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Be 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!

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • Richard (from Enation)

    U2 has talked about this method early on, I think it’s very wise.
    Richard from Enation

  • 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?

      • 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.

        • JS

          I agree w/ most above. The climate has become such that the venues are now expecting musicians to write songs, record songs, play them live….no problem…it’s what we do….BUT now the venues want us to do THEIR job. If I were a venue owner, I would feel deficient at my job if I did one thing, open my doors and let the band do all the work to get patrons in….Jesus….venues PLEASE take some more responsibility and get folks to come to YOUR CLUB and let the bands play the music and sell the merch….the patrons will drink your beer…promise!

  • 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.

    • Good call on the energy! I get the same thing when I play at really small bars. I am the type of guy that thrives on a packed bar and if you can get the people smiling and singing along in the that energetic environment they do not forget it.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

    • 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'.

    • 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"

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

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

  • ian bruce

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

  • 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.

    • 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."

    • TyLean

      You have to be realistic. I – for one – do not want to be sold hope mongering information that isn’t viable in the real world. I’ve used this technique of playing small venues, and the effect – though purely psychological – is amazing for all parties involved.

  • Simon (The Slants)

    Not to mention overselling yourself can hurt relationships. If you promise to bring in 100 and only bring in 50, the venue/promoter won’t want to work with you again. But if you say you can bring 25 and 50 show up, all of a sudden you blow their expectations away.

  • Mr Booker

    I play solo at small venues .. and have a band at bigger venues ..The people are so fickle in this town .. you can e.mail them till your blue in the face .. hit and miss in Denver Co .every venue has different requirements from background music to Rock .. so you rock .. and immediately get told to turn down .. play rock quietly .. hmm.. one venue insisted it was BLUES NIGHT .. i brought my blues stuff .. a band .. at the end of the night he had ecided that there was too much “jamming” ..yep , lets play blues without any solos .. Har har ..he was serious so he wanted soft rock on the last set .. so I did Dylan , Johnny Cash Van Morisson , some Dead , etc .. he was cool .. but you have to be able to do everything here .. for crappy money . I have been doing this for a long time .. i pay my mortgage and feed the kids ..

  • i want to play an arena and have only 1 person come. I think that would be cool, in a surreal, sort of way. 🙂

    • Jim Pellinger

      I did something similar to that. I was booked to play a fundraiser that was held at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I put a band together just for that show. There were maybe 100 people there, so it was quite surreal playing in this huge stadium. And since I put the band together just for this show, I believe I can say that my band is the only band to play it’s first and last show at the Metrodome at the same time. Smaller, packed venues are better.

  • 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.

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

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

  • efrat darky

    I’ve try this for 2 years touring small places , but now I’m booking “brownies” for major rock festivals. to make bigger buzz, hope my way is good.

  • 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.

      • 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?

    • nightwatch

      Amen. I know this is a tough business for every one, but club owners that have live acts DO need to step it up. Nightclubs that have DJs, (I mean dance clubs) they promote like crazy – they have ladies’ nights, drink specials, they advertise with radio, cross-promoted events, etc.. AND they have clean bathrooms (HA – too much to ask for?). Smaller live performance venues depend on the bands WAY too much to fill the room. It will never work that way. That’s reality, not negative thinking. Live performance venues used to work like dance clubs, but that was in the 70s when live rock music was a “concert”, and in the 80s when live rock music was danceable. With computerized and programmed music taking over, the days of live rock bands filling up clubs every gig are over. That could change if clubs owners took some initiative.

      • TyLean

        Sadly… I think you answered your own question as to why nightclubs promote the hell out of their DJs and live music venues are lazy as the day is long. People want to go out, drink, dance, and have a good time. Live music hasn’t been about “having a good time” since the 80’s. I’m a solo musician who plays the most depressing/intense music you could imagine, and I struggle with this CONSTANTLY. PARTICULARLY in an age where being REALISTIC is dubbed as having a “negative attitude.”

    • 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.

    • 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?"

  • 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.

    • 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

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • kristy beale

        I AGREE WITH THIS…..LIVE IS SOOO MUCH BETTER!

      • 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!

    • Marcus

      BaTTEY – you have missed the point. It’s a true combination of internet and live performance. Most true musicians do all of the crap (yes, the internet stuff is crap too) simply for the love of the live performance. There is no substitute. Simple. Even if it means “pay to play.” It sucks, but it’s reality.

