If we feel clueless about how to ask for paid gigs...the days and weeks will pass by without us ever getting them.
How often has this experience happened to you? You go and see a band or musician put on a killer show in a local venue and you feel the desire to be just like them being re-kindled inside. You start daydreaming about the wild stunts you’ll pull on stage, sweating it out with your bandmates, hanging out with your fans afterwards…then the next day rolls around and it’s time to figure out how to make all those dreams into a reality.
So you sit down all excited to start booking gigs!!! But as you sit there a realization dawns upon you: I don’t ACTUALLY know the right way to contact venues? You research for a little while (which means you keep getting distracted by cats eating pizza on Facebook) and see some folks recommending calling, others say email is the way to go…
Then the fear starts to set in…you know you should just do it…but you’re not sure if calling or emailing venues is the right thing. You don’t want to be too nagging and end up losing the deal, but you also don’t want to be forgotten amongst all the other musicians applying for gigs.
So let’s talk about the three fastest ways of communicating with venues on your own:
#1 FACE TO FACE MEETING: This is always the best because it brings you into the closest contact with a venue owner/manager, which means you have the highest chances of forming a relationship. Think of it like dating a girl…what’s more exciting: just emailing her? Or meeting her in person right off the bat! The same thing is true with venues, they will probably think more highly of you for taking the initiative to show up in person. Plus, if you’re there in person, it’s much more difficult for them to say no or turn you away…they have to say NO right to your face, and that can feel a bit painful in their mind (especially if you’ve just blown them away with how valuable your performance is going to be at their venue). The other added benefit is that anytime you follow up via email or phone they are going to connect a face and name with your messages.
#2 GET ON THE DING-DANG PHONE!: Honestly, I used to struggle a lot with this one – it’s nerveracking, it’s uncomfortable, you WILL feel fearful of rejection. But it’s also some of the best training you can endure for learning how to sell yourself in a calm, controlled, and convincing manner. On the phone you have a very limited time to make the deal about them – how your performance is going to benefit their venue, etc. So although it is more stressful than just hiding behind email, calling on the phone tends to be more effective than email. Don’t be afraid that they’ll think you’re being too aggressive: if they’re a venue worth working with they will appreciate you cutting through the BC.
#3 LAST RESORT: EMAIL: The number one thing about an email (if you absolutely have to do it) is this: MAKE IT ABOUT THEM. Venues are getting solicited nonstop, so you have to stand out from all that clutter. Email is awesome as a follow up to phone calls or face-to-face meetings. It’s a good way to remind them that you’re not going away, without being too needy. Venues are also more likely to feel bugged when they ignore your email since they’re matching it with your face or voice.
So those are the three fastest ways of getting in contact with venues; meeting in person is always the #1 way you can stand out from your competition, with phone calls being a close #2. No matter which one you go with, though, remember this: Persistence is key. Don’t give up until you receive a flat-out NO. (usually a "no" simply means not yet!!!).
-Edwin @ PLAYMOREGIGS
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