A Simple Guide to Booking Your Summer Gigs

Summer Touring is just around the corner. If you haven’t begun the booking process yet, what are you waiting for?!  As you (or your band) jump in head first, here are some tips for doing it the right way:

START 3-4 MONTHS OUT

By right, you should be working on July and August right now. Planning so far in advance can get annoying, but you’ll have to get use to it if you haven’t already. For many of the larger summer festivals, booking begins in early Spring. Some book as early as January.

BOOK AROUND A BIG SUMMER FESTIVAL

Look for the big one – that one summer art or music festival that will bring you massive exposure while helping you route your trip. Summer festivals can be incredibly flexible. Many of them take place during the week or daytime and you can often piggy back off of a Saturday afternoon festival gig by playing an evening club in the area. 

Also remember that music and art festivals will be your “door opener” gigs, exposing you to tons of new potentially die-hard fans – people who will come out to future shows or even book you for a house concert in their own home.  It’s a sweet deal – maximum exposure playing for large audiences that your band doesn’t have to draw.

REMEMBER THAT ALOT OF PEOPLE WILL BE ON VACATION

This tiny fact can make or break a gig. That show that packed out in the fall might not go over so well in the summer. It all depends on space, location, and timing.  Spend more time looking into “touristy” events – festivals on beaches, annual city festivals, or special art happenings in a particular city. Look for outdoor gigs as much as possible. It can be hard to count on your fall turnout at a coffeehouse during a summer month.  Lean towards events where you don’t have to work too hard to draw your own turnout. Also make sure you’re not booking in a college town. That doesn’t go over too well in the summer.

BUDGET

Summer touring can be alot of fun; but art and music festivals don’t always pay the bills. Festivals will often pay their larger headliners, leaving you to rely on CD sales. Take a look at your summer music schedule and determine how well compensated you will be. This will help you plan for the months ahead. You may even need to pick up a few extra private things to make up the difference.

 

  • Michael Yolch

    Once again, great advice from grassrootsy! Thanks so much for the insight! I’m taking ALL of these recommendations into consideration. Great job! :)

  • http://www.damensamuel.com/ Damen

    Thank you for sharing.I’m currently organizing a tour and I can use any helpful tips.bye……

  • FAN TO FAM

    good advice

  • Greg Parke

    Over the years I have found that July is the easiest month of the year to book, as there are more festivals, art shows and fairs than in any other month. However, if you haven’t booked July by now (April) you are probably too late for most of the best gigs. Be prepared to make tons of contacts, only to be told that thier booking deadline is in January, or even December, and some are even a year in advance! Trying to book a full schedule only 3 or 4 months out is pretty risky, and is going to take a substantial amount more time and effort, not to mention that the better paying gigs are most likely gone by now. I started very young, but 50 years in the entertainment biz has taught me a few things!

  • grassrootsy

    excellent words of wisdom, Greg!

  • Greg Parke

    I didn’t mean to sound negative in my previous comment….if you still have open dates in July, you can probably still book them ( I have some open dates due to an event canceling, and I have made about 15-20 contacts so far trying to fill those dates) but now is a good time to be focusing on tying up loose ends for end of summer gigs, and really tearing into booking fall and winter dates, which are usually fewer and harder to book. Sure, you might be a bit early for some gigs, but if you make a good impression, and make sure to contact them again later, at least you know when thier deadline is, and they are likely to remember you when to do contact them again, which definitely gives you an advantage over the other cold calls they will be getting. I also always try show interest in booking again right away after a successful gig. It is amazing how many gigs you can book from the stage as you are breaking down your gear after a show, especially at annual events!

  • http://www.apparatus.ca/ Brandon Waardenburg

    August has almost always been a dead month for me and most of the artists I know. Be prepared to hustle extra hard for Aug. :)