File Under: Booking and Performing Live, Getting Media Attention & PR

Every show you book creates opportunities. It's a reason to sell merch, make royalties from your setlist, stream your shows online, build awareness/promote yourself, and more. One of your best tools that comes out of your live shows is your guest list. You have a chance to give special, free access to your show can help you create future opportunities for you and your music -- from media coverage to more shows.

Major label acts know the psychology behind giving certain people free access to paid shows. While not guaranteed, studies have shown that receiving a gift or favor generally creates a need to reciprocate in some way to the giver. If you want to build your music business, this is a powerful way to generate press, media coverage, reviews, your next show, or other opportunities. It's also a very tactical way to network. You won't know what's possible unless you reach out and invite those people who could benefit you.

When you plan your next show, consider inviting the following people and put them on your guest list:

1. Invite local media, journalists, music reviewers and writers, and bloggers.

Any time you can find legitimate reasons to reach out and talk to the press, you should. People love getting special access and telling them you're already including them on your guest list can motivate them to come on out when they may not have otherwise. You or the person on your team who you designated as the PR person should review your show or touring schedule and determine who in the media makes sense to invite. Reaching out in this proactive way is both good for opening new relationships as well as deepening relationships with people who have already covered you. Doing this can help you get more media coverage across the board, which can help grow your audience.

2. Invite local bookers.

Bookers are generally music lovers. In fact, we found when doing our own research to help get our band to break into venues within Chicago, one booker maintained two calendars. The first was the booking schedule for the venue he managed. But the second one was for local acts he planned on seeing at other venues so he could assess the talent. If you or the person on your team who you designated as the booking person invite local bookers and put them on your guest list so they can attend for free, you're more likely to have them come out to your show. And, if they see you, this will increase your chances of getting booked at their venue.

3. Invite city event bookers, festival bookers, college music event bookers, and other influencers.

Local media and bookers are just the start. Don't forget there's a long list of influencers and business people who can also generate opportunities for you and your music. Research festival bookers, city event planners, and local or regional college music event bookers and invite them as well. Also invite people who are potential sponsors. Doing so is a great way to introduce you and your music to them as well as flattering them and acknowledging how important their role is. Because other bands often don't think of this, you can stand out. And, if they attend your show, this gives you a natural way to talk with them, network, and offer them something to help them. After all, networking is about finding out what you can do for them.

Another tip is guest lists have more value if you make sure that your shows are sold-out by playing appropriate sized venues for your draw. That slot on the guestlist becomes even more exclusive when you can't get in otherwise.

Pre-show, keep an eye on your guest list so you know who actually came out to see you. When they arrive, be sure to talk with them and thank them for coming. This is your chance to build that relationship. Ask questions about them and their job. If they're the press, ask how they determine what gets covered and what doesn't. Ask them if you should send them your press kit. For bookers, ask how they decide who plays their venues or festivals and if you should send them your booking kit. It's especially useful to have someone on your team who isn't playing on stage to talk to them during the show so as to build the relationship. And, for bookers, this is the best window of time to ask about setting up a show at their venue.

Finally, track who you've invited, the shows they were invited to, and who actually attended. For those that don't attend, don't give up. Invite them to the next show. Be politely persistent. And, for those who do come to your show, follow-up with them the next day and thank them again for coming. It's another opportunity to get your name in their heads to lock in the next story, booking, or festival slot. After all, when they are thanking you for putting them on the guest list and they've enjoyed themselves at your show, that's a perfect time to see if they're willing to do something for you.

Challenge: If you don't know your local media and booking contacts, do some research and build a list. Then, a couple weeks before your next show, contact them and add their names to the guest list.


#playinglive #booking #PR #networking

Photo credit: marc falardeau