© 2023 Vinny Ribas and DaVonte Cheers
There are many reasons why venues and booking agents turn away the vast majority of the acts who pitch themselves to them. Here are the top reasons you may be one of those unsuccessful acts.
You have poor marketing materials – Your marketing materials should immediately make a buyer think, ’I have GOT to hire these guys!’ If it doesn’t, other artists chasing the same gigs will outshine you every time. These include your EPK, live promo video, website, pictures, social media presence, music, other videos, bio and references or testimonials from similar gigs
You have promo video challenges – You either have a bad promo video or no video at all. Your video should show your performing live in front of the kind of audience in the venues you are pitching to. Be sure the video and audio quality are professional. Show the crowd reaction. Show your banter between songs. Be sure your contact information is on them.
You’re pursuing the wrong gigs – Most artists fail at booking because they are chasing the wrong gigs. Artists without a draw should mostly pursue gigs where they already have a packed room and just need a great entertainer. Also, perhaps you don’t cater to the audience you think you do – age, demographic, attitude. Don’t get ahead of yourself – work you way up.
You’re charging the wrong amount – Venue’s don’t want to waste their time or energy talking to artists who are not informed and/or realistic in their ask. Do your homework to know what each venue’s pay range is. You also need to know your own expenses and the profit you need to make. Know what you need to charge more for, such as hotel, gas, renting equipment etc. Know what you’re willing to take less for, such as marketing, prestige, food and drinks etc.
You have a weak or unprofessional sales approach – Booking is sales. If you’re not good at sales, including negotiating and closing, you’re going to lose out. Learn some basic sales techniques. Be sure to share why booking you is good for the venue. Remember, whoever quotes a price first usually loses. Be politely and professionally persistent.
You don’t have relationships – You haven’t taken the time and put in the effort to build relationships with buyers. You can connect and build a rapport through LinkedIn, by making a phone call rather than email, by meeting them at their venue, at conferences etc.
Bad reputation – You have a reputation for showing up late, being difficult to work with, being rude, not being tight, getting drunk, not being prepared etc. Word travels fast and venue owners/managers talk to each other. Be sure to get quotes or references from the venues you do well in, and avoid any kind of negative situation that will reflect poorly on you.
You’re not asking – If you’re not making enough phone calls and sending enough press packets out, you’ll never fill your calendar. Sales is a numbers game. It may take 10 calls (including follow-ups) to book one gig. So if you want/ need 12 in the next 3 months, you may need to make 120 calls.
It’s true there are far more acts than there are available opportunities. But they are not all extremely high quality. Remember, every venue needs and is constantly looking for great entertainment. That means that, to be successful, you must find a way to stand out as a ‘must hire’.
I am the founder of Indie Connect, an artist management and consultant company, and Cartne. Through the years I have also been a full time performer, band leader, booking agent, studio owner, songwriter, producer, author, the Entertainment Director of the NV State Fair, a speaker, workshop conductor and consummate networker!