How To Book A Gig Yourself…and Be Invited Back

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.]

No matter what anyone tells you, we have yet to figure out a digital musical experience that can equal the fan connections a band can conjure through their live show. There is something in our DNA that is profoundly impacted by live music. Maybe it’s the shared experience with those in attendance or the nostalgia a concert can create for a certain time in our lives.

Or maybe it’s something more primal; the process of syncing our natural rhythm to live drum and bass as it pulse through our bones. Either way, performing is still undoubtedly the best way to create loyal fans and combat the current “musical-flavor-of-the-week” culture we live in.

Still, developing a live following is no walk in the park. You’re going to need to dedicate hours-upon-hours of time to tightening your set and tirelessly promoting your shows. It’ll get tedious, and success won’t happen overnight, but if you work hard you’ll eventually graduate from dingy bars and VFWs to better rooms. On top of that, I can honestly say nothing can match the indescribable feeling you’ll get from performing in front of a room full of people and, if you’re lucky, the dedicated following you’ll gain from gigging out.

Here are some tips on how to book that first gig, and how to get invited back!

1. Be Professional In Your Pitch

Yes, the promoter knows that you’re self-booking. They still want the comfort of knowing you will take the night seriously. Keep in mind that they’ve probably gotten a few hundred other “booking inquiries” that week. Ask yourself what’s going to make them offer you a slot on one of their nights over those other bands? Some ways to be professional include:

  • A succinct, clear subject line (i.e: Booking Inquiry – The Beatles October Date @ MSG?).
  • Be informative in the body of the email. You should include a description of your music, where you’re from and any performance history. It is also necessary to include a link to where the talent buyer can listen to your music and check out your socials.
  • Don’t have typos!
  • Follow up approximately 3-5 days after reaching out if you don’t hear back. Also don’t hesitate to pick up the phone. Sometimes that’s the best way to cut through the clutter of acts hitting up a promoter.

2. Stay In Touch with The Promoter Ahead Of Your Show

Nothing makes promoters more nervous than booking a band and not hearing from them again until they show up at the venue night of. Give the promoter updates on what you’re doing to get people to come see your band. Also share any promotional assets such as Facebook events or flyers with the promoter as well. This way they can take comfort in the fact you’re promoting and maybe even help get the word out as well.

3. Promote On Socials and Ask Your Friends

Actually promote, don’t just show up! Be active on both yours and the band’s social media accounts. Also don’t discount the value of hanging flyers (particularly in the venue) and calling/texting your friends. Sometimes those IRL invites are more memorable than a Facebook invite.

4. Help Book The Bill

This isn’t as important as a lot of the other points on this list but it’s definitely a plus. Promoters are usually booking a bunch of dates at once. If you can book the rest of the band’s on your bill it takes the work off of the promoter’s plate and gives a better chance of the bill being cohesive.

5. Bring Your A-Game

Put in the work before the show to have a great performance. At the end of the day that’s what’s going to ensure people want to see you again and get your band invited back to play on better bills.

6. Communicate With The Promoter Night Of

Introduce yourself to the promoter when you get there and thank him/her for having you. Thank him/her again at the end of the night and let them know you’ll reach out about subsequent dates.

7. Follow Up After You Performance

Give it a couple of days after the show and then email the promoter. Thank him/her again for having you and then see what upcoming dates he/she has available. If you can get in this routine with a few different promoters, you can put a nice little circuit together for yourself.

8. Don’t Overbook

Space out your dates in any given market! If you play too much in the same area, you’re going to most likely divide your draw. Obviously when you first start playing, do as many low profile gigs as possible to find yourself as a performer, but once you’ve achieved a level of confidence in yourself that you care about draw, try not to play your own market more than once per month.

Promoters will not be happy if they find out you’re playing next door in a week. Neither will your friends and fans be as inclined to come out and support if you’re ALWAYS playing out.


Keep these eight things in mind and you’ll be well on your way to building your live career!

5 Tips To Help Your Band Sell More Merch

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

With the music industry reeling over increasingly poor record sales, artists are having to rely on ways other than selling their music to earn money more now than ever before. Band merchandise is proving to be a reliable revenue stream for everyone from established artists to up-and-comers hitting the road for the first time.

But while there’s some serious money to be made by selling merch, it’s not as easy as putting your band’s name on some stuff and waiting for the money to roll in. To help your band get the most out of selling merch, we’ve assembled these five ideas to help:

Create a visually compelling merch booth at your shows.

