It’s time for something different. Here’s an excerpt from How To Make Your Band Sound Great that talks about how understanding some basic gigging language can be the secret to getting your band booked. This is a repost from about 3 years ago from my old blog, but I’m sure many of you haven’t seen it yet.
“The following was in a widely circulated email that went around the music community. It’s from Memphis promoter Chris Walker who explains both how to get gigs, and more importantly, how not to get them. If you want the hard cold facts about club gigs for acts with original music, and some insight into the true meaning of gigging language, read on.
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: If a band has a load-in time of say 6:30, from that time they may attempt to enter the premises and inquire about loading in their gear. If they by chance happen to arrive early, they can occupy themselves with other activities to fill in the time, such as visiting the library, worshiping at a local church or synagogue, or beating up the homeless guy living in the dumpster.
INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: If a band has a load-in time of say 6:30, they arrive at 1:45 in the afternoon and knock incessantly on the back door. Usually they knock while the owner is standing knee-deep in water in the basement working with a plumber to fix a leaking drain pipe. After trudging all the way upstairs to find 5 snot-nosed kids asking if they can load-in now (and hang out all day!), they are politely told to screw themselves and come back at 6:30.
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: This is a person who actively works to promote a show. He promotes by distributing flyers, plugging the show wherever he can, and tries to get as many people as possible to come to the show. If he has an out-of-town band booked on the show, he takes financial responsibility to ensure they get paid and are taken care of in whatever way they need. He also takes charge in organizing the show and making sure all the bands know when they are scheduled to play and how the money works for getting paid.
INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: This is a person who, after asking repeatedly to put on a show, does the following: 1) fails to promote show in any way, 2) fails to communicate any show details like lineup or order of the bands to the club (or the bands themselves), 3) makes themselves very scarce at the show, assuming they show up (they sometimes make a pathetic phone call just before doors open to say they’ve just contracted a rare disease and to please take care of the out-of-town band). If they do show up, when questioned about things like band order, who’s taking care of the bands etc, they only respond with a blank stare.
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: Gas Money is a term used to designate an amount of money to get a touring band to their next show. It sometimes includes a little more than that so they buy themselves some fast-food on their way or if they’re lucky enough, cover a room at a Motel 6. Generally gas money would be considered anything from $30 to $75 and depends on how well the show goes.
INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: $200 is not gas money. $200 is, “We’re partying all night on the East Side” money.
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: This is a band that is engaged on a “tour”. They come to the Creepy Crawl while on their tour and often come from far away places such as the far corners of the country, Canada, Europe or Asia. They are on the road for extended periods of time, sometimes for several months at a time, in a van or bus, and experience many new places along their journey. These bands are always entitled to at least gas money or more.
INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: Driving up from Festus (about 30 miles away) does not make you a touring band.
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: A “following” is a collection of fans that attend the performances of a particular band. This is what bands try to develop and grow over time to get ahead in the business, and is a measure of their general popularity. The larger a band’s following generally means they will be booked more often and on better nights at the Creepy Crawl.
INCORRECT UNDERSTANDING: A “following” does not mean all the people that attended The Queens of The Stone Age show you opened for counts as your band’s following (perhaps the rush to the bar by the entire audience and club staff when you started playing was an indicator). And, yes, this means the Jager girls at the club that night probably didn’t come to see you and probably won’t be following you to your next show.
Now you get the idea of how cynical and jaded booking concerts can make you.”
If you want to read more excerpts from How To Make Your Band Sound Great and other books, check out the excerpts page at bobbyowsinski.com.