Last week we posted part 1 of our Q&A with The Los Dos Bros where they had a chance to explain their methods for booking and securing gigs. Now we give you part 2 focused more on dealing with booking agents and club owners.
GD: Do you guys work with a booking agent?
LDB: Having a booking agent is, obviously, awesome. We had an agent in 2007, and after booking ourselves for 3+ years it was a great relief… although now we are without an agent again. This year I was playing as a sideman in Louis XIV which led to The Los Dos Bros supporting them on the second leg of their US tour… something that probably wouldn’t have happened unless, well, I was playing in their band. It is very difficult to get an agent, probably harder than getting a record deal… most want you to have an established route where you can guarantee commissions for the agent… so it is back to the basics, band 101, establishing a fan base! And that means booking yourself!
LDB: Someone in the band usually has business skills, or at least the knowledge of making business happen on the phone… maybe someone is a telemarketer or did sales in the past… remember, this is basically a sales role. You are qualifying, and closing a potential client, in this case, the promoter or club owner. So find the person in the band that is comfortable doing the research and picking up the phone and making connections through myspace, and email.
In our case, the two of us, Derric and myself, do the booking. I handle California and Derric handles rest of the western region (AZ, CO and NM)… so it is fair, we split the work duties (cause it is a lot of work!). The agent that we had in 2007 was essentially a consultant to us starting in 2004. He taught us the best routes, and the best places to play where we could establish a working relationship with club owners that understood the dynamics of building successful clubs or restaurant/bars that feature music.
Again, as you learned from our earlier discussions, we wanted to develop a route off the beaten path that we could repeat every 6-8 weeks… starting out with the club owners was of course difficult, having to prove on the phone that we were a band with enough material (enough to play 2-3 hours, cause again, these were the type of places we were playing), a band that understood that covers were critical (people want to dance) and at the same time having strong original material, a band with good sound equipment (most of these places don’t have their own sound), a band that would show up on time and not take 2 hour breaks… thus, where action speaks louder in this world, it was a sales pitch. And we closed a lot of business cause we sold ourselves at a high level, came across professionally, and at the end of the day delivered on our promise.
So again, someone that can sell the band on the phone, having the necessary amount of music to play (which means a lot of practicing on the front end), a reliable tour vehicle, responsible band members, and the desire to work harder than you probably ever will in life (while barely breaking even).
This scenario is not going to work for everyone… if you are a punk band, or hard rock band, or psyche rock, or just weird, well, this plan won’t work for you. The types of places that we play tend to air on the Americana, pop and country side of the table… to get people dancing, country is always the answer… i don’t care if people hate country music, if they are drunk in a bar, and there are hot girls dancing, everyone will be out on the floor swiggin’ beers and gettin’ naughty. We learned to master the country cover, people eat it up… and then when we play our originals, they actually listen, and many end up buying the CD. This is not to say that country is the only answer, find your niche, and deliver a song that everyone knows, you will thank me for it. And to boot, making people have fun will lead to private gigs (and festivals), cause people want to hire bands that can get people in a bar having fun.
LDB: Club owners are selling alcohol, not music. Getting people to drink is key… we always sold the shot. Calling out from stage that it was time for a shot, well it led to most in the bar ordering shots. Yes, after playing 2-3 hours of music, drinking, we usually ended up drunk at the end of the night. But after doing this for 3 years, we were a pretty kick ass band that can get people moving if the night calls for it. Nothing like mixing in your ballads after a kick ass county bender, folks actually listen. So club owners love us, and they always continue to book no matter what, we deliver a good time, every single time. Continuing to play these types of gigs is of course not our goal in life, but it was the means to the end. We were able to negotiate more money with club owners the longer we stayed with them (we were loyal, once we picked our place in every town, and liked it, we stayed with that bar, exclusively, which was part of the initial pitch with owners), and eventually we were getting free food, all the alcohol we could drink, and in many cases, hotel rooms.
LDB: So to recap, ya gotta do the research to establish your route (and keep it within a days drive of your home base), make the connections with the bars/clubs/restaurant, get the gig, have a kick ass band, deliver 2-3 hours of high quality music (and don’t forget covers), make people drink, have fun, sell CDs and merch, meet the people (go out and introduce yourselves, make connections, this will lead to private and corporate gigs), and repeat!
They are The Los Dos Bros: