The Secret to Successful Live Shows For Your Band

This article originally appeared as a March 21, 2012 guest blog on titled “Get Venues to Ask You Back: 8 Tips You Can Use For Your Next Show“. Marcato Musician CEO Darren Gallop offers eight simple tips for building valuable relationships with live performance venue managers and staff that can help your band to have the most successful live shows possible and build support for your act as your live performance career grows.

It’s no secret these days that live performance can be one of the most important elements in a musician’s career for at least two reasons. Live performance is a key source of revenue and record sales for an artist and is key to increasing an artist’s exposure level. For this reason you should aim to establish the best possible relationship with performance venues and the people who manage these very important resources in your career.

The results of a positive relationship with the venues where you perform include increased opportunities, greater revenue, more flexibility and referral to other venues in other towns.

As you build your network of cities where you perform, these relationships can be very helpful. If a venue needs an opener for a high profile band that is coming to town they are going to call the band they like. By like, I mean they like their music, personality and want to nurture your relationship. If they don’t like you, don’t expect the call.

Here are eight simple things that make up the secret to successful live shows and building a successful live performance career for your band:

Promote the show

When you have a show at a venue promote the hell out of it. Send posters well in advance, set-up a Facebook event or if the venue offers to create the event, share and promote it. Tweet about it, put it on your website, reach out to press in the area. Let the venue know what you are doing and give them any updates if you get any press or if there is anything they should know that they can use for further promotion of the show.

Send the Venue Your Music

Ask them how they want to have the music. Ask them if they want a CD to play at the venue. Suggest maybe they do some CD giveaways at another show beforehand. You can also do this with digital dropcards or download codes.

Under Promise and Over Deliver

This can be said about many things in your professional and personal life. Do more than what you say you will do when you are pitching the show, and certainly not less. Most people talk about all of the great things they will do to make the show a hit and then they do half of them. This is bad business in general. Make a list of all of the things you told the venue you would do for the show as well as all of the things that were in the contract. Enter them in your calendar and make sure you do them and on time. If the venue has to chase after you for stuff it will be a much less positive experience for them.

Be On Time

Show up for the soundcheck on time, start your show on time, end your show on time. Get your gear out of the venue on time. If for any reason something is going to run late or not go as planned communicate with your venue contact as soon as you realize there is an issue.

Deliver a Kick Ass Show NO MATTER WHAT

Even if you don’t get the audience you were hoping for, KICK ASS! Even if you are only performing for the staff and a handful of regulars, don’t show your discouragement. If you did not get the audience everyone hoped but your show was awesome they may give you another chance. If you don’t get the audience and you and your band mates act like a bunch of cry babies this is less likely to be the case.

Be Friendly and Polite to EVERYONE

Everyone at the venue is important. Treat everyone with respect. Just because you think your band is cool does not mean you are better or more important than the bouncers and servers. Don’t just kiss the booker’s ass. Be awesome to everyone.

In my gigging days I have always been nice to everyone in all of the venues I played. The booker often asks the staff what they think so you want everyone to report good news. Also, I have seen myself be in a town visiting or playing another venue with another band and then drop over to a venue to be greeted by a door person who lets me in for free and then have a server who gives me a free drink. Or even better, bouncers helping us carry our gear out at the end of the night!

Be Loyal To the Venue

Do not play another show just before or recently after in the same town or even a neighbouring town without the venue’s consent first. In fact once you have a venue that works for you in a particular town or city, stick with that venue unless you outgrow it and need a larger venue or if the opportunity to start playing a better venue comes up which you should certainly consider.

When you do decide to move on, let the venue you were previously working with know. Write them an email or call them. Thank them for their support and let them know why you are moving on. If it’s that you need more capacity to fulfil your growing fan-base they will likely understand. If it’s because you are getting a better offer, at least give them the chance to counter-offer.

Tip the Service Staff

If the servers are running you drinks, bringing you food and helping you out, give them a tip at the end of the night. If you had a great night give them a good tip. In my experience this goes a long way. You will likely get better and faster service and they will be much more likely to say nice things about you and your band to senior management and venue patrons.

In Summary

Remember, venues are your clients so treat them with respect. If they like you musically and personally and you conduct respectful business with them they will likely give you more and treat you better. It’s a win-win scenario.

Marcato Musician CEO Darren Gallop has toured internationally with his bands and built the Marcato Musician platform to help artists and managers organize tours and create tour itineraries with ease. Learn more and try Marcato Musician free for 30 days at

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One Response to The Secret to Successful Live Shows For Your Band

  • I concur entirely, and as my band and I head out on the Sugar Burn Sessions Tour we shall heed your advice along the way.

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