4 Merch Items You’re Not Offering At Your Show (That You Should)

[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre.]

 

Making money as a musician has always been tough, but it’s harder than ever these days, so you need to put in the extra effort to sell what you can, when you can. Since physical record sales are down, most artists tour more often to make up for the lack of people owning albums. Ticket sales and guarantees are great, but most acts can also make a few extra bucks selling merch, especially if they have a growing fan base and some awesome offerings.

There are plenty of items that will obviously be featured in your “store,” such as t-shirts and albums (both in CD and vinyl form, if you can make it work), but don’t stop there! There are many other things you should be selling, and below are a handful of products you might never have even considered, but which should be a part of your moving pop-up shop (otherwise known as the rather unglamorous merch table).

1. Download Cards

Selling music has taken a backseat to streaming, and it has become incredibly difficult to convince people to hand over their hard-earned cash for a copy of your tunes…especially when they can access them on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms. Having said that, after seeing a stellar live showing, some fans want nothing more than to own the music they just heard, and you should move quickly to make sure you capture those customers, and that you have something that works for every kind of listener.

Download cards come with a specific, unique code, and once listeners get online, they can go to a specific website and download your music.

You can have download cards made for your singles, your albums, and any other collection you’ve released. The prices for these products vary from just over $100 to well over $250 for 1,000, depending on which company you go for (a quick Google search turns up many different options), and while you’d think you could just suggest to someone that they go on iTunes when they get home…chances are by then, they’ll have moved on. Sure, it will cost you a few bucks upfront, but it’s better to be prepared and to sell when the selling is good than to lose out on all those potential customers.

2. Special CDs

Your shows will be perhaps the best opportunity to sell your new album, but that doesn’t mean you should expect to move tons of product while trekking across the country. In addition to offering your latest record (which you’re probably touring to promote) and your older material, why not have a CD pressed that can only be purchased at your shows?

Once you have a sizable enough fan base (it doesn’t need to be huge, but this idea probably won’t work if you’re only playing to people who are discovering you for the first time), you can entertain the idea of having a special CD made specifically to sell while on tour. This disc can be filled with many different kinds of music, and what will work for you depends on what kind of artist you are and what your fans are most interested in. I wouldn’t suggest creating a full album of completely original material to sell exclusively at your concerts, because the time and effort that will go into that might be too much to expend for a small return.

Instead, use your tour as an opportunity to sell your most ardent fans an acoustic EP, a remix collection, or perhaps even a live album, which could mimic what they just fell in love with on stage. Make sure you not only tell people in the audience that the record will only be purchasable at your merch table, but let them know before the concert as well. That might convince a few people to also turn up and see the show!

3. Buttons and Stickers

Buttons and stickers are typically the cheapest items sold at merch tables, and they don’t bring in much cash. They’re not costly to make, but you also can’t get away with pricing them very high, so don’t start thinking that you’re going to pad your wallet by offering stickers…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still sell them!

Offering these small-ticket items allows you to have something on your merch table that everyone can afford, and that can be very important to your younger or less financially well-off fans. Not everyone has the money to buy your album or a t-shirt, but providing an option that allows your supporters to feel like they are a part of your success, if even a tiny part, is a great way to keep them invested in you and your career.

Also, once they own these items, they’ll either wear them or place them somewhere that others will see, and that’s not just advertising—it’s advertising someone else paid for! Sure, selling pins to young fans wont turn you into a superstar, but it also doesn’t hurt to have something people can attach to their clothing that others might ask about. Keep this in mind as you create your designs as well.

4. Pens

Selling people your music is great, but selling people an item they will use or wear for weeks or months that features your logo or name is even better, at least in some regards. You’d love to sell them t-shirts or hoodies, but not everybody is looking to spend that much money, and while pins and stickers (which we just discussed above) are great options, they won’t appeal to everyone.

It might sound silly, but pens that feature your band’s name or logo are a small, cheap item that is actually functional, and that might be enough to convince those difficult shoppers to go home with something from your merch table. Keep the price low and make sure those who don’t seem enthused by everything else being offered see them and you might be able to make a sale. Again, it won’t net you much cash, but once you’ve sold something to them, they’ll remember you, and they’ll see your name every time they use that pen, which could subconsciously turn them into bigger fans and keep you top of mind. If all goes well, they’ll stream your tunes more often, and maybe even come see you the next time you’re in town.

