. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting the same result. STOP THE MADNESS ALREADY.
    My sound advice for indie/DIY artists… spend 2-3k on a Macbook Pro Quodcore laptop and HD video camera and start streaming your shows, rehearsals, behind the scenes content through UStream, for FREE, and push it out to your fans and potential fans through your website or social media sites. That will get you press and fans.

  • Jon Black

    Underselling isn't a new concept nor is it a bad concept. My problem with this article is the assumption that it's easy to get fans. I could do a 30-50 seat room and struggle selling it out and I've had some killer exposure (TV syncs, etc.). This article is the cart before the horse. Getting folks to listen and become a fan is the battle… not selling out shows.

  • Anonymous

    I like the advice. Anyone have advice for breaking in with original music only. Most of the music I perform is acoustic instrumental. I have played jazz for years in college bands. Jazz standards are great but I want to explore other textures. A major influence is Brad Shepik.

    I am not interested in making people dance. I want to touch their soul.

  • Empire Ramirex

    This really is right on the money. . . I've half packed a huge place . . . and though it was great for photo ops under the big lights – - – the energy was nil. . . and I've played smaller venues and had it TOTALLY sold out – - the energy is so much different. The club owner wants to sell drinks. . . . so the more people there the more money the bar makes and they happier they are when someone mentions your band's name. . .

  • Jon Patton

    For the people wondering how you handle this when you go to the step-up venue – meaning going from the 30 to 50 person venue and so on – the obvious answer is to work with other artists who have the same draw and use the same methods. They'll help you hit the new target.

    To me, the only thing better than playing to a packed house of your hometown crowd, no matter how small that crowd, is playing to a packed house of your hometown crowd when they're excited to hear a great band you've brought to town. The money suffers a little, but the show is better. Really. I know that when my band plays with someone from out of town, who's on tour, I not only work harder to get people interested in the show, but I try to make sure they're taken care of as far as being able to fill their gas tanks and stomachs. Everyone plays just a little harder when there's someone else really counting on you.

  • Music Biz in LA

    Music man … both the club promoter AND the artist should be promoting the show. If either of you are not willing to do so…..why play the venue. If you can't draw 30 people you should not be playing the clubs that need you to draw 30 people. If you live in Hollywood, that does not mean you have to play that town…..there are fair promoters in Long Beach, Pasadena and Orange County. Go back to putting more work into your venue research. If you don't want to do clubs than look at concerts in the park, summer concert series, house concerts, sporting events. Get creative instead of complaining!

    • Music man

      I agree that the artist should promote, as I thought I expressed in my sentence "However, even a small club can be sparsely populated unless EVERYONE involved in promoting the show does their job."
      You can call it complaining if you wish but I am trying to get real about this. As one of the other people commented, artists put a lot of time creating their show and in my case also writing my own material. Many clubs, and bands for that matter, tend to play standards/cover tunes be it rock, blues, country, jazz, folk, etc. Original material is a tough sell because many humans are used to being told what to like. We are conditioned by being fed what the radio stations want us to hear. I'm not saying it's all bad, simply that to really have some fun and to really discover something new, hearing a song that is fresh and full of energy, a person has to take a chance. Personally, I do not enjoy going to a club or a concert to hear imitators. If they put their own spin on it, fine – but how many bands and vocalists have you heard that take pride in sounding like a dead legend?
      I have looked into different venues and have received little response. Fortunately, a few radio stations like my songs and give them some airplay but it's a very hard road, at least so far. You can call that complaining if you wish but I have no intention of giving up and I will always continue to research other venues, like the ones you mentioned.
      It seems to me the CD Baby article was intended to help musicians. From the response the article has gotten it seems to be a success. Keeping it real is my objective and from what I have experienced, in the few short years I have been in the business, it is turning out to be a harder journey than I had anticipated. Writing my songs took several years and perfecting them was hard work but passionate work. Then came the business aspect of music – Ouch!
      To be fair, I have met some very good people, musicians and club owners. The trick is finding the good people and supporting them to create a snowball effect that will focus more on the creative energy that musicians and songwriters bring to the world.
      I'm sorry if my first post came across as a total complaint as that was not my intent. All I was trying to get across is that the club owners and promoters need to assume the same responsibility of advertising a show as the artist.
      Wasn't the CD Baby article about bands on tour? Even if a band is popular on the Internet and have a reasonable amount of CD and digital download sales, the likelihood of that band filling a club in a different state is unlikely unless they are a national act and I don't think the CD Baby article was directed toward national acts. If I was a club owner, I would budget an allowance for promoting the acts featured in my club, just as I would as a musician and the same should hold true for a promoter. That is the cost of doing business. I’m sure many of them do but on the whole I seriously doubt if that is happening with the smaller clubs. Hey good club owners and promoters and radio hosts – Tell us where you are☺