If your band hopes to sell lots of merch at shows, your fans should know exactly where the merch booth is from the second they walk into the venue. These days, the whole “merch booth in an old luggage bag” thing is a bit played out, but there’s lots of other ways to create a highly visual merch area at your shows.

If you’ve got a crafty design-oriented person in your band, give them a budget and vision for how to present your merch at shows. It’s well worth investing some band money into creating a unique merch space. Setting up an area with your own distinct lighting is a great way to get as many eyes on your merch as possible. For example, though it’s not very original, using Christmas lights to highlight your band’s merch area is a cheap way to get folks to notice all the stuff you have for sale at your shows.

And this sounds obvious, but it’s important to note here that your merch area and all the items in it should match the character of your band’s music. Christmas lights would work well for an indie outfit, but they’re not really a great fit for Insane Clown Posse.

Put your merch for sale on as many online platforms as possible.

A classic merch-mistake many bands make is to fork over a ton of money for shirts, stickers and pins only to sell them at shows and not anywhere online. Making your band’s merchandise available for purchase on your website as well as platforms like Bandcamp, Big Cartel and Shopify will give the masses as many opportunities to buy your stuff as possible.

How many of us have had the experience of bringing extra cash to a show to buy a band’s merch only to accidentally use the money drink a whole bunch of booze instead? Going to a show and drinking can be expensive, and your fans might not be prepared to fork over even more money on your stuff, even if they like your music and want what you have to sell. Yes, these platforms will take a significant slice of the money you earn from merch sales, but it’s absolutely worth it to make everything you have for sale available to sell on online platforms.

Once your merch is available for sale online, let your fans know and don’t be afraid to give discounts every now and then to inspire people to buy your stuff.

Redefine what you can and can’t sell to your fanbase.

Theoretically, anything your band sells can be considered merch, but don’t go wild and start trying to sell your bassist’s pubes just yet. A lot of bands could benefit from broadening their idea of what sorts of things they could sell to their fans, and strictly sticking to selling shirts, albums and stickers might be a missed opportunity for yours.

Depending on the unique identity of your band, being cheeky, goofy or just plain twee in the things you have for sale at your merch table might be a good way to earn your band some cash and get people talking about you at the same time. This Buzzfeed article profiles some obscure merch from bands you’ve probably heard of, but getting creative in what you offer to sell your fans can benefit you no matter how big your band is.

Make sure someone is there man the merch booth at your shows.

This is a really obvious tip, but it has to be said. If you’re able to, have a designated person at shows to sell your band’s merch to make sure you don’t miss any sale opportunities. Often, the most stressful time for a band also happens to be when they’re most likely to sell merch––right after they finish a set. Unless you’re headlining, bands are expected to remove their shit from the stage as soon as humanly possible after a set. By the time your band’s equipment is off stage and you’ve had a moment to catch your breath and head back to your merch booth, that urgency fans feel to come pick up your merch is often long gone. With a person there to sell your stuff at all times, you won’t miss valuable opportunities to make sales.

Having someone man your merch area on tour might be challenging, but earning as much money on the road as possible is essential for serious bands trying to build a presence nationally. Bringing a friend along to help or getting a fan or two into your shows for free in exchange for their merch-slinging services on tours will help your band make the most out of its merch situation on the road.

Use a payment platform that accepts credit cards.

Unless you’re a band that sells merch exclusively from a deli in Queens, you should give your fans a way to pay with credit and debit cards at shows. Our society is growing increasingly reliant on cards as a way to pay for things, and only accepting cash from fans will inevitably cost you sales and some serious money over time.

Companies like Square and PayPal have make getting paid with credit cards easy, but they aren’t free. But the small fees associated with accepting credit card payments quickly become worth it when you begin to see how much more merch you can sell when you take plastic.

10 Fundamentals For Getting Along in Today’s Music Business

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Bobby Owsinski and originally appeared on his excellent music industry blog, Music 3.0.]

 

So much has changed in the music industry over the last few years that affect an artist’s ability to be successful. Some of it is brand new and a result of the technology we use, while some of it is good common sense that’s been used over and over during the past decades of the business. Here are 10 business fundamentals taken from my Music 4.1 Internet Music Guidebook (in no particular order) that an artist, musician, producer or songwriter needs to grasp in order to get along in today’s music environment.

