In Part One of College Campus Booking for Christian Bands we learned how campuses book and how to go about getting your band campus gigs. If, after reading Part One, you have decided that campus shows are right for your Christian bands ministry, there are several things you can do to make the most of the shows.
Save Money During the Booking Process
• Skip the showcases, at first. Booking conventions provide a great opportunity for your band to showcase. But, as discussed in Part One, they are expensive and difficult to get into. If your band wants to test out the college market before investing the time and money, you can contact the colleges directly. Each of the booking organizations gives you access to their mailing list once you become a member. You still have to pay the fees to join the organization, but the band does not incur the additional expenses of playing the showcase. Your band can send promotional materials directly to the bookers from each school and follow up with phone calls, just as you would for booking any other gig. If you get a fair amount of shows using this method the band may feel more comfortable investing in a showcase next year.
• Spend money on postage and promotional materials wisely. Most schools book the spring semester in the fall and the fall semester in the spring. If you are going to mail press kits, do not waste time and money sending them at other times because they will be filed away (or thrown away) and forgotten. Many schools have smaller gigs they book at the last minute and different people handle the booking at different times. So, your bands press kit in their files may not be noticed. A better use of your bands time and money would be to send a an eye-catching, interesting poster or postcard once a month with small print on it that says your full press kit or other promotional materials are available on line or on request. This strategy keeps your bands name in front of the bookers consistently, but only the most interested schools receive full press kits. (Ideally they will go to your website and download an EPK, which costs the band nothing extra!)
• Use a manager who is a member of the booking organizations. If your band is shopping for a manager and you know that you should play college campus gigs be sure to hire a manager who is already a member of at least one of the booking organizations. If the manager is a member, the band does not necessarily have to pay membership fees as well. Managers who represent multiple bands at the booking conventions get one booth and use it to represent all of their artists. This strategy reduces everyone’s expenses and may generate more interest in the booth. If the manager represents one or two well known artists the lesser known artists benefit from the extra exposure.
Maximize the Impact of College Campus Shows
• Use college gigs as anchor dates. Remember that college gigs pay well, but are not usually attended well. So, book other off campus gigs around the on campus show. Many times the on campus show is during the week or in the afternoon, which allows the band to play area venues in the evenings and on weekends. It is possible to play the campus on a Thursday evening or Friday afternoon, a nearby venue on Friday and Saturday evenings and a church on Sunday morning. If you route the tour well, your band can use the campus dates to help fund your next tour.
• Book other on campus events around your initial college gig. For example: contact the head of the music department about the possibility of being a guest speaker in an existing class or conducting a master class. You have experience on the road, so often a simple Q&A session about what it takes to keep a band going is helpful to the students. If there is a Christian High School nearby, don’t forget to contact their music instructor with the same offer. Every high school musician dreams about being on the road with a Christian band, but most have no idea what that experience entails. Also contact the local branch of the college ministries such as Campus Crusade and Intervarsity, they might want your band to do a worship set at their next meeting if the price is right.
• Promote and Market the gig yourself. Remember that each department of the campus functions independently. The bookers may not tell the college radio station or newspaper about the event. Larger colleges might have a campus PR person with great connections; it’s worth asking about when you are booking the gig. But most often, it’s up to you to contact the campus radio station and newspaper to set up an interview and get airplay yourself. The campus bookers almost never do any promoting off campus. This is your opportunity to contact the local radio stations and other media for interviews.
• Cross promote shows. Be sure to announce any other shows you have booked locally, even if they are off campus. A poster or flyers with all your tour dates at the merchandise table is a great way to get the information out to your new fans quickly.
• Lastly, encourage the campus bookers to report your shows. Each booking organization has a place for the bookers to leave a review or comment on your bands show. These comments lend credibility for your band to other campus bookers. If a campus reports that your band did a great show, other campuses are more likely to book your band for future gigs.
Booking college campus gigs is not as easy as we are sometimes led to believe. But, campus gigs can be a key part of your band’s music ministry. A little applied wisdom and hard work will make a big difference in how your band uses campus shows as one more tool to bring people closer to Jesus through music.
Want to learn how and when to book more shows? We created a free PDF called The Band Booking Calendar. It is a guide to help you book the right shows at the right time. Click this button to get your free Band Booking Calendar:
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