Can you tell me if you have any articles of reference concerning how to approach venues for gigs?

We are a ’80s cover band that has had some success in the Cincinnati East side and want to branch out. Problem is… we don’t know what we should present to the venue managers/owners to get the gigs. CD sampler, references, etc? So far the three venues we rotate at were by word of mouth introduction, etc.  But we need to add more venues.

Also is it proper to lower your usual fee in order to get that first gig at a new venue?

We’ve tried asking those in the Community (web boards) in Cincy and you can imagine the help you get. Especially when they hear your from a cover band.

Any help in the way of articles, etc would be appreciated. Keep up the great work. The last issue was my first and I enjoyed it.

Thanks, Dennis


That’s the eternal question and one that I wrestle with all the time here in Las Vegas as well. And a subject we’ll cover in the next print issue.

Truth is there is no one answer and much of it is different from city to city. Example: Here in Vegas there is a hierarchy of entertainment directors, agents and talent buyers. While every property (our term for venue because some of the larger resorts may have multiple rooms that book live music) has an entertainment director, a fairly small "cadre" of agents and buyers control most of the better rooms. There is a lot of graft, skimming and kickbacks and breaking in is very tough. I have been working onit for four years and have just started to make a dent.

I don’t know the Cinci scene at all. But, here are some general things I have found to be true in most good-sized cities. First, it has gotten tough for cover bands on the bar and club scene. Many bands doing their own material, and willing to play for free, has really screwed up most markets. So the first thing you need to do is plenty of homework. A club that is booking original music may be doing it to support songwriters. They may also be working a business plan that brings them free or almost free entertainment and a really good income stream.

So find out which venues book cover bands. Next, find out if the venue is controlled by one or more agents. Big clubs generally are. If you do not know who that person is, then you’re stuck until you find out.

Couple of other things: I am finding that CDs and photos may work for original acts but cover acts need video. Well-lit, good sound, pro looking video with just pieces of songs. Keep it in the three-minute range. There are a couple of article on about producing good video.

But the big thing, if you want to stay busy, is that you are going to have to look beyond Cinci. Right now, corporate work is pretty sparse, but the cover and tribute bands I know who make a good living all count on corporate work and only do clubs to keep the schedule full. How far are you willing to travel? How often? You may even–if you are looking to do this full time—have to consider relocating or at least doing weeks at a time on the road.

I would start looking at the casinos in the area. Almost all of these are now run by the same handful of companies that run casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Macou. I know of several cover acts who work a circuit between casinos owned by the samecompany and move from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast to Vegas and then start over again. 

I know I have not given you some big single answer but I hope that the ramblings help in some way. And thanks for the question. It is something we will be spending a lot of time on in the future of the Live2Play Network.


Originally posted 2009-10-23 13:35:08.