We recently mentioned how the new Live Music Act 2012 makes it possible for a whopping 13,000 extra UK venues to start promoting live music.
[NOTE: This is an archived post from Almost Famous, a music blog for unsigned musicians which I ran from 2012-2013]
That said, just because there’s likely to be many more options opening up to you when it comes to booking a gig for your band or solo endeavours doesn’t mean that every single one will be right for you.
There’s an abundance of things to consider when scouting venues for a booking, but here’s five the team at Almost Famous think are absolutely critical.
1) Will your band suit the venue and it’s customers?
This should sound like a given, yet you’d be surprised how many bands out there don’t thoroughly research the venues or promoters they get in touch with.
If you’re an indie band trying to bag a spot at a predominantly heavy-metal orientated pub, or a solo artist playing only your own material contacting a venue who only books covers bands, you’re likely to be wasting much time for everybody involved.
Do your research, go down and visit the venue or talk to the promoter if possible and give some serious thought to how your band will be received if you do get a booking.
2) What kind of reputation does the venue/promoter have in the local area?
Again, research is the key to making sure you’re booking with the right kind of people.
Does the venue have a reputation for terrible acoustics? A leaking roof right over the stage (trust us, we’ve seen this) or other issues that would prevent you from delivering your best performance? Is the promoter known for ripping bands off? Pulling shameless pay-to-play stunts or not holding up to their side of the deal?
Or is this a world-class venue with a friendly, helpful promoter who’ll do everything he can to make sure your show is a success?
Don’t know about you, but we know who we’d rather play for.
3) Who will book the other bands on the bill, and how?
Are you required to secure you’re own support bands? Will the promoter throw you on with the first three bands who get in touch with him or is he likely to put you on the same bill as similar bands?
You don’t need us to tell you that the best gigging opportunities are the ones where you’ll be playing with like-minded bands. All going well, you can share fanbases and maybe even conspire to play more shows together.
4) Will you be paid fairly and on time? If at all?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, you’re not in this for the money. It’s all about the music, man. But isn’t it still worth checking if you’ll paid for your efforts, how much and when? Talk to your promoter or venue owner to find out what their deal is, then contact other bands who’ve played there before to get some kind of word about whether your promoter will be true to his word.
5) How will they promote your gig?
Is your promoter likely to book you for a gig and then do absolutely nothing, expecting you to do all the work in filling their venue for the night? Do they go all out with posters, press coverage, social media?
Of course, as an artist you should always be promoting your work and your shows, but isn’t surely better if the venue will help promote your gig, too?
Agree in advance who will do what and make sure both sides keep to their end of the deal.
Chris Skoyles is a former music journalist and gig promoter who now works as a freelance writer.