Q: The site only services US based users at the moment - do you have plans to roll it out internationally? Any other plans for the future?
Yes I am adding Canada in 2008, with Europe and Australia coming online in early 2009. There is a new interface coming that will be easier and faster to use. My new syndication service, GigSync, is always adding new partners. I am also finished with the Sonicbids API, that will update EPK's in real time. I am always working on something.
Given your experiences, what is the best piece of advice you can give bands about booking shows?
Booking gigs and tours is a full time job that requires persistence and repetitive actions. If you are a new band in a new market then you have zero value in that market. If you have zero value then an agent's commission is not going to amount to very much at the end of a tour. Most professional agents are not able to justify picking up a band with only a moderate fan base and no history in the regional markets. This also applies to the much coveted opening slots. The whole reason for openers is to put people in the room, usually to help expose the headliner to a particular local crowd. If you have never played in a market before then you are most likely not getting the opening slot for any major headliners there either.
But you can start working on your own booking and promotional relationships right away. Start researching venues, colleges, festivals and press contacts in other markets, begin the process of establishing relationships with talent buyers in your region. Reach out, send them your press kit, do consistent and professional follow up and be persistent. You have to develop these relationships overtime, if this is going to be a career then you need to realize some of these relationships may take years to develop. Trust takes time and most talent buyers are not going to book you because you send them a generic email about your band. So there is no time better to start on these relationships than right now.
Always try and turn rejection into a long term relationship with the talent buyer. Ask for their honest evaluation and acknowledge that you might have some polishing to do. Ask them if it is okay if you keep in touch and be sure to just say hello every few months. Do not put them on your mailing list unless they tell you it is okay. You will be amazed at how receptive they can be and one of those times you call, it's going to be the time they just had a last minute cancellation. Play smaller rooms than you need, its better to have a line at the door than it is to have 100 people in an empty cavern. Always interact with the crowd after each show, save your performance critiquing for the van. Your fans will give you places to stay, they will feed you and help you get to your next stop. They are your most valuable resource.