How to book musicians in a new space
February 16, 2011 6:44 AM   Subscribe

How do you get started booking musicians in a new venue? We've just opened a new event space and one of the things we want to do with it is book music. But I'm nervous about making a bad first impression.

I've gotten some advice from friends & friends of friends about how to make offers (essentially: look for small bands you like and offer an 80/ 20 split of the door), but I look at a form like this and get a little overwhelmed. I guess I'm the Promoter; no idea what to put in the Offer section and the Other Info assumes you know what you're talking about as well (is the ticket price before any fees, etc). I also have no idea what size artist we can reasonably attract to start and once we're established. We're only just starting to make contact with local radio stations.

Some additional info to help answer these questions: it's a room in Dover, New Hampshire than can fit about 500 people standing (350 seated). You can see the room (seated for a wedding) here*. My hope is that we can attract artists whose tours currently would turnaround in Boston by offering a largish club they could play on what would otherwise be an empty date in their tour.

* Shortened URL because I don't want to make it look like I'm trying to SEO myself, though I know Mefi puts nofollow on links.
posted by yerfatma to Work & Money (8 answers total)
Oh right, one other thing: much like in this question, as part of our open philosophy, we want to offer to record (for eTree, etc), photograph and videotape shows for artists using our vendors, if the artists are interested. Is that a plus or minus/ how best to present that option. Ideally, I'd like to be a small-time version of Daytrotter Sessions.
posted by yerfatma at 6:47 AM on February 16, 2011

Please put down all of the information needed for the roadies, stagehands, and sound people on your site. I've talked to musicians at small venues who have said that a complete listing of information about stage shape, size, height; available lights; and so forth made a difference in which venue they chose. Some kind of website besides the usual myspace is helpful in letting the musicians know who else has played there so they can get an idea of what kind of crowd might show up.

A few venues here also offer sleeping quarters and a hot breakfast for the band.
posted by adipocere at 6:51 AM on February 16, 2011

My suggestion would be to get to know some local promoters. They will likely each have slightly different ways they like to work so you'll have to see what works best for you, but they take care of a lot of the booking and publicising so you don't have to, in return for their cut (negotiable!).

I'd seek them out by looking at other local venues' good gigs, see if you can see who the promoter was, and then do a little research (myspace/facebook them!) and get in contact and ask them if they'd like to do a show, or take on a regular night (once a week/month, your call or theirs) at your new venue.

Once you've got things rolling, your venue's rep will at some point hopefully reach the point where you have bands constantly contacting you! But promoters can help get you there.
posted by greenish at 6:51 AM on February 16, 2011

So do you already have all the gear to put on regular band shows? P.A, Front of House Mixer , Microphones, leads stage boxes etc? or are you expecting bands to hire their own?

in the < 500 punters realm I think most bands will be traveling with just a Guitars + Amps and a Drum Kit and perhaps their own sound guy/gal. You need to have everything else.

(sorry if this is obvious but you don't mention the quality of the PA system).
posted by mary8nne at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2011

Yeah, find local promoters who are doing this already. You don't want to be putting your venue on the line while you learn the ropes.
posted by Jairus at 9:55 AM on February 16, 2011

N'thing mary8nne re: sound & light gear. IANASoundTech, but I have a fair number of pro stage, sound crew, and musician friends.

You don't mention lighting; if you haven't already, you should hire a local lighting designer (if you're anywhere near a college w. a theatre department, this would be a great place to start looking for someone on the cheap) to do a basic plot & design for music shows. They'll tell you what kind of gear and gel you'll need. Ditto on a music sound tech if you don't have club gear for that either.
posted by smirkette at 9:56 AM on February 16, 2011

Lights & PA are two needs we know we have. We've got a resource we can contract out the sound to, but I'm not sure what to do with lighting: the ceiling has plenty of track & power to hook into, but I don't know what a baseline kit would look like.
posted by yerfatma at 11:02 AM on February 16, 2011

From a musician's perspective?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:46 PM on February 16, 2011

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