The big show is over, you’ve packed up your PA (or turned off your laptop) and said “goodbye,” and now you’re home rolling around in all those Benjamins.
Do you send a thank you note to the person who booked you?
I wouldn’t think of NOT doing that, and here’s why……
Yes, it’s old fashioned, and yes, nobody really expects it anymore.
So why do it?
Well, if we’re talking about a gig you’d like to do again – one that actually pays well, or helps your career in other ways – then the goal is to do more of those, right?
The thank you letter is all about keeping the good gigs coming our way.
5 Reasons to Send a Thank You Letter Every Time
1. Because You’re Actually Thankful (or should be…)
You may have noticed that good-paying gigs – whether virtual or “in person” – are a bit harder to come by these days, and you’re often dealing with a buyer who has less time, more choices, and more distractions than ever before.
When somebody has booked you for a performance, they’ve taken their time, energy, and at least a little bit of risk, to do so.
The easy part is to say “thanks.”
2. It Demonstrates Professionalism
Like it or not, not all practitioners of your (or my) artform are professional in the way they communicate with clients.
Forgotten emails, lost contracts, missed deadlines, unreturned calls, late arrivals – I hear these on a regular basis from frustrated venues.
By contrast, most clients (or venues, or bookers, or buyers – whatever you want to call them) are organized and professional, at least to some degree.
When you send a thank you letter, you’re in the vast minority of performers who do so, and you’ll be remembered as someone who takes their work seriously. A professional.
3. It Shows You’re Not Just There for the Paycheck
Mention something specific that happened at the gig, or a funny story you heard there, in your letter. Hand write a note at the bottom referencing a conversation you had with the buyer.
You’ve just elevated your relationship with the buyer a bit, and, as you know, relationships are everything.
People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
4. It’s the Perfect Vehicle to Formally Ask for a Recommendation
This is huge.
Because I’ve been making this “ask” in each of my thank you notes for many years, I’ve been able to stockpile a few hundred recommendation letters, emails, and quotes that I now use very strategically in my marketing.
If I’m sending a mass email to arts centers, I’ll include two or three powerful quotes from well-respected arts center venues where I’ve performed.
When I’m looking for gigs at libraries, I have great quotes from happy librarians who’ve booked me in the past.
If you’d like to see exactly how I ask for these quotes, you can download a copy of my thank you letter right here.
The power of social proof can’t be overstated – an enthusiastic quote from a venue like the one you’re reaching out to helps them feel reassured that others have hired, and been delighted with, you.
It could literally be the difference between the trash can and the gig.
5. It Gives Them Something Physical to Hold Onto
(If only for just a minute.)
True, your letter probably won’t find a permanent place on their desk, or on their wall, or even in that “future reference file” they never go back to.
But the point is this – however great your performance was, it’s in the past now. By the time your note arrives, the buyer’s mind has been re-filled with all kinds of other stuff they’re working on.
One more reminder about what you did for them couldn’t possibly hurt, especially when it comes in such a friendly form.
And maybe, just maybe, it puts you one step closer to being “top of mind” next time they need a great show.
Want to See (and Borrow From) My Thank You Letter?
You can download a copy right here.
It takes less than five minutes, and does at least five good things for you.
Do you send thank you letters after gigs? Will you be now?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.
About The Blog
Since 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.
As I read this I’m looking at the fridge magnets/ calendar my real estate agent sends. These guys are masters of self promotion. I dont think it would cost much for printing of post cards (with a picture & contact info on the cover)to use to say thanks.
I sometimes send handwritten Thank You notes but not enough. I also have not had the courage to ask for reviews or recommendations. Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration to upgrade in this way!
Hi Helen. During the last year or so, I’ve been asking for video reviews after gigs. After my program or show, I’ll whip out my IPhone and try to get the person who hired me to say a few positive comments. I’ll also get a few audience members to do the same thing.. I’ll then post the videos on my website and Facebook page. Another way to get reviews is through “thank you” emails. After sending the email, they will often respond back with some positive comments which you can then put to good use. You mentioned not having the courage to ask for reviews and recommendations. What’s the reason behind that if you don’t mind me asking?
Great ideas, Bill
Yes, not only do I send a thank you letter, but also a satisfaction survey and a stamped envelope. Then 4-6 months later, I send the customer a hand-written note…not promotional, just checking in and asking about them. I have gotten hand written notes back, and seen public posts on Facebook sharing my handwritten notes.
Great newsletter, as always
Love it, Diane!
Yes! Sending a thank you is always professional and has led to more repeat performances…. yes, even virtual performances. I have postcards for my ventriloquist and ♫♬ TheRealBeardedSanta™ performances that I send after each performance and special cards with envelopes for the higher paying gigs.
Fantastic stuff, Dave!
I send a thank you note after every show I do. I had a marketing writer write me a series of five letters thanking the activities professional or librarian so that I have enough for a full year.
Someone has actually written me a letter of recommendation. What do I do now? How do I thank the activities professional who wrote the letter;, what do I say to her in the future, In other words, how do I write the next thank you letter and how do I use this letter to the best advantage?
Hi Rochelle – the quotes contained in the letter can be used all over your promo materials, outreach emails, website, etc. Look for articles on this blog called “Artist Website Fix #1: Social Proof” and also “Do This Right Now #3” for some ideas.
Hey Dave, great newsletter, and I not only send thank you notes and customer satisfaction surveys after every gig…but I send 3-4 handwritten notes to other people each week. It is part of my marketing plan for the year. Handwritten notes show caring, it’s nearly retro in its existence, and everyone like to get real, positive mail.
Keep up the good work!
Love it Diane, thanks for posting.
Dave, I love this !