    • Robert Tomassetti

      Hey, Lawrence, good advice, man. I have been producing audio and video for years now that I use to email to prospects and also faaans. I haven’t streamed anything yet but I like that Idea very much. Any advice or tips on how to start or where to go to stream a live show?
      Thanks! BobbyT – bobt@freshairadv.com

    • Artemis Cracker

      That works for some genres, less so for others. For me, doing electronica, internet-based shows are awesome. We don’t really even have to do live shows to get fans; live shows just aren’t an inseparable part of what we do as they are for some bands. We love doing them, and our fans enjoy meeting and interacting with us, but you see the point. Also, when we play live, empty seats (within reason) don’t seem to be that big of a deal. Our shows are not terribly high energy; fans come to hear the music for the music’s sake, and we don’t need a spectacular light show or a deafening PA to make the experience worthwhile.

      Now, if we were a rock band, none of that would work. Rock just doesn’t work the same if it’s not live in concert – the energy isn’t the same, the band can’t find a rapport with the audience and work it in the same way, etc etc. If 30% of the seats are empty, trying to play a high-energy show can be a real downer. So actually, the article is good advice – I just don’t think it applies equally to every band and genre.

    • Axuality

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

    • Johnny Angel

      Just want to correct your misuse of the definition of insanity….It should have read, “doing the same thing over and over again expecting a DIFFERENT result…”
      I disagree with your advice about “streaming your shows…etc..” in lieu of a face to face performances…Where is the instant gratification of the audiences’ Love..and not to mention applause?
      As a performer..I want…no, I NEED to feel the love and support of my fans….often it becomes a sort of a Symbiotic relationship. where one needs the other in order to survive.

      As far a s costs go….well..that is just the nature of the beast with ANY AND EVERY BUSINESS.
      So.. the fact that “boggles” your mind , is a moot point.

      A band that is starting out and an “established” band are ALWAYS…selling themselves…or they have a manager/agent doing it for them…that is the BUSINESS side of the coin.

      I do agree with your Music/Media model about creating complelling content…without that you have nothing….but a different carreer.

    • “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.”

      I think this is very true. But, part of what makes the “content” compelling at a live show is the being in a crowd of people digging a band. So while your advice is sound, it can’t work for every musician for the simple fact that if your niche audience wants that experience of a concert, they won’t find it online.

      So there is another rule of business you have to follow no matter what: Know your audience – meet a need.

    • Orlando Rodriguez

      @ Lawrence….Some great points about being relevant for the times, but a live show has been and always will be the best way to connect with a fan of your music. Not to mention the average music fan still spends roughly $30 per year with their favorite indie band at the live show… With over 70,000 music releases per year online it is increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter online at this point… It is critically important today to have a compelling live show while at the same time utilizing technology and forward thinking to advance the music… I love your mentioning of niche because I agree 100% that you need to serve a specific audience… In the end, I believe we have a tremendous opportunity as creative minds to use multiple ways to promote, connect, and impact our respective audiences… All of these advances in technology are so exciting because there are so many ways to communicate a message now…

  • 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.

    • TyLean

      Making music has become too simple. There are too many of us out there, and the competition isn’t tough (implying that the music out there is just so bloody good), it’s just THICK.

  • 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.

    • Get used to playing 2 hour gigs for 5 people and the bartender. Seriously – it sucks, but the kind of stuff you’re doing will never fill a 10000-seat house. Ever; I don’t care how good you are.

      Sounds like I’m being all pessimistic, but I’m not really. Look at it this way – if you really want to “touch someone’s soul,” and 10 people usually show up to your shows, but every damn night 1 of them walks away a new person for having heard your music, was it worth it? You say you don’t care about making people dance – so you have to live that. If that’s really what you want to do, then don’t try to do everything like you’re a high-octane DJ.

      The immediate objection, of course, is that’s all well and good, but how the hell do you pay the bills? The answer is, I don’t have a clue, but you’re not going to do it conventionally. You have to figure it out. Make your own path, man. Be creative.

      Personal story – after getting out of college I had high hopes for being able to make a killing playing instrumental stuff like that – total youthful delusions of grandeur. After a couple of years and a vicious beating by Reality, I realized it was never going to work. So, I took 10 years (yeah, 10) and devoted them to a full-time career that has nothing to do with music. And you know what? It sucked ass. It was pure unadulterated torture. But it gave me an edge – now, the money question isn’t an issue for me. I get to play music for the music’s sake, and not have to worry about it paying the bills. For me, that’s pretty damn liberating, and the couple of years since I’ve been able to devote myself back to the music have been the best couple of years musically of my entire life.

