As you begin to book your own shows, you'll want to avoid these don'ts and adhere to these dos instead. Your relationships with talent buyers, booking agents, and venues are crucial to growing your fanbase and career – don't taint them by making mistakes from the get-go.
It's actually not as tricky as it seems. A lot of booking errors are a result of poor planning or a rushed inquiry. Be thoughtful when reaching out to whoever's in charge of the calendar. A degree of professionalism and a foundation of courtesy is your best bet at seriously being considered for gigs.
Even the established bands who've gotten in a routine of working a certain way might need a refresher, really. Check out our recommendations below.
1. Do be persistent
Follow up a week or two after first contact if you haven't heard back. Your email may have gotten lost in the mix; a subtle reminder about your request could help.
2. Don't be obnoxious
Stop succumbing to annoyingness if your inquiry doesn't receive a reply in what you believe is a timely manner. Impatience is natural, but it's certainly not a desirable trait. Emailing and messaging repeatedly days after your initial inquiry is just obnoxious (and now they're probably even less likely to answer).
3. Do your research
Contact the right person using the right method. Check the venue's website for information regarding booking. If there's no website, try the "about" section on its Facebook page. In 2016, calling and asking in person are last resorts.
4. Don't contact through social media
Don't get so blinded by the prowess of Facebook that you make your inquiry via Messenger. It's probably not a preferred method of contact. An email is probably typical protocol. Find out for sure before resorting to messaging on any social media platform.
5. Do craft a solid inquiry
6. Don't waste anyone's time
Sending an email that includes nothing about your band besides your interest is pointless. “Hey, my band is looking to book a show, are there any dates open?” is a time-waster for the receiver and a terrible first impression.
7. Do see what else is on the calendar
Check the venue's listings before asking for a specific date.
8. Don't request a date that's unavailable
Never ask for a date with promotion already ongoing. Clearly, that date is reserved. Take a gander at the venue's social media channels or website for listings first.
9. Do be friendly with venue owners
Casually say hello to a talent buyer or venue owner in person when the situation calls for it. Use social cues to judge whether or not you should try continuing the conversation or just leave them alone.
10. Don't overstep boundaries
Whatever you do, don't ambush bookers on a busy night and bother them to check out your band and start asking about potential dates, completely ignoring the fact they are, in fact, very freaking busy. (Or maybe even just trying to enjoy themselves at a show for once.)
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.