How to Approach Promoters and Venue Bookers for Gigs
While there’s no magic formula to get gigs, there are steps that you can take in order to effectively approach decision-makers, saving you time and improving your chances of getting noticed.
Before proceeding to contact decision-makers, make sure you have checked the boxes below:
- You have a functioning website
- You have a strong social media presence (especially a Facebook page — and ideally Instagram)
- You have some music on Soundcloud or equivalent to present to them
- You have an electronic press kit (EPK)
- You have some high-quality videos of a live performance
#1 Get insight from other musicians
A fast-track way to understanding how to successfully approach venues is to learn from other people’s mistakes. Locate musicians in your area who have a similar music taste as you, and introduce yourself.
Invite them for a coffee and ask them for tips, venue ideas, and how they started their journeys. These bonds likely prove useful in the future.
#2 Keep asking
You may not think so, but there is a good chance that you know someone, who knows someone that might be able to connect you to a suitable venue booker or gig promoter. Even if it’s just an introduction, leverage any connections you may have in your network.
#3 Research suitable venues
There are lots of venues and music promoters out there. Rather than blasting out emails to all of them, a good starting point is to search for options nearest to you.
Promoters will often be interested in showcasing local talent, so this can turn into your advantage and pull you out from the masses.
Spend some time listing venues on an excel spreadsheet and filter those that best match your music style. There’s no point spamming hard rock venues when you play pop, it’s a waste of time and often annoying for venues, who get bombarded with countless requests.
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#4 Perfect your pitch
This is where you need to lure out your inner salesperson. Once you have selected a few contacts, work on drafting an introductory email.
The key is to come across as friendly, professional and confident. Keep the email short and make sure you cover the following points:
- A brief intro about your music and where you’re based
- Why you want to perform at this venue
- Any gigs you’ve played in the past, or any relevant live performance experience
- Link or attachment to your press kit
Once you have sent these out, make a point of visiting a handful of these venues on event nights and introduce yourself to staff on site.
Live music venues receive countless requests every week, so this will put a spotlight on you and they will be more likely to remember you.
“We don’t care too much about experience, it is a blend of good musical talent and a huge passion and energy for what they do. …We want to create the best live nights and so we want the most energetic bands that we can find. If the artist is losing themselves in the moment then the crowd will be too.” — James Booton, Editor and Curator at BOOT MUSIC
#5 Be persistent
Venue bookers and promoters receive a lot of emails, so don’t assume that she or he isn’t interested just because they haven’t responded. As you’re still in the early stages of your musical career, the key is persistence.
Follow up with a polite email a few weeks later to check in. Wait another week, and then chase again, if possible, with a phone call. If they haven’t responded after being chased three times, take the hint and move on — it only takes one gig to get the ball rolling.
…Perseverance will pay off in the end
Promoters are looking for acts and artists that will sell out. Assuming you meet their criteria, you just need to get their attention. The more gigs you do and the more tickets are sold, the easier it will become in the future.
What are your favourite techniques for booking gigs? Let us know in the comments below.