You don't need a booking agent in order to book yourself a tour. Many of my most successful tours have been booked entirely by me, and I'm going to share three quick tips I've learned that'll save you countless hours of trial and error.
1. Keep Your Booking Pitch SHORT and to-the-point
Promoters, venue owners, talent-buyers - they receive hundreds of emails per day. If they see a long email from someone they don't know or they've never heard of, they are likely to just ignore it. Only include the essential information and your best highlights, and don't be afraid to use bullet-points or shorthand in order to reduce the amount of text. Below is a screenshot of the first email I ever sent to a venue with whom I now have a great relationship, and where I perform regularly:
2. Research The Venues' Calendar
This will really set you apart from the crowd. A lot of venues will be reluctant to offer you a headline slot, but if you go on their website calendar and find bands or artists who you think you'd be a great opener for, they'll be much more likely to offer you a support slot. It makes it much easier for them to imagine a successful show involving you than if you just ask blindly to perform, and if you impress them, you might get offered a headline spot down the road.
3. Use indieonthemove.com
If you aren't aware of this website yet, you are seriously missing out. It's basically a giant database of almost every venue in the US, and a number of other countries too. It includes contact info that you often won't find on the venues' websites, info about the venue including which genres they present, the venue capacity, and a star-rating determined by artists who have performed there. It makes it a thousand times easier to find venues to play, and I've used it to book almost every tour I've done myself. Here's a link to their site: www.indieonthemove.com/home
So there you have it! Of course, there are other aspects to booking, but these three tips are some of the most effective. Keep checking back here for more valuable tips for musicians and artists!
Unfortunately most people who are close to you are unwilling to tell you their honest opinions. This does you no good, which is why I'm going to tell you three painful music-industry truths that will allow you to improve yourself in ways that will open up the doors to musical and commercial success.
1. Your Success Is Determined By The Value You Can Offer
Artistic success is one thing, but when talking about success in the music BUSINESS, it is all down to how much value you can offer to people. How many tickets can you sell at shows? How much exposure can you give to another artist, or a sponsoring brand? How much money do you make from royalties, CD sales, merch sales, etc.?
Let's face it, while most people in the industry love music, they also want to make a good living, and if you're not making any money, they won't make any money from you. So that means you either need a track record of success, or you need to be outstanding and show huge potential for success in the future, which brings me to my next point.
2. You Need To Prioritize Self-Improvement Above Anything Else
If being valuable is the key to success, self-improvement is the method of achieving it. Ed Sheeran wrote hundreds of songs before any of them became famous. You have to ask yourself, "Why should I be successful? What is so appealing about my music that will mean I succeed while so many others fail? What is more appealing about successful artists' music?".
If you are honest with yourself when answering these questions, you'll find that there are so many things you can improve on. Maybe it's your vocal technique, being more comfortable accompanying yourself on guitar, your songs aren't catchy enough, your songs aren't interesting enough, your songs need better production, etc. Once you have identified areas of improvement, write down the three highest priorities, and work on those every day for the next month.
3. There Are Predators Who Are Trying To Take Advantage Of You
There are people in the music industry who are happy to take advantage of young artists who have big dreams and little experience. They'll tell you that you're the next big thing, they'll get you on huge tours, and they'll make you rich and famous. Then, before you know it you're on their booking roster but they've landed you one show in two years, they've got you 2 million views on a video but only 10 comments and 5 new subscribers, they've got you 500k streams but no real fans and no ticket sales at shows. And at this point they've probably charged you thousands of dollars, and never had any intention of building a successful career with you. They just saw that you had a dream and that you were willing to pay someone to make it happen.
I have witnessed this first hand. It's especially common in big cities that have huge music industries and a lot of dreamers, like LA or New York. My advice would be to research anyone who offers to help you, get references if you can, and be cautious if they're asking for money up-front or asking you to sign paperwork that locks you in to long-term agreements, or gives them any rights to your music.
I'm telling you these painful truths because ultimately it will serve you well. I don't want this article to dishearten you, but instead make you feel glad that you are more aware of how you can become successful, and that you can spot and avoid those who couldn't care less about your success.