Pens are, of course, not the only product you can have customized relatively cheaply, but I wanted to put the idea out there with something that would be very easy to have made. Don’t go overboard, but if you can insert yourself into a fan’s every day in any way, it could wind up being a big win for you.


Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.

2018 Tour Goals: Fly Passport-Free to Play These Two Island Cities with Incredible DIY Scenes

[Editors Note: This article was written by Jhoni Jackson, a music journalist and San Juan, Puerto Rico-based music venue owner.]

 

If you think living on a island is a tropical, sunny breeze, please exit the #islandvibes hashtag on Instagram immediately. All those beautiful beachside backdrops will leave you tripping over tropes; yes, the scenery can be jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but you’re not getting the whole picture.

The reality of #islandlife is less picturesque: Islands are more likely to be impoverished, experience drastic income inequality, struggle with food security, and in some cases, they also endure the worst of natural disasters—complicating existing conditions and disrupting the tourism industry on which so many island economies rely, albeit to varying degrees.

These oppressions extend to U.S. islands, too. Statehood or territory status by no means makes the potential for these problems obsolete, but in fact can exacerbate them—like in the cases of Hawai’i and Puerto Rico.

Factoring in the effects of colonialism is inherent to understand the issues both archipelagos face. The displacement, depletion, or near destruction of indigenous cultures is a violent tragedy all its own, but with U.S. takeover also comes the privatization of lands, military occupation, tax breaks for wealthy individuals and multinational corporations, a drop in sustainable agriculture in favor of imports—all at the expense of the people. (There are grassroots movements to decolonize both islands.)

Understanding all this, it’s not a stretch to view DIY music scenes in Puerto Rico and Hawai’i as acts of resistance.

When you’re living in the most expensive U.S. city—Honolulu, where four rolls of toilet paper will cost you more than anywhere else in the world—buying a guitar may be a feat of finance. If you’ve recently survived a devastating category five hurricane, are enduring the aftermath without electricity, and haven’t been able to work for months, putting a show together might rightfully be the last thing on your to-do list. Even before Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans were grappling with an 11.5 percent sales tax and an unemployment rate higher than 10 percent (officially 10.8 in November; for comparison, the U.S. stands at 4.1 percent).

These are just a few of the realities of actually living on island, of course, and they’re specific to Hawai’i and Puerto Rico. There are other influences involved with each, and you can’t sum up a culture or a society with stats alone; life is more complex than that. But context is consequential to learning about a music scene, understanding how it runs and why—and that will give you a clearer idea of where you, as a visiting band or artist, might fit in.

If you’re plotting a tour in 2018, consider venturing out to these islands. It’ll cost more than taking the van a few cities west, sure, but the trip can be more than a typical tour date. You won’t need a passport for either, at least.

Small and tight-knit, but not insular or uninviting, the independent scenes in Puerto Rico and Hawai’i run on DIY community ethos, encouraging solidarity and mutual aid. If your band is fueled by the same ideals, you can expect a warm welcome at both—and to make new connections with listeners and fellow musicians in a more personal, enlightening way than you would playing a big U.S. city.

Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawai’i

In small scenes, working together is especially crucial, and solidarity is a key force in Hawai’i DIY. Transience and a high cost of living combined limit its population and means: It’s not easy to sustain a band while holding multiple jobs, and imported instruments and gear are pricey. Rather than struggle solo or compete for audiences in an individualist way, independent bands, organizers, and venues support each other so that everyone thrives.

Rachel Heller’s story for Rookie last year detailed growing up on O’ahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, and beamed a shining light on a thriving DIY culture, particularly of the punk, emo, pop-punk, and lo-fi indie variety. In the Chinatown area of Honolulu especially, the underground is elevated through Failed Orbit Records, once the label of local band Beaman and now an umbrella collective organizing hometown shows and bringing in outside acts. Transportation and other costs are offset by fundraisers, making it possible to fly in names like Peach Kelli Pop and Audacity from California and New Jersey’s Screaming Females—a scene-generated process that further cultivates a sense of community. (And while Failed Orbit announced a hiatus in November, we have no doubt the scene will be maintained, and continue growing, too.)

And the DIY realm extends to other genres, too. Ska, reggae, hardcore, metal, hip-hop, and electronic (see Audiophile Entertainment, Rave Rock, and Rise Up Electric) are all sturdily planted in and around the same network, sometimes even sharing lineups. They’re seemingly disparate sounds, but operating with the same DIY gusto in pushing the independent music forward, and that common effort can be unifying.

