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 Post subject: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:25 pm 
FATBERG AHOY, CAPTAIN
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from Uncle Chris Owens, in regards to Cahoots in particular but all shows in general:

OWENS wrote:
Wrote this for someplace else, but thought it relevant here too....

A general word of advice for bands seeking shows, and comments on the future workings of Cahoots:

Cahoots started doing shows in November of last year....people had been trying to talk marsha in to this as long as the bar has been open, but it wasn't until the smoking ban and the consequential steep drop in business that we were able to finally able to convince her that shows were a good idea.

Even then, though, Marsha agreed that shows could happen on a sort of trial basis...and if they worked out well she would continue to allow them. At that point I sat down with her and gave her a list of specific things to do and not to do if she wanted Cahoots to become a sustainable, successful venue....all of which would be systemically ignored over the coming months until a few weeks ago when Marsha told me that she was ready to give up on having shows...citing a list of problems that were all direct results of not following the most basic and important points of advice that I had given her:

-Buy a real PA
-Build a stage
-Only work with trusted bands and promoters

Not wanting to see what could be Louisville's premier mid-sized live music venue go down the drain because of obvious and preventable mis-management I decided to step in, twist some arms, drop some science and step on a few toes...and hopefully keep the venue alive.

As anyone who has worked the trenches should know, democracies do not succeed in the music business....so though some significant progress has been made as far as to turning Cahoots around, there still remains what I consider to be a flawed booking and show management system....and as I do not currently have the time or broad sweeping totalitarian authority to change this, I will appeal directly to bands and promoters to exercise the common sense and responsibility that will ensure that this venue will exist 10 years from now, instead of closing shop 10 months (or weeks) from now.

(I know I will be over-explaining some of these points...but I just want to make sure that less experienced bands and promoters fully understand the situation)

1. In order for shows to be profitable for the bar they need to bring in AT LEAST 50 people on a weeknight and 75 people on a weekend. The bar looses business from some of the regulars and walk-in's on show nights because the pool tables are closed and some people aren't in to the music. So show's have to attract enough drinking people to not only make up for the loss of business, but to exceed bar sales of normal nights. For the record, the bar only takes $50 from the door to cover soundman and pa expenses, so drink sales are still the only source of income the bar has during shows.

The bottom line is that if the show you want to set up can't guarantee 50 people on a weeknight or 75 people on a weekend then don't book it at Cahoots...because you will be contributing to the closing of this venue which isn't doing yourself or anyone else any favors in the long run.

2. PROMOTION!
If you're one of the few people who are able to put together a smart bill that will likely bring people out and make for a good show...then proper promotion is the next hurdle that you're likely to stumble on. Putting a post on the Internet and 1 flyer in Ear-x-tacy doesn't do shit anymore, here are some pointers on how to do it right:

-The single most effective way to promote a show is to make hand bills and PHYSICALLY PUT THEM IN OTHER PEOPLE'S HANDS. Dropping hand bills on a counter is about as effective as throwing them in the trash. This means you have to get up off of your ass and go to other shows, bars, any place or event that people who might be interested in your show will be and put in the foot work. I can count on one hand the people I know who actually do this...and that is why they consistently put on better shows than anyone else.

Beyond hand bills, you should make some 11x17's for business that people who might be in to your show patronize. A few staple places I always hit for shows that I do at Cahoots are:

Cahoots (duh...but believe it or not a lot of dumbasses book shows there and don't even put a flyer in the window)
Ear-x-tacy
Home Skate shop
Wild and Wooley
Nach Bar
Doo Wop Shop

In general, put them up any relevant place that will let you.

- Call LEO, Velocity, Louisville Music News and get your show listed in the events section...if you bother them enough the might even do a write up on it. These things alone don't ever seem to do that much but they will definitely help to reinforce a flyer campaign. Despite (or maybe because of) the extremely high ratio of good bands per-capita in this city, the general show going populace is inherently apathetic, lazy and forgetful....so the more ways you can shove the show info infront of their face the greater the likely hood that 1/3rd of the people who say they'll come out actually will.

- The internet....this seems to be the only thing that bands and promoters have a firm grasp of understanding on these days.

