Since we opened in 2014, The Big Comfy Bookshop has held over 150 gigs and our music evenings, Comfy & Acoustic, have grown so much that I now receive many emails daily from prospective performers, and I love it! Discovering a new act then seeing them live is really a special thing. Unfortunately a lot of musicians aren't clued up on contacting a venue for a gig. Well I'm here to tell you how to contact us in the right way to get you noticed. Please see that I said US as other venues differ.
Here's a typical email that gives me headaches (and made up).
hi Big Comfy
My name is Rachel and I front the acostic duo DollzHaus. Wed love to come and play the Green Note in May. We've played in Huddersfield barn house, Stratford Ale room, Brighton Domeface, Leicester Tiger club, Liverpool Cave, Norwich engineroom, Check us out on facebook1!
There are so many things wrong with this but I do get these pretty much every day. The grammar is awful, it's directed at the wrong venue, there are no links to music, etc etc etc... These guys could be the next big thing but how would I know? I'm here to help them, and you, write a top notch email that'll grab my eye, and you a gig.
1. Research the venue
Before you've even started to write that email, have a look at the venue you're contacting. I still get emails from Rap/Rock/Metal bands that go straight in the bin. We specialise in folk, acoustic, singer-songwriter, americana and a little bit of country. How can you know that though? Well, have a look at who's played here before. Type it in Google, look at our website, social sites and do your homework! 5-10 minutes is all it takes. If you think it's right for you, then go ahead.
2. Find the right contact.
It might need slightly more work, but try to find out who to contact. With us it's easy. It's me, Michael. It says it on all our websites, and it even says CONTACT MICHAEL on our contact form, so when I receive an email to Big Comfy, or Sir or anything else, I roll my eyes and decide whether to read on. Some venues you have to dig a bit, but it's something you should do.
3. Follow on Social
Social media is a huge part of what we do here. I use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube often and do take note of who follows me. Even if I never receive an email from someone, I sometimes take some time to listen to their music if they've followed me. When I do receive an email, I head to Twitter to see if they've followed.
4. Write that email!
You know who to send it to, you've followed on social, so now you need to tell me why you're writing to me. Don't head straight into the sell from the off, break the ice first. If there's something I recently posted on Instagram or Twitter then mention it here. Be nice. Once you're up and running, here is where you tell me the good stuff.
Now this is important, I am not bothered that you picked up the guitar at age 10 and sang Elvis tunes and fell in love with Patsy Cline and toured the working mens clubs at 16 with your dad and then played the local festival where after 3 years you got to... Blah Blah Blah.
I want YOU right NOW. What are you doing NOW? I'm not bothered who you've played with or where (unless it's really relevant).
WHY are you asking for a gig? Do you have a new record out? Are you wanting to get loads more exposure and playing everywhere? Are you new to the game and just want to play? Let me know! I'm looking for 100 words max really. It's also good to add any comparisons to other acts, 2 or 3 of them, and I love to know where you heard about the shop too. I am also looking for your links to your website, Twitter and Facebook.
5. Let me hear your music
I need links, not downloads. I never download anything ever. You'd be amazed how many acts don't send links to me. I am not going out of my way trying to find your music if you can't spend 30 seconds copying and pasting a link. (Side Note: If you only have *Snippets* of songs, that's ridiculous. Also, not everyone uses iTunes so put your music where it's easiest to find and listen, Bandcamp being my pick).
Specifically, I'm looking for 2 live videos, as recent as possible. I'm not bothered about official videos as they often don't sound like you live. If you've not got any videos or recordings at all, I won't book you. I need to hear you live. I'd suggest starting a YouTube channel, record a few live videos on your phone, and upload them. That's a start, and something is out there (Side Note: we don't book covers acts, and I don't watch any live covers, so record your own tunes). Once recorded, send them on!
Also, check the links WORK! Your latest release is the best too. I use Spotify and have several playlists that feature performers, including our weekly playlist, our specific Comfy & Acoustic playlist and even the general weekend playlist. So even if you don't end up booking a gig right away, your music may end up on our playlists!
Finally, I love CD's. Love them, so feel free to send a CD. They are always on in the shop.
6. Be Professional.
Once your email has been written, go over it again. Change the massive paragraph to a few smaller sentences. Make sure everything is spelled correctly. It may seem a small thing but it's probably the one aspect of the entire email that stands out to me. I don't care if you've toured Europe 3 times, or whether this is your first time outside your local town, making everything look right is important to me and would make other prospective venues take you a little bit more seriously. If it looks good, I'm more than likely to click on it straight away rather than put it in the to-do folder for ages.
So what would the email look like now that you've read my advice?
My name's Rachel and I play in the acoustic duo DollzHaus with my friend Lucy. First, I saw your reaction to the new Jurassic Park film via twitter and I completely agree and think it's an abomination. Nothing beats the first film as it's the best film EVER.
I came across the bookshop as it was recommended by my friend Jonny Fiddle who played recently. We've played with BLAH BLAH and BLAH BLAH recently who I see you have coming up soon.
We're about to release a new EP in May and wondered if there were any slots available on your Comfy & Acoustic shows then? I understand you get booked quick so if there's not a space, we'd love to come along later in the year? We sound kind of like First Aid Kit with a bit of Staves thrown in with some Fiest. Our debut album received 5 stars from Fatea and R2R and we ended up supporting Show of Hands for their winter tour.
You can find the first album at SPOTIFY LINK and BANDCAMP LINK. I've popped a CD copy in the post for you.
Here's a few live videos recorded last month, both tunes are from the new EP.
There are more videos, pictures and info on our WEBSITE. We've been following you on social media for a bit and you can find us there too at SOCIAL LINKS.
I hope you enjoy the music.
I like this email. It has all I need, no waffle and she hates the new Jurassic Park. I love the fact a CD is on it's way too. I'll go ahead and listen to this now I think.
7. The Follow Up
If you haven't heard from me in about 4 weeks, send another email reminding me you've contacted me already. I receive so many emails that I normally batch-work requests. I can only really reply to those who have been successful due to the amount of requests I receive, but if I receive a follow up, I try to reply either way.
If you follow this advice, you're pretty much assured of getting listened to quickly. The one underlying factor of getting a gig though? Do I like it. I need to really like the music to book you.
Big NO NO's
Here are a few things NOT to do.
Do not write a staple email and just change the venue name as, like the example at the top, sometimes you might forget to change the name. If that happens, I literally press delete without even reading the rest.
Please do not add me as your friend personally on Facebook if we don't know each other.
Don't send a follow up a few days after the first email. Be patient.
Don't expect a gig. I've had 2 instances of people getting arsey as I haven't offered them a gig. I may have offered them one later, but now I won't.
If you ARE offered a gig, then reply back. Those slots don't stay empty for long.
I hope this has helped you. Let me have your feedback to how you get on booking shows, and any other tips you have!
If you are interested in a gig here, then head on to the contacts page.
All pictures are from the highly recommended Redwood Photography.