The Foundation to Building Your Music Career - Four Key Elements for Success

Where should I begin to being an artist and to be able to do this full time one day? This is a question I get a lot from my students at Florida International University, from podcast listeners, blog readers, musicians I mentor, and when I public speak. Everyone is trying to figure out where to get started in the music business as a songwriter and touring musician. Most of the information out there teaches people how to get managers, labels, how to book shows, copyrighting, and so much more. But it really starts a lot more basic than that. It starts with what the core of your daily activity should be regardless of what phase you are at in your career. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out, have been a struggling musician for the past 5, 10, or 15 plus years, or if you have already reached some level of success and you’re doing music full time. There are four things that I truly believe should make up the core of every artist’s career. 

There is a famous quote that says “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” To me this quote is more than the actual clothes you wear. It has to do with your behavior. What you do consistently every day, week, and over a long period of time is going to determine on what your outcome is going to be. Your behavior is what is going to open opportunities for you in the future. If you want to be successful in your music career, you have to study what successful people do. What do the people one level above you do, and what do the people a level above that do. I’m a big believer of not skipping steps, because you learn very important lessons at each step. It is great to have vision and to be a big dreamer, but dreaming without action doesn’t produce results, and skipping steps will cause issues in the future when the opportunities are bigger. Learn how to do things right at each step of the way, so when the big opportunities come, you are ready. 

When it comes to songwriting and being a performing musician, there are things that the most successful people do consistently. Yes, there are outliers and people that have extraordinary gifts that they are just born with. However, one thing we all can control is our work ethic. How many hours we put into our craft. Someone with natural talent that doesn’t put in the work, can be surpassed with average talent and hard work. When looking at the most successful touring musicians and songwriters there are four behaviors that they become really good at. Four behaviors that you see consistently over and over again. These behaviors will help you become better at your  craft, grow an audience, and build your network. It’s as simple as writing more songs, practicing your live performance, creating consistent content, and engaging people on social media and the real world. Let’s take a deeper dive into all four of these. 



The professional songwriters in Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, and pretty much wherever they are, do one thing really well and with a lot of discipline. They write songs pretty much all the time. Those who have publishing deals will have as many as two to three, 2-4 hour writing sessions per day, for 5 to 6 days per week. In most of these sessions they complete a song or more. This means some of the professional writers are writing close to 18 songs per week. In my interview with songwriter Jeffrey James, who’s on a publishing deal with Warner-Chappell, he talks about this mantra in Nashville amongst songwriters. The first 100 songs that you write are usually not any good. So, one of their goals is to get to their first 100 songs as soon as they can. 

You may think that you’re not creative enough to write songs every single day. It’s not about creating a smash hit or a song you’re super excited about everyday. What matters is that you get into the habit and practice of writing. There are many people that believe that creativity is like a muscle. The more you train that muscle, the stronger and better it’s going to get. Meaning, the more you write the better and more consistent your sessions are going to get. So, what do you do when you can literally think of nothing? 

For starters, you should map out and schedule your writing sessions every week. Then it’s very important that you treat these  scheduled times very strict. Treat them like doctors visits or scheduled classes or time you have to be at work. Think of something that you know you would not miss, and think of your  writing appointment with that seem level of importance. It’s a commitment to yourself. Now when you’re in that sessions, and you can’t get into a flow, the most important thing is to just  start writing. In that moment, write about whatever comes to your mind. This technique is called “freewriting.” You can literally write a song about not knowing what to write about. Or look through your room and the first  object you see, write a song about that. This exercise will help you get into the flow of writing, and when your flowing, ideas will start coming. 

People who write full time, write songs all the time. Chris Stapleton had over 1,000 songs he wrote for his publishing company before ever releasing his debut album. One of my good friends asked me about how he can get better writing opportunities around 2016. I asked him how many songs he had written that year. He said five songs. I shared all of the above with him, and told him that he needs to be writing at least five songs a week if he wants to be a professional writer and write music for a living. Today, he’s taken workshops in songwriting, will co-write with anyone possible to get more reps in, and is writing close to 5-10 songs per week. His songwriting has way surpassed the level of writing he was at in 2016. If you want to be a better songwriter, do what professional songwriters do. “Dress for the job you want.” 


If you’re an aspiring performing touring musician, and you want to  get better shows, have more people come to your shows, get an opening slot, or get on a tour, you have to become the best live performer possible. Again here, what do the professionals do? They play all the time. A lot of the full time touring bands play, especially first starting out, play anywhere from 120-250 shows per year. This doesn’t include soundchecks, rehearsals, and time playing in the studio. 

In 2019, I worked a show with Santana. That man loves to play his guitar. He spent hours playing in his dressing room prior to soundcheck. Then an hour long soundcheck, dinner, then a 2.5 hour show. On a show day he plays the guitar for close to 8-hours. No wonder he’s an all time great, and still playing at the age of 71. Same thing with Kenny G. In 2018, I worked three shows with him. Usually the main artists arrive for soundcheck, and a lot of times not even that. They’ll show up close to show time. Kenny G. came in at 1 pm in the afternoon for a 8 pm show. Spent 3-4 hours playing each day in his dressing room, running through scales, practicing techniques, and going through songs. Then a 2-hour soundcheck, dinner, meet and greet, and then a 2.5 hour show. Same here, on a show day, Kenny G. is playing his instrument for 7-8 hours a day. Harry Connick Jr. was the same way, and so do many other greats. 

In an interview with Drummer Magazine, Dave Grohl said “Just go play live.  If you’re good at what you do, people will recognize that. I really believe that going out and playing good songs live as a great live band, will make you successful. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the shithole down the street, or if you’re playing the side stage at Bonnaroo, or  if you’re headlining Lollapalooza, if you’re a great band with great songs, people will notice it. That’s it!” If you want to be a great performer, you should always be working on your craft. 

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Have you heard the saying “Content is King”? We’ll it’s true. Sure, there are always exceptions. For maybe one percent of artists out there, you can get away with not creating consistent recurring content. However, for the other 99% of the artists out there, this is how you can stand out, build an audience around your brand, and make a living being an artist. Music is media. The most successful companies over the last century, have been media companies. 

If you operate and build a media company around your music, you’ll have a higher chance of being successful. I can write several separate articles on creating content, and perhaps that would be a really good series down the road. However, until then I have some great recommendations in helping you figure out what type of content to create. Listen to my interviews with Mark W. Schaefer and Joe Pulizzi. Then I highly recommend their books KNOWN by Mark W. Schaefer and Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi. These are two of my favorite marketing books out there. They are the detailed textbooks on how to get started to what the very popular marketer and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk talks about. Just I prefer the more practical and hands on approach by Mark W. Schaefer and Joe Pulizzi. Here is also a great podcast episodes from Kyle Lemaire “Circa” from his podcast Creative Juice on creating recurring content. These are some great places to start. 

For my Advanced Music Business course at Florida International University (FIU), I use the book KNOWN by Mark W. Schafer to help guide the students in creating weekly content for the class, and hopefully beyond the course. In the book, Mark talks about finding your sustainable interest, and creating content around it. A sustainable interest “is something that you love, a topic you’ll have fun with for years to come. But it’s also a theme you want to be known for, something that will help you achieve your long-term life goals.” Find some kind of interest you can create content around to add a personality to your music brand. This is something people can connect with and that you can create an audience around. With this strategy, you’ll build an audience while working on your craft and becoming a better songwriter and performer. 


Lastly, to build an audience and kick start your music career, or really any career, you need to engage in conversation, but not be promotional. I want to challenge you to engage at least 10 people per day on social media, without ever trying to promote something. If social media is not your thing, then do it via email, phone, or in person. Regardless, you have to engage with people to build an audience and learn about your potential audience. Just get involved in the conversation and try to add value by creating constructive ongoing dialog, advice, encouragement, or entertainment. That’s it. Find people that are engaging in conversation around your sustainable interest that you’re creating recurring content around and people in your scene. Whichever genre you are in, engage with people who are talking about that genre. It’s as simple as that. 

One of my past podcast guests, publicist, and music marketer, Angela Mastrogiacomo has a really great rule around how to best utilize social media. It’s her 70/20/10 rule. 70% of posts are engaging and brand building, 20% are promoting other bands, venues or something within the music industry, and only 10% of selling yourself. Angela says “It’s such an important component to building your brand to promote other bands and building your network.” This should give you a solid foundation on how to best utilize social media and engage with people, and build a lifelong community versus temporary fans. 


It all comes down to mastering your craft and building an audience. Mastering your craft will get the attention of the audience, and an audience will get the attention of the industry. Sure, there are very few instances where your craft will get the industries attention. However, having a record deal, an agent, or manager doesn’t guarantee success. The biggest labels, agencies, and managers with the most successful artists, have signed other artists and didn’t have the same success. At the end of the day, your faith falls 100% on you. The harder you work, the harder the people working for you will work. The minute you start depending on others for your success, you can kiss the fate of your career goodbye. Because the second your audience starts to disappear, so does the attention of your team, and eventually you’ll be back to where you started. Always focus on your craft and build your own audience. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” - William Ernest Henley. 

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Finding a Career in the Music Industry: A List of Music Companies, Links, Resources and Some Words of Inspiration

One of the first steps to finding a career in any industry is knowing where to look. Before we get into highlighting some of the many companies and resources to finding a career in the music industry, I have a few words I’ve shared with past students, podcast listeners, friends, and complete strangers.

Are you getting close to graduating from college, and about to take that first leap of faith praying you land a job in the field you just got your degree in? Are you working a job that’s completely unfulfilling and literally sucking the life out of you one little bit at a time each day? Is school not for you, and you’re out there hustling trying to do your own thing? Regardless of where you are right now in your journey, there are a few important things to consider. Are you looking at all of your options and are you being too impatient? To get to that dream career in the music industry, it takes time, patience, consistency, being proactive, and a positive attitude. It’s not something that’s going to happen over night. Sometimes we might have to work other jobs to make ends meet. However, the most important thing is to never lose focus on the things you love.

Saint Augustine Amphitheater

What are you doing with the time when you are not working the job you can’t wait to quit or when you’re not in school? There are 24 hours in a day. Health and family comes first. So, you get 8 hours of healthy, restorative sleep, spend 2 hours with family and the people that matter the most and call it 9 hours in school or that other job. What are you doing with the remaining 5 hours each day? What are you doing on your days off? If you’re hanging out getting drinks with your buddies, playing video games, binging shows on Netflix, or whatever, it’s 100% your fault you’re not where you want to be. However, if you’re happy with that life and feel fulfilled, great! This is not for you. For those that want more, it’s time to get to work. I’m always a big believer in taking care of your physical and mental health first. Because if your body and mind are in a good place, you have the energy and motivation to push through. The music industry is really hard work. Careers are not handed out at graduation day. Those have to be earned, through hard work, low pay, a positive and good attitude, and lots of patience. Also, talk to a few people in the industry, and make sure it’s something you really want. The music industry can be very harsh, cold, and extremely unforgiving.

I’ve been in the business for over 12 years at this point. Everyday I see a lot of people in the industry that are just burnt out, or have given up on their goals and dreams. They get comfortable with where they currently are. It may not be their ideal career or lifestyle, but it’s the best that they can do. At least they tell themselves that story. But they are feeding themselves a lie. Life is too short to not do something that inspires and motivates you to the core. The most important thing is to make sure you’re enjoying the journey to your goal. You’re going to spend most of the time on the journey. If you’re not enjoying the journey, you’re not going to enjoy the end point. You may need to take a few jobs and volunteer opportunities at first to build your resume. However, get to where you feel happy and fulfilled as quickly as possible. Waste as little time as possible being depressed, unhappy, or any other negative feeling. Because I’ve been there and it sucks. It lead me to making one of the worst decisions in my life, and it took me 4 years to recover from that decision. I thought I’d never get a career in the industry again. I quit what many would’ve considered a dream job. My boss and mentor, told me that he won’t be around forever, and that someone will need to take his place. He was hoping for that to be me. My depression got the better of me, and I quit. That decision sucked for a really long time, but I wasn’t mentally 100% there.

One more thing before we get started. Don’t compare yourself or focus on what others are doing. That’s a dead end path. Focus on what you’re doing. How can you do better today than you did yesterday. For 1 to 2% of the people out there, it’s going to be easy. However, you don’t know how they got there or what connections they may have had. Focus on you, and build your own connections and take your own journey to a career in the music industry, and find your path to a fulfilled life.

Where to Start?

Below are a bunch of links to all different areas in the music industry from big companies to sites that list opportunities for freelance work. Get your foot in the door anywhere possible. If you’re in school or working another job, do as much freelance work on the side as you can. Build your resume one show, one event, one internship at a time. If you fill your schedule with a show every other week, you’ll be amazed how impressive your resume will look in a year, and how many new connections you’ve made.  Be extremely patient, always stay positive, and always try to find ways to be helpful. Be proactive. Don’t wait around for someone to give you something to do. For the people that wait around, it takes longer, and sometimes a whole lot longer to get to where they want to go. The ones that are positive and proactive usually always get to where they want to go. It just takes time. It could take weeks, months, years, and sometimes even a decade or two. But stay consistent with the positivity, hard work, and being proactive, and you will get there.

I once shared some of these thoughts and only a handful of the links below with a Full Sail University student. She immediately took the advice I gave her, and within a few short weeks she landed a job in the box office at House of Blues in Orlando. She got her foot in the door. Working in the box office, you have access to Marketing people, Tour Managers, Talent Buyers, Production Managers, and many more. You learn about ticketing, which is one of the most important parts in the industry. We have to sell tickets somewhere. She’s going to learn about customer service, buyer behaviors and concerns, and so much more. This might be only a foot in the door for her, but working her butt off scanning and selling tickets along with being proactive, patience, consistent, and having a positive attitude, greeting every guest with excitement, is going to lead to her to something really great. I can’t wait to see where she goes. I can’t wait to see where you go.

I would love to hear some stories of your journey, and your first steps, and then follow-up a few years down the road to hear about where you are now. Maybe our journey will cross paths in the music industry. The further you move up, the smaller the business gets. Take that first step to building your resume, enjoy the journey, laugh, love, and work with passion everyday. If you have an off day, try better the next day. Not everyday can be great, and not every day will be great. But YOU WILL GET THERE! Check these links out, and feel free to share additional links, questions, or success in the comments. Thank you!

Music Tour Bus

Major Promoters:
Live Nation -
AEG Presents -

Top Promoters
AC Entertainment -
Aiken Promotions -
Another Planet Entertainment -
Awakening Events -
Beaver Productions -
Bill Blumerich Presents -
Broadway Across America -
C3 Presents -
C Moore Live -
Caesars Entertainment -
Cardeans Marketing Network - CMN -
Chugg Entertainment Group -
Crossroads Presents -
DF Concerts (UK) -
DG Entertainment (Argentina) -
DG Medios (Chile) -
Dirk Becker Entertainment -
Evenko (Canada) -
Feld Entertainment -
First Avenue Productions -
FKP Scorpio (Germany) -
FPC Live -
Frontier Touring Group (Australia) -
Greenhouse Talent (Belgium/Netherlands) -
ICON Concerts -
IMP Concerts -
Jam Productions -
Kilimanjaro Live (UK) -
Mammoth Live -
MCD Productions (Ireland) -
Move Concerts -
MSG Live -
Nederlanders Concerts -
North American Entertainment Group -
NS2 Concerts -
Outback Concerts -
Phil McIntyre Entertainments (UK) -
PromoWest Productions -
Professional Facilities Management -
Red Mountain Entertainment -
Semmel Concerts (Germany) -
T4F (South America) -
Triple A Entertainment (UK) -
Ocesa (Mexico) -
Premier Productions -
Score More Shows -
SJM (UK) -
VStar Entertainment Group -
Zignia Live (Mexico) -

Talent Agencies (The Big 6)
Creative Artists Agency (CAA) -
William Morris Endeavour (WME_ -
United Talent Agency (UTA) -
Agency for the Creative Arts (APA) -
ICM Partners -
Paradigm -

Boutique Talent Agencies
Atomic Music Group -
Blue Mountain Artists -
Crossover Touring -
Fleming Artists -
Flowerbooking -
High Road Touring -
Madison House -
Midwood Entertainment -
Partisan Arts -
Red 11 Agency -
The Billions Corporation -
The Empire Agency -
Skyline Online -

Major Labels
Universal Music Group -
Sony -
Warner Music Group -

Music Publishing Companies
Artist Publishing Group (Los Angeles, CA) -
Arthouse Entertainment (Hollywood, CA) -
Atlas Music Publishing (New York, NY) -
Bicycle Music Company (Beverly Hills, CA) -
Big Deal Music (Encino, CA) -
Big Yellow Dog Music (Nashville, TN) -
BMG (NYC, LA, Nashville) -
Bluewater Music (Nashville, TN) -

Artist Management Companies

Independent Music PR/Publicity and Media Firms
All Eyes Media -
Big Hassle (NYC, LA) -
Calabro Music & Media (Kingston, NY) -
Greenlight Go -
Live Loud Media -
Mason Jar Media (Asheville, NY) -
Muddy Paw PR -
No Big Deal PR -
Sacks & Co -
Schure Media Group -
Shore Fire Media (Various Locations) -

Production / Touring / Music Festivals
All Access Staging & Productions (Nationwide) -
AVL Productions (Jacksonville, FL/North Florida) -
Bobnet (Freelance Nationwide) -   
Clearwing Productions (Nationwide) -
Clair Global (Nationwide) -
Eight Day Sound (Nationwide) -
G2 Structures (Nationwide) -
Gallagher Staging (Nationwide) -
Mountain Productions (Nationwide) -
Premier Global Production (Nashville, TN, Nationwide) -
PRG (Nationwide) -
Rat Sound Systems (Nationwide) -
Solo Tech (Nationwide) -
Sound Image Productions (Nationwide) -
Stageco Productions (Nationwide) -
Tait Productions (Nationwide) -
Upstaging, Inc. (Nationwide) -
VER Productions (Nationwide) -

Live Events / Staffing / VIP Ticketing
237 Global -
Andy Frain Services -
Artist Arena -
CID Entertainment -
Contemporary Services Corporation -
Future Beat -
Songkick -
Teamwork Online -
Tickets Today -

Performance Rights Organizations (PRO’s)

Job Listing Sites
APAP Career & Job Center -
Digital Music News -
Music Business Worldwide -
Venues Today -
Fun Jobs at Music Festivals -

Also, search music venues in your area. Below are a few good places to find venues. and

Find Music Festivals in your area at

What Musicians Need to Know About the Facebook Algorithm Change

Facebook, the social media platform launched famously by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004,
completely transformed the way we interact on a daily basis with not just our friends and
family, but our surrounding communities and businesses too. We chat on Messenger, share
Tide Pod memes and footage of Paige Ginn falling down a bunch of times, watch our talented
cousin sing Adele, discover interesting events and concerts in our area, invite people to secret
groups for a Sunday night football hang, and play endless hours of Candy Crush Saga along with
so much more! Since it’s start, Facebook has not shied away from wanting to become more and
more enveloped in our “social” lives. Although some would argue that the program has made
us increasingly less social in real life, with 1.98 billion active users, Facebook actually has helped
curate more revenue for businesses small and large and has raised donations and awareness
for causes than ever before! You can send money through to a friend, aid your favorite
charities, buy that cute dog shirt for your aunt’s birthday, and even purchase concert tickets
with just the click of a button.

For the consumer all of this sounds great, right? Everything you want to see, and places you
want to visit, all at the ease of browsing through one social media platform… and it’s almost like
Facebook can read your mind too. But oh, it’s no coincidence. Facebook CAN actually “read
your mind” with ad matchups and the new algorithm Zuckerberg announced in January.
So as a marketer for a business or product, how is the new algorithm going to affect me? How
do I stand out amongst the millions of other pages out there all trying to reach the masses?
Follow these simple steps and tricks below.

1. Don’t Freak Out
Take a deep breath in and out. This new algorithm won’t hurt your products, but it will force
you to think creatively to reach your audiences. You’ll become a smarter marketer because of
it. Mark Zuckerberg wants to bring “Facebook back to it’s roots.” The whole foundation of
Facebook was built upon the idea that the user can interact with family and friends easily,
promoting self-well being. To help maintain this structure, Zuckerberg and his team want to get
rid of “fake news” so to speak. This system intends to get rid of spammers, so every news
source has to be verified. Your feed will favor posts that are shared by local news sources using
your location, because you are more likely willing to identify with local issues and events in your

2. Create Posts with High Engagement
So Facebook is literally cleaning its interface of internet spammers and bots to make room for consumer happiness. What does that mean about posting? Does it consider my product posts “spam”? Not necessarily. The key to making posts now that the new algorithm is in effect, is to make them less often and to really think about what you are posting. Zuckerberg says, “I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” By “social interactions,” he doesn’t just mean views and likes. Conversations are key here. Say you have this awesome food blog where you post cooking tutorial videos. Your new recipe just came out for gooey bacon fried macaroni and cheese. You don’t just want to get people to like the post or tag their friends. You want them to react to the post, tag their friends, comment, and the most important part where you want their friends to comment back and for them to have a continuing conversation on your post. OKAY so, I’ll just ask them to talk about how good the food is on the page so it will reach a greater audience? WRONG. Facebook now penalizes posts that ask for likes, reposts, shares, or comments. You really have to be creative and unique enough with your content to create enough of a buzz that people will have a conversation about. Tying this all back to the “roots,” removing spammers helps promote self-well-being!

3. DON’T post links that lead users off Facebook
Facebook really wants to latch onto every single form of content you are putting out there for
your customers and fans to see. With this mantra entails that they absolutely don’t want you
leaving Facebook for any reason. Links embedded in posts that lead users off of Facebook and
onto other platforms of media distribution will be heavily weighed against. You have to be
careful because those links normally contain some of your most important content. This can be
a tricky one to get around, especially if you are an artist that has a lot of engaging media and
viewers on YouTube. Get used to uploading those videos right to Facebook, and encouraging
engagement (conversation) directly in the comment section. Utilize FB’s event pages. Make a
page for every show you’re playing, upload unique and relevant content related to just that
show. Write posts on that event page as if it were just your regular feed. Reply to your fans
comments. The people interested in going to your event will become more excited that they
heard directly from you! Sell your tickets directly off FB, don’t get caught in the trap of posting
a link to an off-site ticketing source. Even if you hate it, FB Live actually gets six times more
social interactions. Try to at least #golive once a week. Show your fans what you’re doing, cool
areas that you are visiting, or test out/ promote that new product you’re selling!

