In this guest post, former touring musician and CEO of Marcato Festival, Darren Gallop offers eight simple tips for building valuable relationships with live performance venue managers and staff. Darren’s learned these tips the hard way, and shares his words of wisdom to help your band maximize the potential of live shows and build support as your career grows.
It’s no secret these days that live performance can be one of the most important elements in a musician’s career for two reasons. Live performance is a key source of revenue and record sales for an artist and is critical to increasing an artist’s exposure level. For these reasons you should aim to establish the best possible relationship with performance venues and the people who manage these very important resources in your career.
The results of a positive relationship with the venues include increased opportunities, greater revenue, more flexibility and referral to other venues in other towns.
As you build your network of cities where you perform, these relationships can deliver real results. If a venue needs an opener for a high profile band coming to town, they are going to call the band they like. And by like, I mean they like their music, their personality and they’re interested in nurturning that relationship. If they don’t like you, don’t expect the call.
Here are the eight simple things that make up the secret to building a successful live performance career for your band:
1. Promote the Show
When you have a show at a venue don’t wait for them to get the word out there. Take it upon yourselves to promote the hell out of it. Send posters well in advance, set-up a Facebook event or if the venue offers to create the event, share and promote it. Tweet about it, put it on your website, reach out to press in the area. Let the venue know what you are doing and give them any updates if you get any press or if there is anything they should know that they can use for further promotion of the show. (Editor’s note: Bands and venues are using Promote It for Facebook campaigns and getting awesome results. Check it out Promote It.)
2. Send the Venue Your Music
Ask the venue how they want to have the music. Do they want a CD to play at the venue? Suggest that they do some CD giveaways at another show beforehand. You can also do this with digital dropcards or download codes.
3. Under Promise and Over Deliver
This can be said about many things in your professional and personal life. Do more than what you say you will do when you are pitching the show, and certainly not less. Most people talk about all of the great things they will do to make the show a hit and then they do half of them — bad business in general. Make a list of all of the things you told the venue you would do for the show as well as all of the things that were in the contract. Enter them on your calendar and make sure you do them…and do them on time. If the venue has to chase after you for stuff it will be a much less positive experience for them.
4. Be On Time
Show up for the soundcheck on time, start your show on time, end your show on time. Get your gear out of the venue on time. If for any reason something is going to run late or not go as planned, communicate with your venue contact as soon as you realize there’s an issue.
5. Deliver a Kick Ass Show NO MATTER WHAT
Even if you don’t get the audience you were hoping for, KICK ASS! Even if you are only performing for the staff and a handful of regulars, don’t show your discouragement. If you did not get the audience everyone hoped for, but your show was awesome they may give you another chance. If you don’t get the audience and you and your band mates act like a bunch of cry babies…your chances take a dive.
6. Be Friendly and Polite to EVERYONE
Treat everyone with respect — they’re all important. Just because you think your band is cool does not mean you are better or more important than the bouncers and servers. Don’t just kiss the booker’s ass. Be awesome to everyone.
In my gigging days I have always been nice to everyone in all of the venues I played. The booker often asks the staff what they think so you want everyone to report good news. Also, I have seen myself be in a town visiting or playing another venue with another band and then drop over to a venue to be greeted by a door person who lets me in for free and then have a server who gives me a free drink. Or even better, bouncers helping us carry our gear out at the end of the night!
7. Be Loyal To the Venue
Avoid playing another show just before or after in the same town or even a neighboring town without the venue’s consent. In fact, once you have a venue that works for you in a particular town or city, stick with that venue unless you outgrow it and need a larger venue or if the opportunity to start playing a better venue comes up.
When you do decide to move on, let the venue you were previously working with know. Write them an email or call them. Thank them for their support and let them know why you are moving on. If it’s that you need more capacity to satisfy your growing fan base, they will likely understand. If it’s because you are getting a better offer, at least give them the chance to counter it.
8. Tip the Service Staff
If the servers are running you drinks, bringing you food and helping you out, give them a tip at the end of the night. If you had a great night give them a good tip. In my experience this goes a long way. You will likely get better and faster service and they will be much more likely to say nice things about you and your band to senior management and venue patrons.
Remember, venues are your clients so treat them with respect. If they like you musically and personally and you conduct business respectfully, they’ll likely give you more and treat you better. It’s a win-win scenario.
Marcato Festival CEO Darren Gallop has toured internationally with his bands and built the Marcato Musician platform to help artists and managers organize tours and create tour itineraries with ease. Learn more and try Marcato Musician free for 30 days at marcatomusician.com