How to Book Gigs: Research Venues For Your Pitch
With Free Venue Research Template
So you're ready to book shows as an unsigned artist! The key to booking gigs is in your pitch, but bombarding every local venue with one pitch rarely works. Talent buyers can pick up on a copy-paste pitch that isn’t well researched or knowledgeable about their venue, and those emails typically get ignored. Successful pitches start with good research, and we highly recommend creating a venue research doc to compile the details.
Experience the Venue Firsthand
Before you even think about reaching out, spend an evening at the venue absorbing the live music scene. It's the ultimate way to get an authentic sense of the atmosphere, mingle with other artists, and gather intel on how the place is set up.
Identify the Musical Vibes
You'll want to make sure your musical style aligns with the venue's usual lineup. Do they showcase different genres on separate nights? If that's the case, they may work with different bookers to curate each night's acts. Do your homework and find out which contact will vibe with your sound. Use tools like Indie on the Move or Gigwell’s Tour IQ to build a spreadsheet by target market or comparable artist.
Assess the Room Capacity
It's crucial to gauge whether you can actually fill the venue. Pitching yourself to a 300-person venue when your draw barely hits 20 is a red flag for venue owners, making your pitch easy to dismiss. Be realistic about what you can bring to the table—or in this case, to the stage.
Find Venues Through Other Artists
Your venue research doc should include similar-sized artists in your genre who perform locally. Artists' social media and websites often reveal their preferred venues. A valuable tool for this is Bandsintown—it provides detailed histories of artists' shows including the venues. By comparing your venue research doc with those of these artists, you might discover venues that aren't immediately obvious through a simple online search. It's also a good idea to add these artist names to your venue research doc as a reminder to reach out and develop a relationship with those artists. Sometimes if you don’t have success in your first pitch to venues, it helps to offer to be an opener for another artist.
Get Specific, and Log Your Research
Make sure to include important details like venue capacity, genres booked and musical vibes. A date contacted and follow up column will also help when you decide to start pitching venues.
Evaluate Technical Compatibility
The venue's technical capabilities need to match your performance requirements. If you're pitching a solo gig as a DJ, an acoustic stage won't work. Don't expect to pull off a high-tech show in a venue that only has a basic P.A. system. Make sure your needs align with their resources to avoid any show-stopping hiccups.
Find the Talent Buyer's Contact Info
Your last step is to identify who holds the keys to booking gigs: the talent buyer. Search their contact details through Google or the venue's official website. If you hit a dead end, politely call the venue and ask for the booker's name and contact information. You can also quickly collect all these contacts using Gigwell’s Tour IQ, a global database of talent buyer information from venues worldwide. Add the venue booker's contact information to your Venue Research Doc so you can refer to it again.
Once your venue research doc is complete, you’re ready to make your standout pitch!
Download Free Venue Research Template
Get started right away with our free Venue Research Template.