Posted: Dec 11, 2017
Category: Show Booking
**Guest post written by Adam Young, CEO and founder of Event Tickets Center, a marketplace for tickets to sports, concert and Broadway events.
"Playing a concert takes a ton of preparation, especially when it’s your band’s first time on stage. You’ve practiced, argued to the point where maybe a drumstick or two went flying, gotten banners made, even thought of a gimmicky way to open the performance. But when it’s finally time to make your debut, it’s important plan for the venue—and it’s hard to know what to expect until you start going to performances at a wide range of bars, clubs and concert halls in any town.
• What's the Vibe? Pay attention to the atmosphere of the venue itself. Some don’t cater to the fan experience, and you’ll usually recognize this early on in your visit. The bar is in a weird corner, there’s only one small door letting people in and out, and the stage is so narrow that there’s barely any space for people to come up front. Be aware that you WILL encounter a venue like this when booking smaller shows. This just means that you’ll know you have to work a little harder to prepare. These small, poorly structured venues are often where you’ll have your best shows. Your performance will be the focus of the fun. Make sure your energy is vamped up and you, as well as your band members, are playing like you’re at the San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall in front of 600 people. Your energy will transfer to the crowd and make for a killer experience.
• The Acoustics. If it’s your first show, you’re going to want to sound your best—but even if you play perfectly, the space’s acoustics are going to have a huge impact on what the audience hears. Go to a show at the venue and listen to how the performers sound. Will you have the same sound guy working the night of your show? Checking this out ahead of time will allow you to plan and work with him on some adjustments that might need to be made.
• Scope Out Your Merch Perch. Someone has to be the merch table guy. It’s no fun, but it’s got to be done. When visiting a venue pre-show, see what other bands are doing. Larger venues will have designated areas to set your table up, but the smaller ones usually aren’t as strict. Picking an area where people are gravitating between sets is key. This allows for both more networking opportunities and fewer distractions, increasing merchandise sales. Win, win, win!
• Comin’ in Hot. Loading in is always a pain (unless you’re the vocalist). What makes it even worse is not having a landing spot for all your gear. The show is expected to run on time, and yet setup can take twice as long when bands have nowhere to gear swap. Check out the space ahead of time to strategize your best bet for that between set gear limbo.
• He’s the Dude, Man. Introduce yourself to the entertainment/promotions manager. Becoming a real face in the mind of the manager will help for booking and networking in the future. Showing up at an event prior to your show there proves you’re involved with the scene and interested on a more personal level. Ultimately, this may lead to better slots and getting the heads-up on upcoming shows your band should be on while giving you more overall connection to the venue.
Even if your dream venue checks off all of your requirements, you may not book it for your first show. Luckily, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. You can even ask the booker if they have any recommendations for similar spots. And just because they say no now doesn’t mean they won’t want you a few months down the road once you have an established fan base."
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