Booking a show is much more than just calling the venue and getting the doors open. The logisticals involved can be overwhelming - in fact, many bands just don't know everything they are supposed to be doing. Finding out about things you have overlooked the hard way - when you're on the road - is a headache, to say the least, and yet this is exactly how many bands learn the ropes of booking shows. Things won't be like anymore, if Jay Flanzbaum has anything to say about it. His website, Onlinegigs has automated the process of concert booking for bands, from one off shows to entire tours. This website can guide you from start to finish - from connecting with the venues and promoters to walking on stage, and every step in between. Not only can it show you the way, but it also keeps after you, nagging you to do the things you've been putting off, so you don't pull up to the venue and suddenly remember you never confirmed that soundcheck time. Read on, as Jay shares the inspiration behind the site and what it can do for you:
Question: You have a background as a musician, booking agent & manager - what experiences did you have that made you want to start Onlinegigs?
I was a drummer booking my own band for a few years. We were traveling from VT to DC regularly and getting great exposure. But booking takes constant upkeep, there is always someone that needs to be called and you have to do it at just the right time and on the right day. I was lucky enough to be able to make calls during my day job and then I would go home and make calls all night. When the band suddenly broke up I was approached by a number of friends to help them put together their own regional and national tours. Eventually, I became a full time booking agent with about seven touring acts, and a bunch of others that I booked non-exclusively. I was booking tours for independent bands from all across the country and trying to take on more acts.
At some point taking on more acts means having to also take on more agents, interns and infrastructure. There are only so many bands one person can handle. Booking new bands in new markets is an extremely labor intensive process with relatively low pay off, so I needed to take on more acts to make a living. It was painfully obvious however that the things that were so labor intensive in the booking process could very easily be automated. The amount of time and energy it takes to send out press releases, press kits, create contracts or update various websites, can be better spent developing business relationships.
As I added more bands to my roster I became increasingly frustrated with just trying to run the agency and being out of business for days while I tried to get the Act contact database to work with Word; and to get Excel to work with Streetfinder. Even just trying to integrate a bulk email or fax program could occupy endless hours of valuable booking time. I knew that existing technologies could handle all of the functions I had in mind so at one point I just started building Onlinegigs. I hired some programmers and just began with the essentials. At first I only had a venue database that could be added to or edited, but slowly I built in more and more features.
Q: How did you get the ball rolling? How did you let people know you were out there and get them to come on board?
I have had the great benefit of being able to get the message out by word of mouth. I was using the site to book my own roster of bands, and they told other bands that they came across in their travels. As soon as one band was able to use the site to put themselves on the road for a few months then other bands realized they could capitalize on the first bands work. Members get money back off of their subscription in exchange for keeping the contact directory up to date. Most bands that are working constantly are also constantly keeping their own contact information up to date anyhow. Now they do the same thing in an Onlinegigs account and get free use of the automated tools. The site has grown to over 20,000 venues, colleges, festivals & media contacts with just over 10,000 performances booked to date. I am also involved with a number of non profit musician organizations and music competitions.
Q: Who is using your site?
Mainly independent bands, booking agents, managers, record companies and publicists. I recently noticed a rise in Christian Rock bands putting on church tours. There seems to be a Celtic community growing and there has always been a great singer/songwriter group of agents and managers. I have also seen a few comedians. Any type of contact can be added to the database so any type of performer can benefit from using the site.
Q: Online Gigs takes a comprehensive approach to booking shows - what are some of things users can do through your site?
The moment a member submits the performance details into their account the system will:
- automatically send a press release to the local media in any market in the country
- automatically send reminder emails to all of your fans in a particular mile radius of any performance
- automatically update an Myspace profile, (for instance, this page): The Amity Front
- automatically update any website with new tour date information, (for instance): Revision Music and Milestone Agency
- automatically update Jambase, Pollstar, Sonicbids, Mojam and Lycos Concerts
- automatically issue a performance contract by fax or email
- automatically generate a tour itinerary with driving directions from one gig to the next