The benefits of booking your own show are a plenty, with the ability to take complete control of the event, maximise exposure for your band, and enjoy greater monetary rewards. Consider this 10-step guide to running a successful live show.
1. Book a venue
Date and location play a super big role in planning a successful gig. You want a venue that is easily accessible for punters on a date that doesn’t clash with other events. The best venues require a big notice period, sometimes being fully booked four to six months in advance, so prepare early. You also need to give the venue a reason to book you, so work hard on convincing them you will promote hard and have their best interests in mind.
2. Book a lineup
Once you have a date and location, you can now prepare a lineup and approach bands. Keep in mind how many bands you want, what styles of music you’re after, and a realistic budget. If you’re an upcoming band, you may wish to look for a proven crowd-puller to headline, and a few newer bands to open the show. Be mindful with booking more than one or two ‘big name’ bands, they will usually request bigger payments and favourable timeslots, so make sure you can accommodate everyone’s needs.
3. Prepare a worksheet
Once the bands have confirmed they will 100% definitely be playing the show, then it is time to put the finer details together with an artist performance worksheet. This outlines details such as date, venue, lineup, set times, payments, rider, guest list, promotion plans and so on. Email a professional document to all bands and ensure there are no concerns before announcing any details to the public.
4. Design a poster
It’s nearly time to announce your event, so you need an eye-catching gig poster to attract the punter’s attention. You want something that looks good but is also easy to understand, so people know exactly who is playing and what the gig is for. Think about it from the public’s perspective and give them a reason to attend. It is easy enough to design a poster with just average computer skills, otherwise there are local artists out there that can make you something good and shouldn’t be too pricey.
5. Announce and Promote
This is the fun part. It’s so easy to leak details early, but stick to your guns and create a big impact by announcing your show properly. Have your online marketing ready to go, such as a Facebook event, but also arrange for websites and radio stations to announce your show at the same time for maximum effect. Traditional methods are still great too, such as poster runs to music stores, jam rooms and cafes, as well as handing out flyers at other local shows. Encourage all bands to help with promotion, inviting their own fans and friends, and helping to distribute flyers.
You may be the best promoter on the planet and get ten million people to your show, but what good is that if you don’t put on a killer performance? Practise hard, by yourself and as a band. Plan a setlist in advance and work hard to nail it.
7. Get band merch
Fantastic for exposure and the best revenue raiser, make sure your band has merchandise for sale. Get some t-shirts printed with your band logo, give out some free stickers, and of course take copies of your latest CD. The best time to sell this stuff is at your gig, while you are fresh in the punters mind. If they enjoyed your set then they will want to support you, so make it easy for them. Whilst you can arrange for someone to sell your merch, it is always nice to have band members there for meet and greets with fans.
8. Sound, lights, door, merch
Cover all of your bases by making sure the relevant staff are available. Sometimes venues will provide these, but be certain before the night. You need a sound engineer for the bands on stage, a lighting engineer to make the venue look exciting, someone to collect the entry fee and someone to sell merch.
The time has come for your band to hit the stage. You have worked your toosh off for the great turnout, so enjoy the moment and play hard! Be confident on stage and have a great time, but also concentrate and play tight. Crowd interaction is very important, so be sure to speak between songs, tell a joke or two, thank the crowd for their attendance and thank all involved for contributing to the gig. This is also the best time to provide a call to action to your fans, such as asking them to buy your merchandise or go to your website.
10. Leave a good impression
Okay, so now you’re a rockstar, but it doesn’t end with your final song. Shake hands with people in the front row, then quickly pack up your gear in respect of the band coming on after you. Head out to the crowd and chat to your new fans to create a good rapport and tell them about your next show. Leave a good impression with the venue by cleaning up, thanking the staff and generally not being a dick, remember you want to book their venue again in the future. The following week make sure you pay your debts, thank the other bands, and get ready to do it again!
Thanks for reading homies.
Your pal, Cabba