how to pack a clubLet me begin by saying that I am not a self-proclaimed expert at what steps are needed to pack a club. However, I have found my own method of success. I’m sure there are many other things that can be done. Without a doubt, the most important thing to do is to simply do it.

That’s right. Just do it! Thank you, Michael Jordon.

Don’t worry, I will elaborate. The reason I say just do it, is because it is actually the most difficult part. Here is an interesting oxymoron for you:

I Am Tired Of Being Lazy

That is 100% true. I am hungry for greater success! So I’m working hard to make it happen. Coming up with good ideas is simple. But getting organized, making a trip to get supplies, taking time to announce and promote, printing and designing business cards and other materials; all these things take time and money.

Are you worth that investment? Before you answer that, place the value on your enthusiasm and motivation. If you have that, then you have what it takes to fill a club. I apologize to those who feel dissed by the statement. There are some great artists that don’t get respect because they cannot pack a club. There are average to bad artists that get paid a lot of money, because they know how to pack a club.

Don’t get caught up in whether or not that makes sense. YOU are NOT the bar owner. Here is a common scenario that just boggles my mind:

  • – The bar owner does not bring in their own clientele.  Instead, they rely completely on how many people the band brings in.  They don’t care if the music is good or bad.  The inconsistency confuses what would be their regular following. – For the bands that are bringing it, this may be a home run situation.  But if you play the same place every week, you’re going to get old.  It is important to spread yourself out to enough clubs so that you always appear fresh.  Besides, we all know what happens when you place all your eggs in one basket.  If you live in a small town, and you don’t have a lot of options, be sure to keep your set list as fresh as possible.

There are many scenarios that demonstrate the lack of understanding bar owners may have when it comes to hiring/booking/paying bands.  So forget about it.  It’s not your problem.  It’s not your business.   You will find plenty of success by getting yourself organized and treating your music as an art AND a job!

Here are some things that (I am either already doing, or in the process of doing) seem to work.

  1. – Bring a guestbook to every show.  Yes, even in the digital age, just telling people to go to your website or facebook page isn’t enough.  Collect names, email addresses and phone numbers.  The bigger your list gets, the more opportunities you have when it is time to send out invites.  Remember, it is not the quantity of the list.  Some people have thousands of facebook friends.  However, it could be a poor list if they do not know you or your music.  They might not even live in your area.  Build a quality list.
  2. – Talk to the crowd.  Simple, but a lot of people have trouble with it.  If you can’t talk to the crowd, you can’t tell them to sign your guestbook.  Talking to a crowd can be just as much of a talent as playing music.  Get good at it.  I have met plenty of musicians that are the mysterious, silent types.  The mystery doesn’t really intrigue anyone.  Talk, damn it!
  3. – Branding.  At the very minimum make business cards.  And do it right the first time.  Get a good logo. Put the right information on there, and have them professionally made. Yes it costs, some money, but that’s why I already asked “are you worth the investment?”  Beyond business cards, you can get into pens, shirts, hats,  beverage koozies.  The list goes on and on.  Branding will make people remember you, and helps to network offline.
  4. – Gear.  Invest in the right gear.  Be prepared to play at a variety of venues.  I’m not just talking instruments, but a mixer, lights, heck… maybe a fog or bubble machine.  This can make a big difference when used appropriately.
  5. – Build a website.  Facebook is great, but have your own domain as well.  You’ll have a better chance of coming up on the first page of search results with an optimized website.  Plus, there are many things you may want to do, that you can’t do on facebook.
  6. – Press Kits – Now that you have your website, you’re going to need video and pictures.  Get it professionally done.  And make sure you are happy with your performance/image. Sooner or later, you’re reputation will precede you, but until that time, this is may be your only outlet to get yourself into the next gig.
  7. – Promote, promote, promote!  Start promoting a week before a show.  Don’t wait until the last day.  Invite everyone on your contact list.  Tell them why they’ll have a great time.  Let them know about the free goodies you have for them.

I’d like now to make an assumption that this formula works.  From my own experience, it does.  Although it is something that works much better with my band than as a solo artist.  Sooner or later, I will let the bar owners know that we require more money.  What’s wrong with that?  We’re spending money to promote and help their audience have fun and stay the entire night, and they are making a lot more money from us as a result.  It’s a fair situation.  That is something the bar owner will surely understand.

If you go into a battle, then you obviously did not do your job right (as described above) or the bar owner is just missing out.

So What About Me? Am I Packing A Club?

I have not done everything that I plan on doing yet, but my answer is without a doubt, YES! I will never play an empty bar again. Every bar owner that has my band is going to have a packed house (I did not say me, because as a solo artist, I run things differently.) As a band, there will be people standing outside because they can’t all fit in the club. The bar is going to make a ton of cash. The music is going to be awesome. I will have fun with the crowd. We will provide good sound gear and lights. We will play songs they enjoy. We will be a hit, and when we are asked back to a club, we will explain why our first show was less expensive, and the bar owner will understand and have no problem with that, because we did our job right. It’s a win-win-win situation. A win for the band, a win for the bar owner, and a win for the clientele.

Good luck!  Let me and other readers know what has worked for you by commenting below.