• It’s all about scale. It’s not the sales, it’s the number of YouTube or Facebook views or streams that you have. A hit that sells only 50,000 combined units (album and single) may have 500 million YouTube views. Once upon a time, a sales number like that would’ve been deemed a failure, today, it’s a success. Views don’t equal sales, and vice-versa.

• The scale is not the same. In the past, 1 million of anything was considered a large number and meant you were a success. Today anything with that number hardly gets a mention, as it takes at least 10 million streams or views to get a label or manager’s attention. 50 million is only a minor hit, while a major hit is in the hundreds of millions.

• There will be fewer digital distributors in the future. It’s an expensive business to get into and maintain, so in the near future there will be a shakeout that will leave far fewer digital competitors. Don’t be shocked when you wake up one day to find a few gone. (Ed. Note: We’re not going anywhere!)

• It’s all about what you can do for other people. Promoters, agents, and club owners are dying to book you if they know you’ll make them money. Record labels (especially the majors) are dying to sign you if you have have an audience they can sell to. Managers will want to sign you if you have a line around the block waiting to see you. If you can’t do any of the above, your chances of success decrease substantially.

• Money often comes late. It may not seem like it, but success is slow. You grow your audience one fan at a time. The longer it takes, the more likely you’ll have a long career. An overnight sensation usually means you’ll also be forgotten overnight. This is one thing that hasn’t changed much through the years.

• Major labels want radio hits. They want an easy sell, so unless you create music that can get on radio immediately, a major label won’t be interested. This is what they do and they do it well, so if that’s your goal, you must give them what they want.

• You must create on a regular basis. Fans have a very short attention span and need to be fed with new material constantly in order to stay at the forefront of their minds. What should you create? Anything and everything, from new original tunes to cover tunes, to electric versions to acoustic versions, to remixes to outtakes, to behind the scenes videos to lyric videos, and more. You may create it all at once, but release it on a consistent basis so you always have some fresh content available.

• YouTube and Facebook are the new radio. Nurture your following there and release on a consistent basis (see above). It’s where the people you want to reach are discovering new music.

• Growing your audience organically is best. Don’t expect your friends and family to spread the word, as they don’t count. If you can’t find an audience on your own merits, there’s something wrong with your music or your presentation. Find the problem, fix it, and try it again. The trick is finding that audience.

• First and foremost, it all starts with the song. If you can’t write a great song that appeals to even a small audience, none of the other things matter much.

I’m sure you’ll agree that the music business is both exciting and invigorating in it’s current form. It’s not dying and it’s not wilting, unlike what you’ll hear and read from the old school naysayers. It is constantly evolving and progressing, and those who don’t progress with it will fall behind. That said, these 10 fundamentals will help anyone navigate the road to success.

3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Quit Your Day Job Just Yet

[Editors Note:  This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. Hugh writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.]

 

The vast majority of people creating music also need to find another way to pay the bills, at least at first. Making a living from any form of art, be it acting, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, etc., is incredibly difficult, and as the economy stands at the moment, only a certain number of people can be supported. There are plenty of ways to work your way into the biz as a musician, but doing so at the right time, when you’re prepared and truly ready, is an important part of ensuring this is correct for you.

There could be millions of people who want to do nothing but write, record, and tour all day long, and that means quitting the “day job,” which may or may not actually take place during the day. That sounds wonderful, but before you give your two weeks, keep these warnings in mind.

You Haven’t Saved Enough

No matter how hard you try, chances are you’re never going to have a huge nest egg sitting in a bank account somewhere collecting interest, even though we all wish we had one. Even those who are incredibly careful with their money have a difficult time making their savings grow substantially, so don’t feel too bad.

When you’re on your own as a working musician, the money doesn’t come to you in the same way it did when you had a “regular” job. Paychecks aren’t guaranteed, and sometimes you’ll wind up going long periods without earning a dime. You need to have as much cash on hand as possible, budget carefully, be diligent about your savings, and think like a business owner.

You’ll be planning for tours months in advance and spending a lot out of pocket for things like studio time and video shoots, but you also can’t run out of dinero before you actually start making any of it back.

Having said all this, don’t get too insane when it comes to saving money. As I said, it’s hard for everybody, and there’s a good chance that you may have overestimated how thrifty you’d be able to force yourself to be, and that whatever amount you set down in stone as a minimum that must be met in order to leave the working world behind might have been too optimistic.

