A friend of mine with a good following in LA just told me how she showed up to her show last night only to find out that the venue had cancelled it without her knowledge. Another touring artist I know discovered just two days before her LA stop that the promoter had a miscommunication with the venue and double booked the night when a wedding was already scheduled (after selling 200 advance tickets online). I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard (and experienced) where the venue and artist were on two completely separate pages about the show’s details and sometimes two completely separate calendars.
How do you prevent these catastrophes from happening? Advance the show!
What does advancing the show mean? It means calling or emailing your point person for the evening about a week prior to the show and confirming every detail for the night: load in time and location, sound check time, parking, door time, show time, openers, compensation, drink/food deal, guest list spots, lodging situation, your day-of contact person’s cell phone number, who the front of house sound engineer is for the evening, who you should settle up with at the end of the night to get paid, and any other information they need to know about your night (VIP backstage hangs, extra lights you’re bringing in, seated or standing show).
You can’t just assume everything is going to go smoothly. Actually, you should assume everything will be complete chaos unless you advance the show. A lot of time has passed since you booked the show. Maybe the talent buyer who booked you no longer works at the venue or the promoter you worked with had a falling out with the venue and they are moving your show to a different club. Maybe the club went out of business and no one told you. Maybe tickets haven’t been selling so they added a few more local openers onto the bill which changes your set length and times.
It’s best that you work all of this out well BEFORE show day. Especially since you’re traveling from another city, if times have shifted, you need to know this well in advance to plan your travel days accordingly. Maybe the talent buyer promised 3 hotel rooms but your point person the night of (bar manager) has no knowledge of that and nothing was reserved, all hotels are sold out and now you must ask, sheepishly over the mic if anyone has couches or floor space to lend you for the night.
Work out every detail in your advancement email or phone call.
Once you have a show confirmed you should send one final email that includes all of the necessary details. This acts like a contract. Most venues with capacities under 600 don’t typically work with contracts – especially when booking directly with the artist. Even if they do work with contracts, it takes way too long to send one over, have them sign it, send it back and confirm everything. Most venue talent buyers (bookers) won’t take the time to do this. Just send them an email that looks something like this. Fill in all the information that you are certain of (what had been discussed in previous correspondences) and highlight the areas they need to fill in.
Oh, and if you had been corresponding with the talent buyer via Facebook Messenger or text, make sure you finish the conversation and confirm the show only via email. You may need to be able to go back and reference part of the conversation and you definitely don’t want to have to sift through Facebook, Instagram, text messages or Twitter DMs to find the correspondence. All business should be done via email. If they start the conversation on Facebook, respond with a polite “This sounds interesting, can you email me?” If they refuse to work over email, it’s a serious red flag and you should not pursue the show.
Attach a stage plot/tech rider and a promo photo with this email (so they don’t use an old grainy photo from 4 years ago they found on Google). Note that your band’s promo bio is included at the end.
In your advance call, make sure to go through every detail from this final confirmation email.
Final Confirmation Email to send to the talent buyer (booker) to confirm the booking:
Advance Tickets Link:
On Sale Date:
Tickets available at box office?
Box office phone #:
Box office hours:
Box office location:
Guest List #:
Number traveling in band/crew:
Load in Time:
Sound Check Time:
Advance with: (Name) Phone: Email:
Venue Day of Contact Phone #:
Sound Engineer Contact #/email:
Artist Day of Contact Phone #:
Load in directions:
YouTube video to embed on venue website: