This week is a continuation of our last post on managing your band using free online resources. If you haven’t read the last post, then go check it out before reading this article, as some of the topics we’ll be discussing this time will be cross-referenced here.
Last time I taught you how to make an awesome, professional booking email. And no doubt you’ve gone out and used that email to try to secure your band a gig, and now the booking requests are pouring in beyond your control. Now you need a system to keep track of your band’s availability, as well as the details of all of the places you’ve contacted for a show.
So let’s tackle these issues one by one. First off – availability. As any good band manager can tell you, responding quickly to a booking request can be the difference between landing a gig and missing the opportunity by mere hours. Let’s say, like me, you’ve got five members in your band. How can you keep track of all of their schedules?
Enter Google Calendar, or gCal for short. Log into your band Gmail account, and click on “calendar”. Viola – a free digital calendaring solution! Ok, now you’ve got a great resource to enter your gig calendar, but you’re going to need to see availability for the rest of your bandmates.
This step requires two steps – first, and most important, your bandmates must have a google account, and MUST remember to enter their schedule on their personal calendar. Any time they have a prior commitment, or are gone for the weekend, they MUST enter it in on their calendar. You may have to whack them over the head a few times to remind them to do this. Second, they must share their calendar with you.
You’re the band manager, so you have to make sure everyone – even the drummer – enters in their availability!
To do this, have them click the “down arrow” next to “other calendars” on the left hand side, and click “settings”. At the top of the settings window, their calendar name will appear under “my calendars”. At the far left side, they’ll see a clickable link that says “Shared:Edit Settings” if they already have the calendar shared with someone, or “Share this calendar” if they haven’t. Click that link, and have them enter the band’s gmail address, then hit the “add person” button.
When you log back into your band’s google calendar, you’ll be able to see this person’s calendar events. You’ll also want to share the band calendar in the same way with each of your members so that they can see band events that you enter (gigs, practices, etc.). I’d recommend making a “day event” for any gigs you have, as well as if any members need the day off. Day events are easier to see when you’re looking at the calendar in “full month” mode. Repeat this process with every member of your band. You can even color-code the calendars so you know who needs what day off when. Now when a booking agent emails you and asks if you’re free on Saturday to open for Judas Priest at the amphitheater, it’s as simple as opening your google calendar. No day events? Then you can email him back IMMEDIATELY and say “yes”.
This will be what sets your band apart from all the other bands out there – “Wow, you sure respond fast!”
You’ve got your calendar and scheduling together, and have a great booking pitch. Now you need a system to track where you’ve played and who you’ve emailed.
Log into your band’s gmail account, and click on google drive at the top of the screen. You are now in google drive – a powerful, cloud-based document system. All documents that you make here are saved online automatically, and are accessible from any computer at any time. We’re now going to make a booking spreadsheet. Click on “create”, then “spreadsheet”. A new spreadsheet will pop up. Click on “untitled spreadsheet” at the top, and name your spreadsheet “Booking Spreadsheet”.
Next, fill out your spreadsheet with all of the information you’ll need to keep track of booking. Some categories that I recommend creating are:
- Name of Venue
- Contact Method
- Booking Agent Name
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Ages allowed (ex. 18+, 21+, all ages)
- Has PA?
- Last Show
- Last Contact
Every time you find a new place to play, gather this information and enter it into the booking spreadsheet. Now you have a one-stop shop for all the information you’ll need to send out booking requests! You can also add dividers or new sub-sheets to separate the spreadsheet into different cities.
A few categories are important here: Last show and last contact. You’ll want to make sure you keep track of the last time you’ve emailed a booking agent – that’ll go in “last contact”. Usually you don’t want to barrage a booking agent with an email every other day, or even every week. Keep it to two weeks between contact to keep things professional. If a booking agent hasn’t followed up with you in two weeks, you may want to call the venue to see when a booking agent will be available to speak with you. Remember that venues get a LOT of requests from a LOT of terrible bands, and it takes time to weed through all the crap out there. Remaining proactive but professional will let the booking agent know that you are a good manager to work with.
“Last show” is also important. Unless you’re trying to be the weekly “house band” at a venue, you’re probably not going to want to play the same venue more than once every two months. Keep your venues varied and spread out. This will help increase your general fan base in the area (you’ll be hitting up different parts of the city), and will keep your band on its toes. Don’t want to get TOO comfy with a particular stage setup, do we?
Remember that any changes made in ANY google document (spreadsheet or otherwise) are automatically saved, so you don’t have to remember to hit the “save” button. And just like sharing your calendar, you can share the booking spreadsheet with other members of the band, if more than one member is researching venues online. Simply click the “share” button at the top right of the screen and enter the person’s email address.
There are a few more tips and tricks using google apps, but I’m afraid it’ll have to wait until the next (and FINAL) article on managing your band using free online tools. Did you know you can use google apps to make an email list? Teach your members new songs? Collaborate on writing lyrics? It’s true! And I’ll divulge all of this information next time. Right now, I’ve got places to go, people to see, and dragons to slay.
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.
(Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels)