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    ALL WORDS BY Dan Miraldi

    In my previous installment, I focused on leaving the safety of the recording studio for your first tour and how best to select clubs and initially reach out to booking agents.  But what happens after you’ve sent your initial emails and have heard back from no one?  What do you need to do next in order to lock down those dates?

    As I mentioned in my earlier entry, booking agents get tons of emails everyday from bands wanting to play their stages.  In these situations, mastering a regiment of polite persistence is your best strategy.  Give the agent a week to get back to you and then try again.  Hold back the self-righteous indignation when writing to a booking agent for the second or third time.  You may want to say something like: “Hey Jackass!  Why haven’t you responded?”  Obviously, that is a bad idea.  A more professional approach is something like:  “Hello.  I wanted to follow up on my inquiry from last week . . .”

    An important attitude to have when corresponding with booking agents is that it is way better to get an immediate “no” from an agent than it is to get no response.  If you get a “no” then you can move on.  When you are reaching out to a big market there is a good chance that someone is going to respond with the dreaded:  “How many people can you draw?”  To many clubs, unfortunately, the bottom line is money.  Talent often takes a backseat to draw.  It does not matter if you are the next Beatles.  What matters is money made at the door and at the bar.

    If you can’t draw anyone in a new city, it does not necessarily mean “game over”.  What you need to do next is find some good local acts to bring people in.  Go back to Reverb Nation, Indie On The Move and Soundcloud and search through different band’s audio recordings to find locals who are similar to your genre.  Pay attention to how many shows they seem to be booking locally, because if they are playing ten shows the month of your concert, the chances of them drawing well for you is reduced.  A classic bribery technique between touring and local bands is the “show swap” – where you agree to do a show with them in your hometown should they decide to tour.  It’s a good way to build a relationship that can lay foundations for you to return to their city.

    Another point about local bands, if the club is all ages, do not be afraid to share a bill with a high school rock band.  It is really easy for bands in high school to tell their friends about a show.  There is way more face-to-face interaction between a high school band member and his or her peers.  Granted a club might not make a killing at the bar from the band’s friends, but their parents and extended family are another story.  It might not be the audience you first imagined playing in front of, but it beats no show or playing to an empty room.

    Finally, if you are having absolutely no luck getting any type of response from booking agents in a major market investigate adjacent college towns or even historical sites.  On my band’s first real tour, we could not get booked in Philadelphia, so we played in Gettysburg.  If you cannot find anything in Washington, DC, Vienna, VA has solid places to play.  If Indianapolis is not getting back to you, try Muncie, Indiana.  You get the picture.  Yes, booking a tour is a big production, but there are shows to be booked.  You just have to be determined and open-minded in finding them.

    © 2014 DM Experience This Music LLC

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