A thought came to me. Practically all the jazz musicians on the scene today went through some sort of school where they studied music and honed their craft. Those schools prepare them (as much as a school can) to being a professional musician. But, when you think about it there is no school for booking managers. There's no Bachelor of Arts majoring in booking music. So where do they learn their occupation?
That's what I was thinking about. Why not give some advice from the musician's side of things, from my experiences with novice booking managers? Hey, I don't pretend to be an expert, but it wouldn't hurt to put things in perspective.
So I decided I'll try to bring some insight to those who are interested in listening.
I'll add more posts as I gather more topics to discuss.
Why Have Live Music?
Contrary to popular belief among some restaurant/bar/lounge owners, live music does not bring in any money. Now, it's true that if you run a club that is primarily dedicated to live performances, then you expect a major part of your revenue to come from selling tickets to the shows. But, any other place where the music is not the main purpose for which customers come in, you should not expect to make any revenue from the music. Actually, in most cases you will probably lose money.
So why have live music? Because you care about your establishment, and your customers. You want to distinguish your bar from all the other bars. You want to entertain your customers with high quality art. You understand the power that music has on a person, and how it creates memorable moments.
If you don't relate to any of these reasons and you are just trying to save your place from the inevitable "Out Of Business" sign by bringing some kids from music school, paying them a few bucks and hope their friends will save your business - You don't need live music.
Booking Management is a Profession
Yes, most places that have live music don't even have a booking manager, but the owner moonlights as one. Booking music takes time and understanding of the type of music you want to have in your business. It is no wonder that club owners have a pile of CDs they never listen to. Instead they rely on the same bad band that plays there every week.
Lets face it, operating a business is hard and often nerve-racking work. If your restrooms look like a gas station restrooms, would you go and clean it yourself every day? No, you would hire someone to do it for you. So why insist on doing a job someone else can do better than you?
If you are really passionate about music, you have experience dealing with musicians, and you have the time to invest, then maybe you could get away with running a place and booking the music. But for most people I suggest hiring a booking manager. That is, find a person with experience, understanding of what it is you are looking for, and commitment to deliver the goods.
When you finally find that special guy or gal, don't be tempted to offer them a percentage of the ticket sales just to save a few bucks. Pay them a salary and hold them accountable for their work or lack thereof. It is not their job (or the musician for that matter) to be occupied with how many people are paying to see the show. Their only concern should be hiring a professional band that delivers quality and entertaining music.
Whose job is it to bring an audience? What are the musicians responsible for? I'll answer those questions and others in later posts.
Thanks for reading.