The songs have been written. You’ve devoted countless hours of practice to hone your sound and live performance. You’ve put in the blood, sweat and tears to get your product recorded, nearly living in the studio for a month. It’s time to gig.
Aspiring musicians and local bands with little live show experience often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to the booking process. Local venues aren’t going to reach out to you if they don’t know who you are, so you’ve got to find a way to get your foot in the door, both literally and figuratively.
Networking is one common factor that most bands and local music promoters agree is key. You hear it all the time, but there’s a reason. Not everything just falls into place, at least not at first. Braden Rapp, vocalist of local rock band Foreign Body, gave some booking advice for bands that have little to no show experience.
“Pay attention to where your favorite shows occur,” Rapp said. “Ask yourself, which venues seem to host bands similar to mine? The goal with networking should be to correlate your band name to a good personal reputation. Bands without connections should remember that music is first and foremost.”
As far as companies to look for, Rapp said One Percent Productions has the biggest reach and a stranglehold on the indie market.
“Mark and Jim are also cool dudes who take chances on young bands, but never lose sight of the business end of music promotion,” Rapp said. “That goes a long way in the music scene.”
Rapp is also an avid supporter of Blackheart Booking.
“Blackheart keeps punk rock alive in Omaha,” Rapp said. “They book a lot of all ages shows, too. Both aspects of Blackheart Booking make them a necessary component to Omaha's scene.”
Joey Evans, bassist of local group Alpha 5, does the majority of booking for his band. He said booking shows when the band plays outside of Omaha has proven difficult due to a lack of response. However, when playing in the local area, he says going to other bands’ gigs and showing support says a lot.
“It helps get a buzz about a band and in return they will come to your shows and tell people about your band,” Evans said.
Evans said bands and promoters need to work together in order to promote a successful show, no matter who you are.
“If the company or band doesn’t promote, then they have a chance for a poor draw,” Evans said. “If the band is big enough, they will draw no matter what, but that’s not an excuse to not promote. Promoting is the key to a good draw.”
Kyle McCarthy is the Project Manager for Aorta Music & Management, a company that specializes in booking and promotion in Omaha and the surrounding areas. Their main goal is to help bands get their sound out. McCarthy has also helped book for Acoustic Night at Rehab Lounge.
“Just get out in the local scene,” McCarthy said. “Put yourself out there and introduce yourself to bartenders, owners and the people at shows. Talk to other musicians and make new friends and contacts that can point you in the right direction.”
Aorta is contracted with Sokol Auditorium, who gives Aorta available dates they need filled. From there, McCarthy said they take bands that are under their production team and place them into open slots.
McCarthy said Aorta takes a huge risk by shelling out expenses up front to cover the venue fee, advertisement, sound guy and equipment.
“The more a band works with us, the more slots we will try and fit them in,” McCarthy said. “We take each band’s crowd pull seriously. If a band isn’t bringing anyone, it’s hard to keep booking them. Bands who are willing to get people there are the bands promoters try to put on the bill first.”
McCarthy said one of the craziest events he put on was Farm Fest 3 years ago.
“It just blew up way bigger than we ever intended,” McCarthy said. “89.7 The River got behind it and several bands were coming to us to play it.”
McCarthy said Aorta is working on expanding their market of heavier rock and metal shows to also include the acoustic, indie and punk scenes.
With these tips in mind, take a look at the link below and get in touch with a show promoter. If you are a new band trying to play more shows, take a chance and try to get noticed by as many people as possible. Remember that promoters are willing to help bands in your situation, and meeting the ones with years of local scene experience will only give you a sense of direction and open up further opportunities. What do you have to lose?