4. Never Rely on a 3rd Party to contain your audience
Remember Myspace? Social media platform that existed 2003 to around 2006 then seemingly
vanished off the face of the earth overnight? What happened to your audiences and friends?
Did they magically just transfer over to Facebook? I don’t think so… Third party social media
sites are a great thing when they are around and available at everyone’s convenience. Even
though Facebook has become an empire and will seemingly never “vanish,” who’s to say that
something bigger won’t replace it one day? You need to be in complete control over your
audiences. You should have a running list of every single one of your fan’s email addresses. But
just signing them up for your newsletter isn’t enough. You need to actually be consistent and
creative with your news feeds. The last thing you want your followers to do is to unsubscribe
from your list. For example, do an early release of a song or behind the scenes footage of your
creative process for just your most devoted fans. Make those new letters worthwhile and
engaging and you’ll forever have fans who are actively involved themselves in your brand!

Guest Post by Ashley Avicolli
IG: @AshleyAvicolli

Booking More Shows by Writing Better Emails to Talent Buyers, Promoters, and Venue Owners

If you’ve tried booking shows for your band, you’re probably familiar with sending tons of emails and getting excited about the very few responses. What’s even more exciting is being able to book a show with a complete stranger at a venue you’ve never worked with before, and in a city, you’ve never played before. Those usually get a little fist pump in the air. These are probably the emails you look back at and try to figure out what you did right, and start using that as your new or modified template of what you send to venues, promoters, and talent buyers going forward. Just to start the process all over again with sending out several emails that get ignored. Booking your band can seem like a game of numbers and a total soul crusher. The more emails you send out, the more responses you get. This takes a lot of time, along with trying to track down contacts for the venues bookers or talent buyers, or trying to track down promoters that book shows at those venues. This whole process would be much easier, and less time consuming if musicians just send an email to promoters, talent buyers, and venues of what they’re actually looking for. One of the biggest things they want to see is that you can bring people to their venue, and it really helps if those people are drinkers. We all want to sold-out shows of people that spend $20 plus per person at the bar, but that’s not possible every day.

In my short 10 year history as a Talent Buyer and Promoter, I’ve booked over 2,000 shows. I definitely have my pet peeves and specific things I look for in emails. However, these are habits and preferences I personally developed over time, and as I mentioned, I still consider myself fairly early in my career having started in 2006. To get a better understanding of what venues are looking for, I reached out to over 50 Talent Buyers, Promoters, and Venue Owners, and got some amazing feedback from all over the United States of what types of emails get the most responses, which get ignored, pet peeves, what to include, and much more. Hopefully, this article will lead to better emails for my fellow Talent Buyers and Promoters, and more confirmed shows for all my musicians out there. Here are some of the most common responses and key takeaways to help you craft a better email the next time you try to book a show. Also, see sample email at the end.

Booking Shows

1. Keep it Quick and Short
The fastest way to end up in someone’s “trash” is by sending long emails. In the book, “How to Make It in the New Music Business,” Ari Herstand, has an eight-sentence rule. This experience comes from having booked hundreds of shows for himself. The eight-sentence rule is a really good place to start. However, you can also include bullet points, which keeps the emails clean and easy to read. This is something ICM booking agent, Meg White, mentioned in our podcast episode. Tim Hall from JaxLive and Mavericks in Jacksonville, FL, likes to see one to two paragraphs at max. Anything more is too much. Remember that Talent Buyers, Promoters, and Venue Owners are getting a ton of inquiries every day. If your emails are too long, you’re not going to get a response. Your MAX should be 10 sentences, grouped into two paragraphs. Anything more than that, you’re going to reduce your chances of a response drastically.

2. Be Professional
Always err on the side of professionalism. If you have never met them in person and have developed a friendship or a good acquaintance, keep it, professionals. Avoid starting your emails with; Hey!, hey man, hey bro, what’s up, etc. The best way to start an email is to use the person’s first name, followed by a comma, and then start a new line to start your message. Or you can add “Dear” in front of their first name. Stay professional throughout the email, don’t make any crazy demands, and don’t request for them to call you, or ask for them to respond ASAP. These are all things that’ll most likely send your emails straight to the trash or get ignored. One of the Talent Buyers mentioned one of their pet peeves is getting notes in the emails that say “We want to play your room - please respond.”

3. Personalize Your Message  
I was shocked to see how many people mentioned that most artists send out email blasts, and never address the Talent Buyer, Promoter, or Venue Owner at all. Whenever I get those emails, I delete them right away. My thought is, “they weren’t asking for or addressing me, so this email is not for me. Delete!” This is a relationship business. If you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear every guest stress the importance of relationships, and adding value to those relationships. Take the time to research who to address the emails to. Also, it never hurts to do some research on their social media pages, or LinkedIn profile to get know about some of their interests. However, if you go personal, make sure it comes across as truly genuine, and not like you’re trying to follow the steps of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. They’ll see right through that.

If you can’t find a contact, call the venue, and say something along the lines of this:

“My name is Chris. Sorry to bother you with a call, but I could not find a contact on your website or Facebook page. I’m interested in booking a show at your venue. Could you direct me to an email address for the person that’s responsible for booking your venue?” Followed by “Thanks so much for your time. You’ll be receiving an email from _____ (enter your band name) shortly. Have a great day!”

4. Be Honest About Your History in the Market  
As I mentioned before, the music business is all about relationships. If you’re being dishonest at any point, you’re going to burn bridges, and not book any shows. One of the questions you’ll get from most Talent Buyer, Promoter, or Venue Owners, is about your history in the market, or your history in that city. Where have you played before, when, how many tickets did you sell, who else did you play with, or is this your first time in the market? If you tell a venue you can sell 200 tickets, and come up drastically short, you’re probably never going to work with that venue again. Be honest about your numbers. This is one of the biggest things that was stressed. It’s mind-boggling how many artists lie about their numbers. Most of the times we can read through the BS, but some will slip through the cracks and burn a bridge. Be honest!

Also, if you opened for a known national act before, regardless of which city, make sure to include that. Even though it may not mean you’re worth tickets in the city you’re trying to book, It’s like a stamp of approval. Jeffrey Liles, the Artistic Director at The Kessler Theater in Dallas, TX said, “If the headliner believes in another artist enough to put them on as an opener, then that new act comes with a sort of unspoken approval of that headliner, and subsequently, access to their own fan base. The best advice I could give to a younger artist is to have a more established artist pitch their material on their behalf. Makes all the difference in the world.”

It’s ok if it’s your first time in the market, and you aren’t represented by a national booking agent. But start at a smaller venue with a capacity of under 200 people. I always like the philosophy of underplaying, and purposely playing a smaller venue that you can pack out. If you’re confident you can get 50 people out, play a coffeehouse that holds 20 to 30. Also, another great way to get your first show in a new city is by playing house concerts. Check out the podcast episode I did with Shannon Curtis, and where she talks about how she’s making over $60,000 per year playing house concerts. House concerts are not just for singer just for singer-songwriters anymore. I’ve seen an endless amount of metal bands doing garage shows, and Rappers/DJ’s hosting house parties.

Another thing that helps, is finding a few local bands to play with, and trade shows with them. A lot of times booking an unknown band can be really tough, and a lot of work. If you come to the Talent Buyer, Promoter, or Venue Owner with a complete line-up of 2 to 3 local bands, you’re going to increase your chances of getting a response, and getting booked. Especially if these are locals they’re familiar with.

Booking Better Shows

5. Your Social Media Following Matters (Somewhat) 
Your social media numbers matter, but are not the end all be all. If you have a few hundred followers, you might want to stick to building your hometown first. There is no set formula, but here are some numbers you can go by. If you’re an out of town band but from the same state, I’m more confident in booking you with 2,500 to 5,000 followers. If you’re from out of state, but within the region, I like to see 10,000+ followers. And if you’re from another side of the country, I gain confidence with 20,000+ followers. However, these are not set in stone numbers. Everyone has different parameters and it varies by genre, but make sure that your stats are not in the hundreds or under 2,000. You have some work to do before playing outside of your hometown.

6. Which Links to Include
I’m surprised from all of the responses of how many people mentioned that musicians forget to include links to their website and social media pages. Include all of your links, and lead with the strongest platforms first (where you have the most followers). The links you should include are your website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, a link to a video (preferably one professional music video, and one live video), and a link to where someone can stream music (Spotify, SoundCloud, or Bandcamp are best). Dana Sims, Talent Buyer at El Corazon / Funhouse in Seattle, WA, said that 70% of artists forget to include a link to their website, socials, and music.

Make sure that your links are NOT mobile links (example Take out the “m.” Mobile Facebook links won’t open properly on a laptop. Try to use hyperlinks, smart url’s or links to make everything look clean and reduce the amount of text in your emails.  Laurie Koster at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC said “Send links to your website, socials, music, and video(s). Be sure they’re all working.”

7. Be Specific with the Dates You're Looking For
Be very specific about the dates you’re looking for. If you don’t send specific dates, you’ll probably get ignored. Keep dates to a 3 to 5 day range, and 10 at max. Make sure to check the venue's website first, and that the dates you’re looking for are not already booked. Always do your homework first on what dates seem to be open on their calendar, and the type of music they book. Also, don’t assume, just because the date doesn’t have a show confirmed on the website that the date is available. The date could still be booked, but it’s a show that’s not announced yet or a hold that’s about to confirm. Just cause it’s not on the website, doesn’t mean the date is available, but definitely, don’t send an email for a date that’s already confirmed on the website. I like including the dates in the email and the subject. Also, to make your emails look shorter, list your dates as “MM/DD” (example, 11/27  instead of “November 27th” or “Nov 27).” Using the “MM/DD” format decreases the number of characters you use, and it’s easier to read.

8. Include Data Relevant to the Market
Data can really help when you don’t have a history in the market. If you’re getting a lot of plays on Spotify, sales, or followers in a specific area, you can use that to help give the Talent Buyer, Promoter, or Venue Owner more confidence in booking you or your band. Including backup is always a good idea. Remember, building an honest relationship is the key. It doesn’t hurt to be transparent. If you can find a good and the right partner to promote you in a new city, you can build a relationship that’ll last you your entire career.

9. Don't Forget to Mention Your Genre
Make sure to list your genre. You can combine this with your elevator pitch. More on that shortly.

10. What Type of Content You Should Have? 
Make sure you always put your best foot forward. You should have nice easy to navigate website, professional press photos and live photos, and a few high-quality live videos or acoustic videos, and most preferably one professional music video. Also, make sure that your music is always the best quality possible. Don’t send demos. Take your band serious, if you want others to take you seriously. It’s easy to build a website these days on platforms like Bandzoogle or Squarespace. You don’t have to hire a fancy web designer to get a professional website done. If you can attach a photo to an email, you can build a website.

11. Use an Elevator Pitch Instead of Your Bio
Don’t include bios in your email. Keep those on your website. Most Talent Buyers, Promoters, and Venue Owners will never read them. David Magazine at House of Blues / Live Nation New Orleans said, “Describe the band/act in one sentence/blurb – what is this you are booking? Common mistakes…that’s tough but I’d say that long bios are unnecessary – in fact I’d skip the bio in favor of press quotes and relevant market history”

Come up with a short one-sentence elevator pitch that describes your genre, and makes some potential comparisons of similar artists your music may sound like. These comparisons are not saying that you sound exactly like a specific band, it’s just to give them an idea, and to get their attention. Just make sure to be humble. When you say you sound like Adele, the expectations are going to be extremely high. Don’t fall short. If you say something along the lines of “you don’t sound like anyone else or completely unique and different” you’re probably not going to get a response.

12. Include Press Quotes if You Have Them
If you have any write-ups on notable blogs or in the paper, including a quick quote from what someone said about your band can be helpful to include. These are not something that’s a must to be booked but can help if it’s a blog that most people will recognize. That will show that your band is getting the attention of the press, which will hopefully lead to selling tickets down the road.

13. Do NOT Message on Facebook
One of the biggest pet peeves that most responded with are messages on Facebook. Don’t track down and send friend requests to Talent Buyers, Promoters, and Venue Owners on Facebook. For most this was a “deal breaker.” It would be for me too. If and ONLY if, you have done your homework and can’t track down a contact. A message along the lines of:

How to send a message on Facebook

14. Don't Get Lazy With Your Subject Lines
Don’t get lazy with your subject lines. I like including the artist name, dates, and genre in parentheses in the subject line followed by the venue you’re reaching out to. So they know it’s specific for their venue, and it’s not an email blast.

Example: Band Name, 8/1 to 8/5 (Rock/Indie) - Venue Name  

15. Be Patient and Make Sure to Follow-up
These go together, because some musicians never make the effort to follow-up, and some are very impatient and will send a message every day or every other day. That’s too much. Make sure to always follow-up. Getting no response isn’t always a rejection. It could just mean that they have a lot going on that week. Also, send new emails. Don’t reply to your previous email, or send anything along the lines of “2nd request,” “3rd request,” etc. This will put you on their ignore list. Always follow-up, but give it at least 7 days in between follow-up messages.

Big thank you to all of the following promoter, talent buyers, and venue owners for your feedback! Plus all of the anonymous ones. We really appreciate your support!!

Bruce Krippner, Talent Buyer at Martyrs’ - Chicago, IL
Charles Bilsker, Hometeam New Years Rally Festival - Tampa, FL
Dan Steiny, Co-Founder of Emporium Presents and Promoter 101 Podcast - Auburn, WA  
Dana Sims, Talent Buyer at El Corazon / Funhouse - Seattle, WA
David Magazine, Talent Buyer at House of Blues / Live Nation New Orleans
Jeff Liles, Artistic Director at Kessler Theater - Dallas, TX
Justin Willis, Talent Buyer at Nowhere Bar - Athens, GA
Kate Dale, Director of Entertainment at River Music Experience - Davenport, IA
Laurie Koster, Co-Owner of The Evening Muse - Charlotte, NC
Libby Brickson, Talent Buyer at City Winery - Chicago, IL
Ron Brice, Talent Buyer at 3rd & Lindsley - Nashville, TN
Tim Hall, Owner of Jax Live - Jacksonville, FL

Sample Pitch Email 

Sample Pitch Email 

1. Inside the Life of a Talent Buyer
2. How to Open for National Acts
3. Interview with Kevin Stone, Talent Buyer at Florida Theater in Jacksonville, FL
4. Interview with Dan Larson, Okeechobee Festival
5. Interview with Allen Anders, AEG Presents
6. Interview with Michael Yerke, Live Nation
7. Interview with Ben Weeden, Live Nation

Simplifying Branding: The Things That Really Matter

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Branding is one of the foundations of every artist and business. However, you don’t need to spend a ton of time stressing over it, or consuming endless amounts of content on the topic. The only thing that really matters when it comes to branding or building a business, are your customers (or call them fans, or your community), and that you offer them endless amounts of value. That’s it! One of my favorite quotes on branding is by Tim Ferriss, where he said “branding is over delivering one or two values to your 1,000 true fans.” I usually begin every semester in Music Business 101 or Artist Development with branding and storytelling being the foundation to every artist or business. It’s a good brand and stories that lead people to the product or the music. You’ll often hear me mention the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast quote that “music is the last thing that matters, until people hear it, and then it’s the only thing that matters.” So lead people to the music with brand, stories, and content. That’s your foundation.  

There is endless amounts of content out there on branding, and you can even hire brand strategists for a boatload of money to help build your brand. Nothing against brand strategists, I love them, and even had some amazing ones on the podcast. However, not all of us can afford them. One of my motivations to this post was a recent podcast by Tim Ferriss where he talked about his “3 Critical Rules of Branding,” and one of the things he said that really resonated with me was “forget about branding, focus on what fucking matters, and the rest will take care of itself.” Even though you should spend most of your time focusing on the customers, and what they want (more on this shortly), there are a few things that you should keep in mind when creating the “brand” behind your business. When you look at the most successful companies, artists, or individuals out there, they follow some simple things, and may not be thinking of “branding” when doing so, but thinking of building a business that’s best for their customers.

Here are 6 simple things to consider when building your brand.

1. Narrow Your Focus (Depth not width)
Narrow your focus on the most important aspects of your business - your audience size, what you do, and how you deliver it. This may seems simple, but it’s mind boggling how many people I see violating this simple rule all the time. I lead with target audience (or target market), because this is your most important area to focus on. Am I starting to sound like a broken record yet? Good. It’s that important! One of my favorite things that Tony Robbins says a lot is “Don’t fall in love with your product or service, fall in love with your customer. Then find a way to serve them.” If you haven’t heard my podcast episode with Joe Pulizzi yet, he talks about how after three years his business completely failed, and he ran out of money. He fell in love with his product. What changed his business and turned it into a multi-million dollar company, was when he asked his customers how he can best serve them, and then only focused on that.

The rule of narrowing your focus is also important to when it comes to what you do. You can’t build a business that realistically should be multiple different companies. Not only does this spread you thin, but it also reduces the amount of quality and focus you can give to your customers. It’s ok to be involved in multiple areas down the road, but not in the beginning. When you first start out, you should spend at least 18 months to three years being hyperfocused on doing one thing to serve your audience. If, and only if you’re making money, and you have an audience of at least 500 customers (ideally 1,000), then it’s ok to starting thinking of expansion. Ideally, you’ll have a team on board to be part of the expansion, so it’s not all on you, and you lose focus, because you’re doing too much. An artist that did a great job with this was Halsey. She spent two years only creating content on YouTube and Tumblr, before she ever started touring. Whether intentionally or not, Halsey had a narrowed focus on building her audience and serving that audience with her content.


Speaking of content, narrowing your focus also relates to focusing on the power of ONE medium to deliver your content. Some of the most successful businesses and artists, are focused on building a media company. This goes for companies that Joe Pulizzi mentions in our conversation, such as ESPN, Disney, or Red Bull, to artists such as Taylor Swift, John Mayer, Halsey, to name a few. In the world of content marketing, content can be either video, audio, written, or live events. And there are many different types within each of these categories. Those are the main types of ways to deliver content to your audience. When it comes to musicians, your original music and live shows, are part of your revenue streams. This is how you make money. If you focus on making great music and having a great live show, having one and only one other type of content to consistently deliver to your audience, you’ll be on your way to building a powerful brand. There is a ton of information on content marketing. A good place to start is anything by the “Godfather of Content Marketing,” Joe Pulizzi. Check out our podcast episode. This piece of content can be as simple as a weekly cover, vlog, blog, weekly freestyles, lessons/educational content, or anything else that will offer value to your audience.

2. Become the Leader in your category, or create a new one.
About once a week I listen to the Spotify Viral 50 and Top 50 U.S.Charts. Have you ever noticed that once one or two artists come up with something that’s a little different within a genre, and it takes off, everyone else follows the same style and sound. The ones that are early adopters of this new sound, are usually the leaders in their category, or this new sub-genre. Those are the artists that build lifelong careers. Even when the genre or style goes away, it’s usually the leaders in this new sub-genre or category, that tend to continue to have a career playing and making music. The artists that follow the “trend,” are often the one-hit-wonders, and the ones that are here today and gone tomorrow. Grandmaster Flash was not the founder or even one of the first artists in Hip-Hop, but he was one of the first to become a leader in the category. Becoming a leader in a category or creating a category, doesn’t mean you have to create a completely new genre. It’s just about creating your own authentic sound within an existing genre, and then building 1,000 true fans around that category or sound. Dare to be different.

You’ll hear me mention 1,000 true fans a lot. This comes from the famous article by Kevin Kelly. It takes 1,000 true fans to build a business. Check out the article here:

3. Consistency
Once you’ve narrowed your focused and have a clear vision of who your ideal customer is, how your business serves them, how you deliver your content to them, and how you’re going to be different, it’s time to be consistent...with EVERYTHING. Be consistent in your messaging, frequency of delivering content, and the quality of your product or service. The quickest way to lose a customer is to be inconsistent. Start with something that is manageable and realistic for you. If you have the time and discipline to do a daily vlog or a daily rhyme, that’s ok. However, it doesn’t need to be that frequent. The least amount of consistency with your content should be once a week. If it’s a podcast, vlog, blog, covers, or whatever your thing is that makes you uniquely you and authentic, deliver that to your audience at least once a week. As much as I would love to deliver my podcast 5 days a week, realistic for me is once a week, every Thursday there is a new episode. Be consistent with the frequency and the time. Pick the same day every week to deliver to your audience, so they know to expect it on that day. Be consistent with your content, product or service, message you put out in the world, posting on social media, your visuals (more on that shortly). Be consistent about everything.

4. Quality
Deliver the best quality product or service, and content you can. The big problem here though is waiting till it’s perfect. It’s never going to be perfect, but it should continually get better and better with time. What’s best is to launch your product and fine tune it as you go, but fine tune it based on what your customers wants are. Not what you want it to be. We launched the podcast with an episode with one of my best friends, Greg Rollett. He talked about the book “Ready, Fire, Aim,” and about how people get stuck forever in “aim” and never get to launch their business. What’s better is to get ready as quickly as possible, and then “fire” or launch your business. Facebook was terrible when it first launched. Today, it’s the most popular social media platform in the world. As Einstein said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.” This applies to waiting forever to launch your product, but then never changing anything once you launch. Get your product out into the world, and make small adjustments every day or every week. Over a period of one year plus, a tiny adjustment every week, will seem like a massive improvement when you compare your product after one year to where you started.

Launch your product and get it out into the world, now! However, don’t just let it stay in it’s original form. You should always focus on improving your product or service, and deliver the best quality to your customers that you can. Dave Grohl one said, all it takes to “make it” in the music business is “having great songs, and a killer live show. That’s it!” Constantly work on your craft, and work towards your 10,000 hours of master, and way beyond. What are you waiting for? If you had to launch your product in the next 30 days, what would you do to be ready? Launch in 30 days. The world is more forgiving and supportive than you think.

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5. Visuals
Add some kind of visual component to enhance your “brand” or business. This can be images on your Instagram or Facebook feed, or videos of behind the scenes, or both. Especially include great visuals on your website. With today’s technology, it’s incredibly easy to create great quality photos and videos. It can be as simple as buying the best quality phone you can afford, and start there. Same as with quality, don’t wait to be perfect, get started now and start fine tuning your brand as you go. People love seeing the progression of a brand. Plus seeing a brand grow not just in number of followers or income, but also the look and feel of the brand, that’s where the stories come from. Once you get started, start figuring out filters or setting that you feel are a good fit with your authentic style. As your business starts to grow, you can upgrade your photo/video gear, and even hire a photographer once a month to take a ton of current photos. You can usually get an entire month’s worth of visual content from one good photoshoot. As you start putting out videos and photos, pay attention to what your audience engages with the most. Don’t fall in love with specific photos. Pay attention with what your audience engages with the most. Use the best visuals you can, make sure they’re consistent with your brand, be creative, be authentic, and listen to your audience.

6. Collaboration
The fastest way to grow your business and build your audience is collaborating with others. You’ll often hear people talk about building a relationship with influencers, and creating value for them to get them to collaborate with you down the road. I completely agree that this is extremely important. However, while you’re building a relationship with influencers in your community, you can start collaborating with others that are at your level today. When you collaborate with others, you have the potential to reach and convert a new audience. It’s not necessarily 1 + 1 = 2. The thought here is, if you have 100 followers, and the person you collaborate with has 100 followers, hopefully you can convert 10% of them to check out your music, product, or service. Once they come to your page, and you can convert another 10% into true fans, that’s a win.

Usually you see artists collaborating in Hip-Hop, EDM, Pop, singer-songwriters when they co-write, YouTube stars, or the jamband world.  However, all genres and businesses benefit from collaborating with influencers, and their peers. The best collaborations happen when you don’t focus on YOU, but how can you serve and add value to the person you’re collaborating with. When you collaborate, be genuine, be authentic, and focus on putting out the best quality product or service for BOTH of your audiences. This kind of approach creates a successful collaboration that benefits everyone, the collaborators, and their audiences. Also, it builds lifelong friendships and partnerships. And if you’re into studying about health, in the blue zones of happiness, they talk about how community will actually help you live longer too. It doesn’t get any better than that. Play nice with others.

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Closing thoughts: 
Along with all of these rules to branding, don’t forget to be patient. It’s not going to happen overnight. Patience is the most important thing here. When you’re playing the long game, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful career, and a powerful brand. Knowing that, focus on what really matters - your customers aka your fans aka your community. Build some friendships, and remember to have fun.

Related Content:
1. "How to Tell Your Story on Social Media" by Katherine Forbes
2. Interview with Brand Strategist & Marketing Expert, Jasmine Star


40 Strategies to Promote Your Next Show

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One of my students favorite lectures, is when we talk about all the different strategies artists can use to promote their shows. After having promoted over 2,000 shows, I’ve seen a few things that work, and don’t work. Below I share 40 different strategies with you that you can add to your marketing arsenal. These are separated in three categories. The Basics - everything you should be doing and don’t want to miss. Social Media and Digital Marketing - pretty much everything that happens online. And Networking - you need to meet people in person that will become supporters of your music, not just online. You can’t just show up, and hope they’re there. When you do that, you’ll be playing for the bartender, audio engineer, and door person. That’s not fun for anyone!

One of the keys to keep in mind here, is the total number of impressions. These don’t just need to be digitally or online, they can be physical or in person. In the book, Guerilla Marketing, by Jay Conrad Levinson, he mentions that it takes at least 14-17 times for someone to notice your brand or business. Especially with the amount of noise and distraction in the world. Once people take notice and pay attention, it takes another average of seven touch points on average for someone to make a purchase. This is why the emphasis on 40 different strategies to load-up your marketing arsenal, as Jay Conrad Levinson calls it. You can’t just put all of your eggs in one basket. You have to be in as many places as possible, to increase your number of touchpoints. The thought is, someone sees your ad on Facebook to you get an invite to a Facebook event to you see the flyer on Instagram and the poster at your favorite coffee shop, to getting a flyer handed to you at school, while seeing another poster in the hallway. Eventually, when you see something often enough, you become conscious of it and might visit the artist's website, or take a listen on Spotify. The first touchpoint. Now you need to create an average of six more touch points from there.

After you’re done, here is a FREE checklist and timeline to help you post together your marketing strategy for your next show.

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The Basics
1. Show Posters
Don’t half ass your show poster. I see so many shows where the artist just used a band photo as the show poster. Those are ok to use to promote your show, but create a nice show poster. As Ari Herstand discussed in our first interview, you need to make each show special, and make it an event. Create a nice piece of art as your show poster that will really stand out. This can be distributed digitally online, as well as physically at music stores, colleges, coffee shops, tattoo shops, smoke shops, mom and pop restaurants, food trucks,  and any other locations that will accept your posters.

2. Flyers / Exit Flyering
Same as with the posters. Create a flyer that will stand out, and that people will pay attention to. These can be distributed at the same locations as the posters, both digitally and physically. Also, one of the most effective use of flyers is at other events. Usually best when the event lets out - “Exit Flyering.” You have to be careful with this. Most cities will require you to get a permit to “exit flyer.” I’m not encouraging any illegal activity, and you should definitely get a permit. However, if you decided not to, wait till at least 50-100 people are already outside of the venue. Don’t hand flyers to the first person coming out or when people are just trickling out. That’s how you get busted. Wait till the herd comes out, and go inside the herd to start distributing. This is most effective when done as a team. You’ll get out a ton of flyers in a short period of time. I once distributed 1,000 flyers in 15 minutes at a sold out show on Disney property at House of Blues. Again, don’t go to jail or get trespassed.

3. Sticker / Magnet Bombs
This one requires another warning. Don’t damage property or be a jerk. However, sticker or magnet bombs can be a very effective way to promote a show as well. This is basically putting stickers in bathrooms, doors, venues, or other places where you already see a lot of stickers. It’s the consistency throughout an area when people will recognize the stickers or magnets. Again, don’t be a jerk, and build a bad name for yourself. Spend the extra money on getting stickers that are easy to remove, or use magnets. People can take those home and put them on their fridge. Especially when it’s a cool design.

4. Demos
A quote from a CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast that resonates with me is “Music is the last thing that matters until people hear it, then it’s the only thing that matters.” Get people to your music. Instead of exit flyering, or solely passing out flyers, add a demo with your flyer. Now most people don’t listen to CD’s anymore, but usually they still have CD Players in their cars. If you pass out demo’s when they’re leaving a show and most likely on their way to their car, they may listen to your music. This is about repetition and impressions. If they see the CD in their car every time they get in, see your ad on Facebook, see your post on Instagram, get invited to your event, etc. they’re going to start paying attention. More on Facebook ads and Instagram posts later.

5. Local Support
Find the right locals to play your shows. Find bands that seem to have a following, take their business serious, and are willing to promote. Create flyers and graphics for them too, so they feel like they’re really part of the show. Don’t make it just about you. Also, if you’re from out of town, and don’t have a following yet, take care of the locals. Let them take most of the door. You should just be trying to get as many people in the door as possible, to hear your music, and convert them into fans.

6. Street Teams
Put together street teams that will distribute your flyers and posters for you in your hometown, and out of town. Plan street team dates where they all go out to the same events together wearing the same one of your shirts. If you see 4 to 6 people with the same shirt, that’ll stand out and give you additional impressions. Create some kind of incentive for them. Hang out with the band before the show with food and drinks, free tickets, free merch, etc.

Street Team 02.jpg

7. Virtual Street Teams
Have a team of people post the show flyer on their social media platforms, and have them invite people to the Facebook event page (more on this later). Have incentives for them as well if they meet some kind of minimums. For example, invite at least 500 people to the Facebook event page, and post the show flyer at least five times on your favorite social media platforms.

8. Yard Signs
Yes, like the ones politicians use. You laugh? It’s all about knowing your audience. I once did a show with Arturo Sandoval, a legendary Latin Jazz artist. We had less than 50 tickets sold. I used to live in a big Latin community in Orlando, and noticed there were yard signs promoting pretty much anything from restaurants, salons, concerts, real estate, and garage/yard sales. I had to try it. I printed up 100 bright yellow yard signs with “Arturo Sandoval, Fri July 1, Plaza Live,” We put these up in all the busy intersections, and within one week we sold 300 tickets, and ended up with over 700 tickets sold total. I feel like I have to remind you again here, don’t get a ticket or arrested. Promoting shows is a risky business.  

9. Swag
Record labels have people that go to events to distribute swag at other shows and festivals. Check out my interview with Erick Charles from Fueled by Ramen / Roadrunner Records. He’s their Field Marketing Director, and in charge of this for both labels. When you’re inside of a festival or events, don’t distribute stuff that people will throw away easily. They’re already getting bombarded with flyers and stickers here. Give them something that they can use at these events with your bands info on it - tote bags, drawstring bags, ponchos, hats, sunglasses, or koozies. The bigger items, tote bags or drawstring bags, work best. However, sunglasses and koozies can work very well too.

Swag 01.JPG

10. E-Mail Newsletters
This should probably have been first. BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST!!! Learn how to add value with your email list. This is your most valued audience. There will be an article on this later, but in the meantime, feel free to check out my second conversation with Ari Herstand or my interview with Joe Pulizzi, the Godfather of Content Marketing.

11. Listings
Make sure your show is listed in all the weekly papers, magazines, newspapers, music blogs, colleges, bandsintown, StubHub (put some tickets on sale here, just for the listing), Pollstar, Jambase, and anywhere else local events are listed digitally and physically.

12. Press
Reach out to local papers, bloggers, and independent/college radio, or any other radio program that plays independent music in the area.

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Social Media and Digital Marketing
13. Live Video
Start getting comfortable with live video TODAY. You can do all kinds of fun stuff here. Give them live acoustic previews of your upcoming shows, do interviews with the locals on the show, and anything else that will be fun and add value to your audience. Be consistent, do this at least once a week for four to 6 weeks leading up to your show. Keep this short, and storyboarded. Make live videos 15 to 20 minutes, prepare some questions in advance, don’t wait for people to join, go right into it, and engage with people commenting. Good way to storyboard the flow of your live video would be to - greeting to song to questions/talking to song to goodbye. Treat it like a TV show. Good platforms for live video are Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, and Instagram. You can even simulcast on all of them at the same time with LiveWire or similar platforms.

14. Snapchat / Instagram Stories
Be creative with your Snapchat and Instagram stories. These should be mostly storyboarded and planned out, and not completely random. And don’t show people what you’re eating.

15. BandsInTown Listing / Plugin
Use BandsInTown to list your shows, and use the plugin on Facebook and your website. Rumors are that Songkick is going away, and BandsInTown is the easiest app to use and integrate tour dates to all of your platforms.

16. BandsInTown Newsletter
BandsInTown has a promoter feature that will allow you to send email newsletters to a specific city within a 50-100 mile radius to fans of similar artists. This is

17. Facebook / Instagram Ads
This can be an entire blogpost or series in itself. Learn how to build audiences on Facebook through ads manager, and use those audiences to boost posts and build ads through ads manager on Facebook and Instagram. Get started to learn more about sales funnels and how to get started with this in my interview with Kyle Leamire. It’s easy to boost your posts, but it’s an art to do this right.