- Lastly, flyer design is an important issue...despite what many of us might want to call it, at the end of the day it's still "product marketing". Of course if some one likes a band, they're going to the show no matter what the flyer looks like...but an eye catching design that in some way visually reflects the sound and attitude of the bands can attract interest from people not already familiar with the music...peer identification dude.

3. Running the show.
If you've made it this far, put together and properly promoted a good bill...don't start patting your self on the back yet because you can still fuck shit up by mis-managing the actual day of show events.

- Show / Set length

Having sat through and played many hundreds of shows, at hundreds of clubs in 47 states and 17 different countries I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn't. A good show has a "flow" to it...it maintains momentum and keeps the people there entertained and interested and wanting more. The average persons attention span for a bands live set is about 20 minutes...after that, never fail, the crowd starts to dwindle. If you're not a headlining band who has 20 years or more of popular back catalog to cover then you have NO EXCUSE to be playing an hour long (or god forbid longer) set....and just because your girlfriends and two drunk buddies say they want to hear 1 more song doesn't mean it's a good idea.

3 hours is about the average attention span that people have for an entire show...no one wants to stand around for 5 fucking hours to see a rock show....when this happens people either show up late just to see the headlining bands, or they leave early. So do the math, and see how much stage time you can alot to each band in that time frame.

Also, for bar shows in Louisville the prime window for attendance is usually between 11pm and 1 am.

If you can back line the amps, make sure the drums are set up off stage and are willing and able to crack the whip on lazy, bitchy bands then 15 minutes is a realistic breakdown/setup time allotment. Otherwise you're probably looking at between 20 and 30 minutes in between sets. You need to figure this in when dishing out set lengths. I'll show you a mock show time line to illustrate how you should deal with a 4 band show at a venue like Cahoots:

8:30 - 9:45 Bands start loading in and backline amps in order of last to first.
9:45 - 10:00 Soundcheck first band
10:00 - doors open

Band 1 - 20 min set 10:30 - 10:50
Band 2 - 30 min set 11:05 - 11:35
Band 3 - 30 min set 11:50 - 12:20
Band 4 - 45 min set 12:35 - 1:20

...and when Band 3 says "...but all our songs are 15 minutes long" you tell them that they can only play 2 songs.

A common practice of good promoters is to print out a set time sheet and post it some where in the venue where the bands can see it...sometimes I like to bring a clock and set it somewhere on stage so that the bands can keep track of their own time while they're playing.

4. General notes for bands -

DRUMMERS - DO NOT BREAK DOWN YOUR DRUMS ON STAGE!!!! That has got to be one of the most annoying dickhead moves in the world. Unless your the last band of the night...don't be a douche, get your kit off of the stage and out of everyone elses way before you start taking your cymbals off and breaking down your hardware. Really this sentiment applies to every band member...when your done, I know you want to take a rest / talk to girls / listen to your buddies jock your set / get a drink or whatever...but again, don't be a douche....get your shit off stage so the next band can set up and you don't kill the general momentum of the show as a whole....drummers just seem to be the worst about this.

VOCALIST - I know some of you think it's real cool to cup the windscreen of an sm58 in your hand like a ball because you saw Phil Anselmo doing it in a video or something....but this will often result in annoying feedback that you will then proceed to bitch about to the soundman, when in fact the feedback is all your fault and he is powerless to do anything about it. The reason for the feedback is that by blocking the rear of the microphone capsule with your hand you are changing the pickup pattern from cardioid to omni...in laymans terms that means that instead of just picking up what the microphone is pointing at...it will pick up sound 360 degrees around the microphone...which will often include both your own voice as well as the signal from the microphone that is coming through the monitors and main speakers....this in turn creates what is called a "feedback loop".

MUSIC BETWEEN BANDS - put some thought in to this...blasting loud hardcore and metal in between a bunch of loud hardcore and metal bands usually ends up just grating on every ones nerves...if you can keep the audience in the room and entertained between bands then there's a much greater likelihood that more people will stick around for the whole show and not leave after their friends bands play....try to create an atmosphere and "vibe" if you will that everyone wants to hang out in. Last LORDS tour we prefaced and ended the set with Thriller, to great success.

