Whether you’re an experienced pro that’s toured the nation or a new musician trying to set up your band’s first gig, composing booking e-mails can be a nerve-wracking experience. Are you writing too much? Too little? Have you left out any important details that the booker will need? And what are those important details, after all?
Writing a booking e-mail doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. Once you get used to the formula, you’ll be able to type them out with ease and confidence. And then you’ll be able to type out your followup e-mails with the same ease and confidence–you’re going to need them, too.
Keep your subject short and sweet. Include your band’s name, the date(s) requested, and the venue name. For example: The Beatles, April 15 @ Taxman’s Pub. This makes for easy organization and e-mail filtering later on, for both you and the booker.
State the Facts Off the Bat
Talent buyers and club bookers are people who receive hundreds–if not thousands–of booking e-mails every month. They’re not interested in how your band met, who inspired you to pick up a guitar for the first time, or what kind of amp you play through. You have to relegate yourself to the very basics in order to keep them interested long enough to reach the links at the end of your e-mail. Band name, style/genre, whether you’ve played their market before, whether you draw in their market, and what date(s) you want to play. Short and sweet.
The Two Questions Bookers Want Answered
1. How many people can you bring out to the show?
2. How many more people can you bring out to the show?
It sounds harsh at first, but think about how that venue pays its bills. Being a talent buyer at a club means that you are largely responsible for that club’s revenue. The amount of heads through the door directly equates to the amount of money the venue makes, and thereby the amount of time that the talent buyer can count on a paycheck. If you can’t draw, don’t expect a good offer. If you can draw well, make sure to make that clear from the get-go.
Know Your Place
Do not write the largest venue in a city you’ve never visited and demand to headline a Saturday night or open for a national act. If you’ve never played in a town before, it’s advisable to seek out smaller venues that cater to bands new to the market. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lot of unanswered e-mails and a tour with a lot of empty dates.
Think About Your Links
You’d be amazed at the amount of e-mails that festival and venue bookers receive with absolutely no links whatsoever. Not you? Well, you’re not off the hook. Are you linking to your website that doesn’t have an embedded music player? Are you linking to an outdated MySpace page? Are you linking exclusively to your Facebook page that doesn’t have a direct link to your songs?
Try to get inside the mind of a talent buyer who is going through dozens of bands’ e-mails per day. Would you want to waste your time searching the Web to find a track from a band you’ve never heard of when they weren’t courteous enough to include the link in their e-mail? Instead of making them put in the effort to find your material, put it right under their noses. Link to Bandcamp pages that stream music. Link to YouTube videos that showcase your best live performance or music video. When a booker can listen with one click, that booker is more likely to listen.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Don’t get discouraged when you don’t hear back. Plenty of talent buyers and bookers are simply inundated with requests from all kinds of artists. Wait a couple weeks before writing again, and always include your original e-mail at the bottom of the followup e-mail for clarity. Don’t give up! Everyone loses track of an e-mail here and there, especially when there are hundreds to sift through.