Ah, the guest list. If you're in a band, work for a label, or if you're a music promoter, manager, or agent, you know the drill. The day of the show, suddenly your phone starts ringing, and it's someone you haven't heard from in ages. "Hi! Long time no speak! How are you? We really need to meet up soon! Are you going to be at the show tonight? Is there any room on the guest list?" Repeat conversation 20 times. And not only do your long lost best friends want to be on the list themselves, but they want three of their friends, their friends' friends, and someone's cousin visiting from out of town to be on the list as well. Managing the guest list can be an extremely stressful job, if you let it be. Take back control and let these guest lists dos and don'ts be your guide when you're the one wiedling the plus one power.
Guest List Dos:
- DO find out how many spaces are available on the guest list well before the night of the show. Of course, if you are the promoter, you have the power to make last minute calls about the size of the list, but if you are a label or band, agree with the promoter up front how many places you'll have to work with.
- DO make sure that the people who can offer you something make it on to the list before your friends. Sure, you'd love to get your friends into your show for free, but when you get a good review in the paper or when some label A&R guy gives you his card after your set, you'll be glad you gave your sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend's free ticket to the industry/media person instead.
- DO be up front with people about whether or not they are likely to get onto the list. If you know there is going to be a lot of interest in a show, and you know that you don't have many freebies to hand out, let the usual suspects know in advance that it looks like getting them a place on the list will be tough.
- DO consider other options besides the guest list, like reduced price tickets, for friends who want to go to the show, but can't afford the full cover charge.
Guest List Don'ts:
- DON'T press your luck with the promoter if you need more places on the list than you are getting. If you are the support band, sometimes you may not get any places at all, and although it is not ideal, it's the way things go. Your working relationship with a promoter is worth much more than getting your friends into a show for free.
- DON'T feel like you owe everyone a plus one. In fact, you don't owe anyone a place on the list, period. If you need to ration and are trying to please as many people as possible, the plus ones should be the first thing to go.
- DON'T feel like everyone who gets on the guest list has to also get a pass to come backstage, if there an after party or a hospitality area. That is supposed to be fun for the band, everyone involved in the show, and their friends - and sometimes that ends up being a different group of people than the guest list.
- DON'T have a guest list at a charity show. It happens a lot, but, yuck. So tacky. Charity show ticket prices are often pricey - because the point of the show is to raise money! Giving away free tickets kind of misses the point.
- DON'T play the "you put me on your guest list, I'd better put you on my guest list" game. Guest list constraints at every show are different, and you'll drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with who is "owed" a spot on the list.
Above all else, when the guest list is in your hands, stand your ground. You want to accommodate as many people as you can, of course, but remember that the list is primarily designed to get media/labels/managers/etc in to see a band and decide if they want to write about them or work with them. Everyone else just has to take a number.