  • http://twitter.com/OlsonsonMusic Chris

    yep, that's the truth! IF you work it like that, you'll have a better chance of movin' up the chain! Old Man Smithers in Seattle (I'm dirty old man smithers, the founder) used to play small clubs like "uncle rockies" or the front room at "the ok-hotel" — we'd have 50 people packed in there and set beer sales records for that venue! DON'T FORGET – don't ever be disrespectful to the club/staff or other bands (unless they rip you off, then trash the f'n place – just kidding!) — but remember to sell some alcohol while you're there, or muffins from the coffee shop or whatever you're doing! "don't forget to tip your bartenders and waitress" – stuff like that goes a loooong way and only takes a second.

    olsonson.blogspot.com

  • Livity-muzick

    I THANK U FOR CONTINUAL INCITEFUL ARTICLES LIKE THIS ,

  • http://twitter.com/OlsonsonMusic Chris

    ….and I was ABOUT to say….. the musician/band is fully responsible for promoting themselves to fill that vacant club…. the club owner does not! The only ones the club owners are bringing in is the clients (usually bar-fly's) that are there to DRINK! Other than that, you need to bring those people in so the club owner can sell more alcohol then just the regular crowd that comes in to drink.

    Unfortunately, too many bands asked me as a Sound Engineer for various clubs – "So what's your draw on a Thursday night?" — I'd ask them how many flyer's they put out? because that's all I'd have to gauge by!!

    So, unless you're already known, you gotta promote yourself HARD – nobody else will… my band in the late 80's would flyer up and down the U-District in Seattle. We'd spend late hours at Kinko's making our flyers and posters look frickin' awesome and spend time leading up to our gigs hitting venues, watching shows and handing out flyer's afterwards. We all supported each other back in the good old days, way before anyone else ever heard of grunge. We worked hard on it and we built followings from Seattle to Bellingham. Minor success, but not bad for a bunch of teenagers and it was hella fun!

    Anyway, don't heed the words of a washed up veteran of the Seattle scene…..

    olsonson.blogspot.com

  • http://www.pavmusic.com PavMusic

    Excellent post and advice guys – of course then using that sell out promotion to its full advantage will help even more – eg. get an editorial in some localrags saying XXX artist performed a 'sell out' show at YYZ venue – the hype starts to flow.
    If you combined this with your DIY Venue tips – and the other article in this news (DIY for you to Try – QR codes) – it continues to give acts a range of ideas to help get out there – at least to help develop perception and outside the box thinking that may lead to more opportunities, be different and stand out.

    As a producer, lecturer and mentor for emerging artists here (in Aus) I am often talking about the need for 'look, feel and hype' (in others) – the perception and feeling – that they need to create to get new people interested and following. People dont necessarily jump on acts they dont know – so need to have the music heard, people talking, press impress etc (and this way is a great way to get the latter two to start happening).

    Cheers and thanks for the ongoing resource of articles that are so helpful to so many

  • Holymountainrecords

    I needed this tip….it just helped me out…..

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Awesome. Glad it helped!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ty-Gerhardt/100000050761040 Ty Gerhardt

    RE: this comment…

    "My sound advice for indie/DIY artists… spend 2-3k on a Macbook Pro Quodcore laptop and HD video camera and start streaming your shows, rehearsals, behind the scenes content through UStream, for FREE, and push it out to your fans and potential fans through your website or social media sites. That will get you press and fans."

    I'm actually doing just that with the label I just started…I also throw label sponsored quarterly parties with free food and booze at my 3000+ square foot live work space I own in Oakland, CA. I invite artists, graphic designers, engineers, artist managers, videographers, photographers, etc. and build a community that's excited to document each others work and the movement we've started. So not only can I build an incredible fan base for my bands and the other artists on my label, I can cut out the clubs all together, because frankly, their interests aren't always aligned with the band's interests (I'm here to build a music scene and sell music…not drinks).

