Unless you’re very rich, or very lucky, as the leader of your band, you’ll also be the manager, secretary, booking agent, and public relations contact. You might also be writing songs, writing lyrics, and communicating with your fans on a regular basis. That’s a lot of jobs, and that’s a lot of work! I get asked all the time – “Fang, how do you do it?” Thankfully, there’s an easy (and free) answer:
The leader of the band has a lot of jobs, and if you’re a local leader like me who needs total and absolute control over every aspect of everything in the band or else you totally freak out, then you’re going to need a powerful set of tools in order to keep this totalitarian government functioning.
Ok, so maybe I’m not that big of a control freak. But I still need an easy way to keep things organized and keep this business functioning. Enter: Google Apps. Don’t have a google account yet? Then I’m going to give you a newsflash – it’s 2014, and google accounts are free. You have literally no reason not to have a google account. Go sign up for an account for your band right now. No, I’m serious – right now. I’ll wait. Make sure to use your band name as the username (example: LordsOfTheTrident@gmail.com) and create a strong password that you can share with your bandmates.
“But Fang,” you say, “I’m not good at computers!” Don’t worry – creating a google account and getting these apps up and running are easy. So easy, in fact, that my 87-year-old grandmother uses gmail on a daily basis. If she can do it, any Madison band should be able to as well.
Finished? All set up? See, wasn’t that easy? Now you have a professional email address to post on your website, reverbnation, facebook, etc. and to give out to booking agents. And now all of your band members have access to this email address, so if you don’t have internet access while you’re on vacation visiting the amazon rain forest (or whatever it is you do in your free time), one of your bandmates can take over as manager while you’re away.
“But Fang,” you lament, “I don’t want to check multiple email addresses during the day! I’m always checking my personal email address – MyLittlePonyLover1986@gmail.com, but I might forget to check if there are any new messages at MyCoolMetalBand@gmail.com and then I’ll miss an important email!”
Fear not, gmail’s got you covered. Log into your band’s gmail account and click on the little “gear” in the top right. Go to “settings”. From there, click on “Forwarding and POP/IMAP”. Tell gmail to forward a copy of incoming mail to your personal email account, and keep gmail’s copy in the inbox. That way, whenever anyone emails your band’s gmail account, it will forward the email immediately to your personal email account as well. Problem solved.
Don’t log out of gmail quite yet. While you’re in settings, click on “labs” and enable “Canned Responses”. Save your settings and return to your gmail inbox. Now here’s where things get neat – I’m going to teach you a trick that’s going to save you hundreds of hours of writing booking emails.
Step one – compose a new email. You can keep the “to” field blank for now. Now what I want you to do is write the most PROFESSIONAL booking email you’ve ever written in your life. Pretend you’re writing an email to Bruce Dickenson’s secretary to be considered for an opening slot for the next Iron Maiden tour. Here’s a nice template for you to use:
My name’s _______, and I represent (BAND NAME HERE). We’re interested in playing your venue! We are a (YOUR GENRE HERE) band out of (YOUR CITY HERE).
(SHORT bio here. When did you form? No one cares how you formed unless it’s interesting, so don’t say things like “Tony met Fred while he was working at the local Cheese factory”. NO ONE CARES. How many shows have you played? Who have you opened for? Any awards? Any big shows that you were invited to?)
(Put additional accomplishments here. Do you have a CD? When was it released? Any good reviews? Make a bulleted list – PUT LINKS HERE)
You can view our electronic press kit at (PUT LINK HERE – don’t have a electronic press kit? Make one! Here our press kit to use as an example: http://www.mothershabooboo.com/lottu/presskit.pdf)
You can hear our music at (PUT LINK HERE – Reverbnation, MySpace, website, etc. NEVER EVER ATTACH MP3s to the email unless they specifically request you to do so.)
We have live performance videos in HD here: (PUT YOUTUBE LINK HERE. Make sure that the video and sound is good. You don’t want them viewing crap, do you?)
(Any music videos? PUT THE LINK HERE)
Let me know if you have any questions. You can contact me directly at (EMAIL ADDRESS HERE) or (PHONE NUMBER HERE)
Thank you for your time!
(POSITION, BAND NAME)
Done? Ok, here’s where the trick comes in. Click on the little arrow near the trash can in the lower right. Click “canned responses”, and under “save”, click on “New Canned Response”. Name your new response “Booking Email”. It will now appear under the “insert” canned responses menu. The next time you find an email address for the guy who books the place in town that you want to play, compose a new message to him, and before you start typing, click on “canned responses”. Under “insert”, click on “Booking email”. And just like magic, the beautiful, professional booking email that you’ve spent hours crafting appears in your message!
Since you’ve used generic words like “venue”, and haven’t referenced a specific booking agent’s name in your email, you can literally use this method for every booking email you write. Make sure you put the name of the venue in the title of the email so that you can differentiate responses once the booking offers come rolling in (Example: [BAND NAME, Genre] Booking Request: [Name of Venue]). Nothing is more embarrassing than having someone email you back asking you to play, and then having to ask them what club they represent!
You can also use this method to save custom signatures to put at the end of messages. You know that professional-looking signature that you crafted at the bottom of your booking email? Save JUST that as a new canned response, and call it “Band Signature”. Put that at the bottom of all of your correspondence, and no agent will ever be able to use the excuse that they “didn’t have your phone number” or “couldn’t find your website”.
Canned responses are SUPER powerful, and save a lot of time. Plus, since they’re stored online, they’ll be available from any computer at any time.
Stay tuned until next time for Google Apps Part Two, where I’ll show you how to easily manage your gig schedule, share calendar information between band members, and set up a booking spreadsheet with google docs.
Editor’s Note: The above article is reproduced with permission from www.WeLoveMetal.com. They have have been slightly updated/augmented for a Madison audience.