How to Advance a Show Like a Pro: Your 5-Step Checklist

Posted by Jhoni Jackson on Aug 17, 2016 09:00 AM
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One of the most traveled routes to a disastrous show is the path of poor planning. After you've confirmed a booking, it's important to nail down certain details; otherwise, you're basically welcoming the possibility of major mishaps. Missing your soundcheck, finding out the night of that there's been little to no promotion of the event, or showing up without amps when, in fact, the venue doesn't provide them – all of these things can be avoided by taking steps to properly advance your show.

That's what the process of gathering all gig-related details before a show is called: advancing a show. The process is somewhat common sense, but because the steps are many, it's easy to accidentally overlook something. That's why we've compiled the checklist below – to help you knock out every detail and set yourself up for an awesome, problem-free gig.

1. Points of contact

The person who books your show and discusses payment with you may not be the same person who can help you with promotion. And rarely is the person who booked you also the sound engineer. Once your show is confirmed, find out who you can talk to about these areas of the show's production:

  • Sound
  • Promotion
  • Payment
  • Go-to person for the night of the show (in case of any general questions or issues)

Positions may overlap, particularly with smaller venues run by fewer people. It may be one or two people in charge of everything or it could be a whole crew. Be sure to get a phone number for each person, though. Email may be their preferred method of contact, but if something happens last-minute, you may need to call for a faster response.

2. Load-in, soundcheck, and backline

If you don't have one already, work up a stage plot and input list to send to the sound engineer. (Click here if you need help getting started.)

After you've communicated about the setup, talk about the backline. You'll want to ask what you can expect to use at the show: Should you bring your own amps? Is there a drum kit available? Are snare and cymbals provided or do you need to supply your own? Make sure you'll have everything you need between the venue and the gear you'll bring.

Lastly, find out about load-in and soundcheck. When should you show up with your gear the night of the show? Do you come in through the main entrance or is there another in the back they prefer you use? What time is soundcheck, and how long do you have?

[8 Things You're Forgetting to Do on Show Day]

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3. Promotion

As a DIY band, no doubt you'll be primarily responsible for creating and printing posters, handing out flyers, setting up a Facebook event and the rest of the steps involved in promoting your show. Those efforts should kick off one to two months ahead of the show. Whether the date you've booked is further out than that or closer, you should discuss promotion tactics with the talent buyer or promoter first, immediately after booking.

It's not typical for a venue owner or talent buyer to provide promotional materials. If they do, they'll likely let you know when you bring up marketing the show. What's more important here is to find out the following:

  • Who creates the Facebook event – the band or the venue?
  • Will whoever runs the venue's social media channels help you promote the event?
  • Can you hang posters and leave flyers at the venue?
  • Do they have any tips or best practices for promoting shows at their venue?

The conversation about promotion can flow naturally from there – the point is that you have that conversation, period.

[Band vs. Venue: A Breakdown of Who Should Handle 4 Types of Show Promotion]

4. Tickets and door

At a lot of DIY and independent shows, a door charge is it, plain and simple. But some venues print and sell tickets in advance – if they do, maybe you could be selling them on your own. Even if there aren't physical tickets available, if there's an option to buy online, you should share that with your fans by including it in the event info.

Like with most aspects of venues, ticket and door charge policies can vary, so find out for sure what the deal is where you're playing. Additionally, ask if an employee will be charging at the door or if you should provide someone, and at what time you'll begin charging.

5. Payment

If you're getting paid (something you will have discussed during the booking process), find out who will be doling out that payment and when. It could be before the show, immediately after the show, or a day or two later, depending on the venue's policy. Avoid ending up nagging the bartenders about it while they're closing up by finding out these details ahead of time.

[How to Make Sure Your Band Gets Paid for the 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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