Best indie venues: Hawaiian Brian’sThe Manifest, Downbeat Diner and Lounge

Read more: Rachel Heller’s Rookie story, Mariana Timony’s report on Bandcamp

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Before the fawning, a disclaimer: I live in San Juan, and I opened a venue here (Club 77) several years ago. I’m no longer a co-owner, though I remain very much a supporter of that spot and the rest of the local DIY scene, too.

The underground of San Juan is perpetually pulsing, and feels more critical than ever now in post-Hurricane Maria conditions. Immediately following the storm, a mainstay DIY venue, El Local, reopened with a 12-hour daily community kitchen that was a boon to scene bonds—it solidified established connections, and created new ones, too. Venues like Club 77 and La Respuesta have reopened in the past month or so, and they’re thriving—in the wake of it all, the trauma and the hardship and total disruption of the quotidian day-to-day, bands have emerged eager to play, and crowds are anxious for the catharsis of stellar live shows.

It’s important to note that the storm’s repercussions aggravated pre-existing difficulties; the island’s unemployment rate was already high, so economic strife was amplified by the island-wide power outage that left virtually every Puerto Rican worker without income. A mass exodus is already in full swing—and it’s forced out some of the scene’s key players.

But there’s a long history of independent music in Puerto Rico; it’s a scene that’s overcome countless hurdles. This category five storm was inarguably its most difficult blow, but communities are working in solidarity to bounce back. The recovery is still in progress across the island—and that includes the music scene.

Built in bulk by a steady boom of hardcore punk in the late ’80s through the ’90s, the punk scene is sustained today by the some of the same folks, plus bands of the later 2000s wave (Los Vigilantes, Ardillas) and a generous crop of emerging acts (Desahuciados, Sikotropicas). Dating back about as far, the hardcore and metal factions regularly converge these days, operating together on the same bills and through the same organizers, but they’re individually robust enough to stand alone, too.
Hip-hop, too, has continued to evolve from its strong start around the same era. La Respuesta’s Lunes Clasico, a longstanding weekly hip-hop, soul, and R&B party, is the heart to the genre’s sprawling veins that, like every other genre, showcases regularly in all DIY and indie friendly spaces. Reggae, dub, and ska acts are tried-and-true Puerto Rican indie players as well—and folk, alt-pop, experimental electronic, and heaps more styles.

It’s a unique landscape; the intertwining of seasoned acts with up-and-comers in a condensed environment makes for a fixed sense of burgeoning. There’s always something new and fresh to be found, but consistently great stalwarts are intrinsic to the whole.
Visits from outside acts aren’t uncommon, albeit not with the same regularity of a continental U.S. city. These shows are a mix of booking and venue-funded appearances and bands that make the trip on their own dime; the latter, no doubt, the scene could especially benefit from right now, as organizers and musicians are still steadying their footing post-storm.

Best indie venues: El Local, Club 77, La Respuesta

Read more: Check out Puerto Rico Indie, the island’s premiere blog for independent and DIY sounds. (It’s exceptionally comprehensive, but in Spanish; use Google translate if necessary!)

Opening Band Etiquette

[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.]

 

I’m currently reading Meet Me In The Bathroom; an excellent oral history of the rock and roll resurgence in NYC at the turn of the century, written by Lizzy Goodman. Aside from the havoc that existed then, as the swan song of the “glory days of the music industry” were playing out and my own nostalgia for the culture of New York City at that time, one thing has really stuck out to me in the book thus far; The Moldy Peaches.

The Moldy Peaches were an outlandish, anti-folk outfit that came up in New York City during the 1990s. They also happened to be good friends with The Strokes. As the Strokes were on their way to becoming the biggest band in the world, they invited The Moldy Peaches to open several of their big hometown shows as well as on a few tours. The Strokes even went as far as to persuade Rough Trade Records to sign their friends.

While Kimya Dawson + Adam Green (the two artists behind The Moldy Peaches) now have sustainable careers based on their own talent, they owe a lot of their success to that early help from The Strokes. Which is why we are talking about “Opening Band Etiquette” in this post. If you’re one of the fortunate few acts that is given the opportunity to open for a more established band, it’s important to make the most of the situation. If you known how to finagle one turn of good fortune into another, you can find yourself building a career and headlining bigger rooms a lot quicker.  

