#venues #bands #performers #booking #disruption #musicbooking #marketing #promotion #socialmedia #email

This is part 2 of a 3-part series on disruption in the entertainment booking industry.

In part 1 of the 3-part series on disruption, I wrote about booking gigs between venues and performers, and how it is analogous to the peer-to-peer ride hailing disruption of the taxi industry.

In this post, I will focus on the needs and practices of venues and how and why they book gigs.

Venues in this context are not big or medium sized arena –places like Madison Square Garden or the Fillmore in San Francisco. Those venues have a full-on operational system around booking performers that extends far beyond a do-it-yourself system. With those venues, there are booking agencies, band managers, venue operators, and other parties that all coordinate to schedule acts.

The venues in this article are independent venues, like small clubs, lounges, bars, dive bars, breweries, wineries, even coffee houses and restaurants, any gathering space with an interest in featuring entertainment. Independent venues are run differently than big arenas obviously, and use entertainment differently to contribute to the bottom line.

The main reasons for independent venues to feature performers are:

  • To bring people in the door that either wouldn’t otherwise come in or are on the fence about coming in. Covers = revenue in the way of food and beverage sales, and in some cases, ticket sales.

  • For venues with a built-in audience, to keep the audience there awhile. Events that are gatherings, like festivals, car shows, parties where food and beverage is for sale, performers keep people there longer.

  • To support up-and-coming artists, especially local ones. A larger more well known club with a headlining act, might want to use an up-and coming-artist as the opener to support their work.

  • To build a sense of community or following; this might apply to coffee houses or breweries.

But each piece of communication received has to be triaged; for example, is this band a good fit or not? This triage creates extra work, as does social media, and it’s not always easy to tell if a band will be a right fit for a venue. The venue may try out a band, and if they are not the right fit, probably won’t be asked back.

What do independent venues look for? There is no standard criteria for all venues, each one is different. If the venue is a local community hangout, like a brewery or restaurant, they may not be interested in touring acts and prefer local bands with a local following.

Whatever their criteria, the process to triage and manage requests takes time away from running the business for those venues without a dedicated booker. The email process is manual, and if the band doesn’t supply all the needed information for the venue to make a decision, the venue has to look outside the email thread to fill in the gaps. More manual work.

Social media outreach helps to facilitate bookings, but we are all at the mercy of whatever set of eyeballs happen to see a post at a given moment based on the algorithms used to serve up content.

Social media does not offer a stable universe of performers from which to choose. It provides a subset.

For venues that have exhausted the subset or who don’t want to be at the mercy of the algorithm, they need a more tailored approach.

With these challenges, booking bands and performers needs disruption to current practices and technology.

An all-in-one platform that enables independent venues to search for and book highly rated performers will enable venues to make better booking decisions a lot faster. A better booking process means both sides win, as do their customers.


In my next post, part 3 of 3 of this series, I’ll focus on the challenges bands have with getting booked in venues.

Published by Andrea Harding

Live music lover, Founder @Zipgig

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