      Understand I’m not saying that’s what every struggling musician should do – that was just my path; you have to find your own. If you love what you do enough, you’ll figure it out.

      And the point is, the kind of music you do requires that – you’re not going to make it by following someone else’s playbook.

  • 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.

  • vonHummer

    That won’t work for me. My family and relatives get claustrophobic in packed venues.

  • 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☺

  • 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 ,

  • ….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

  • 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…..

  • 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!!

  • Josh Canady

    This is a great article and a truthful one for those who don’t want their ears tickled with false expectations. If you want to succeed you will listen to this advice. If you don’t want to succeed than don’t listen and keep booking venues that are too big, blaming promoters and complaining about passing out flyers in the rain (this is the business we are in…at least in the beginning). You are in control of your success and the impression you make on those around you. Do not rely on a concert promoter, record label or even fans for that matter to make you successful.
    A couple of additional notes, no matter how big internet marketing/networking gets it will never replace the feeling and atmosphere of being at a live show…absolutely never. If your complaint in this article is that you can’t even get 30 people than think even smaller…no shame in that.
    The point is be honest with yourself and your fan base. Start small, work your way up, work hard and earn that fan base and the larger venues. The quicker you realize that this is a proven model and are honest with your fan base the quicker you will get to where you want to be. Bottom line.

  • Famous Warrior

    I think that some of the replies here have misunderstood the point of Chris’s article. There is no ‘model’ nowadays that can be replicated for bands and artists – it’s important to figure out YOUR model. The one that plays to your strengths, and protects your weaknesses. It may be taking a few types of social media, email newsletter, & video streaming. It may be hitting the road touring 300 shows a year. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter as long as it works for YOU. This is a great article, but one that should taken as it was intended – if it’s not something that will work for your band, your solo career, then the question should be ‘What is MY model?’. – Darren

  • There is no “magic bullet” for promoting a band or a show. It takes a great deal of effort and the willingness to try different methods of promotion. Playing a coffee place one week and a fair or festival the next will work as well as anything. The nice part about fairs and festivals is you have a built in audience, not contigent on your promotional skills. You can however use the venue to get more fans to support your smaller shows. Also many of these larger venues will allow you to set up a sales table for your cd’s and other merchandise and they might even pay you to play! The small places help you to meet people on a more friendly basis and develope close relatioships with fans. The key, in my humble opinion, is get your music out there by all means. No matter how you look at it it is not easy.

  • Sixty Long Seconds

    Not a bad point by Chris on this article but I don’t know of any large sized venue that would bring in one band and one that wouldn’t sell out the house. Typically you’ll find at least 5 bands per night in small venues (50 – 150 people) and not many people show.
    The reason the live music business for original acts has failed in most venues is because they don’t actually listen to the music or care about the bands. All promoters want are bands from any genre to fill the house. What this does is allow for many amateur, sub par bands to bring 5 to 10 friends from high school or college and ruin the night for everyone else, forever. But I’m sure if a specific genre was being featured on a particular night and the best bands from the area were performing; not only the crowd would enjoy it but in the near future, when a similar show was put together, likely the same people and their friends would come again. Our draw and turnout changed immensely as soon as we started doing this.

  • Zalonius

    what about drive thru perfomance?

  • Robert

    One of my biggest frustrations is the simple fact that most club owners will not spend any money on advertising! They seem to think that writing the act, date and time on one of their stupid crayon boads and/or putting up a poster or two is all ther promotion they need! I understand that times are hard right now and everyone has to do whatever they can to save money, but damn! Then when the house is not full and does not bring in enough $$ it is always the band’s fault! There are many elements that come into play booking your act and the availabililty of live venues continues to shrink. I believe that if you want to work a lot playing your music, book as much as you can! Why not offer the club owner to pay half of the advertising bill in the local paper or local music trade journal where you will be performing? In addition to increasing the odds of populating the upcoming gig, you are now further promoting your bands name! Also, you need to work at the business of your band daily, as if it is a part time job! Keep a list of all venues, with detailed info including the contacts name. Then work it daily! Always keep an ear and an eye out for new places to prospect for playing dates!

  • Lisa McK

    I agree with Music man, often good music lags behind other bands who are just have more friends. A real promoter hands out flyers and sends out emails creating a buzz about the music. Being a “promoter” has become an easy way to make fast cash unfortunately. In London I’ve had gigs where I know that my fans bought hundreds of pounds worth of drinks, yet the bands didn’t get any of the bar takings. A percentage would be nice. Bands are being exploited left right and center and I wish there was some sort of legislation against it. Even 10% of bar sales would be something to share between the bands.

