Booking Promotion

Venue Relationships

When thinking about making phone calls (or emails) to venues, many artists assume that if you have not talked to the venues before (i.e., "have a relationship with them"), then you will get nowhere. Totally not true. This is similar to saying that if you don't have a relationship with a radio station, then you have no chance of them playing your music. Also totally not true (we do it all the time).

It's not a matter of if you know them or not, it's a matter of if you doing the job right. A typical artist sends out mass emails to venues saying "we're good... please book us." And when they get no response, they assume it's because they didn't know anyone at those venues. What really is happening is that this artist does not know how to build rapport (friendship), and thus makes the venues NOT want to work with them. (Thinking that you can send a mass email and make anything happen at all, pretty much shows the lack of marketing knowledge.) Starting with an email is the number one mistake that most artists make. Email is not for selling... it's for gathering information.

Just like radio, venues come in all different sizes: From tiny (no pay), to huge (pay $500,000). The small ones have nothing to do with the larger ones. We are concerned here with venues that pay at most $5,000 USD, and in particular, ones under $500 USD. With these venues, there is generally just one person, maybe two, that you need to start (not "have") a relationship with. And this is where artists go wrong; they think they can pitch themselves from the beginning without starting a relationship first. And of course when they try to pitch (without becoming friends first), they get shut down, and that's where they get the idea that "Well, I didn't know anyone there, so that's why I did not get very far."

They reason they did not get very far is because they didn't know how to build rapport first. True, you can't build rapport with every person at every venue, but if you are pursuing 100 venues at one time, you certainly should be on a first-name friends basis with 20 of them within two weeks, and another 10 of them in another two weeks. And this is without ever having talked to any of the 100 before. THEN, after you have 30 that you are friends with, you can pitch yourself to these 30.

Another reason why pre-existing relationships with venues are not important (at the lower level) is because of rotating staff. Smaller places, which hold less than 50 people, usually delegate the booking to a newer person, or a higher-turnover person, like a bartender. So even if you knew the last person, you are starting cold this time. And boy do these new people not like being confused with the old people!

Yet another reason why pre-existing relationships are not important is the sheer number of artists who contact venues, who don't know what they are doing. Every venue, even small ones, get lots of emails, and several phone calls, each day (larger venues get hundreds of emails, and 20 or 30 calls each day). But emails don't build any rapport, and thus they don't work; and the things that are being said on the phone are usually "hey, can you guys hire us?). So, when you do learn how to build rapport with someone at a venue, your call (even though it's your very first call to that venue) will go much farther than most of the other calls, and certainly farther than all the emails.

AFTER you have built rapport with the venue person, THEN you can get into why they should hire you. There are a lot of reasons why a venue would want to hire you instead of the other fifty artists they thought about that week, and we'll cover this later, but they start with local street invites, local street promotions, local lifestyle promotions, local fan lists, local draw, etc etc.

Next topic: How To Make Money At Gigs

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