8 Things You're Forgetting To Do On Show Day

Musicians Can Make Money Renting Their Gear

Drop Your Ego And Book A House Concert Tour

Why I Will Never Return To Best Buy

Tour Booking Will Never Be The Same After This

How To Write a Press Release (And Get Press)

10 Social Media Mistakes Bands Make

9 Reasons Your Band Isn't Getting Press

Get Ari's Take On Your Album At The Next Meetup

Top Music YouTubers Reveal Their Secrets At VidCon

How To Get Your Band Info Synched Everywhere At Once

7 Ways To Crack The Musical Gatekeepers

6 Types Of Emails You Should Never Send

How To Make Money From Your Music On An Ongoing Basis

How To Get Songs Placed On TV And In Movies

How To Hire Freelance Musicians

Why Music Managers Just Don't Cut It (The NEW Team)

How To Be A Classy Self-Promoter

When Paying For Music Works

Why Are People (Not) Coming To Your Shows?

What Musicians Can Learn From The Olympics

Network Like A Music Pro At The First Ari's Take Meetup

What I Learned From My $12 Cup Of Coffee

How To Submit To Pandora (Without a CD)

Why I Hate Downloading Music

Don’t Be Late. Ever.

How To Copyright All of Your Songs For $35

How To Act Completely Unprofessionally

CD Baby, Tunecore, Ditto, Mondotunes or ReverbNation

8 Ways To Get The Best Deal For The Gig

How To Make A Killer Promo Video

Carry Your Instrument On The Plane - It's The LAW

10 Steps To Sell Out Your Show

Your Gear Will Get Stolen

Why Retweeting Compliments Is Not Bragging

Yes, You Need T-Shirts

How To Record Your Album

How To Network Like A (Music) Pro

My Response To An LA Pay-To-Play Promoter

Should You Pay To Play

Why You Have No Twitter Followers

You Don't Find A Manager, A Manager Finds You

CD Baby Pro vs. TuneCore Publishing (The Full Report)

Don't Try Out For A Singing Show...

This Is How I Got A Licensing Deal

The One Thing Musicians Should Never Admit

How To Kill a 30 Year Career in 5 Minutes

The Art of Asking

Skip The Party Tonight, Become a Rockstar Tomorrow

How To Pimp Out Your CD Release Show

You Should Try Out for American Idol (The Relatives)

Free Bird! (Covers vs. Originals)

What's a Publicist and Should I Get One?

Copyright Your Song or GLEE Will Steal It

How To Setup A Headlining Show

What Every Musician Needs To Know About The Sound Guy

Interview with founder of Indie On The Move

Your Music Doesn't Matter

Booking Your Own Tour: A How-To Guide

Fuck Facebook... In the Face

Technical Difficulties ARE Your Fault

50 Is The Magic Number (Book a Headlining Tour)

Always Do This When Giving Your CD To Someone Important

How I Made $13,544 In A Month (on Kickstarter)

Smash Your Shitty Guitar

Are You In The Right City For Your Music

The Hardest Part About Being Your Own Manager

Buy My Music Dammit (Spotify vs iTunes)

How To Be A Great Opening Act

Rockstars Are People Too

What Do You Mean We Don't Get Paid? (The Confirmation Email)

How To Be A Better Performer

It Doesn't Take a Web Genius

How I Got To Play The World's Largest Music Festival

Does This Mustache Make My Ass Look Fat?

Our Tour Page Is Totally Full (of empty shows)

Don't Be Afraid Of The Phone

I Think You're An Asshole, So I'm Going To Tell You, Asshole

Don't Be A Dick

How I Got 250 To My Debut CD Release (Getting Started)

Can I Open For You? Maybe. But Probably Not

How I Reduced The Ari Herstand Hate Club By One

Double Your (Merch) Income... No Really

Beauty School Drop Out (The Backup Plan)

Shows Sell, Events Sell Out

I'm A Tool and I Have Accepted That

Allocating the Duties

Friend Fatigue

Ari's Take

8 Things You're Forgetting To Do On Show Day


I meet (and play with) too many musicians who don't want to get to the venue early enough. Some like to arrive shortly before they need to play, others slightly before doors and others feel they're being responsible by allowing the bare minimum amount of time they believe they'll need to load in, setup and sound check before start time or doors.

Until you have a tour manager, you will need to designate pre and post show duties within the band. These jobs cannot be overlooked.

I always schedule my load in time as early as the venue is comfortable with. Typically 2 hours before doors if there are just solo acts on the bill or 3 hours before doors if there are bands on the bill. And always 3 hours before start time for my solo show at colleges. Colleges are a different beast altogether.

Most musicians don't understand everything that needs to get done before the doors open. The obvious necessities of loading your gear in and setting it up is understood. Many bands don't fret over sound checks with an "it'll be fine" attitude.

Leave Enough Time For Sound Check

Fret over soundcheck! It's incredibly important. Sure there will be shows with venues that are so put together that everything runs smoothly and sound check takes 10 minutes or the engineer mixes you on the fly with no major issues, but you can't plan for that. Always plan for something to go wrong: A faulty DI box, a shoddy mic cable, your tuner mysteriously stops operating, and the list is endless. Even if the equipment all works flawlessly, every room is different and responds differently to your sound. The room wasn't built for your band so you have to allow time to let the engineer feel out your sound in the room. You don't want the first three songs of your set to sound like butt, cluttered with feedback, because the engineer is attempting to mix you on the fly (giving the audience an unsettling opening feeling about you).

You want time to feel it out on stage and get comfortable with the space. I've played too many shows where a sound check wasn't possible or was cut too short and I hated performing because it felt awful on stage and I couldn't settle in to my performance and therefore put on a bad show. This can be overcome by setting aside enough time for the sound check.

And yes, of course, there are venues that just do line checks. Especially in LA and NYC where they book bands every night on the hour. Nothing you can do about that! Bummer.

Setup The Merch

Once the sound check is finished your night has just begun. Setting up your merch is the next step and almost equally important as getting a good sound check. If you aren't touring with a tour or merch manager, you should designate one band member who will be in charge of the merch for the entire tour. She should be responsible and decent at math. She'll need to count in and out the money every night and she should also be friendly enough to train your merch seller (fan) for the night. And make sure your display is big, organized and in a prominent section of the venue near the door (or the place the venue has designated). You should bring lights for the merch display because many times venues will not have well-lit merch tables. And make sure you accept credit! Square, PayPal and Amazon all have free swipers and only take about 2.7%. It's the difference between making an average of $5 a head and $10 a head in merch.

Get A Merch Seller

You see touring bands tweet about this all the time: "Need someone to sell our merch tonight in Lincoln. Get into the show for free. email merch@ourband.com" Until you're packing theaters, you won't be able to afford to bring a merch manager on the road with you, but you MUST have a seller at the table before, during and after the show. Not having someone by the table while you're playing will cost you. Bands bitch all the time about low merch sales, but most of the time they aren't selling because they aren't doing it right. If someone wants your t-shirt or CD but has to leave early and glances at the merch table on his way out and there's no one there, he'll leave without buying anything. No one is going out of their way to try to pay you. And they definitely won't go online and buy it once they leave the venue. Get a merch seller!


Many venues will allow you to load in near the stage door, but won't have a spot for you to park and you will need you to move your car from the load in door. This can be huge hassle if there isn't a free, dedicated parking spot. I've had to spend up to 30 minutes finding parking and walking back to venue. Be mindful of this and plan accordingly. And to make sure you avoid this hassle, always go over parking when you advance the show with the venue a week or two beforehand.

Setup the Room

This is typically very overlooked by most artists. It's your night at the club and you want your fans to have a good show, so look out for them. Many venues (and especially colleges) will be able to setup their room multiple ways. Sometimes the way a room is setup needs to be changed for your show. For instance, if you want people to dance, but the room is full of chairs, all it takes is asking your point person at the club (or sound guy) if you can get rid of the chairs or shift them around to clear a dance floor.

Some venues are set as is and you will not be able to change anything ever, so be aware of that too.

Nearly every college I've played (over 100) I've had to rearrange the room to make sure people would be comfortable. No one knows your show experience better than you. Take initiative and work with your point people to rearrange the room to fit what's best for your show and your sound.

Hand Off The Guest List

You then need to make sure the door guy has your guest list. Some venues require this list to be emailed well before the doors open. Make sure to go over this information when you advance the show.

Settle Up

You should also find out who you are settling up with at the end of the night. Hopefully that person is the same person you advanced the show with. Before the show, go over the other agreed upon details that are in your email confirmation and that you advanced: drink deal, food deal, lodging, door cut or guarantee, set length, curfew, etc. And ALWAYS count the cash in front of the manager. It's not insulting, it's expected.

I once played a show where lodging was included in my deal that I negotiated with the talent buyer, but the venue manager on that night didn't know about it and no one booked a hotel. (I also forgot to advance this show!) At the end of the night, all local hotels were booked and I ended up crashing on the beer stained couch of a fraternity with a party happening around me till 5am. That's when ear plugs come in handy!


It may seem like musicians NEVER forget to eat, and most of the time you'd be right, but I can't tell you how many shows I didn't actually schedule time to eat, got caught up in all the other show prep, and felt light headed by the end of my set because of my growling stomach. Schedule dinner!

Get tickets to my Hotel Cafe show in Hollywood on Sat, Sept 13th here

Like these tips? Become a patron of Ari's Take.

Need more help? Signup for a consulting session with me.

Listen to my new album, Brave Enough, on Spotify or download on BandCamp


blog comments powered by Disqus