Lots of work goes into organizing a show, so it's natural that every once in a while you'll forget one of the less obvious steps. Review this list for a reminder of five details that, while not typically capable of disasters, are part of pulling off a perfectly executed event.
1. What do you need to bring?
Does the venue have amps? Maybe not, or maybe they've got one you'd rather use instead of yours. Is there a drum kit available? Borrowing the club's is a lot easier than lugging over your own, but you might need to bring a snare or your own stool. Get all the details on gear before the day of the show so you don't end up with two too many things – or not enough.
You should also ask if the venue has a staff member on the door, because some spots don't and are expecting you to provide someone. It's unlikely they've got someone available to sell your merch, but double-check that, too.
2. Invite a photographer (or designate a friend)
A great live shot is a doubly awesome promotional tool: you can share it on social media, and if it's seriously great, you can use it in your press kit. Offer a guest list spot and a few drinks to a friend or acquaintance who's into shooting shows or is interested in trying it out. Even career photographers might be into it – you never know.
If you can't find a photographer, try someone who's reliably good with a camera phone. In the instance that you forget to figure this bit out ahead of time, don't fret. There is always someone taking pictures of every band at every show. You can't be sure about the quality, but hey, it's something. Find them after your set and ask them to tag you.
3. Reach out to local or niche media
Did you hit up your local alt-weekly, independent music blog, or other city-specific outlet? You should. If nothing sticks, try a blog that caters to up-and-coming artists or bands of your genre. Any press ahead of a show helps to promote it, whether by exposing your name to potential new fans or strengthening the excitement in existing ones.
4. Meet up with the booking agent or venue owner
Getting some face time with the person or people responsible for granting you this opportunity should be a priority, especially if it's your first time working together. I mean, you want to thank them, right? Building a relationship with all parties involved in the booking process is key to getting more opportunities with them in the future.
Try mentioning that you'd like to introduce yourself toward the end of the booking back-and-forth. It's not a guarantee you'll meet them unless you do, honestly. Promoters, booking agents, and venue owners are often busy during shows, so loosely setting up a quick meeting ahead of time is important. If for whatever reason they won't be there, try again next time.
5. Leave a lasting impression
We're not talking about your legacy here, but what you literally leave your fans with the night of your show. Did you bring records, CDs, or cassettes? Awesome! Maybe you've got T-shirts or koozies or some other branded merch for sale – great! If you don't have either, though, you can still offer some kind of souvenir for anyone who wants extra help remembering that band they saw last night the next morning. It doesn't have to be anything fancy; slips of paper with all the right info (your Facebook page, where to find music, etc.) placed strategically around the venue (read: bar) will do just fine. Really, even bands with crowded merch tables should do this – so even if a new fan isn't buying, at least he or she could be listening.
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.