38: Learn How to Rehearse

You know the rules to get a song on radio intro/ verse/ chorus/ verse/ chorus/ bridge/ chorus, 3 1/2 minutes long, etc. But live those rules change…it’s a different medium. You need to find the moments in the songs and develop them during a rehearsal. Rehearsals are a great place to take chances and be spontaneous.
– Tom Jackson


39: Play Shows Locally & Frequently First

I differentiate this from TOUR (which is what is the ultimate plan). The idea is build a HEADLINING (with smart opening slots also) following in each city which will show that you can sell tickets, give you the opportunity to become excellent at ENTERTAINING your audience, pay for the expansion into neighboring regions and to have some proof of your value for fickle promoters/ club owners and ultimately a booking agent (you should NOT plan on having success finding an agent until you can sell 250+ tickets locally). Play shows locally (all the towns within a 3 hour drive) frequently (but no more than 10-15 shows/year until you are selling approx 250-400 headlining tickets, then phase down to 3-4 times per year as you sell 400-1000 headlining tickets). Once you are selling 250 +/- tickets (more if you are a larger band with higher touring costs) expand regionally, then multiple regions until you can cover the whole country and ultimately other countries. Getting to a modest National stature (500-1000 tickets across the country) should take 4-7 YEARS of VERY hard work! Oh, and be professional: Advance the show, promote your own shows (digitally and physically) wherever possible, show up on time, and be NICE to everyone (no attitude when problems occur, and they WILL), respect the venue, make friends with all other bands on the bill, etc. Booking yourself WILL be frustrating. Be pleasantly persistent. Ask to play appropriate sized rooms and nights.
– Rob Gordon

40: Get Fan Generated Bookings

A Corey Smith’s email/text list grows, we have been reaching out to fans to generate bookings. This has generated both college shows and club shows. Fans are even starting Facebook groups to prove that they can get fans to the shows and then are working with us to book them. We would have never thought Shane Hines could get 50+ people out and now will be headed to Morehead to do just that. This group was started by a fan that saw him open for Corey Smith. We kept in touch with them via the mobile text program.

See http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=155044073320&ref=search&sid=1464974436.302266636..1
– Michele Samuel

41: Use Eventful.com

Eventful is very powerful. The first time I knew I was going to be in Seattle I sent a message to 75 people who demanded me on Eventful and w/in 24 hours I had a show set up at a venue that held 75 people. That show sold out. This made me realize you can tour in an efficient way instead of driving up and down the east coast to cities where people don’t know you. It’s much better to wait till people know who you are and you know they want you there.
– Jonathan Coulton

42: Play Gigs Where No One Else Plays Gigs

You won’t be making money in the beginning anyway so play in weird places that will get people talking (even if you get arrested). Getting arrested is great for your credibility and will make everyone talk about you and make everyone but the status quo like you.
– Tom Silverman

43: Prove To Each Venue That You’re Going To Promote

Conquer Social Media Before You Book Shows by setting up MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and make sure your music/email list is on it. You as the artist are the voice behind those pages, but don’t spend more than 2 hours a day on it. Make sure all of the above is in place before you book shows. Once a Show is Booked, Promote it! Otherwise no one will turn up and you may not get another gig. Ask the venue if fliers work well in their market and ask for a local media/radio list you can send the show to. Offer fans guest list in exchange for postering around town and sending in photos of their work.
– Emily White


Amber Rubarth would call each venue and ask them how she could help promote her show. She would then do everything that they requested and stay in touch with them to let them know that she was working hard to promote her own show and she fostered relationships with the venue owners and bookers while she worked for her own promotional benefit.
– Derek Sivers

44: 3 Critical Things To Bring To Every Show…

1. Make sure you have a physical piece of music to sell at shows
2. Additional merch
3. Have an email list sign up form
– Emily White

45: Gig Swap

Network with other bands in person and online to set up gig swaps with other artists to play in other cities. You host them when they come to your town and they in turn host you.
– Emily White

We are strong in some areas and other bands are strong in different areas. So, we often trade shows so that bands open each other shows and build tours around them to tap into multiple fan bases.
– Michele Samuel

46: Stay With Friends

Stay with friends on the road to save money. Be considerate – walk their dogs in the morning or cook them breakfast…. You will probably be invited back!
– Emily White

47: At Live Shows Employ Mobile Text Short Codes, Mobile Phones or Google Voice

Walking around with an email list requires manpower, time and generally does not get a great result. But, if you could have the fans text you during your performance and stay in touch with them that way. We use a short code and have the fans text to it during the performance. When they text they receive a link to download free tracks. We capture their text number and then keep in contact and get permission to continue a relationship with them after the show. The return has been a minimum of 25% of the audience.
– Michele Samuel

Offer up a Google Voice number from stage where folks can text in their email address. Or a mobile # where people can text their phone numbers straight to you. Next time you play in that area you already have a built in text-messaging list.
– Emily White

48: Create Moments, Capture And Engage Audiences, Don’t Just Sing And Play Songs

Your audience wants to feel something, not hear something. When people are moved, they remember and want to buy those moments to take home and relive. It’s about how you and your music affect people. Give your audience something to think about. The audience wants to forget about themselves. There are onstage skills, tools, and techniques to win an audience, and to keep them captured and engaged and wanting more. It’s all about an emotional connection with people!
– Tom Jackson

49: Exceed Your Audience’s Expectations Without Changing Who You Are

Like a great restaurant, your customers (audiences) have expectations. If a restaurant doesn’t figure out what the customers want, the restaurant will go out of business,
– Tom Jackson

50: Your Songs Don’t Sound the Same…They Shouldn’t Look the Same

An artist wouldn’t even think of using the same lyrics, rhythms, or tones for every song. Yet artists have a tendency to do the same thing visually for every song. Big mistake! 55% of communication is what the audience sees with their eyes. To the audience, if the songs look the same then they start sounding the same. If this is what’s happening, whether you realize it or not, you’re not getting the most out of your show.
– Tom Jackson

51: Know Your Role in the Band Onstage

Know what your audience expects. Players on a great football team need to know their roles in order to be successful. It’s the same with a great band. A great quarterback/front man is a leader. The wide receiver/ lead guitarist knows he’s supposed to deliver the touchdown. The lineman/ drummer holds down the fort. There are specific skills and roles for each person to know and work on in order to be great as a group onstage and win the audience.
– Tom Jackson

52: Meet & Greet: And Sign Autographs Till There Is No One Left Waiting

Sign and hang out and engage with folks post-show. Stay at the merch table till you have met every single person that wants to meet you and sign merch. That personal touch will be long remembered after you leave and those fans will bring their friends the next time you come through town.
– Emily White

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