If it’s up to you to book your own gigs, approaching a venue can seem very intimidating. Even though you might logically understand that nothing worse than a ‘no’ could come out of this situation, it still creates the oh so familiar anxiety that one experiences when asking a girl out or going to a job interview. In order to curb some of that anxiety, here are a few tips to follow that will help you appear more professional to the venue you are approaching and thus, help you get hired for a gig.

The first thing to consider when looking to book a venue for a gig is the size of venue that would best suit your audience. Trying to book a large arena as a new indie rock band will not only be very hard to accomplish, but also very awkward when your 100 fans attending are only taking up a small fraction of the seats available. The same goes for the opposite. If a musician with a large following tried to book a small bar or coffee shop, not only would it create an extremely uncomfortable situation for the fans, but there would undoubtedly be eager concert goers turned away and ticket sale opportunities forgone. Think about your fan base and choose your venue accordingly.

Once you have chosen which venues you are going to approach, it is important to make sure that you have some necessary information available and ready to be sent out. First and foremost, you must send out your music to the places you hope to perform. There’s no way for a venue to decide if they want to book you unless they hear you first. While recording music is difficult at times, it must be done in order for venues to base their decision off of something. And in a similar vein, it is important to have a completed EPK done before you approach the places you want to perform in order to show that you are serious about your music and really have something to offer.

The venue isn’t the only thing to consider when trying to book a gig. It is also important to think about filling the bill of an already existing show. Ask the venue who is going to be performing and see if your style would mesh well performing on the same concert bill. Asking about who else is going to be performing shows that you are proactive and eager to put on the best show you can.

When picking the date that you would like to perform, being specific comes off as more professional and committed than just saying ‘whenever’. It is important to note, however, that weekend spots are usually reserved for big ticket musicians who are likely to fill the venue. If you are just starting out in the concert scene, any day of the week to perform should be happily accepted. It is also important to pick a date that will leave you with enough time, at least a month, to promote the show.

The first step in actually approaching a venue is usually going to be in the form of an e-mail. This is not the kind of informal goofy e-mail you send to your co-workers when you’re bored at work. This needs to be a professional e-mail to show that your inquiry is to be taken seriously. Make sure to use an informative subject line, maintain proper grammar and spelling, and always always always proof read before you hit send. It is also a good idea to keep it short and sweet with as few flashy phrases as possible. Some things worth mentioning in the e-mail to the venue include:

  • A description of the band and why you want to perform at that specific venue
  • An explanation of your music style including genre
  • Photos and links to various social media accounts
  • The date or window of time you hope to perform
  • The ways in which you plan on promoting the show

There are two possible outcomes of this initial inquiry with a venue. They could say no, or hopefully, yes. If they say yes, they may offer you a contract that deals with money and percentages. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of the deal you are offered in order to decide if it is going to hurt or help your music career at this point.

If the answer you receive from the venue is a no, the most important thing to remember is that maintaining professionalism is key. It is totally fine to ask why they said no to you, but only if you are able to take constructive criticism politely. The last thing you would want to do is burn bridges in the very field you hope to have a career in. A ‘no’ in the beginning taken respectfully may turn into a ‘yes’ down the road. You really never know.