Be smart and think many times over before you make the leap and quit your job, but don’t wait forever. If you hold off for the day when you have everything perfectly aligned and money to burn, you will likely be disappointed at how long you’ll be waiting.

The Hours

Many musicians complain at length about the hours they need to work between their regular jobs, whether that’s a 9-to-5 or a part-time gig doing anything other than creating music and building their careers in the field they desire to succeed in. It’s a completely fair gripe, and I don’t blame any artist for being less than thrilled about spending copious amounts of time away from what they love doing just to be able to pay the bills. That’s not how things should be, but of course we all know better.

Having said that, it needs to be said that just because you give up the position you took just to afford to live and eat, that doesn’t mean the hours are going to lessen and free time will suddenly become abundant. In fact, many working musicians will tell you that they put in truly insane hours just to make it all work.

Any artist knows it takes a very long time to craft something worthy of sending out into the world—whether that be a song, a painting, a film, a story or any other format—but many working towards doing music full-time don’t realize how much else goes into the career.

Musicians that support themselves based solely on their art only spend some of their time actually crafting tunes. Hour upon hour upon grueling hour can be devoted to a myriad of other tasks that need to be done and done well if the money is going to continue to flow in the right direction. Booking, accounting, all things social, merchandise creating, correspondence with fans and keeping in touch with members of the team (a manager, those in charge of syncs and licenses, lawyers, etc.) is necessary and time-consuming.

Don’t start thinking that just because you’re not reporting to a different boss you’ll have all the time in the world!

Structure

Being entrepreneurial sounds sexy and it’s made to seem glamorous by startup founders and those that brag about how they travel the world while still making ends meet, but at the end of the day, it requires an incredible amount of self-discipline and motivation, and the sad fact is that many people either don’t understand that, or they don’t have what it takes to run their own careers successfully.

The image of the rockstar that sleeps all day and parties all night may sound like a lot of fun, but it couldn’t be farther from what is actually required to survive. Before you can go out on your own and make a go at being your own boss, you need to both understand and respect how important structure is in your everyday life.

Waking up early to make it into a job may suck more mornings than not, but the musicians doing the best stick to the same type of schedule. They have a routine and they stick to it as much as is possible, and many indie acts at the top of their game will tell you that they have dedicated work spaces, hours set aside for this task or that, and enviable organizational skills. That may not be the portrait often painted of a rocker, rapper or pop star, but it’s the truth for many of those who have the career you wish you could.

TuneCore Artists Close In On Earning One Billion Dollars In Revenue

When TuneCore launched in 2006, our mission was simple and clear: to help independent artists sell their music online, without sacrificing sales revenue or giving up their rights. At that time, there was only a fraction of the digital platforms by which artists can have their music streamed, downloaded and discovered in 2017. iTunes ruled, Amazon was cracking into the market, and artists that created music outside of the label system needed a way to get it distributed.

Since then, TuneCore has gone on to grow as a company exponentially in terms of what we offer artists in the way of features and services – and independent artists have acquired more and more power when it comes to controlling and advancing their careers. Services like Music Publishing Administration, Fan Reviews, Professional Mastering, YouTube Sound Recording revenue collection and others have made TuneCore a staple in the indie community across all genres.

All the while, whether they continued grinding it out DIY-style, got signed to a label, or achieved mainstream success, TuneCore Artists carried on receiving 100% of their sales revenue using our platform.

Today, we’re excited to announce that TuneCore is approaching the $1 BILLION mark of revenue earned by artists from their download sales and streams!

That’s one billion as in the number one, and NINE zeros after it. These are McDonald’s-esque numbers, people. Dr. Evil-from-Austin-Powers-ransom-request numbers, even. No matter the non-music-related monetary figure reference: we think it’s a pretty big deal.

Collectively, that money helped artists do things like:

  • Eat
  • Pay rent
  • Record more projects
  • Create and sell merch
  • Sign up for Publishing Administration
  • Build PR and radio campaign plans
  • Afford new equipment and gear
  • Go on tour

Maybe you’re reading this as a TuneCore Artist who just joined or hasn’t seen tons of money from their release since distributing and you’re thinking, “Wait, what? Me?” Yes, you. As you hustle and write and record and tour to build a fanbase, and focus on earning more revenue from your music, the money you’ve earned so far – whether you’re still working on that first dollar, or you’ve out the other side as a superstar – contributes to a major figure that would have baffled music industry pundits over ten years ago.

