How NOT To Get Bookings: The Performing Artist’s Guide

There’s been lots of advice offered here on the blog over the years on how to get gigs.

Today, I’m presenting a comprehensive guide to completely blowing any gig opportunity that happens to come our way in this COVID era.

advice from dave ruch for performing artistsMusicians, storytellers, puppeteers, and performing artists – if we just follow these simple steps, we’ll be sure to keep our calendars nice and clean.

(Not) Getting the Gig

#1. Don’t check email

Yes, we have an email address listed on our website and promo materials, but everyone should understand that we don’t really use it.

#2. Don’t respond to email once we’ve seen it

We’re busy – why didn’t they just call us, or email a second and third time? Surely they have nothing better to do!

#3. Don’t check our spam folders

Because our email service provider and anti-spam software are 100% accurate in determining what we should – and should not – see.

How to Get Bookings - Dave Ruch for musicians and artists(Seriously, I can’t tell you how many gig requests I’ve found in my spam, junk, and “promotions” folders over the years. I now check them daily.)

#4. Don’t return calls

They can wait.

#5. Give lots of real-life reasons why we couldn’t/didn’t get back to them

They really need to understand how hard our life is right now.

#6. Don’t update our website

We just don’t have time. They’ll be able to tell how committed and professional we are by that great promo picture we have there from twelve years ago (where, by the way, our hair looks awesome, doesn’t it?).

#7. Don’t send contracts back

Just go ahead and leave them in that messy pile on our desk.

#8. Don’t make it easy for the venue to promote the show

Don’t provide a sample press release, photos, posters, etc – they should have to put in lots of hard work to promote us.

Gig Day

How Not to Get Bookings for your Band#9. Whether virtual or in person, DON’T show up on time

It’s fine. Musicians and artists have a sterling reputation for always being organized and punctual, so our contact person won’t be the least bit worried when we’re running late.

#10. Late for the gig? Blame it on some external factor

The booker surely doesn’t realize we could have just left home earlier, or gotten online earlier, allowing enough time for anything unexpected.

#11. Treat each venue like a performing arts center

They live to cater to acts like ours, and really have nothing else they’re concerned with beyond making sure the experience is optimal for us.

#12. Keep the focus on US

Don’t worry one bit about the buyer’s needs, or making it easy for them to have hired us; they don’t like things to be easy.

How to Get Bookings for artists and musicians - Dave Ruch articleAfterwards

#13. Don’t let them know how much we appreciate the booking

No warm smile on our way out the “door,” and please, no thank you note.

(If we leave them really happy, they WILL want us back. Still, some heartfelt thanks can go a long way towards keeping us top of mind for the next time.)

No More Good Paying Bookings!

There. It’s really that simple. Thirteen steps to an open calendar.

How many of these “best practices” are you currently employing? Got a new one to add to the list? The “Comments” section is just below.


About The Blog

The Largest Online Gathering of K-5 Classrooms for Connected Educator MonthSince leaving a white-collar marketing job in 1992, Dave Ruch has been educating and entertaining full-time in schools, historical societies and museums, folk music and concert venues, libraries, and online via distance learning programs.

Along the way, he’s learned a great deal about supporting a family of four as a musician.

The Educate and Entertain blog provides articles, tips, encouragements, and how-to’s for regional performers (in any region) interested in making a great full-time living in the arts.

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