18. Facebook Events
On phones, the only show listings people can see is your “Facebook Events.” They won’t be able to see your bandsintown plugin. Use Facebook Events for all of yours shows. Make the venue and all the other bands a co-host and have everyone work from one page for best results. Post exclusive content in your event pages. Also, when you change the title of the event page, everyone that says they’re interested or going to the event will get an update. If it’s “Kendrick Lamar at House of Blues New Orleans,” change it the title the week before, week of, day before, and day of to “Next Week - Kendrick Lamar at House of Blues New Orleans,” “This Week - Kendrick Lamar at House of Blues New Orleans,” “Tomorrow - Kendrick Lamar at House of Blues New Orleans” and “TONIGHT - Kendrick Lamar at House of Blues New Orleans.” Great way to stay on people's radar.

19. Instagram Posts
Be creative with your posts, post consistently, and don’t just post your flyer. Be promotional without being obviously promotional.

20. Instagram Hashtags
You can use up to 30 hashtags. Don’t use your hashtags in your caption. Keep your caption clean in the feed, and post your hashtags as a comment on your post instead.

21. Instagram Location Tag
Use the location Tag. Mix it up - tag the venue, the city, or a popular place near the venue.

IG Hashtags.png

22. Instagram Comment Pods
This is a group message with a group of friends. You can have up to 12 people in a comment pod. Everytime you post here, everyone in the group comments on your photo and likes your photo. Follow these up with a text to your group to let them know you posted. If they immediately like and comment on your photo, this will get picked up by the Instagram algorithm and your post will rank higher. Beat the system! Be careful, this can be very time consuming, and everyone has to play their part in the group.

Using Instagram Comment Pods with former Podcast Guest, Jasmine Star

23. Join the Conversation on Social Media
Engage with people on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that live in the area, and are fans of similar artists. The goal is here is “jab, jab, jab, right hook.” Try your best not to promote, and make the conversation sincere and authentic. If they organically go to your page, check out your music, and become a fan, you have a fan for life. If you go straight to promoting, you’ll be on their blacklist for life.

24. Social Media Influencers
Work with social media influencers in the area to share your event, and post about your show. This could also be an entire blog post or series, but the key here is, try to find a way to add value to the social media influencer, or you can just pay them.

25. Twitter Posts
Be consistent on Twitter. Use photos and videos, and don’t just directly promote. Create posts that your audience will want to engage with, and have their curiosity lead them to discovering your music.

26. Snapchat Geofilters
You can create your own Geofilter to show up at the venue you’re performing before your show, at other shows, or pretty much anywhere else you feel that makes sense. You can target a specific area, and for a specific period of time. This is a great way to build the brand, and gain additional impressions. This is called Geofencing.

Snapchat Geofence.png

27. Geofencing on other platforms
Just like Snapchat Geofilters, you can create ads on other applications. You can target people during a specific period of time, in a specific area of town, and a specific apps. Each app uses a different provider to place their ads. Some are through Google Adsense. Best thing to do here, is figure out the app you want to promote on, and search how to buy ads on that app.

28. YouTube Videos
Just like live video, you can be creative with videos on YouTube to promote your show. Best thing here, is be consistent, be different, and have a clear call to action.

29. Pinterest Boards
Do not underestimate the power of pinterest! Especially if at least half of your audience is female. On your google play store or apple app store, it’s probably in the Top 20 most popular apps (at least as of this writing). Figure out creative ways to promote your shows by building boards. You could build mood boards, themes that preview your show, create a bunch of different flyers, collages of band photos, or even a collection of favorite things to do in the city your playing.

30. Pinterest Ads
You can create ads on Pinterest, just like on Facebook that target very specific people. The thing about ads on Pinterest is that they look “native.” They don’t stand out like an obvious ad.

31. Print Ads in Weekly Local Paper
Check how much ads are in the local weekly paper, physically or digitally. You don’t need a full page ad to promote your show. A quarter page does the trick. But don’t go smaller than that. Also, only do this in cities where the local weekly is still relevant.

32. College Radio
With college radio, you can come in for interviews, do ticket giveaways, or even buy advertising. It’s always best when you can partner with the station, and have them help promote your show. As always, figure out how you can add value to them.

33. YouTube Ads
TV commercials are dead, unless you can afford a Super Bowl ad, but you can create commercials to play on YouTube. You can target specific videos, and target them by location as well. For example, you want to target people that watch the new Foo Fighters video within a 100 mile radius from Atlanta, GA.

34. Google Ads (Adsense)
Don’t underestimate google ads. These can be very effective, and you can get very specific with your targeting. They also have the “Google Display Network,” where you can have your ad show up on website that use google ads to monetize their sites.

Networking Opportunities
35. In-Store Performances
This is straightforward, but it doesn’t have to be just music or record stores. Find the “RIGHT” local partner, where you can do an acoustic in store performance. Think coffee shops, art galleries, skate parks, mom and pop restaurants, etc.

36. Busking
Get a permit to play a busy street corner during the day, or in the Subway in New York. For best results, have a team with you here with your shirts, and flyers for your upcoming show. Andy Grammer (see below), was busking for four years, before he hit the road and put out major hits.

37. Visiting Schools
Music Business schools love having guest speakers. If you’re ever in Miami, feel free to reach out to me. This is a great way to get in front of a group of students that are studying the music business to ask you questions, share your story, and play some tunes for them.

Classroom Concert (small).jpg

38. Networking / Niche Groups
If you’re playing a new city for the first time, and don’t know anyone, go there as early as you can, and integrate yourself into the community. Go to networking events, skate parks, coffee shops, other shows, play pick-up basketball or indoor soccer or really any sport, and integrate yourself into the community just as you would in your hometown.

39. Brand Partnerships
Partner with a local business, and work on ways you can promote each other. For example, I once worked with an artist that was big in the surf community. We partnered with a local fitness studio in New Orleans that offered Surf Fitness classes. He came by to take a free class, he promoted the business to his 50,000+ followers on Instagram, and they promoted him and his upcoming show.

40. Guerilla Marketing
This can be another whole blog post, but do things that stand out that are out of the ordinary. You should check out the story of how Shep Gordon and Alice Cooper sold out a show in London in the early 60’s with only 50 tickets sold a week before the show (see below). This is all about creating moments of history. Getting people to talk, and creating buzz.

How to Tell Your Story on Social Media

Artists tell me all the time that social media marketing feels like such a burden. I also often hear from artists that they simply have no idea how to grow a following, much less engage with said followers.

Sound familiar?

Well, you’re not alone!

To “make it” (see what I did there) in today’s music industry, artists have to take advantage of social media. Agents, promoters, record labels - just to name a few - expect artists to have a certain number of followers before even considering them as a worthy artist to work with.

Artists, before you get frustrated… think about it for a minute as if you were on the other side.

When it comes down to it, the goal of each job in the industry is to work towards the best interest of the artist… aka to make the artist money!

Now ask yourself this: how do artists make money? By selling tickets, merch, albums, etc. And guess what… it’s pretty hard to make substantial sales to a small and/or a disengaged audience.

So while it might seem like a pity game of social media numbers, deep down it’s more than that. The industry truly just wants to know if you can tell a story that grows and inspires a loyal fan base. And today, we can easily find an answer to that in social media metrics.

“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” - Simon Sinek

Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, let’s talk about what makes up a good social media “story!”

The Basics
What I consider to be the “basics” are things like press quotes and links, tour announces, ticket links, merch sales, album release info, links to streaming platforms, etc.

All of these posts can (and should) be scheduled in advance. Your Spotify track link isn’t going to change, so there’s no reason for you to be posting that “in the moment.” Sign up for Buffer, connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and schedule out your basics. I personally like to make 6 week plans for artists, but start with what’s comfortable for you. If you’re new to scheduling, start with a week at a time and build up from there!

Once you get the basics on autopilot, I promise you’ll feel much less anxiety about getting on social media.

Behind the Scenes
This is where the fun comes in, and it’s exactly what it sounds like! Behind the scenes content can be you sharing photos backstage, photos from the studio, teasing a sneak peek of your new album, going live from soundcheck, etc.

When your basics are on autopilot, you’re finally freed up to think about fun ways to share what you’re doing with your audience! So now, instead of sitting backstage before your show thinking “I have to go share that press link because someone mentioned me on their blog the other day and I keep forgetting to share it…” your mind can shift to “this is the coolest green room I’ve ever been in, I’m going to do a Facebook Live and show my fans!”

Your Story

Most artists have the basics and behind the scenes topics covered though. But that can’t be where it stops! Like I mentioned above, social media is all about telling your story! The basics give your followers a way to be involved in what you’re doing, and the behind the scenes gives them a glimpse into those same experiences from your view point. That’s why this last part, your story, is SO important.

Maybe you’re wondering, what the heck is my story and how do I tell that on social media? Well, start by asking yourself these questions…

  • What sets me apart from others creating similar music/content?
  • What impact do I want to make with my music?
  • How do I want my music to make people feel?
  • Why am I passionate about music?

Once you answer those questions you’ll be a step ahead of the rest. And when you can implement your story on social media, you’ll no longer feel like social media is a burden and you’ll always know what to share!

Making It Happen
Implementing your story in your social media posts is a lot easier said than done. Telling your story isn’t something that will come to you overnight, or feel natural immediately. But I promise, “followers” (aka people) just want to be able to relate to you! When you share something personal and meaningful that others relate to, they’ll let you know it… and in turn the sharing will only become easier for you.

What does that look like, you ask?

Backstage photos go from “look at me about to play a show” (cool, who cares) to you telling your followers how you feel before performing. Maybe you’re nervous to play a new song because it’s so close to your heart and you really hope others can identify with your words. You might even go on to tell a little bit about where the idea for the song came from and what it means to you.

Now that’s some real and honest sh*t right there! That’s the kind of social media post that leaves an impression… and that’s how you grow AND engage a following (aka community)!

Wondering how to create balance sharing the basics, behind the scenes, and your story all at the same time? Download my free 2-week social media plan here!

Key Takeaways

  • Start thinking about social media as a place to tell your story rather than a place to grow and engage followers.

  • Schedule out your social media basics. (You can use Buffer for free… and no that’s not an affiliate link!)

  • Mix it up with your behind the scenes content and don’t forget to share what life is like from your perspective.

  • Your story is the key to social media success.

  • Growing a fan base on social media isn’t easy… it takes hard work and strategy.

  • Stop using the “F” words. Followers are actually your people… and a following is YOUR community! And don’t forget to treat them like that!

Download my free 2-week social media plan here.

Katherine Forbes is a Nashville based brand and web designer whose client roster includes multiple Grammy winning and nominated artists. She’s served as co-producer for the International Bluegrass Music Awards, published a marketing workbook for musicians, and hosts a growing community of female musicians and industry leaders. | | |

Elements that make up your story by Chris Goyzueta

Elements that make up your story by Chris Goyzueta

How to Open for National Acts

One of the questions I get asked the most is “how can I open for national acts?” When it comes to building longevity and growing your career in the music business, it’s extremely important that you do this with a strategy. Don’t just open up for a national act to say you’ve opened up for people with names. If you want to build longevity in this business, it’s important that you don’t overexpose yourself in your hometown and that you focus on building genuine relationships with everyone involved - the promoter, the agent, the manager, and the artist. You build genuine relationships by adding value to them, and not focusing on what you can get out of it, or using this as a resume builder. Nobody ever made it to the next level because of who they opened for. They got there because they were able to build their own audience.