Your contribution to this major milestone, no matter what the size, plays an undeniable role in the further expansion of independent music and supports the idea that artists can do it their way and still get paid.

To celebrate, for a limited time you can join the Tunecore Artists already in the ‘Billion Dollar Club’ by distributing a FREE SINGLE using the promo code BILLION at check out (offer expires 7/2/17).

Distribute your free single today!

As we count down to the big earning moment, join us for the journey by following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where you can get in on the fun. And be sure to follow our official TuneCore Spotify playlist!

How to Figure Out If Prospective Band Members Are Worth Your Time

By Mason Hoberg

 

The hardest part of trying to figure out who would be a good band member is that it’s hard to know a person until you’re around them for a while. A person fine in small doses may be a nightmare once you start to depend on them. Likewise, a person who rubs you the wrong way when you first meet them may end up becoming one of your best friends.

An article can’t give you the ability to judge a person at a glance. Some people are like tornadoes: they upend your life without warning, and after they’re gone you’re left scratching your head and trying to pick up the pieces. That’s just life.

Though, if you take the time to read this article, you can reduce the likelihood that this will happen to you. And really, aren’t the five minutes you’ll spend reading this article worth it if you can reduce the odds of someone ruining your band?

Spend Time with Them Before They’re In Your Band

A lot of people rush into joining a band, and because of this they don’t really know their bandmates until they’ve been around them for a while. That’s fine before you start gigging, but don’t trust them with any responsibilities until you have an idea of who they are.

Listen to their stories. Do they always make it sound like they’re the victim? Or does it seem like they’re always screwing someone over, even if in their story the person sounds like they deserve it? These are red flags.

Learn to Identify an Addict

Many musicians struggle with addiction. If anything, musicians are more likely to be addicts than the average person. While every addict may have a story, and usually a pretty sad one, you shouldn’t entrust an addict with a lot of responsibilities. No matter how good of a person they are, trusting an addict can very easily lead to heartache.

The most easily identifiable signs of an addict are physical. You obviously can’t pick them up by their crotch and teeth and examine them like at a show dog, but you’d be surprised what you can see in a person if you take the time to really look at them.

Lastly, make a note of their friends. A person’s friends are a reflection of that person, so if all of their friends seem a bit off it’s possible that they may be too. Should you meet any of their friends, discretely check for any signs of addiction.

Trust Your Gut

You ever get a bad feeling about someone, but you just can’t figure out why? That’s your subconscious alerting you to something about that person. While no one’s intuition is fool-proof, the fact that something rubs you the wrong way about someone is generally a good reason to be wary of them.

The hard part about this is knowing how to act on it. Generally, the best course of action here is to trust but verify. Give them the opportunity to earn your trust, but don’t entrust them with anything until you’ve gotten to know them as a person.

A Tiger Rarely Changes Its Stripes

I’m a big believer in the idea that if people want to change, they can. However, most people have a hard time acting against their nature. If they’re a liar and/or a thief, you don’t want them in your life.

If you hear stories about how a prospective band mate has previously treated the people in his/her life, be sure to take this into consideration before you bring them into your band. This actually leads us into our next topic.

Don’t Trust Every Story You Hear (Good or Bad)

While the rumors surrounding a person can be a good indication of who they are, at the same time it’s important to consider where these stories are coming from. For example, there are people who are going to be jealous of an up-and-coming musician in your local music scene. And while I wish musicians didn’t treat each other this way, there are musicians who will start rumors about each other out of jealousy.

And while it’s a cliché, rumors do spread like wildfire. Be sure to really think about who’s telling you a story about a person before you believe them. What do they stand to gain from telling you a negative story about a person? Never discount a story about a person, but don’t blindly trust anyone either.

In Conclusion

Learning to judge a person is a key part of succeeding in the music industry. The way members of your band act in public will have an effect on your reputation, so make sure that they reflect well on you as a person.

And don’t be afraid to get rid of someone who’s a drain on your life. Life’s too short to spend time with people who make your life worse, and everyone (well, almost everyone) deserves a good life if they’re willing to work towards it.

What you’d think of this article? Anything you’d like to add? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!