How To Book A Show That Doesn't Suck

This is derp-proof list created for a DIY band or promoter looking to do things right. If you're paying someone to book your shows for you/you're signed, you're paying someone else to know what I'm about to tell you.

Props to Jamie Kucinski of MPact Events in Tulsa, OK for looking over this article and verifying this info isn't crap!

 The magical concert fairies don't just make this happen the morning of the show.

The magical concert fairies don't just make this happen the morning of the show.

Step Zero: DON'T BOOK A SHOW WITHOUT MONEY. Never rely on the door money or the bar profits to pay for your show. Have the money in-hand the day of your show to pay everyone. Promoters who book shows with $0 in their pocket are the scourge of the industry, don't be that guy. If you don't have startup cash, don't book a show yet.

Before You Announce Your Show:

1.) Set a date, then formally confirm your artists and have them send you their logos.

Secure the date with your venue. Put money down. Then, point-blank ask your prospective talent if they can commit to the date. When they do, be sure they email you their official logo(s) in .png or .psd format (details on #3).

2.) Secure your staff.

This includes your audio tech, lighting tech, video tech, photographer, videographer, security/door man, clean-up crew, etc. Put money down on your vendors if you want to really secure your date. Venues typically provide most of these people as a part of their staff; make sure you communicate with them to verify who they are providing as a part of your rent.

3.) Pay someone to design your flyer.

If the design looks legit, peoples' expectations are automatically set high for your event. It's worth spending the money; don't do it yourself unless you have serious experience in graphic design. Network with design/art students at the nearest university, I've had excellent luck with both the quality of work and prices by contracting students. Be sure to have your designer incorporate your artists' logos into the design, this establishes continuity with the artists' brand and makes your event/design look more legit.

After You Announce Your Show:

3.5) Don't announce your show until steps 1-3 are done!

Be sure to announce your show with as much notice as possible, I like to do mine a month prior to the event date.

4.) Make a Facebook event and schedule posts leading up to your show on your Facebook page.

Yes, we all hate those event invitations, but they're indispensable when people actually want to go to your show and need details the day of. Facebook defaults to private events, so make sure you set the event to "public." It cannot be changed later if you mess this up.

Rather than remembering to post, make about ten different posts in one sitting and schedule them on your page. Use your flyer design, photos of the bands, and photos of stupid things to gather attention. Research says the best times to post on Facebook are Thursdays and Fridays between 12p-1p; don't post on Mondays or Tuesdays. Make sure you post 3-4 times the week of the show. This goes with anything related to sales, someone has to see something at least 7 times before they actually process it. You're not being annoying if they don't notice it to begin with.

5.) Compile a day sheet and input list.

A day sheet includes the date and location, your contact information, the venue's contact information, load-in times, soundcheck time, dinner details, bands' set times, and load-out times. It will also include venue wi-fi passwords, merch split details (if any), load-in details such as parking instructions, dressing room access, etc. Relay this to your artists, the venue, and your tech crew/vendors at least two weeks before the show date.

 A day sheet can be as simple as this. Giving everyone all the information they need diverts many redundant calls and emails.

A day sheet can be as simple as this. Giving everyone all the information they need diverts many redundant calls and emails.

Talk to your artists about their audio requirements. Find out what equipment they're bringing, how many vocal mics they need, or if there's anything funky they want. Relay this information along with the day sheet to your audio/lighting/video technician(s) at least two weeks in advance to avoid surprises and bad attitudes.

6.) Print your flyers then place them strategically.

Many people say paper is dead, I say it isn't. Ask music stores, coffee houses, record shops, bars, and restaurants if you can hang a flyer in their window or on their community board. If people see your flyer enough, they'll actually read it. This where a great design will help you.

 A good flyer design includes all the details of your show while providing continuity with your artists' brands.

A good flyer design includes all the details of your show while providing continuity with your artists' brands.

7.) Re-confirm with your artists and staff a week before your show.

It's appalling how many people forget about something they committed to a month ago. Reach out and make sure your artists, venue, and vendors are still committed. This avoids potential disasters.

The Day Of Your Show:

8.) Show up at least 30 minutes before load-in.

Because things go wrong and people are seldom where they're supposed to be. Your job the day-of is damage control.

9.) Bring a case or two of water.

Sometimes the venue will provide water to your performing artists for no charge, but not always. Come prepared.

10.) Be seen and available.

Make sure you phone is on and charged and make sure you're seen by the artists, venue, and patrons. This associates your name and face with your good work. Your personality and professionalism will encourage people to work with you again and will set you up for success in the long run.

Have anything else to add? Drop it in the comments below!