In this article, you will learn how to open for national acts, but also some important strategies that will help you build longevity. I assume that if you’re reading this, the ultimate goal is not to open for national acts, but for you to become the national act and have a career for the next 20, 30, 40+ years. Here are 10 steps for best practices and strategies on how to open for national acts, and build your career.

Shout out to rapper E.M.B. from Phoenix, AZ for inspiring this post, and for the great tunes. 

Check out "Ble$$ Up" by E.M.B. 

1.  Be Able to Sell Tickets & Get People to the Show

This doesn’t mean pay to play, but you have to add value to the show. You need to have fans that will actually pay and come to the show. If you can’t do that, you don’t have any fans, and you need to work on building a following first. One of my past podcast guests, Ari Herstand, and Author of “How to Make It in the New Music Business” mentioned in his book that 50 is the MAGIC NUMBER to get the attention of most promoters. As a promoter that has put on over 2,000 shows, I could not agree more with that. To take it a level further, I say 50 tickets gets you in the door, 100 tickets gets you on the radar of artist managers and booking agents, and 200 tickets gets you a serious conversation with an artist manager or booking agent. This doesn’t mean buy or pay to play by purchasing 50, 100, or 200 tickets. What’s really important about this is 50, 100 or 200 people will not just buy a ticket, but they will come to the show.

What makes your sell easier is when you have a proven track record with the Talent Buyer or promoter that’s putting on the show that you’re trying to open for. The booking agent, and potential artist manager is already communicating with that promoter or Talent Buyer. If they can say that you’re worth the amount of tickets you claim, that will help increase your chances of getting the opening slot for a show. Almost 100% of the time when an artist reaches out to a booking agent or manager for an opening slot, they will forward me the email and ask if you’re legit. People communicate, so be able to back up what you promise.

Can you open for a national act if it’s your first show? There are very few instances when it’s your first ever show that you can actually get an opening slot for a national act. I sometimes like doing that, because when it’s an artist’s first show, they’re super pumped because it’s their first show and they get to open a big show. A lot of artists will sell double or triple the amount of tickets they’ll average for their first show. This is being a smart promoter, but you as an artist want to make sure that these people will come back to your future shows and that your numbers don’t go backwards too much. They will go backwards a little naturally. More on this topic in future articles.

2. Create Your Artist ID Spreadsheet

Let’s talk a little bit of strategy. Create a list of artists in your genre or similar artists. This list should be in the following categories - A-List, Emerging Artists, Legacy Artists, Local/Regional Artists. In the case of opening for national acts, you’ll only be using the A-List, Emerging, and Legacy categories for this exercise. The A-List artists are artist that are performing at 1,500 capacity venues to arenas, amphitheaters and stadiums. The chances of opening for these artists is HIGHLY UNLIKELY, because they’ll usually have fully packaged tours with openers from the same agency, management, or label. There are very few and rare occasions they’ll take on an new artist, and that’s usually solely based on relationship.

However, the booking agents that represent these A-List artists also have new and emerging artists, as well as artists that have been around for a long time but are no longer on the A-List or may have just never broken through the threshold to the next level. These artists are performing in venues that have a capacity of 200-1,000 people. You want to put as many artists on this spreadsheet as possible. I’d say have at least 10 to 20 for each category on your list. For a sample spreadsheet, sign up for the email list, and I’ll send you one. But it should pretty much look like below.

What you’re looking for are agents that represent more than one of the artists on your list. Those are the agents whose radar you want to get on, and the agents that can provide some great opportunities for you.

3.  Which Shows Have A Support Slot Available

You have to act fast when it comes to getting that opening slot. Make sure to sign-up for all the venues e-mail list, so you’re one of the first to find out when new shows get announced. Set-up alerts for their social media pages so you’re always in the loop of announcements and on sale dates. Usually shows get announced on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and go on sale to the public on Fridays. Once you know that a show is coming, here is a quick rule of thumb to figure out if there is a support slot available. If there are 2 or more artists already opening the show, they’re most likely on tour with them. The chances of getting an opening slot for shows that already have a full package are very rare. You want to be strategic when asking for opening slots, and don’t want to be the annoying person that asks about opening for every show. Try to find shows that don’t have an opener listed or may only have one opener. However, if they are artists on your Artist ID (see #2), and you want to focus on building a relationship with their team, you can reach out and mention that you see there are already openers on tour, but you’d like to help with promotion for the show. Adding value to the relationship!

4.  Reach out to Promoter, Manager, & Agent

Once you figured out which shows to reach out for, here is a sample pitch to write to the promoter, manage, or agent. If you already have a relationship with the promoter, you can reach out to them first and let them know that these managers and agents are on your radar. Some promoters get territorial, make sure they’re aware you’re not trying to go around them, but you’re just trying to build a relationship with these artist managers and booking agents to help build your career. Even offer to copy them in on the email. That might actually help your chances.

Here is how the chain of command usually works (avoid buy ons, usually promoters are legally not allowed to sell opening slots per their contract with the artists, but some do it anyway because they know most artist won’t say anything to protect their relationship those promoters). The artist or their manager usually makes the final approval for openers. Sometimes an Artist Manager and their artists, will sell opening slots for their tour. This is usually offset by some kind of small guarantee to you that the promoter has already committed to. I always recommend to try to avoid buy ons, but there are ways to get a lot out of them. However, they’re not going to make or break your career. You don’t not have to buy on a show to “make it” in the music business. Back to chain of command - the promoter will go to the agent, and the agent will go to the manager/artist for approval. Sometimes that trust is passed on by the manager/artist to the booking agent or promoter. Always error on the side of professionalism unless you have an established relationship. Always address the person by their first name followed by a comma OR Mr. or Ms. with their last name and comma. Never start an email with "Hey," "Hey man," "Hey bud," "Hey bro" or anything similar. 

Sample e-mail to Joe Agent, keep it short, to the point, and mention a couple of things to sell yourself:

5.     Don’t play shows 8-10 weeks before or after

One of my next articles will be on touring strategy and how often you should be playing in each city. Generally I preach to only play the same city every 8 to 12 weeks. You want to avoid over-saturating the market, and the bigger your following in a particular market, the more you should increase the time between shows. However, say you’re playing every 12 weeks - 4 shows per year. When you try to play an opening slot for a national act where you need to prove yourself to that agent, manager, and promoter, and you should all out with your promotional. You’re giving up one of those 4 shows for that market, and you should get the most out of it. You’re giving up some of your value to add value to someone else and establish relationships and build longevity. Be strategic about this. Don’t just open for someone just to build your “resume.” That won’t matter in the long run, unless you’re opening an entire tour.

6. Ask for Promo Materials

Ask the promoter, agent, manager, or whomever you’re communicating with for promotional materials and pre-box (or consignment) tickets ASAP. You want to get a leg up on promotion right away. Try to get at least 50 tickets to start out with, sell those as quick as possible, and ask for 50 more. Usually you’ll have to return the money for the first batch of tickets before getting more. So make sure you’ve actually sold them. Also, a lot of venues will hold you accountable for the tickets, so don’t lose them. If you lose 10 tickets that are $20 each, you’re coming $200 out of pocket. Don’t make costly mistakes. Get as many flyers and posters as you can get your hands on, and start getting to work. Your goal should be to out promote everyone involved in the show. You should be promoting harder than the promoter, manager, and artist themselves. It’s your career, don’t wait for someone else to do the work for you. Take it in your own hands and get to work.

7.     Deliver on Your Promise

This one is straightforward. But if you say you’re going to sell 50 tickets, sell 50 tickets. In an ideal world, you’ll want to over deliver. The strategy here is under promise, over deliver. This will always make you look good. Again remember, 50 tickets opens the conversation, 100 gets you on the radar, 200 gets you looked at seriously. Don’t come short. You’ll look bad in front of the promoter, booking agent, artist manager, and the artist. This will delay the time for when you get the next opportunity.

8.     Document Your Efforts

Keep good track of everything you're doing promotionally and document all of your efforts. Everywhere you put up posters, take a picture of where you put up the posters. When you pass out flyers, take video, pictures, or Snapchat or IG stories of people holding flyers. Keep track of how many tickets you sold. Take screenshots of any posts you put up on social media. Upload all of your documentation of promotional efforts into a Dropbox, Google drive, or Box folder, and send those after the show along with a thank you to the promoter, manager, and booking agent.

What’s next? When you get an opening slot, the next most important thing besides promoting and delivering on your promise, is day of show etiquette and the follow-up thank you. More on those in the next articles.  

Thank you for your time, and good luck with getting an opening slot. If this article brought you value, please share this with your community on social media. I’d love to hear from you, and your results. Feel free to reach out and send me a note - Please be patient, and I’ll get back to you. Thank you!

Promoter and Artist Deals and Settlements

Percentage of Net Deal (Door Deal)

These are your most typical type of deals for an up and coming band performing at a small club that holds 100 to 500 people. In these types of deals the expenses come off the top, and the artist receives a percentage after expenses and state sales tax. The expenses in these types of deals typically are for the audio engineer, security, and door person (box office). Usually these expenses range from $100 to $400, depending on the venue. For venues in the 100 to 500 capacity range, try to always avoid paying more than $400 for the venue. Usually expenses range $100-$150 for audio engineer, $50-$100 per security guard, and $50-$75 for door person. 

In this example, the artist receives 85% of NBOR after $350.00 for expenses and state sales tax. 

Guarantee plus Bonuses Deal

In this type of deal, the artist receives a guarantee plus bonuses. These bonuses get paid at specific points based on how many total tickets were sold, or can from time to time also be based on the gross. For example, the artist gets a guarantee plus bonuses at 600, 700, and 800 tickets sold. Try to make sure that the last bonus always reflects a sell out of the venue. This is your sell out bonus. 

In this example, the artist receives a $5,000.00 guarantee + $500.00 bonuses at 500, 600, 700, and 800 tickets sold. 

Zero Guarantee Versus Percentage of Gross Deal (NBOR) 

In these types of deals the promoter and the artist are both taking risk at the show. This type of deal is similar to a partnership in traditional business. Both sides have their own expenses, which they will cover out of their end of the deal. Booking Agents a lot of times try to pull the card that the artists have expenses. The promoter in me says, "nobody is forcing you to tour, but if you want to grow your business like I do, we both have risks." Don't let the booking agents twist your arm promoters. 

Guarantee Versus Percentage of Gross Deal (NBOR) 

These are usually the best types of deals for artists. You get a guarantee and you get a percentage of the gross NBOR with no expenses being deducted. The only deductions here are state sales tax and any adjustments to the gross. Examples of adjustments include facility fee, charity fee, album download, and Meet & Greet. This type of deal can also be called a greater than deal. The artist either receives the guarantee or the percentage of the NBOR, whichever is greater. 

