how to get gigs through event planners and hotels

Disclaimer: I’m not a booking agent; there are lots of wonderful reasons to use one and there are some really great agents out there, especially in Portland (like here and here).

On the other hand, I know there are lots of bands without an agent who want to know what they can do to start up a little bit of buzz and get some regular gigs playing out, which will hopefully eventually lead to more contacts and those prime, well-paying event and wedding jobs?

Here’s my list, and feel free to comment with your opinion, especially if it is different.

1. Make your media packet digital. There’s more room to store mp3s on a hard drive than in the office. Also, if you happen to send it to a semi-prolific blogger, the way Hideki Yamaya did here, said blogger may instantly go to your website, listen to your music, blog and tweet about it. Instant PR!

2. If you must send paper packets, try to target the right person at the organization by doing a little online research. Sending out a bunch of CDs to “Catering Manager” is just a waste of time.

3. Don’t call event planners or venue managers and ask them for their address and “if you can” send them a packet. Most event planners and hotels have addresses that are easily found online and asking them this information just makes you look lazy or not very smart. And asking their “permission” to mail is just a waste of time. Just mail it!

3a. Also don’t call event planners and tell them that you are interested in getting more gigs. Great! But that falls into the dreaded “AAM” (All About Me) conversational faux pas. Much better either not to cold-call, or if you do, prepare by learning about your target planner’s business and offer a way that you can help them.

4. Find ways to play out to the right crowds. Sometimes this means playing for free. My husband Dave disagrees with me on this one, but I do think that if an event planner hears you at an event, they are more likely to seek you out and book you for their own events, than if they have only heard a CD or online mp3. Good places to go are hotel lobbies, happy hours, and association meetings like ISES, ABC, and MPI. Again, do research ahead of time to see if the organization is a good match for the kinds of gigs you are looking for, and find out if there’s an upcoming meeting that your entertainment might be perfect for. Or pitch the association board with a novel idea, such as a meeting centered around an entertainment showcase, like the one ISES Seattle did a while back. If you don’t want to gig for free, then figure out some dates that you already have a gig on the books, and send a pretty calendar or other “reminder book” (perhaps with an invitation to be on the guest list) to some key event planners that you are after.

I hope you find these helpful! Please feel free to comment with your thoughts.

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