7 WTF Booking Mistakes Bands Often Make That You Can Easily Avoid

Posted by Jhoni Jackson on Jun 28, 2016 09:00 AM
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booking_errors_gigs_shows_concerts_bands_independent_musicians_artists_.jpgYes, I'd love to hear more about your show proposal during a very busy Friday night. Continue, please! (Image via pixabay.com)

Everybody makes mistakes. And in the independent music world, many of us are figuring it out along the way. Oversights and blunders are gonna happen, and we're that much wiser post-correction. Sometimes, though, things just don't... make sense. As a venue owner fielding booking requests, I often wonder: what the heck is this person thinking?

I've experienced all of the head-scratchers below firsthand, and they're not always a result of the musician being super new to booking. These mistakes are typically a result of carelessness and not thinking before sending – and they could all easily be avoided by checking the venue's specifications or following a standard guide to booking inquiries.

1. The "check out the band" social media post

Why bother emailing when you can post a link to your SoundCloud on a venue's Facebook? Um, because the right person may never see it, for one. Smaller venues in particular don't usually have a social media manager; instead, its owners or talent buyers are handling it all themselves. That's the case for me – and with all the other tasks I'm juggling, sometimes a post to my club's Facebook page is overlooked.

2. The random "check out the band" comment

It's always bewildering when someone comments on a post about their music and expresses interest in playing a venue. Unless that post is a call for bands or artists, your comment is probably really out of place, and it's unlikely anyone will follow up with you.

3. Messaging during peak venue hours

No, we didn't see your message on Facebook last Friday night. Because we're busy – you know, with the show happening and all. (And because social media isn't where we want you to send booking requests anyway.)

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4. Inquiries with no info

Even newbies have no excuse for sending this kind of email. It's just common sense. “Hey, my band wants to play your venue” is the least useful inquiry of all time. What band? When? What the hell? If you're unsure about what to send (and when), refer to this step-by-step how-to for musicians who are new to booking.

5. Messaging for info without looking for it first

When you send a message on Facebook asking for the email address of the person responsible for booking, you better have checked everywhere for that information first. If not, and it's clearly listed on the about page or on the venue's website, then you're going to look kinda lazy.

6. Asking for a date that's booked

How are you supposed to know what's booked? If a show isn't listed on any of the venue's pages, you're not. That's not what I mean. I'm talking about when someone asks for a show on a date that I posted promo for only hours before. (Seriously, this has happened.) Check the listings before you ask, you guys.

7. Pitching a show during a show

I get why someone who's wanting a show would approach an owner or talent buyer at their venue. You're there, they're there – why not ask about booking right now? That's fine, actually. But don't go into a full spiel about your band, where you've played, your new album, what kind of lineup you'll have, when you want to book it, and everything else involved with organizing a show.

The person you're pitching to is likely preoccupied with the show you're both at. They might even be taking a few hours off and simply trying to enjoy themselves. Go ahead and say hello, but keep booking talk brief; you can follow up later by email.


Next up: The Best Way to Approach a Venue for a Gig


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.

Topics: Music Business 101, Booking Gigs & Touring


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