Here are some tips on how to do so:

Headliner is King (or Queen)

Whether you’re the local opener for a touring band or actually on the road with someone, the headliner will set the tone. There will be certain things that they require pre-show and you should make sure to adhere to their wishes. The less their pre-show routine is interrupted by your own, the more likely they’ll be to invite you back, especially if your performance is awesome.

If you only have a few guest list spots, make do with that. Worried about getting an extra case of water? Forget it for now. When you’re drawing enough on your own to be the headliner than you can look for more guest list spots and extra water in your green room. For now enhance the headliner’s experience, it’ll pay off in the long run!

Stick to The Schedule; You’re Part of the Team

This point ties closely into the “Headliner is King or Queen” subject. However, it is the single most important thing you can prioritize in order to successfully stick to that rule and thus deserves it’s own separate mention. The headliner will create a schedule that works best for them. You will work your schedule around theirs. Most importantly, it’s imperative that you are on time for everything.

If you are running 15 minutes late to Soundcheck, that could push their own allotted time. Even a slight delay there could end up putting a rush on any press interviews they need to take care of before the show, potentially rob them of the chance to get away from the venue for dinner or disrupt another important aspect of their pre-show routine.

Do Your Own Promoting for the Show

The more tickets sold you are responsible for, the more value you will have to the headliner. Make sure you’re looking for your own press ahead of the show, promoting on social media and getting out on the street to flyer if it’s a local show. If you bring enough people, it’ll get you noticed. Not just by the headliner, but by the promoter as well.

Support the Headliner

Even though they’re probably further along in their career than the bands that are opening for them, a headliner is still out there touring to make new fans and create opportunities for themselves. Don’t forget to bring as much attention to them as possible. Whether it’s tagging them in your social media promotion ahead of the show or thanking them from stage and asking fans to visit their merch table, shoutouts will always be appreciated and often reciprocated.

Network! Network! Network!

One common thread you will see in every post about optimizing a situation is networking. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, networking is key. Whether it’s introducing yourself to the headliner, getting to know the promoter for the event or hanging out at your merch table interacting with fans, the relationships you take away from any opportunity is what’s going to be your biggest asset moving forward.

The music industry is built largely on word-of-mouth. Do everything you can to build a network that wants to help spread the word about your band and you’re increasing your chances to succeed infinitely.

 

Road Hazards: 5 Challenges Of Touring and How To Avoid Them

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

 

For young, ambitious bands, there’s nothing more exciting than hitting the road for a national tour. There’s something timelessly exciting and relatable about a band traveling from city to city in hopes of getting the world to care about its music. But while tour is capable of bringing huge benefits for artists as far as opportunities and industry credibility goes, touring can be tedious, thankless and even downright dangerous for some bands. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the road’s more serious challenges and show you how to cope with them.

1. Physical Inactivity

If you’re someone used to exercising regularly, touring for long periods of time can be especially brutal. Unless your band is raking in the dough and traveling in a big tour bus, you’ll most likely spend the majority of your days on tour crammed in a car or van. Long-term physical inactivity is hell on your body, and the longer you stay sedentary, the more your risk for things like depression and heart disease increases. One two-week tour isn’t a big deal, but if you’re a serious musician intent on touring over the course of your career, inactivity can lead to massive problems.

The only solution here is movement. Make every effort you can to move as much as possible throughout the day. Encourage your bandmates to get a gym membership at a national club and to reserve an hour or two each day for exercise. Easier said than done, of course, but if you don’t take care of yourself on the road you simply won’t be able to do it for very long.

2. Excessive Drinking and Drug Abuse

Partying is simply the funnest part of tour for some musicians, and while it’s not our place to judge here at the TuneCore Blog, booze and drugs have caused musicians more than their fair share of problems over the years, so we think it’s worth mentioning. Whether it’s a tedious eight-hour drive through the midwest or the lengthy period between loading in and performing, there’s a ton of time to kill on the road, so it’s no wonder musicians drink and use drugs to pass the time. But while casual drinking or drug use is completely harmless for some people, it can be hugely damaging for others.

Moderation is the key here for some musicians, but if you find yourself getting out of control when you drink or use drugs, it’s time to stop and even consider getting off the road altogether. Assuming that you tour because you’re a serious musician, the main goal of touring is playing well on stage and making connections on the road, and this is going to be much harder if you’re drunk and high constantly. If drinking and drugs are keeping you from being your best on the road, consider cutting down, taking a break or stopping completely.