  • As mentioned, fans can be fickle. I booked a club based on how many fans said they would be there. Out of at least 30 people who said they would be there, believe it or not, only 1 person showed up. Needless to say, it was a wasted night, except for that one person who is still a huge fan of my band.

    The industry thrives on fans, and if they are not devoted, it will drive your band into the ground.

    Next time I will get 100 or more confirmations, and then book a venue that holds 15 people…..and cross my fingers.

    Yes, I put out flyers, press articles, everything…..and the venue did nothing at all to promote the event. As mentioned, the venues are largely to blame. They promote the hell out of DJ nights, on the radio, flyers, dancing girls, drink specials, etc. but if you are a band, they want you to do everything and then they complain about it. The venues are at least 80% to blame for the lack of attendance. If they won’t assist in building up hype for the event, then the fans think it is nothing special and don’t want to waste their time. I could post thousands of posters around town, hit up everyone I know, even pass out sample CDs, and still get nobody to show up due to the venue feeling like a ghost town when it comes to their event promotion….or lack thereof.

    Bands can only do so much, fans need to be more vigilant in their support, and venues need to definitely step up their game.
    ——————————–
    One thing that is killing live shows for my genre of music, are bands that show up with laptops, stare at the screens onstage, and never once interact with the crowd. They have tainted the thinking on what my genre’s live shows are about. (Industrial/Electro/Darkwave)

    I am a one-man-band, play keyboards and drums onstage, have lighting, fog, etc. and do all the vocals….and still people think I will be up there with a laptop staring into the blue screen abyss…..this is the worst part of my promotion. Fans believe every show will be a set of laptops and no interaction, and my show if far beyond that……I do let everyone know it will not be just a laptop, but the “laptop bands” are killing the live show scene in my genre.

  • Dave

    Somehow some people on this thread think that the folks at CDBaby should cater DIY advise directly to them and know the ins and outs of their own situation. The CDBaby people are doing this DIY stuff on their own time as I understand. Don’t like the article? Start a decent two way discussion or just ignore it and do your own thing. Be glad there are people out there trying to help you.

  • 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.

    • Ckylejr

      MODOC

      Nightwatch i agree with you,Enjoy life as a musician.
      Your were you are Because of you, if there isn’t something happening you have create a happening!
      I’m a full time trumpet player,
      I will “make it” as they say and mark my words, i bet i even get a grammy!
      BY keeping God 1st and the rest will fall in line.

  • 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.

  • Johns

    Perfect idea!!! I am booking our band into phone booths around the city ASAP !

  • Wise_one

    It’s all about the culture we’re living in right now. A huge problem that’s arrised in the last decade and isn’t going away anytime soon is the fact that (aside from club owners and promoters) concert goers have dwindled down to almost nothing. People used to go out every weekend and hit the clubs to see who’s playing. Now people only go out to venues because there’s a big band playing that they’ve wanted to see. Concert goers would rather stay home chatting on sacial networks than going out to shows, that in their minds are most likely going to be a waste of time because the “band will suck”. People used to have to do leg work to discover new music and to go see bands but now thanks to Myspace, people were bombarded by every Timmy the Teenage Rocker’s spam emails. “Come check out our music, buy our CD, watch out latest practice video on youtube, vote for us in the next retarded battle of the bands, yadda, yadda, yadda” People are now sick of bands contacting them. My band no longer reads messages sent to our social networks anymore. We wrote on our profiles “This page is maintained by our webmaster. If you wish to contact us, please do so through our official website.” We only have 18K fans on our myspace and once a week I log in just to delete the inbox. It’s all junk from other bands and none of it is personal. We have our own product to sell, no I’m not interested in buying yours. Not to mention most everyone is in a band of their own now. In the 80’s being in a band placed you in an elite club that set you apart from all your friends who loved listening to the latest albums because now you were making albums too. Now just about everyone plays an instrument and the ones that don’t have Guitar Hero. We’re a culture that made a video game out of being in a band. If that’s not a tell tale sign, what is? I also suggest everyone to watch the movie Avil, The Story Of Anvil. It’s an eye opening movie that will plant your feet on the ground and get your head out of the clouds in hopes of getting signed. I was in a side band a year ago and the other members were always hoping tallent scouts were going to show. I kept telling them they needed to stop waiting for scouts because they don’t exist anymore, and if they did, aren’t coming to our little piss-ant of a state. Eventually I took them to a major studio and the engineer(who has three gold records, a platinum and five grammy’s) gave them an in-depth talk about the industry and the fact that labels don’t need to look for tallent anymore. It all comes to them… pre-paid and packaged with a minimum $20K price tage before they even listen to the CD.

