Be Ready with a ContractIf you’ve been following along with the blog, you may recall that I’ve covered the idea of professionalism before. In 2011, I took an in-depth look into Andrew Dubber’s e-book, The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online, and Thing 10 was Professionalism.

Dubber’s focus was primarily online marketing, but professionalism is also a very important ingredient to carry into your offline efforts as well. Good personal hygiene, treating people with respect, a firm hand shake… All of those things.

Here’s a real-life example of how professionalism paid off in booking gigs.

Tribute Band

There’s a certain tribute band that I used to work with. The gigs made me a decent amount of money on the side, and our repertoire definitely caused me to grow as a musician. However, the band unit wasn’t exactly held together with superglue, and members would often come and go.

More to the point of this discussion, the band leader wasn’t exactly known for his vocal prowess, and in some cases it would cause bar owners and event coordinators to breach contract because of how he was not measuring up. Because he marketed us as a tribute band, people’s expectations were probably higher than if he had marketed us as a cover band.

Fortunately, we never found ourselves in situations where we didn’t get paid at least close to the amount that was agreed upon. However, in some cases the bar did not pick up the tab, pay us the full amount owed, or outright barred us from ever doing any return gigs in their venue.

Booking Gigs

I had often wondered how we were ever able to get in to the places we were getting in to, and how we were getting paid the amounts we were getting paid. After all, if our performances had caused several bar owners to breach contract with us, our band leader must have done a pretty good sales job to get us the gig in the first place.

In other bands I played in, we often struggled just to get a good gig, despite the apparent talent and tenacity of its members. This caused me to wonder how this sub-par vocalist was ever able to book so many profitable gigs.

Then one day, it finally sunk in.

Contracts.

Yup, contracts.

The band leader did a great job of selling venue owners on the gig to be sure (probably because of his own enthusiasm for the project), but he also did one other thing right; he brought contracts with him.

When this epiphany struck me, I knew that I finally understood all there was to know about his booking strategy.

Conclusion

Moral of the story: if you want to project professionalism while you’re out and about booking gigs, remember to bring a simple one-to-two-page contract with you.

Regardless of whether the bar owner fully agrees to your terms, you will at least look professional and have entered the discussion with the right posture. You will immediately build trust.

You may find this tip helpful, you may not. Feel free to give it a try if you think it might be applicable to your band and booking situation.

Author: David Andrew Wiebe

David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.

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