Coming out of a short Ohio tour, I thought I’d write this post based on a few things I experienced. These tips also apply to your local shows. If you have additional reccomendations, please post them in the comments.
Grab a City Paper in Each City You Visit
There’s likely to be a major alternative paper in every city you visit. If it’s Cleveland, pick up The Cleve Scene. If it’s Baltimore, pick up The City Paper. If it’s Columbus, pick up Columbus Alive. City Papers are one of the best ways to find out what’s going on in a city and learn about the most popular venues. Reading and keeping a copy of the paper (to take home) will help you next time you’re booking gigs in that city.
Ask the Locals
Asking locals is probably a more reliable source than the city paper. Ask people what venues they visit the most. Ask them what the most talked about coffee shops, clubs, and lounges are in the area. Locals will tell you things you might not find online…i.e. summer concert series, underground events, local radio stations, independent record shops…etc. On this particular tour, we met a couple people first hand that were direct links to radios stations and/or publications. Locals also gave us information on upcoming festivals that we definitely might not have stumbled upon online. (p.s. always carry a notebook around)
Don’t Expect Much from the Venue
Never expect a venue to promote an event for you. Just don’t. You do the legwork. We ran into several issues where one venue didn’t hang the posters we sent, another venue put the wrong start time on their website (even after repeated attempts of asking them to change it), and another venue wasn’t so friendly because we were females. “You just never know what you’re gonna get”…is what it comes down to.
Play in Unconventional Places
Check out avialable markets before you visit a town (ex: Reading Terminal Market in Philly). I’ve mentioned this in a past blog so just refer to Jumping the Gun – Booking for the Spring and Summer. Outdoor produce/artist markets are an excellent place to promote while on tour. And if you contact them ahead of time, they will often save you a prime spot at their market to perform. You’ll often have to provide you own sound equipment, but its worth it. People tip well b/c they’re already in shopping mode…and they dobuy music. Its similar to busking but a little more formal. Also don’t forget to bring your own merch table. It will increase sales. I promise.
p.s. Findlay Market in Cincinnati is a hot spot!
If you have any additional tips, please feel free to recommend them to Grassrootsy readers.