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Re: (OT) For getting gigs, each musician should have...

Really usefull info. I shall out this to use :D

On Jun 23, 2012 11:11 AM, "Matt Davignon" <mattdavignon@gmail.com> wrote:
Since Kay'lon is feeling non-loopy today, I figured it would be a good
time to finally write this:

As someone who runs a small venue, I should share that there are
certain things a musician can do to make them easier to book. This is
written mostly for getting shows at small venues that book new, local
acts. For these, it's good to have:

--A WEBSITE: This can be a bandcamp page, a soundcloud page, one of
those template sites such as weebly.com, or your own standalone site.
The point is to have something a booker can find on google and know
it's official and reasonably up-to-date. Simple is good. Someone
should be able to easily find your bio, sound samples, and photos.

--BIOGRAPHY: A bio serves two purposes: 1) Encouraging venues to book
you, and 2) once you are booked, providing the venue with text they
can post on the show announcements to get people to come to the show.
Each bio absolutely must list what instrument you play should have
some sort of description of the experience a person might get from
your show. Use descriptive terms instead of value terms. For example,
my bio uses the words "organic" and "gloopy", but doesn't say
"excellent" or "important". I'm personally fond of bios written in the
third person ("Matt Davignon is..." instead of "I am..."). If you are
in or have been in bands that readers may know about, it's good to
list them. Do not list every single band or collaboration you've been
in. If you've won a lot of awards or have played with famous people,
you can include that, but if it's more than a certain percentage of
your bio, it can be a turnoff. (Unless you're really famous, then it's
kind of expected.)

An ideal bio has both a long and short form - some venues prefer 1
paragraph, others prefer a half page. A good strategy is to write 3 or
4 paragraphs, where the first paragraph includes the description of
what you do in a performance. That way a venue can copy as many
paragraphs as they want. That's what I've done here:
http://www.ribosomemusic.com/biography.html and my friend Agnes Szelag
has done here: http://www.agnesszelag.com/bio/

--MUSIC SAMPLES: This is where the bandcamp or soundcloud page comes
in. I never book a band without hearing them first. They tell me
whether a band plays the kind of music that fits my venue, and that
they don't totally suck. I'd say at least 4 different music samples is
ideal, and they shouldn't all sound the same. I'd recommend that at
least one be a live sample.

--PHOTO: When I was new, I objected to the photo idea, because I
didn't think music booking should be based on appearances. That's not
what this is about. Venues usually don't use the photo as a reason to
book you or not. Instead, venues often need something to put on their
show announcements once you ARE booked. Also, if a local paper wants
to do a story about you, they'll often ask for a picture. There's a
minimum resolution often requested - usually at leat 300 dpi. I
personally think a nice photo of you playing your instrument is better
than a Hollywood-style face shot. (However, more formal music venues
may prefer the face shot.) It's great that Mark Hamburg and George &
Alana Wiltshire have been taking artist pictures at the Y2K looping
festivals. This should be easy to find on your website. Many artists
put it on their home page or their biography page.

--VIDEO: This one's kind gravy, since you probably won't have it when
you get started. I think it's good to have a video of you playing
well, because you can include a link when you ask for shows, and it
gives the venues a pretty concrete idea of what you're about. When you
get your first gig or two, try to get a friend to record your set with
a camera that has decent sound. (I currently use a Zoom Q3, but the
Flip camera I had before works fine too. My droid phone is too shitty
for this, because the sound comes out all glitchy.) The video doesn't
have to be on your website. I search for artist videos on Youtube or
Google (which returns youtube results).

Now, none of these things by themselves will get you a gig. Venues
also need to know that you exist, and that you're able to play shows.
The best way to do this is to go to the video a few times when local
bands you like are playing. Then, after a few visits, talk to the
booker about whether you could play at their series.

Payment at small local venues tends to work in one of five ways:
--Free Show: Admission to the show is free. Artists do not get paid.
--Door Split: The venue takes a percentage of the door income, and the
rest is split between the artists. In my experience, the venue share
is usually between 30% and 50%. For beginning musicians, this is
usually the ideal situation.
--Rental: Artists pay for the nightly rental of the venue (often
$100-$150), and keep all of the income.
--Artists get the top: The venue usually needs to make a certain
amount to cover their nightly expenses (usually $100-$150). After that
amount is made, the rest of the door income goes to the artists. If
the venue doesn't make their minimum, they don't often charge you the
difference, but they might not invite you to play again either. (This
doesn't mean they don't like you, but it costs money to run a venue.)
--Cover Charge: At bars/clubs, income is taken from the door fee (the
"cover") and from drinks sold. Different bars/clubs will have
different policies about how much of the cover goes to the bands, and
if the bands get a percentage of profits from drink sales.

By small venues, I'm thinking of cafes and art galleries that
regularly have live music by local artists and touring artists who are
not famous.

For larger venues (where moderately-known touring indie-rock bands
often play, such as San Francisco's Bottom of the Hill), they will
usually need all the above, PLUS the venue will need to have some sort
of faith that they will make enough money that night to cover their
operating expenses. If you feel absolutely certain that 40 or more
people will definitely come to your show to see you, then you're
probably ready to move on to larger venues. Saying hello in person
probably won't work for these venues unless they already know of you
by reputation. Often these venues have booking request pages on their

Matt Davignon
Podcast! http://ribosomematt.podomatic.com