In this example, artist receives a $2,000.00 guarantee versus 65% of gross (NBOR) after 6.5% state sales tax. Deal reverts to 70% at 400 tickets sold. 

The Promoter Profit Deal:

At the end of each show the artist settlement is usually the responsibility of the tour manager, tour accountant, artist manager, or the artist themselves. The Promoter Profit Deal is the most common type of deal that’s used by all major promoters. Below is a step by step guide on how to settle a promoter profit deal. In this video the terms are as follows:

In this example, Artist receives a $5,000.00 guarantee + 85% of Net after expenses, 6.5% state sales tax, and $1.00 per ticket Facility Fee (FF).

In this deal example the following tickets were sold:
500 tickets at $20.00
500 tickets at $25.00

Promoter Profit Deal Step by Step Guide:

Step 1: Add up all the ticket sales to find Gross Box Office Receipts (GBOR).

Step 2: Find the total facility fee. This is the total number of tickets sold multiplied by the total facility fee.

Equation: Gross Facility Fee = Facility Fee x Total Tickets Sold

Step 3: Subtract the Gross Facility Fee from the GBOR to find Adjusted Gross.

Equation: Adjusted Gross = GBOR - Gross Facility Fee

Step 4: Deduct State Sales Tax to find Net Box Office Receipts (NBOR). Remember that state sales tax is already included, therefore we have to calculate the inverse and add one in front of the decimal point. Ex. 6.5% state sales tax = 1.065

Equation: NBOR = Adjusted Gross / (State Sales Tax + 1)
*Note - If there is no adjustment, then use the GBOR

Step 5: Add up all your expenses. Remember that the guarantee is an expense.

Step 6: Calculate Promoter Profit Amount. Promoter Profit percentage is given in terms.

Equation: Promoter Profit (PP) = Total Expenses x Promoter Profit Percentage

Step 7: Calculate the Split Point. This is the amount that needs to be reached for there to be a bonus for the artist.

Equation: Split Point = Promoter Profit + Total Expenses

Step 8: Calculate the share amount. This is the amount that’s left over after expenses and promoter profit that the artist and promoter share. The percentage the artist receives is the artist bonus, and is usually given in the terms. In this problem it’s 85%.

Equation: Share Amount = NBOR - Split Point

Step 9: Calculate the Artist Bonus Amount

Equation: Artist Bonus Amount = Share Amount x Artist Bonus Percentage

Step 10: Calculate the Total Artist Pay

Equation: Total Artist Pay = Guarantee + Bonus Amount

Tunes I Found: "Colourblind" by FEELDS

This song was such a fun and refreshing find. The voice of James Seymour has a very smooth tone with a great vocal range, accompanied by very mature and catchy lyrics. As James mentioned, the story behind the song is a lustful one of a person caught up in two different worlds. This really comes across by the vocal performance of the song. The genre blends electro acoustic vibe with a pop sound. Feelds is based in Melbourne, Australia. When I listen to this songs I feel like I’m going on a journey both lyrically and musically.

I sent Feelds a few questions that are part of the “Tunes I Found” series, and here is what they had to say:

1. What’s the story or inspiration behind this song?

Colourblind is about being caught up in two minds. As the lyrics suggest, it's a pretty lustful story, but the protagonist is hesitant or somewhat unsure about what seems right. Production wise, I've really tried to push my sound envelope lately in the quest to define what the Feelds 'sound' is. At the moment, it's somewhere in the midst of blending acoustic sounds amongst evolving electronic/soundscape-y environments. It's proving to be very enjoyable, and Colourblind is the first big step in that direction.

2. For those that are new to your music, what is something you want them to know about you?

I recently left my retail job to pursue music, and I'm now in 4 bands (including Swim Season & Slowcoaching), helping produce 3 other artists, and writing music for film/TV. I'm pretty strapped for cash, but it's building, and I'm loving every minute of it!

3. Any tools or resources you can share with artists who are trying to “Make It”?

It might seem pretty cliche, but I find that setting goals and objectives is huge. You can use all of the tools in the world - but if an artist is not motivated, has little to no idea as to where they want to be, and isn't actively trying to push their craft all of the time - I think that can be the most detrimental thing to an artist's career.

4. If someone wanted to reach out to help and support you, and spread your music. What is the biggest thing you need and what could someone to help you with that?

Any help is great! To know that people are out there listening to and enjoying my music is part of the reason why I keep releasing material. So when people share it around, my sounds are being heard by more and more people, and it drives me to write more.

5. What’s your definition of making it?

'Making it' really relates back to those goals I was talking about. Personally, I want to be writing & producing music full time, touring & playing festivals, and using my music as a platform for where I want to be.

Share the Love and Follow Feelds:
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud

About this series:

This is a series of cool tunes I found on Soundcloud to help us remember why we started the careers and journey that we’re on. For me it’s music, so I’m sharing cool tunes I found. When I found these artists they had less than 5,000 followers on Soundcloud. I have no connection to these artist or any idea of who they have on their team. If you’re an aspiring student of the business trying to build a career in the music industry this could be an opportunity. Reach out, promote their music, book them an awesome show, help them with their socials, help them sell merch, or whatever else they may need help with. To find more cool tunes such as these and more, they’re all on a spotify playlist and some are reposted on our soundcloud page. The spotify playlist or soundcloud reposts will include some artists that have over 2,000 followers, but not the blog series. Hope y’all enjoy!

- Chris Goyzueta

Tunes I Found: "Mona" by Indigo Velvet

The second I heard the song “Mona” by Indigo Velvet it made me want to jump out of my chair and dance my ass off. The band is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Their style of music is often described by writers as tropical pop, but there is much more to it. The song “Mona” incorporates some really fun uplifting African rhythms with a pop sound. When I listen to this song it makes me think of the type of music I would hear during the Summer Olympic Games. Definitely a great tune for cruising down along the beach on A1A in South Florida. Beginning 2017, Indigo Velvet was tipped as ones to watch by BBC Introducing and The Sun, the list of tastemakers championing the young quartet continues; Record of the Day, The Metro, Clash, Scotland On Sunday, The Skinny Magazine and more. Airplay includes BBC Introducing, Radio X, a spot-play on Radio 1 and live sessions on Amazing Radio and the Janice Forsyth Show on BBC Radio Scotland.

I sent the band a few questions that are part of the “Tunes I Found” series, and here is what they had to say:

1. What’s the story or inspiration behind this song?

We wrote the song with the idea of growing up as a teenager surrounded by young love and naivety. However, we wrote it in such a way, that hopefully, anyone listening will have their own personal thoughts and feelings about it. People connect with songs in different ways, and that’s one of the best things about making music.

2. For those that are new to your music, what is something you want them to know about you?

We write songs with the aim to make people smile, and hopefully even dance and jump around, reminding them of the summer months. We were recently compared to the tropical juice ‘um bungo’ (not sure if you had that in the USA?)! All the radio and media attention we’ve had to date has described us as ‘Tropical-pop’ and it has kind of stuck, we think it suits us.

3. Any tools or resources you can share with artists who are trying to “Make It”?

This is more advice, but just don't be a d*ck. Appreciate the people who are there to give you advice and help you along the way. We have been lucky enough to play with bands that we looked up to and have been fans of. We’re now friends with them and several have invited us to support them in their hometowns, which has allowed us to grow our fanbase around the UK rather than just focussing on Edinburgh or even Scotland, where we are from. So make friends with other bands, try and swap gigs with them and take on advice from people around you. Ultimately though, enjoy making music and playing, there is no definite right or wrong way of doing things just now.  

4. If someone wanted to reach out to help and support you, and spread your music. What is the biggest thing you need and what could someone do to help you with that?

Our aim is just to be heard by as many people as possible and enjoy our music. We hope to get the chance to tour outside of the UK soon too which would be amazing. We appreciate anyone that helps us in any way, from doing interviews like this, to radio play, promoters booking us for gigs, tour managers, fellow musicians and so on. It is all necessary to take your music to the next level and have the chance to do more with it. If you want to give us all your money, thats cool too, that'd help!

5. What’s your definition of making it?

We would love to be able to drop our 9-5 jobs and be able to tour constantly, showing off our music to as many people as possible. To play shows around the world is obviously the dream, but I think having a loyal fan base and people around you who actually care about you and your music is overwhelming enough, simply having a career in music, being a professional band is making it to us!

Share the Love and Follow them:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

About this series:

This is a series of cool tunes I found on Soundcloud to help us remember why we started the careers and journey that we’re on. For me it’s music, so I’m sharing cool tunes I found. When I found these artists they had less than 5,000 followers on Soundcloud. I have no connection to these artist or any idea of who they have on their team. If you’re an aspiring student of the business trying to build a career in the music industry this could be an opportunity. Reach out, promote their music, book them an awesome show, help them with their socials, help them sell merch, or whatever else they may need help with. To find more cool tunes such as these and more, they’re all on a spotify playlist and some are reposted on our soundcloud page. The spotify playlist or soundcloud reposts will include some artists that have over 2,000 followers, but not the blog series. Hope y’all enjoy!
- Chris Goyzueta

Tunes I Found on Soundcloud (A New Series)

In this adventurous life journey full of twists and turns, ups and downs, it’s important to try your best everyday to stay grounded and remind yourself why you are doing what you’re doing. I started my pursuit of a career in the music business in 2006, because I love music. My first concert was in 1992, Guns N’ Roses in the Frankfurt Soccer Stadium with Brian May of Queen opening with a tribute to Freddie Mercury (who had died the previous year) and his old band, Queen. Ever since that first concert, I tried to go to as many concerts as I could, and in my freshman year in College I went to over 100 shows.

One of my mentors, Gary Vaynerchuck (no I never met him, but learn from him everyday) taught me that if you want your community to love what you’re doing, you have to love your community first. For months I’ve been trying to brainstorm of a regular blog to add to the “Making It with Chris G.” website that would really fit the brand, and the mission of what we’re trying to do with the show. The goal is to teach artists, creatives, entertainers, and aspiring people on the business side of the entertainment business the lessons and insights of people who are “Making It.” With that being said, the next logical step is to pour love into my music community and share artists with you that I think are making really badass music! Because the MUSIC always comes first.

I have no connection to any of the artists I’m sharing. My only goal is to share artists that have less than 5,000 followers on Soundcloud (but hopefully less). I want to introduce people to new music that I think is really cool from all different styles and genres. I will in writing commit to post a new track at least once a week (but hopefully more). Unfortunately I can’t share every track, so I’m going to start a Spotify playlist with some of the cool artists I find, and you can also stop by our Soundcloud page to check out some cool tunes I reposted. THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY...if you’re someone that wants to be on the business side of the entertainment industry, these are artists that might not have ANY representation or very little. If you love what you hear, reach out, become a fan, become a promoter, spread their music, book them shows, and who knows what doors that might open for you.

So let’s kick this series off. This first tune is called “Battlecry” by an artist named Jordan Mackampa from London. He calls himself an Alt Soul Folk artist and has some jazz influenced which he incorporates into his music. This track has some really cool lyrics, and a very fun hook. As we are pursuing our dreams in this wonderful journey called life, we have to make our voices heard, march together because it takes a village to build something truly amazing, and let people hear our BATTLECRY. Spread positivity, be good to people, support the arts, create content, and “live the life you love.”