I’ve truly been remiss in the past, This reminds me to do better in 2018.
There’s my NY’s resolution. Thanks to Lee Tomboulian for sharing this post.
If you’re so inclined, join our Facebook group, “Gigs from Hell.”
We tell funny gig stories there, and it’s a support group for musicians.
Thanks again! Jeanie Perkins
Ha! Thanks Jeanie…
I have sent postal thank yous after every gig my entire career. In my contracts, I always ask for a postal address for the organiser to send a “proper Thank You”. I believe in gratitude and a card in the post speaks volumes about what kind of person you are. It’s almost the icing on the gig cake; if you conducted yourself with a humble grace during your gig, the thank you note a few days after might insure a return to that venue.
I have heard from a number of organisers that getting a thank you anytime is rare and they have also said that doing thank you’s at the end of the performance is something a lot of performers do not do.
We are extremely fortunate to do this kind of work and gratitude in all aspects od our business is essential.
Great minds (and ours…) think alike, Deb! I couldn’t have said it any better.
I always send a thank you email but I will try the letter approach and let you know how we go.
Thanks for the tip about endorsements. We have so many and use none of these so I will change that also and again let you know if it makes things easier.
Biggest thanks for your tips on marketing as this is a weak point for us as musicians/artists as for many in this profession: ))
Glad this stuff is helpful Ree!
Hi Dave —
Our situation is a bit different.
We play for many retirement communities/corporate clients who book multiple shows scheduled throughout the following year – some monthly, some more often at the same venue.
We perform a LOT (over 380 times per year) and we usually only send a Christmas card as a thank-you for the entire year to frequent clients.
We only send T/Y cards EVERY time to those who book less frequently, since it’s arduous to write so many notes (and we figure arduous to read them?).
Our T/Y cards are greeting cards, with our photo/logo for top-of-mind recognition.
Should we send thank-yous EVERY time in that situation?
Thanks for your advice.
Hi Matt – I don’t think there’s any “right” or “wrong” answer here. As you describe your situation, it certainly sounds like a thank you letter every time WOULD be overkill.
Thanks so much!!!
Good perspective on doing business in the modern era. Can never hurt to express thanks and do so in a way that helps promote future business.
As a full time performer, I find myself in a slightly different business climate, often working between venues and agencies with little contact between myself and the principles who actually book me. It’s often a mystery to me what the agency hears back from the venue, as well as why I might or might not be re-booked at a particular place.
I’m a solo acoustic guitarist and singer, doing approaching 200 shows a year, I book a lot of my own stuff directly, and always try and let venues know how much I appreciate their business. Have had clients that re-book with me over a period of years, making life and business an easier proposition, but it’s always an ongoing struggle to keep the gigs coming and keep the calendar as full as energy and physical limitations allow. Not as easy to burn the candle doing doubles and five/six nights a week at 59 years old as it was at 29…
I usually try my best to say my thanks in person if possible to those responsible for giving me a chance to share my music, and take advantage of email as well. Doing work you love and enjoy is no small gift in this life, and while it’s never easy, most of the time, the worst day playing is better than the best day doing any other job, at least for this troubadour. Best wishes continuing to share your music, and the struggle goes on…
Cheers David! Thanks for that.
As a promoter buying the services of artists from around the world I can tell you that to receive such a thank-you letter is both rare and very welcome. That it does not happen very often makes all the more noticeable and memorable when it does.
I often write to artists to thank them for a special performance and they are usually responded to.
It doesn’t have to be in your own hand on scented notepaper, a personal email does the job.
It works. Believe it.
There is one artist who has performed regularly for me since he was a ten year old prodigy, he is now twenty and I have always received a thank-you from either his father when he was younger or him now. He plays for me most years.
It’s great to have that perspective Garry, thanks.
I send thank you notes, but usually on FB &/or I say thank you’s at the end of my gigs while at the venue. I agree with your reasoning above.
Always send a follow-up email and even some images we take from stage. I try to send it within 48 hours of the gig. Strike while the iron is hot!
I love it Bryan. Great point Bryan about striking while the iron is hot and their enthusiasm is high.
Excellent advice Dave
Manners cost nothing and could make all the difference in a competitive world
Thanks for the post
Great post Dave. I’ve been sending thank you notes/letters/emails for years now. It certainly pays off and makes you stand out from the crowd. A lot of performers take things for granted. It also applies to contractors and other service businesses as well. Our family has been using a certain plumber for years now. He has never once said “thank you” let alone sending us a note. The only reasons why we keep using him is because he is good, reliable, and reasonably priced. You make a great point about using thank you notes as a way to obtain letters of recommendation. I’ve been very lucky. Whenever I send a thank you email, I hardly ever need to ask for a recommendation. They almost always reply back to me with some powerful quotes I can utilize in my marketing campaigns. One last thing for everyone to remember: we performers need them far more than they need us! Let’s never lose sight of that fact!
Thank you for sharing this, Dave! It’s actually helpful for my business even though I’m not a musician. (I run my husband’s handyman business.)
PS: I recently shared an artist’s painting on my Facebook art page, and she commented on the post to say “Thank You” and then she followed up via email to thank me again. She definitely stayed at the top of my mind, so I can attest that this works.
Glad to hear it Faith!
Fantastic advise, Dave. I can’t believe this came into my inbox this morning, as I have been literally dithering as to whether to do this or not for a certain gig I did, and was thinking about doing it today! I really like your blog – it’s fun and so helpful. All the best to you. Alex Frederick
Thanks Alex – glad to here it was timely!
Excellent. Sometimes I send thank yous, sometime I don’t. But I will for all in the future. I was brought up well and that is only polite – and sets me apart as well.
Sounds like a plan Roland, and yes, you were brought up well…