One of the biggest challenges musicians face in booking gigs is the amount of time it takes.
You already have to practice your instrument, rehearse, teach, compose, do social media, send invoices…
But if your goal is to tour more, both at home and internationally, bookings need to get made.
So whilst there’s not some magic solution, there are a bunch of ways you can improve the quality of your work, so you can get more results in a very limited amount of time.
I’ve touched on 3 below, but here is the main takeaway:
If you can find even 1 hour a week to work on this stuff – in a very focused way – you will see results sooner or later. So pleeease think about putting some of it into action so you can make the progress you deserve.
1: “Finding the right contact details is impossible!”
If you want to get more gigs, you need to be asking the right people.
If you’ve heard me speak before, or read any of my articles, you might have heard me go on about this:
Sending mails to the easily-findable info@ addresses of festivals and clubs rarely works.
It’s like most things: if you choose the easy option (mass mailout, copy/paste emails, info@ addresses) you’ll get lost in the crowd – because most people want to do the easy thing, of course!
But realising that you can stick out simply by putting in a little more focused work than the rest can make a massive difference.
So let’s agree on one thing: you can find direct contact details for most promoters in the world. And this is something you can learn!
Timesaver #1: don’t feel you have to try to reach hundreds of festivals right away. Do some research so you can focus on 50 or so key ones – that are most likely to book your project. You might feel like you’re missing lots of possible gigs, but it’s much better to take action on a smaller group first. For most musicians, spending 6 months focusing on 50 well-chosen promoters would be much better than what they’re currently doing…
Timesaver #2: make use of all the online tools to find these contact details quickly and accurately. Aside from the festival websites, use social media, selective Googling, LinkedIn and more niche sites like Email Hunter or Email Hippo.
2: “Sending emails takes forever”
Hopefully we’re all agreed that sending mass mailouts might seem like a timesaver, but actually it doesn’t really work very well.
But that doesn’t mean we need to type out a new email each time we want a gig – which can of course eat up an enormous amount of time.
The key is to spend some focused time crafting a ‘perfect’ pitching email, which neatly explains your project in a handful of sentences, and interests the reader enough to click the ‘listen’ link.
Maybe you write one for summer festivals, a different one for European clubs, and another for your home country.
But once you’ve got these, you can use them as a template for all your pitches. You simply need to add a personal opening sentence to show the promoter that you are really writing to them and that you have checked out the sort of music they book.
If you can do this, they’re going to be much more receptive to your ‘pitch.’
Of course, writing a convincing pitching email is not as easy as it sounds. This is the first – and often only – tool you have to get someone to listen to your music.
Timesaver: put in some the work this month on crafting the perfect pitch. This might seem counter-intuitive, but putting in a little focused time on that now, will save you a LOT of hours in the following weeks and month, not to mention improve your success rate. It’s quite feasible to use the main part of this pitch for 6+ months, so it will quickly pay off.
If you’re a Jazzfuel subscriber, you should have already received this free guide to pitching to promoters.
3: “I never remember to follow up with all the promoters”
If finding contact details and sending pitches seems time consuming, monitoring which ones have replied, who showed interest and then following up at the right time takes up even more valuable brain space!
But, as with most ‘big’ tasks, the rewards are also big. I got 5 gig offers one morning from sending 48 emails. In my experience, that’s a great response rate!
The reason for that was simple: these 48 contacts were all on my list of ‘warm’ promoters.
That means I’d already put in the work to get them interested and this was the final push – at the right moment – to get them to take action.
Timesaver: Figure out a reliable way to monitor your contacts and remind yourself when to get in touch with them. This not only improves your results but frees you up from a constant wondering of
“Am I forgetting someone?”
“Should I spend a few hours looking through my emails?”
“That sounds like too much work, I’ll do it later…”
In practice, this means having a simple way of recording:
- when the gigs are happening
- how far in advance you should be pitching
- when you last got in touch
- what the response was
It’s up to you exactly how you manage your contacts, but if you want to grow your number of gigs dramatically, the number of contacts probably has to grow too.
That makes ‘memory’ a less than reliable way of doing this…
In general, I can send 50 personalised pitching emails in about an hour. Because the contacts are well-researched, the content is relevant and the pitch is concise, I get a good level of response.
These timesaving tips should help you too increase the effectiveness of your pitching work, so you can get better results in less time.
And remember: it might seem like a chore, but once you start getting positive replies and gig offers, it can actually end up being quite fun…
International jazz booking agent, manager and host of Jazzfuel.
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