Here at Gigwell, we are passionate about seeing agents set themselves up for ongoing success. This is one of the main reasons we've developed Tour IQ. Tour IQ is am incredibly powerful resource that can help you uncover the right venues for your acts. That said, it can also work against you if you are inconsiderate and use the common "spray-and-pray" approach of messaging every email in sight.
Prospecting into new venues can all be overwhelming at first. The Gigwell team is made up of agents, talent buyers, and artists — we get it! Therefore, we’ve developed this five-step guide to help accelerate you to booking bliss.
1. Define Your Goals
Envision yourself on stage. Where are you? Is it in a small bar or lounge, a nightclub, an underground, a concert hall or theatrical stage? Are you headlining or opening for a bigger act in a large room? Are you traveling the globe and performing in the largest cities, or are you playing in front of small crowds in boutique venues? Define, plan and commit to taking the necessary steps to realize your goals and achieve success.
Set realistic expectations. Of course, we’d all love to headline the main stage, but is that something you’ve worked up to? Set short and long term goals that will keep you motivated. This industry is all about building relationships. The last thing you want is to burn a valuable contact — or burn yourself out in the process. Once you’ve achieved your short term milestones, start leveling up from there.
Pace your growth. It’s important to consider room capacities. Focus on venues that similar artists performing in and secure gigs of a similar size that you’ve booked previously. Think about the kinds of spaces your fans attend to see shows and target those spaces accordingly. When you’re ready to advance to the next level, strategically move from there. Set yourself up for success. Timing is everything.
2. Do Your Homework
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Use tools like Bandsintown or Songkick to view announced tour lists of similar artists, and build a spreadsheet containing the venues where those acts are playing in each market. You may start seeing patterns among numerous artists. You’re on the right track!
Use maps to build the best route. When creating a tour, the logistics of getting from one location to the next is critical. You may not want to have a 9-hour drive planned on the day of an important show. You don’t want to cancel a gig because of a flight delay. Use tools like Google Maps or Tour IQ to plot out target cities, and discover venues within those cities where you’d like to perform.
Research your talent buyers. It’s important to identify talent buyers that are reputable and a joy to work with. Talent buyers usually buy for specific genres or artist types. Blasting a Techno DJ nightclub buyer with your rock act, or repeatedly offering a performing arts center your EDM DJ will never work. Use tools like Indie on the Move or Gigwell’s TourIQ to build a spreadsheet by target market or comparable artist.
Don’t spam. There will be a time to start outreach, but preparation is key. One of the biggest mistakes we see developing artists and agents do is simply finding a list of talent buyer contacts, and blasting the same message over and over again. That’s the quickest way to get ignored, or worse, banned.
3. Build a Targeted List
Create lists of venues. Now that you know what venues you’re interested in playing at, it’s time to find out who to contact. You can sometimes find this info on Google or Facebook or by asking around. Otherwise, database tools like Gigwell’s Tour IQ are a great shortcut.
Fill in the names and titles of talent buyers. Add a second column to your spreadsheet and start adding the name and direct contact for the talent buyers at those targeted venues.
Get specific, and log your research! Make sure to include important details like venue capacity, genres booked and reputation. An address column will also help when you decide to start plotting your confirmed bookings.
4. Craft the Perfect Pitch
What makes you unique? Find ways to describe your act as exciting, surprising, and unique. Don’t go for generic descriptions like “Amazing”. What makes you stand out from everyone else? If you’re carrying great support on your tour — hype them up! The perfect pitch is tapping into your brand, your experiences, and your future- all at the same time.
Build a strong EPK (Electronic Press Kit). Leverage your videos, music, media, and press quotes using one simple layout. If you have press, use quotes to highlight what critics have said about you. If you only have passionate, diehard fans .. quote them! Make sure to describe what a promoter should expect on stage and the flow of the show. Use high-quality video footage to highlight your performance, crowd and/or production. A strong, well-designed EPK will go a very long way. Gigwell’s Productivity Suite allows you to showcase your talent with a beautiful, professional booking page and electronic press kit. Don’t sleep on this!
Talent buyers can be your supporters. Keep a list of talent buyers who support you as advocates and offer to connect you with other talent buyers. Gaining the trust of a network of talent buyers will be tremendously beneficial. Nothing is more trustworthy to a talent buyer than one of their own.
Pick up the phone. If you feel compelled and confident to reach out to a talent buyer by phone, remember that they are busy people. Don’t launch into full-on “pitch mode” the second they pick up the phone. Ask questions, get to know them just as you’d get to know anyone else — let your personality show. Send a follow-up email to ensure the conversation is moving in a forward direction.
Keep tabs of your booking work. Document who you’ve reached out to, and the number of times you’ve reached out. At a certain point, you may need to pick up the phone and call the promoter. By keeping tabs of your outreach, you will create a good impression with buyers and be able to track progress. Some great tools include Hubspot, Mail Merge, and Mixmax to track email conversations, conversation notes, and open rates.
5. Be Persistent
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your empire. Set goals for yourself and make steps towards those goals each day. Monitor your progress by tracking daily goals, weekly goals, and then a monthly review.
Turn a “no” into a “yes”. Find ways to open doors even when they seem closed. If a talent buyer says “no” ask them what it would take to play their venue in the future. Exhibit curiosity. If a talent buyer says no, ask them for constructive feedback and if they have recommendations for other venues to pursue. You may be surprised by their sense of you, and that’s valuable intel.
It’s all about timing. Emailing a talent buyer the night before a big show is rarely going to get you a response. Try emailing them a few minutes prior to when you think they’re most likely to be reading and answering emails. We’ve found the most success early or mid-week, either at the beginning of the day, lunchtime, or towards the end of the day when things are quiet on the talent buyer’s schedule.
Be persistent. Don’t underestimate the value of persistence. While we don’t encourage spamming talent buyers, don’t expect a reply on your first try. Sometimes a talent buyer wants to reach back out to you but may need a friendly nudge at the right time.
It’s important to be motivated, consistent, persistent, and stand out in an ocean of emails and other talents. If you take one thing away from this post, it’s “Make it easy for a talent buyer to say YES”. Carry these five steps with you as you create a regimen that fits into the rhythm of your schedule.