    Our launch party was a huge success and our next party scheduled for October promises to be even bigger. I used to put on events like this at the clubs and they did great, but now that I have my own space to host them at there's more excitement and enthusiasm because people are getting the event for free, the artists have more freedom to do their thing without the club breathing down their necks and as for me, I'm not laying out much more cash than I was putting out to promote the event at a club.

  • Guitar Jonny

    Hey pal…you book yourself into whoever is hiring…most bands and soloists don't have the option – not if they want to pay the bills. Get real!!

  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin
  • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

    Ha. Surreal. And kind of awesome!

  • nightwatch

    You're totally right. It's great that everyone leaving comments here are being honest. That's refreshing. I went to a local pub one night and I saw a "band" of two guys, one playing guitar and singing, the other playing drums, with the 3rd member of the group being a Macbook, running Mainstage, which replaced about 10 band members. Yeah, it sounded just like the record (cause it probably was), and people liked it because it was a hit parade of radio friendly and danceable cover songs, and it was mixed just like an album. Those two guys just served to give people something to look at while a computer did most of the work. I know a lot about computers and I seriously wanted to wirelessly hack into that laptop and crash the program. That would have almost been the highlight of my musical existence. But it was also depressing that a) the whole thing was UNMUSICAL and UNARTISTIC (and even I have a very open mind about such things – it doesn't have to be "art"), and b) they (or it), did a really good job of adapting to the current club scene.

    I highly recommend to everyone here, to read Bill Bruford's new autobiography. He was a big rock star in the "post-Beatles era", and even he, with the success he had, goes on for several chapters ripping the industry to shreds in his intelligent and humorous british way.

    I'm a musician. I wouldn't say that it's too late to find another "career", but I don't want to. I'll go down with this sinking ship if I have to.

    Can you pay the bills? Can you feed the family? Do you live comfortably? Can you continue to afford to move forward as a musician? And, most importantly, are you happy? If you can say yes to these things, then you already are successful.

    Fame and wealth are just extras that come with their own set of problems.

    Enjoy life as a musician. You know how many people wish they were musicians?

    Bottom line. I quit my high paying day job as an IT supervisor to be a struggling, full time musician, and despite the difficulties and challenges, I've never been happier.

  • Elmeroperro

    The 2011 Upward Velocity Tour – If you know of any small venues available please let us know! http://upwardvelocity.2fortune.com

  • Jonahofthesea

    I like that. The competition isn't tough, it's thick. Nice.

  • Jamesvibeproductions

    Good advice Greg. I have been toiling the idea around and now after reading your post, I'm putting it on my list of purchases above anything other than my next recording session. Thanks.

  • Jamesvibeproductions

    I've heard it said, "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." Just a suggestion; put what you want from the bar/door in writing before you do the gig. If they're coming in to see you you deserve a cut… Just sayin.

  • tulsapianoguy

    Just as in nuclear fission, in a club you need critical mass. You have to have enough people in seats and at the bar that other people who look in will think "I want to be in there. That's where the action is." If you don't have that, there won't be enough energy in the room for a great show and the club owner definitely won't like it. I like to know that I'm doing 3-5 times my cost in sales at the bar. If I am, then coming back to that venue is more likely. When the seats are full, the bar is busy, everyone is happy and everyone wins.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GXC4AY7PILHYWVF5PBYOIM4J7A William

    I think the music industry as it becomes even more progressively toned, will undoubtedly either outgrow its demand for newer audiences or fail the code industry standard(s) for mainstream continuity. A rationality as being percieved at was once to much commerce influence, acetones for techno manipulation are about as common now as passing the bar for law. As the only related fields of endeavor clearly lie with your girlfriend con-ing you into the next recession formidably, as the last rocket man of the Beethovens 5th symphony. Face it like the old saying goes "who laughs first then last" comedians don't need a score of music behind them to perform, but actors do! So where does that leave modern day "talent" of music expressions? I certainly hope not with the genres expected to rappaport over the post-up vocal venues who not just "stare-a-fan" to clique with but can chill (the "soul") then fire it up too! If this doesn't work then the back-end of the recession is now musically underway!

