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So you wanna be in a rock band?: Making a your rock show a success

Rose Cora Perry | Interrobang | Lifestyles | January 15th, 2007

As mentioned in my last column, if you're feeling rather ambitious and up to the challenge, a final means of getting your act booked would be to propose to a club owner/booker that you would like to put together your own show. But, as I previously stated, I only recommend this option to bands that are experienced, have strong followings, and know how much hard work is required in order to do so. In addition, I recommend that this option only be presented to bookers with whom you've worked before so that you are aware of their expectations.

Often established acts will find themselves at the request of various charities wishing to put together fundraising events or if your act is planning a special event to co-ordinate with the release of a CD or a music video, putting together your own show for each of these options would be in your best interest.

There are definitely a lot of great advantages with lining up your own bill, and outlining the details for the night, but don't be fooled into thinking it's an easy task. I can tell you from personal experience, no matter how hard you try to cover every detail, last minute issues will arise, and/or there will be something you have forgotten. Therefore, I recommend starting early.

Compliment your sound & make your whole show strong

Sometimes having extremely diverse variety-type shows can be effective if an event is being put together by a large organization or a festival. However, when it comes to local rock shows, I recommend that you do not stray too much from your own sound. Booking solid openers that are unique, but complimentary to your act would be in your best interest.

When crowds come out to see a specific act, it's because something has caught their attention about that band's music and/or performance which has lead to the development of their following. Bookers, taking note of a strong act, will usually book lesser-known support acts with which the strong act shares a similar sound. The rationale behind this strategy is simple: the fans of the strong act will be more likely to enjoy a support act if the genre is relatively the same. Hence why you don't see many concerts with a jazz band opening for an industrial group, because it will likely divide the audience.

The other point to take into consideration when booking acts on your bill is their draw. I know there's a tendency to want to book your friend's bands (who may or may not be established), but at the end of the day, you need to ensure that your show overall will be strong.

I think it's fair to have a couple of newer bands as openers for the show as it would give them a chance to expand their fan base, however, make sure that you aren't relying on a solitary act to bring out all of the people.

Usually when I put together shows, I book four to five acts a night. The opening act is often a friend's band that is from out-of-town with little to no draw. However, the other four acts on the bill (my band included) are established in the area and can make up for the initial band's lack of contribution to the crowd. I always give the headlining spots (the last and second last set times) to the strongest acts on the bill, as you want to ensure that each band will have a decent crowd to whom they can play.

Make sure to leave your ego out of the decision making process when you're devising the band schedule for the night. If you've booked an act that has been established in the area for 20+ years, the headlining spot indefinitely should be theirs, NOT yours just because you booked the show. It will still be recognized that it's your show as you did all the grunt work, but if you would like it to be the best night possible, know your bands, their capabilities, and book their set times according to such. Also, knowing when each band's crowd usually comes out should be taken into consideration.

Choose your venue wisely

The setting and atmosphere need to be appropriate for the music genre, but as well keeping the crowd capacity amount in mind is important. Estimate a realistic figure in terms of attendees for the night based on each act's average draw. Depending on that amount, you'll be able to more accurately find a place that suits your show's need. 100-200 people may be a strong turnout depending upon the event, but if you are playing at a club that is designed to accommodate crowds on the upwards of 800, then the place will look empty. A smaller more intimate venue would be more appropriate in this scenario. Giving the appearance that the place is packed will do wonders for impressing bookers, and you'll find yourself likely to get more show opportunities in the future.

Continued next week.......
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