Hello music makers!
My name is Christina LaRocca, Founder/CEO of L Rock Entertainment. As a talent buyer with a decade of experience, I get somewhere between 25-100 requests A DAY from bands all over the country, asking to play the Big Apple or looking for assistance with tour booking. How do I choose which bands are the best fit for my shows?
First impressions are everything. Remember you are contacting a human being, so it’s best to treat them like one. No one is going to reply to an email that says: “My band is awesome you need to book us…check it out man www.weareanawesomeband.com”
With that in mind, here are some great tips to help you get the gig:
1. Start your email cordially.
Say Hi or Hello, if you know the talent buyer’s name, use it. If you’re friends with a particular band you’ve seen play at this venue, mention that. It shows you’re familiar with the scene and support the venue. If you’ve played a venue nearby in the past, mention that as well. Also, if you’re looking to book an acoustic show, it’s best not to email a venue that caters to metal bands, or vice versa. Find the right venues for your band.
2. Keep your email short but informative.
Don’t send over a huge paragraph with your most important band information tucked away in the middle somewhere. The talent buyer is going to read the first few lines, and if intrigued, check out your links.
3. Got press quotes? Use them.
If your band already has a few impressive gigs under your belt and press quotes from legit sources, then put them front and center.
4. Include the date/time frame you’re interested in performing in the beginning of your email.
The fewer questions the talent buyer has to ask, the quicker your show will get booked. If you’ve never played this venue, asking to play a Saturday night at 10PM is probably not going to happen unless you have a proven draw in that city. Start by asking for an off night like a Tuesday or Wednesday, and you’ll probably get the gig. It’s best to not play shows fewer than 21 days apart in the same market if you’re required to bring a good crowd.
5. Include a music video if you have one. If you don’t, make one.
Once you have a solid recording of what you would consider your single, the next thing your band should do is MAKE A MUSIC VIDEO. An artistic video is great, but if you’re known for your live show, make a video that shows off your goods. It doesn’t have to be a really expensive video, but in my opinion, a great video is the #1 way to get gigs these days.
Here’s a great example by Philly’s own Dan Orlando featuring Sons of Origin, “Need You on My Side” live in the studio.
You don’t need a lot of money to make a video, and nowadays you can make one pretty easily. Figure out what options are best for you and run with it. Just keep in mind a bad video can hurt your chances as well. If a friend posts something without your permission, like a terrible iPhone video, and you aren’t happy with it, ask your friend to take it down.
6. Don’t forget to put your social media links in the body of the email.
Make it easy for the talent buyer to click on whatever he or she is interested in. Don’t use hyperlinks. Although they look clean, if the person receiving the email doesn’t have the right format capabilities, those links won’t appear.
Follow this format for your social links:
Official Website: www.weareanawesomeband.com
Listen: Bandcamp or Soundcloud links are best
Here’s an example of an email I would send out to a talent buyer:
Hello [Talent Buyer’s Name],
I am writing to book one of Albany’s finest indie-rock bands WILD ADRIATIC on [insert date here] at [insert venue name here].
WILD ADRIATIC has been featured recently in Rolling Stone, Guitar World and in 2014 will be performing at the Gathering of the Vibes (CT), Utica Music Festival (NY), Newtown Arts Festival, Musikfest (Bethlehem, PA), Blues on the Beach (Stratford), Tropical Heat Wave Fest (Tampa), Miles of Mud Festival (WI), LARAC Festival (NY), Canned Beer Festival (Coney Island), Alive @ 5 (NY). More information about their tour schedule, music videos and links to their new LP “Suspicious” can be found below.
“Flawlessly tight with infectious melodies & tons of soul.” – Relix
“Full of rocking blues, soul, and depth.” – Huffington Post
“An act to get behind.” – USAToday
Listen to their new album BIG SUSPICIOUS here:
Official Music Video: “Lonely” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mS8ZNOt3Li8
Recent feature in ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: http://rol.st/1h3kXS8
EXCLUSIVE ALBUM PREMIER with GUITAR WORLD: http://www.guitarworld.com/exclusive-album-premiere-wild-adriatic-big-suspicious
[You may want to insert a photo of the band here]
[Here you should list any notable bands you have opened for or performed with. If you aren’t quite there yet in your career, mention the most notable venues or festivals you have played and include other press links or anything else you think they should know.]
Thank you so much for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.