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:05 am 
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Amen! One of the most annoying things is when a band takes too long to set up, which is almost always because of the drummer.

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:44 am 
N00Benstein
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Quote:
VOCALIST - I know some of you think it's real cool to cup the windscreen of an sm58 in your hand like a ball because you saw Phil Anselmo doing it in a video or something....but this will often result in annoying feedback that you will then proceed to bitch about to the soundman, when in fact the feedback is all your fault and he is powerless to do anything about it. The reason for the feedback is that by blocking the rear of the microphone capsule with your hand you are changing the pickup pattern from cardioid to omni...in laymans terms that means that instead of just picking up what the microphone is pointing at...it will pick up sound 360 degrees around the microphone...which will often include both your own voice as well as the signal from the microphone that is coming through the monitors and main speakers....this in turn creates what is called a "feedback loop".


Word - to the 5th power. This slick move even sucks when you have compressor/gates on every channel.


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:36 pm 
Master and Commander
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One of the ways we used to streamline setup times when I would set up shows would be getting a group of bands that were friends and share as much equipment as possible. Also, for instance say 3 bands were playing, when band 1 finished band 2 and 3 helped offload band 1 and then onload band 2 and so on. Sort of taking the responsibility of being roadies for each other. It worked well in cutting down between band time.


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:08 pm 
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it's terrible that you have to point this out. this should all be common sense.


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 4:12 pm 
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Aaron Osbourne wrote:
it's terrible that you have to point this out. this should all be common sense.


yeah, i agree.

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:25 am 
N00Benstein

Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:21 am
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hey, my band. just played cahoots recently. where are some other venues to play in louisville?


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:20 pm 
Master and Commander
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DD wrote:
One of the ways we used to streamline setup times when I would set up shows would be getting a group of bands that were friends and share as much equipment as possible. Also, for instance say 3 bands were playing, when band 1 finished band 2 and 3 helped offload band 1 and then onload band 2 and so on. Sort of taking the responsibility of being roadies for each other. It worked well in cutting down between band time.


Wow. What a concept! :) Though I will have to say that some rigs you really don't want to share... But drums sets... I mean they're all the same aren't they? ::wink, wink::


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 12:46 am 
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I'm impressed...

you did a great job explaining all of that... respectful and to the point.

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:56 pm 
N00Benstein

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excellent post, man. can;t say enough about it. good to see a knowledgable person wants other bands to do well, as well as the scene in general.


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running shows
PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:01 am 
N00Benstein

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While i do agree with some of the points about set up time and getting your gear on and off the stage as quick as possible I do question the motive of the post. The advice seems to be coming from a bit of a pedestal, and while I do appreciate the experience, there are thousands of opinions as to what works and what doesnt. Bottom line, be courteous to your fellow bands. Look out for each other. Help each other.

As to the assurance of whether or not the audience will come: Who can guarantee those kinds of things even if you are in a band that draws decent crowds? Its a hard time for live bands and not everyone plays what is cool. Should they suffer? Should they adhere to a 20 minute set? Im not a big fan of setting up all my equipment for a 20 min set. If the people dont like it, they will let you know.

Cahoots is a great place to play a show, and Ive played there a decent amount but unless there is more work put into a regular soundman and a stage why be so exclusionary? If Cahoots continues to draw poor crowds than maybe its just meant to be.


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running show
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:50 am 
N00Benstein
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This is one of the best and most entertaining how-tos I've seen as far as a tool for promoters and band. The only aspect that I would disagree with, and I know it's a controversial point, is fliers. As recent as two years ago, I would've said they were crucial, but these days, I'm fairly unconvinced. If you have a show geared toward an older crowd, you'd definitely want to have a good physical campaign. But if you're audience is squarely 18-25, they're most likely getting their show information from social networks, blogs, and occasionally the alt newsweekly (via their Twitter of course) - at least for indie rock shows. That's another conversation - how successful promotion varies based not just on age and location, but genre as well. Ultimately, I feel nowadays that fliers and 4-ups do little more than end up on the ground and give the staff at the club another thing to clean up. Regardless, great primer!