3. Strained Relationships

Maintaining relationships out on the road can be a huge challenge whether you’re touring for the first time as a young band or are a seasoned touring veteran. Relationships are essential to the happiness of most people, and this is one of the main reasons why so many serious musicians become depressed and eventually burn out. If you plan on being a serious musician for the rest of your life, you’ll have to learn how to make relationships work on the road.

Nothing can replace the time spent away from a loved one, but there are things you can do maintain relationships while you tour. Scheduling and sticking to daily calls, FaceTime and Skype chats is one obvious option. Bringing your loved ones with you on the road for certain legs of your tours is another, though that’s not always an option for some musicians. No matter what you decide to do, just remember how vital your relationships back at home are and proceed accordingly.

4. Financial Hardship

Touring is a huge financial investment that never quite pays off for some bands. This means weeks or months at a time away from jobs and a steady source of income. There’s no way to tell for sure, but money problems have probably caused the untimely demise of many bands, and it’s not difficult to see why. Musicians are accustomed to making all sorts of sacrifices for their craft, but there’s a point where lack of money makes it impossible to keep going.

To avoid burnout over money issues, conversations need to happen long before you hit the road about your resources and limitations. Lots of bands set out with lofty goals for tour without having this conversation break up when they realize they can’t be on the road for months and pay their bills at the same time. Communication, realistic expectations and planning will help you be able to tour and keep your personal bottom line intact.

5. Lack of Sleep

Everything from the bad food to excessive drinking on tour can be hell on your body, but the lack of sleep can be especially pernicious. Not getting eight hours of sleep a night while you’re on tour might not seem like a huge deal for some bands, but sleep loss can cause everything from obesity to depression. Again, on a short tour this isn’t a problem, but it’s something that serious career musicians should address.

A major factor in sleeping issues on tour has to do with the fact that most bands can’t afford hotel rooms every night on the road. What can you do if the house you’re sleeping at has a party raging till four or five AM? Doing your best to find accommodations before you embark on a tour is essential if you hope to get good sleep on the road. Stay with friends and family when you can, and communicate your needs, even if it’s awkward to do so.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting…To Book a Tour

[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.]

 

So you’re band is killing it. The crowds at your hometown shows are getting bigger and bigger and you’ve dipped your toes into playing ‘out-of-town’. You just put out a new record and you really want to bring it, along with your increasingly dynamic live show, to as many people as possible.

Seems like it’s time to hit the road! It’s a long, arduous process to put a tour together independently, but it’ll be worth it. You’ll get to see new places, find new ears for your music and begin laying the foundation for actual booking agents to start paying attention.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your journey.

The Internet is Your Friend!  

Yes, playing live is about forging connections with fans away from the internet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to help plan and book your tours. The best way to get contacts for venues outside of your range of familiarity is to do a bit of internet research. Find out where bands that are equivalent to your size are playing and grab the venue contacts either from those band’s or the venue’s website.

You can also use the internet to find bands to tour with. Linking up with a band from another area you’re planning to hit up ensures that you’ll have at least two ‘homebases’ on the tour. This will be incredibly important considering if it’s your first tour you might be playing to some small crowds (or even empty rooms).

Make sure all your dates are up on the internet using BandsinTown or Songkick, as well, and reach out to people via social media that you think might be into your band letting them know you’ll be in their city.

Think Regionally!

The idea of booking a month long national tour seems like a dream come true. The truth of the matter is that it’s not feasible. The longer you’re on the road the more expensive it’s going to be (don’t count on making a ton of money this time around) and the further away from home you get the less people will probably have heard anything about you. The best course of action is to start out small and regional.

Book a 5-10 day run hitting neighboring cities. If You’re a New York band book dates in Jersey, Philly, Baltimore, DC, Connecticut and Boston. It also helps to order your dates geographically so that you’re cutting down the amount of extra-long drives you have to do.

Treat It Like a Local Show

Last month I wrote an article about making the most of each gig you book. I spoke more to local shows for it, but a successful DIY tour will treat each gig like it’s a local show. Stay in touch with the promoter, make sure they’re pushing the show through their marketing channels. Be professional in your interactions and do everything online and in real life you can to make sure you’re drawing as much attention to your upcoming performance as possible.

Don’t Forget The Merch Table

Make sure you have something to sell on the road. Chances are you won’t be making much money from the shows themselves. However, if you can sell a couple of CDs, Download cards or T-Shirts that might make the difference between breaking evening for the night or losing money.

Can You Stay With Friends?

Another important aspect of tour is figuring out where you’ll sleep each night. If you don’t have to book a hotel room you’re way more likely to be able to afford to take the band to Taco Bell for a treat after the show. See if you or any of your bandmates have friends in the cities you’re performing in that would be willing to let you crash on their floors. I can’t stress this enough as lodging will likely be the most expensive part of the tour.

Look for Press!

Chances are you’re not going to get a big write-up in local papers when you’re just starting out. Still, show listings can be a good way to help spread the word and start a relationship with the outlet. Invite writers out to the show and make friends with them. Even if you don’t get a write-up this time around, if your music is special and you forge a good friendship with the journalist you have a much better chance of getting some coverage the next time you’re in their city.


Being able to take part in DIY tours when I was younger is one of my fondest memories. No matter what comes out of your musical career, you’ll always cherish the times you spent on the road with you band and the experiences you’ll have along the way. So take the risk and book a tour. If you’re serious about being in a band for a living it will be one your biggest assets in terms of creating a bigger buzz and getting the sort of booking agents, managers and labels that can help you reach the next level to start paying attention.

5 Reasons Venues Aren’t Writing You Back

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

 

It can be a hugely frustrating experience to reach out to a venue in hopes of booking a show only to hear nothing back. When you’ve spent months or even years creating music, it can be annoying or even downright disheartening when a venue won’t communicate with you and give you a chance to play. But like with everything, there’s two sides to every story, and there might be some perfectly good reasons why music venues aren’t giving you the time of day. Here’s a list of five possible reasons that venues aren’t replying to your emails:

1. You don’t have enough experience

If you’re new at making music, you might have a misinformed notion that the music industry is different than other industries in the fact that it’s not centered around money, but you’d be very wrong. Venues might not be getting back to you because you don’t have enough experience playing music. And if you’re new and inexperienced, the chances of you bringing people to your show, or more importantly, money through the door, are slim, and venues usually aren’t willing to take that risk. Like all of us, venues have bills to pay, and they can’t afford to bring bands in with no following and experience.

So, how do you get venues to give you a shot if you have no prior show experience? Build up your experience performing any way you can. Hit up local open mics, house shows and try to get your foot in the door with the smaller venues you want to play. And when you’ve built up some relevant experience, highlight that the next time you write venues.

2. Your communication skills are bad

You might not think that being able to write emails that are clear and grammatically correct is that important of a skill to have as a musician, but it’s absolutely something that could mean the difference between a venue booking you or not. Venues and show promoters get dozens of emails every day that are riddled with spelling errors and nonsensical sentences, and trust me, they hate it.

It’s even common for venues to get emails from bands who forget to add links to their music or even their band name. How can a venue book you if they don’t know your band’s name? If you put yourself in the shoes of a booking agent, you’ll see the need for emails to be written thoroughly and with things like your band’s name, the show dates you’re interested in, a link to stream your music and some relevant information about your band included.

3. Your music sounds bad

You songs might be awesome, but venues probably won’t give you a chance if they’re recorded poorly. Remember, venues get inundated with hundreds of requests from bands every week who want to play their stage. If your band’s music can’t compete with all the other music the venue’s booking agent listens to, why would they let you play?

If the recorded music you have posted online consists of demos you recorded on Garage Band, it’s time to invest some money and professionally record just one of your songs and share that with venues instead. You’ll be shocked at the difference this will make when it comes to booking shows.

4. The venues you’re trying to play are too big

If your band routinely draws 50 or less people to shows, landing a spot on a bill at a 2,300-capacity venue is going to be to difficult or even downright impossible. Again, from the venue’s perspective, why would they take the time to respond to your email if it’s clear you’re too small of a band to work with?

Instead of taking it personally, keep building your performance experience and work toward packing the shows at the smaller venues you work with. It never hurts to ask, but big venues can’t afford to lose money on a small band, even if they like their music. When you’ve built up your following, larger venues would probably love to have you. But until then, work towards selling out those smaller clubs.

5. Your band is unprofessional

If your band has earned a bad reputation in your scene, venues will be hesitant to work with you. Things like repeatedly showing up late to shows, talking through other band’s sets or not promoting your shows will earn your band some detractors, and their poor opinion about you will spread through your scene and venues will act accordingly.

If you’re new to music, the people working at venues might seem unrelatable, but they’re just like you and me in the way that they want to work with people who are kind, respectful and reliable. If your band has conducted yourselves in an unprofessional way, it could be the reason venues aren’t getting back to you.