Wondering how to book shows smarter, not harder? If you work in the live music industry, there’s a good chance that you’re over-worked and under-resourced. Whichever hat you happen to be wearing right now, you might need to switch it out for a half-dozen others whenever the need arises.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a good chance you could stand to benefit from improvements in efficiency. These three strategies will help streamline the process of booking and producing shows, freeing up precious brainpower to focus on other things.

Time is money, after all — and while these tips might not leave you with an extra dollar in your pocket, they’ll at least make your life easier.

1. Document (and over-document) processes and procedures

More likely than not, many of your venue’s or team’s best practices and procedures are siloed inside the heads of whoever’s responsible for them. If that team member is unavailable for whatever reason, that can make it tricky for someone else to step in and take care of business.

The solution? Document — and over-document — processes and procedures. For instance, write down the procedure through which a lead or idea becomes a confirmed show. Who manages the booking calendar? Who communicates with booking agents? When are flyers designed — and by whom? When are events pushed out on social media, and who’s responsible for managing them?

Although it seems arduous, detailing these processes will help your team work more efficiently. Even if they seem obvious or given, spelling out common procedures and practices will benefit teams of any size — even as small as one.

2. Use templates whenever possible

When in doubt, templatize. (That’s not actually a word, but it should be.) The more shows you book and produce, the more useful (and time-saving) templates will be.

Using templates effectively will make every stage of the booking process run more smoothly. For instance:

  • Use them before shows are booked: Create a standard offer sheet that you use to interface with booking agents.
  • Use them in marketing your shows: Craft a standard format for event copy (i.e., across three paragraphs: write an introduction, key selling points, and closing details) to benefit not just your team, but your fans — the regularity will help them digest information. Additionally, an event marketing timeline template will help ensure you don’t miss key deadlines when promoting shows.
  • Use them for post-mortems: Track the same data after every show (i.e., expected vs. actual attendance; marketing spend; net profit) in a simple template. Then use these insights to inform future booking strategy.

In fact, the power of templates can even benefit your shows themselves. In other words…

3. Harness the power of regularity: Consider booking in series

Everyone loves a routine — even people who aren’t Virgos. If your venue regularly hosts small to mid-size artists, consider booking a series of shows organized around a common theme: genre, vibe, decor, or even day of the week. Fans will appreciate knowing what to expect — and you’ll appreciate the time you save.

A good series needs a catchy, clever name and a unified look and feel. This saves time and energy on design and copy: Tweak just what needs tweaking for each successive iteration. Coincidentally, these are also brand-building exercises — if your series does well enough, it might take on a life of its own.

The power of a series can also work wonders on off nights. Take Motown on Mondays, which launched in San Francisco in 2009 as a humble Monday night weekly party dedicated to — you guessed it — Motown. The party’s catchy theme and weekly regularity made it such a success that in the decade since, they’ve launched sister parties in more than 35 cities and collaborated with over 100 musicians and DJs. Not bad for a Monday night, eh?

If throwing shows is your business, make sure to read 2019 Music Trends: The Top Predictions From Industry Pros to stay abreast of what’s coming down the pike in the live music industry.

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