    Opatae's the name~ "king of ol' schkool's" (claim to fame!)

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Rappaport!

  • Boopnothing

    problem is all these people in bands that think promoting is going to get people there.. its not just promoting .. its promoting to the right people… most of you talking about promoting the hell out of your band and no 1 is coming… either get a clue… or focus on promoting to the right people.. i have tons of friends who love the types of groups i play in.. but they NEVER come to shows…. i dont waste my time promoting to them.. i focus on the people i know like to come to shows

    and if u pick a shit venue to play at.. thats your fault.. u didnt do your research :)

  • Music Man

    How absolutely depressing. I don't think free food or a brewery tour is going to gain and audience that you desire but it will draw an audience out to get wasted. They may even applaud, if the music is loud enough to keep them from hearing those little voices in their heads that keep repeating, "Get a life!"

  • Clayanthony

    I have been a musician on and off for 40 years and I'm still gigging. I've seen incredible changes in the music industry in that time Back in the 70's if you had long hair and could sing in tune you had a chance to be signed up by a record company and if you were lucky from then on the record company did it's job and you did yours. Then 10 years on it changed to a tail wagging the dog situation…. the record companies became greedy and controlling … so bands set up independant record companies (this was an exiting era) and employed thier own administrators.
    Now with the internet the artists are expected to do everything themselves again. Let's face it if you are creative then you are probably NOT good at any kind of administration so promoting yourself is a downer … when will we get back to the days when record companies, agents and managers got on with the job of promoting real talented people working alongside each other for the love of being in this business and not just for the money and the power.

  • Linda

    I think this is excellent advice.
    I have actually booked us into a place for August 6th that looks crowded with 50 people in the room and we have invited about 200
    They also have a lot of regulars since there is no cover and they are even paying us. Imagine that ; )
    Got my fingers crossed and hoping for even half that to show.
    http://eldoradobarandgrill.com/calendar-of-events

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Awesome. Let us know how it goes!

  • Linda Vee Sado

    I will : )

  • Linda Vee Sado

    A follow up to our show August.6th:

    It was incredible. There was standing room only and the owner was ecstatic and said it was the best Saturday night business wise they have ever had and we even gave us a $25 bonus.

    We also raffled off a dozen CDs right after the last set and were mobbed for autographs which was so gratifying and we also handed out a bunch of band pins till we ran out.
    It was great seeing so many people walking around with them on their shirts after the show.
    I highly recommend doing both of these things too.

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Awesome. Glad it went well!

  • Graeme Leslie

    You can't beat that: face to face, full on, sweat laden experience you get between a band an audience in a club/venue – streaming has a place but the above can't be bettered!

    • http://members.cdbaby.com CD Baby Admin

      Imagine if your computer started sweating in order to simulate a live performance! Gross.

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  • Nick Patterson

    Okay, this went from tips for booking, to trying to engage venues to promote more, to sound technicians not doing their job, to here: All I got from this post and it's replies is hatred for different music. How does that help you, to gripe on other music?
    I am a grassroots, or guerilla promoter. I am also a hip hop performer. Yes, one of "those" acts, who uses a mac for my music…

    Who also takes advantage of EVERY free marketing and promotional tool known to man.

    I see "those" acts, you speak of, shell out tons of money on the bar, the promo, everything; I don't get mad at them. They understand that fundamental of business matters, "spend money to make money".

    I have seen some do it through completely ground funding the whole endeavor, I have also seen guys who had a well off friend front the cost.

    I could get mad because they're too shallow with their content, or that all the beats sound the same…

    But I've found that hating them doesn't move my career forward, It's just makes me look like a douche with no tact.

    What I'm saying is, get out there, make every show count (regardless of the seat count), don't bitch about the pains in the industry (because from time to time, they have to deal with stupid young drinkers creating negative environments, and possible violence that could effect their playing at that locale again) We all deal with those pains, and more. "Every man's burden is the heaviest"~Bob Marley

    Oh, and make sure you've done everything you possibly can before it becomes "someone else's fault".

    #Devil'sAdvocate#

  • Nick Patterson

    Outstanding Idea!!!

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  • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

    Hey Orlando, thanks for reading and commenting.

    @ChrisRobley