  • Jamsyncmusic

    Well said Music man. I totally agree here. The days of venues and promoters actually promoting a show are very few and far between. I can remember hearing about shows way in advance back in the day but now I couldn’t tell you who is playing where and I am in the music business!

    I will add however that all entities are out to make a buck and the cost of advertising, marketing, staff and everything else is ridiculous so the attitude I believe is “why bother”. And it’s a catch 22 that fans continue to come out considering $4 gas prices, DUI/DWI road blocks vs cheaper to stay at home and play on the internet.

    I feel so many things come into play BUT you are correct in that if a show is booked then the PROMOTER should PROMOTE it as well as the others that are involved. It is all on the shoulders of the band to draw.

  • aka The “big fish in a little pond vs. little fish in a big pond” approach.

  • STRENGTH IN NUMBERS…. GUYS LETS ALL GET it together and do a tour. I have been putting a tour together for about 6 months and the cities include so far. Orlando FL, Miami FL, New Orleans LA, Atlanta GA, Houston TX i want to add the 6th city to this tour.. I’m David DK Lucas for more info please email me at talentslam@gmail.com

  • 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.

    • Maziin Cosby

      I so agree,but i make Every show unforgettable,so that i gain new fans,an i always bring something to show my appreciation.it’s hard work,but one i love.

  • 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.

  • 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!)

  • Dave Rowe

    Music man, you are right to a point. You are also missing the point. Audience wants to support you, but they have limited time and resources and time. The thing is to do exactly what this article suggests, but always make sure there is something extra to go with the show. A “chef’s h’ors deurves tasting”and a concert, a beer brewery tour/tasting and a concert. Partnerships create symbiosis and build fans. You are lamenting the next step in the process of getting it out there, which requires creative thinking. Anyone depending on a club to fill the room for them isn’t selling their own music. They are looking for a free ride. It’s a hard road and a lot of work to make a living from your music, and the day you depend on someone else to make that happen is the day you should give it up. The days of the club and radio helping the indy are gone. Now that I have said all that, I have to admit, it’s all the stuff that has dogged my own career. Mea Culpa. I need to get down to business….

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • Pingback: Tips for Surviving and Thriving on Tour | Echoes – Insight for Independent Artists()

  • 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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  • Check how this iOS app is going to make things a way easier. And it’s going to be free!

    http://www.facebook.com/BandOnTour

  • Orlando Rodriguez

    This article makes so much sense. I have done way better after having a packed performance at a smaller venue so far as perception and creating a buzz… The reality is that when people come to a concert they don’t necessarily know the specific details as to why they had a great time, all they know is if they had a great time or not… As a fan, its obviously more exciting to be at a “sold out” event… As a promoter, It is a challenge because sometimes its hard to judge how many people will actually come out and support a particular event… So selecting the appropriate size for a concert can be a bit of a science… Trying to convince a local/regional band that they are most likely not going to pack out 1000 seats is also a science… Lol

  • Hey Orlando, thanks for reading and commenting.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Janette Hamilton-House

    Realistically, this industry is shot, and that pains me to say. It will never bounce back again, not since piracy has run a mock. This is what pisses me off, the record labels caused a lot of this turmoil to begin with, they failed to protect their client’s copyrighted/published works. They became so greedy that they screwed themselves as well. To my knowledge, which is quite a bit of time, don’t want to age myself that much, but….if you are lucky enough to get a known booking agency backing you and putting your band on tour with gold and platinum records, then that’s your hook. Unfortunately the gold/platinum status for record sales are not happening either. The phrase, “it’s not what you know but who you know” really applies here now more than ever. There is a way to somewhat fix this problem, but you have to ask yourself, why hasn’t it been done already?????? Get my drift?

  • Chassidy Lamb

    how do I raise the money to book a band like papa roach for a city event.

  • If it’s a city event, doesn’t it come out of a budget paid for by taxes?

    @ChrisRobley

  • Chassidy Lamb

    I’m not sure about that but iIwill look into that but I am still going to find ways to raise the money so if anyone has any suggestions