[In your signature always have your contact information and band name]
7. Know when to reach out.
You still get some venues that are old school and require a phone call. These are more than likely your local brewery or bar. The best time to catch these talent buyers by phone is generally in the morning or after 6PM. Always be polite, be ready to chat about your band, and if it takes a couple of phone calls to get through, be ready. If it’s a restaurant, don’t call during their busy hours.
You sent your email and got a response! Now what?
8. It’s best to respond as soon as possible.
Don’t wait a week to respond and expect that slot—especially if it’s on a weekend—to still be on the table. Talent buyers try to fill their calendars within a certain time frame, and they usually aren’t waiting on your response unless they have personally invited you to the slot. Even if you don’t know if your band is available yet, reply by thanking them and ask them to hold the slot for you and you will do your best to get back to them ASAP with an answer. If the date doesn’t work, make sure you let them know in a timely fashion!
It’s important that whoever handles the booking for your band is good at communicating with the rest of the band. Perhaps a group text or group email can help reach out to everyone at once. If there’s someone in the band who is always the last one to get back to you, perhaps it’s time to talk to that bandmate about answering within 24 hours. I’m a big fan of Google calendars—it’s a great way to keep everyone in your band on the same page, and you can access your schedule right on your phone.
9. Ask the talent buyer to advance the show.
Upon confirming your show, the talent buyer should supply you with the following information:
Is the show 21+? 18+? All Ages?
Cover Price? Advance & DOS (Day of Show)?
Hospitality (hotel? food/drink? guest list?)
Local publication contacts to help you promote
The venue’s social media links for you to use in promotion
The talent buyer should be able to answer all these questions upon booking. Never walk into a gig not knowing how you are supposed to get paid or what the backline situation is. Also, read through all the information they have sent you so you aren’t asking a million questions the day before the show. Be professional.
10. Promote the show!
Start promoting the show as soon as it is confirmed. Use whatever method is best for your fans. Promoters will get annoyed if they don’t see a Facebook event made or if you did make one and only 2 people RSVP to attend. That’s a sure sign the show is not going to do well. Make a Facebook event and send it out during a time you think your friends are online. Push to sell advance tickets. This way if it rains, fans already purchased tickets, so chances are they’ll still make it out to the show. Ask the promoter each week for an updated count on advance ticket sales—he or she will be impressed with your eagerness to promote.
Have an Instagram account? I think Instagram is the #1 way to promote shows these days. Link it to your Twitter and Facebook and voila! It’s out there! Don’t forget to hash tag the venue, your band, and include any other tags you think will draw fans to your page. There are great apps these days like BeFunky and Pic Play Post to make Instagram-sized flyers for your show. Get creative, it will keep fans engaged and excited.
11. Work on your craft.
Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse some more. You are only ever going to impress anyone if you practice. Video tape or record your rehearsals, and figure out what needs improving. Work on little things like what to say in between songs and how to avoid dead air. Work on your outfits and have some kind of eye candy on stage, but try not to be gimmicky. Everything you do onstage, from the time you start setting up to the time you walk off, is part of the show. You can promote like crazy, get the gig, and do everything you need to do beforehand, but if you don’t do your absolute best when it comes to most the important part—your performance—perhaps it’s time to consider another career.
12. Never leave a gig without getting paid.
Even if you think you didn’t make anything, always talk to the person handling the door before you leave. Make sure you also thank the talent buyer, night manager, sound engineer and anyone else who works for the venue. Your attitude and how you treat everyone from the bartenders to the janitor is going to effect your future with that venue. Be polite, and courteous—believe me it goes a long way. Also, always check all your gear to make sure you didn’t leave anything behind. You want to make sure you have all of your equipment for the next gig!
13. And finally, if all went well at the show and you would like to play there again…
It’s best to email the talent buyer within 48 hours, to thank him or her for the show, and express interest in re-booking.
Thanks for reading, I hope this was informative! I’ve recently relocated to Los Angeles from NYC and I’m looking to expand my roster of artists, so shoot me an email about your band. Good luck, and see you at the show!
Native Brooklynite Christina LaRocca is no stranger to setting standards. Since 2006 she has been scouting and booking talented artists around the globe. As an artist herself, her voice and talent have been heard across the states and overseas in clubs and festivals such as CMJ and SXSW. Committed and driven, Christina has created a network of musicians that she books at top clubs through her company “L Rock Entertainment.” L Rock Entertainment is a NYC based company dedicated to live performance and recorded music through musicians committed to creating art in their music. Whether onstage singing, or as a business woman, Christina continues to be an element of opportunity and possibility in today’s Music Industry.