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running show
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:33 am 
FATBERG AHOY, CAPTAIN
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I'll play devil's advocate to a small point here and say that for the 16-25s that are saturated with online requests to come to everything under the sun, putting an actual physical flyer in their hand may make a difference just based on the relative novelty of the act/object.
kennybloggins wrote:
This is one of the best and most entertaining how-tos I've seen as far as a tool for promoters and band. The only aspect that I would disagree with, and I know it's a controversial point, is fliers. As recent as two years ago, I would've said they were crucial, but these days, I'm fairly unconvinced. If you have a show geared toward an older crowd, you'd definitely want to have a good physical campaign. But if you're audience is squarely 18-25, they're most likely getting their show information from social networks, blogs, and occasionally the alt newsweekly (via their Twitter of course) - at least for indie rock shows. That's another conversation - how successful promotion varies based not just on age and location, but genre as well. Ultimately, I feel nowadays that fliers and 4-ups do little more than end up on the ground and give the staff at the club another thing to clean up. Regardless, great primer!

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running show
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:31 pm 
N00Benstein
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flexyournoggin wrote:
I'll play devil's advocate to a small point here and say that for the 16-25s that are saturated with online requests to come to everything under the sun, putting an actual physical flyer in their hand may make a difference just based on the relative novelty of the act/object.


I hear where you're comin' from. I think fliers also serve more as a reminder to people of a show announcement they may have seen elsewhere like the paper, the soc networks, or a website. Every little bit helps, depending on the amount of time you're able to actively promote. I admit I'm biased in the sense that I tend to be tied to the Internet most hours of the day.

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Last edited by kennybloggins on Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running show
PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:33 pm 
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it seems to me that the regular handbill type flyer is pretty much done for, but sweet screenprinted ART flyers are still going strong, aka the First Saturday Series stuff, Ben's stuff, etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running show
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:38 pm 
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Handbills work in the sense that they are essentially a classic social networking tool. You're physically letting an individual know about the show, hopefully looking them in the eyes and talking to them for a second. You never know how much that will impact somebody's decision to attend a show versus a Facebook invite, though those are effective too. I just feel like it lets people know that you're making more of an effort, and often it sets you apart from the pack. Most people fail to use them because they lack time and charisma. It's definitely intimidating to go hand these things to people you don't know, let alone people you sort of know.

People ought to promote big shows with large drawing bands at least a month and a half to two months before the show actually happens for maximum draw. A month is decent notice for an average show.


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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running show
PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 10:27 am 
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IF ANY BAND, playing here in Louisville at any time, could be pals, and put us, Spiders 4 Eyes, on a bill with them, we need some more shows. Yeah, we opened for Bush League not so long ago... for about 30 people. We have put out a 7", and are working on a 10" right around the corner. The record is available at earxtacy/underground sounds. We have myspace/facebook - blah,blah. And oh, yes - we are punk as fuck! (there have been comparissons to the dicks, the stranglers (mainly cuz of the new keyboard addition), flipper, and as having a "definite squirrel bait thing going on". Sounds good to me.

I, for one, feel alot of cold shoulder activity going on when trying to book shows. There's a lot more "every man for himself" thinking involved. I am going to start a new venue here in the not so distant future. Suggestions on how to go about this, as it will be my first expirience with putting on shows. Or any willingness to help, would be very much welcomed. On this topic, or if anybody out there could be super cool, and st up a show with us (Neil and I, John) love to make a bunch of crazy flyers and post them like homicidal crack heads on fire. And you can reach us at spiders4eyes@hotmail.com and we really, really apriciate all the help coming from any direction, it is not something that is forgotten, ever. And there will never be the "cold shoulder activity" from this angle. We strive for something a little different. Thank you, guys! - John

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 Post subject: Re: Important info about booking, promoting and running show
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 8:34 pm 
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Important tip # 300.......
if you are going to forgo writing the full information for your event on here, or elsewhere, and are simply going to put up a link to the Facebook event/invite page, then make sure the page is viewable to the general public.

It seems that probably 3/4's of the time, I click a link only to find myself looking at a sign in page.


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