Six Mistakes Bands Make When Booking Shows


Last week, we covered what to do to land a local gig. Today, we’ll explore exactly what not to do when booking a show anywhere… like indulging in too many free pre-show Tecates. 

So, you’ve got some shows lined up – Congratulations! You’re soon going to be superstars and throwing TV’s out of hotel windows like the Stones! Or are you? Here are some rookie mistakes that bands often make – even when they think they’ve already got it made.

 1) Overplaying the market.

This is a big one. Local bands should space shows in the same area at least two weeks apart (and probably more like a month). Even if you feel like you have a reliable fan base, or get an opportunity to play a bunch of rad shows back-to-back, realistically you don’t have time to properly promote more than one show at a time. Playing too much can backfire and wear out your crowd. Also, most venues have radius clauses to which you must adhere. Don’t burn bridges and respect each venue’s’ policies.

2) Playing too many of the same kind of shows

Make sure to switch up the type of shows you’re playing – free vs. paid, headlining vs. support, north side of town vs. south,  and the style of venue. You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself as a band that only plays at one location or has a reputation for playing too many free shows. It’s simple – if you always play the 9 p.m. slot of free residency nights at the same club, that’s where you’re going to stay. It’s important to always be thinking of how to build up to bigger shows at bigger venues.

3) Forget to announce your show

Do you want to be playing for just the sound guy and a pack of stray dogs? Failing to inform your fanbase is not only a recipe for a bad show, it’s the easiest way to never play the venue again. What you need to do is update your website every time you book a show and every time you get more info about it.

4) Only relying on social media

Social media is an excellent way to promote. But it’s not enough! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are essential ways of getting the word out. But trust us, it doesn’t beat the old fashioned approach of calling and texting all your friends and putting flyers up in your local coffee shop and record store. You know all those invites to random events that you ignore on FB? Yeah, that’s how people will see your band until you give them a reason otherwise.

5) Depending on the other bands to promote and draw

If you’re a supporting act, you have to support. It doesn’t mean you can sit back, relax and start knocking back Tecates while you wait for the show date and assume the headliner will draw a crowd. You got asked to play because the venue believes you’ll try your best at promoting. Prove them right.

6) Acting like a diva

It sounds ridiculous, but we see local bands acting like Mariah Carey on a mimosa bender all the damn time. From showing up late for a set, refusing to go on at their predetermined agreed upon time, or not being ready for soundcheck, some bands can be playing a 200-capacity club and act like the brown M&M haters Van Halen playing the Madison Square Garden circa 1984. Trust us, we remember when you act like knuckleheads. The way you behave as people reflects on your band, and will set a precedent. Have regular band meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding load in times, set times, proper etiquette at shows. The best thing you can do is to stay organized – and don’t get so wasted that you forget your gear onstage.

Photo credit to the Periphery Facebook page. (Yes, this band knows how to book a show and play it well)

Molly Kodros

Molly Kodros is the jack of all trades at The Satellite, an indie venue in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. When she's not ushering bands into stardom, you can find her creeping on other people's dogs at the Silver Lake Reservoir or perfecting her Yogurtland mixology strategy