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Booking Local / Club Shows
Always, always call before sending your music. You are trusting the club with hours and weeks and sometimes months of your time and your talent -- you want them to be prepared for it, you want them to be familiar with the your name, and ideally you want them to be looking forward to receiving this wonderfully precious gift. At the Mercury we would receive between 15 and 50 submissions a week. There were times when we got so backed up that we would have to stop accepting new material. The unsolicited, unfamiliar-sounding submissions could easily get lost, overlooked, or relegated to the bottom of the always-growing pile. Don't let that happen.
Packaging & Press Kits
Once you've established that the club is accepting music, get the correct spelling of the booker's first and last names (a lot of people don't bother to get it right) and put the package in the mail. I usually advised against hand-delivering, only because the club environment is so fast-paced and unpredictable that you could easily come by at an inopportune time and unwittingly leave a bad first impression. When you're putting together your press kit, keep it simple. A one-page bio is all you really need -- press clips are fine but not necessary. Same goes for the photo. Make sure to include your contact number on the tape or CD since the bio usually goes into the trash fairly quickly. For more ideas, see the section on presentation materials.
Following Up and What Clubs Care About
Wait at least two weeks after sending your CD before you make your first follow-up call. If you're not in a huge hurry, give it three to four weeks. Once you call, be ready for the possibility that no one has listened to your CD yet -- you may be asked to call back in another week, or two, or three. Once someone has listened, be prepared to answer a few obvious questions. The most important question by the booker's standards is usually "What kind of draw do you have?" (read: "How many paying customers can you bring in?") The more paying customers, the more potential drinking customers. Most clubs make money from bar sales, not door revenue. Be honest about your following. If you are truly just starting out and have never played a show anywhere, say so.
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