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14 Dos and Do Nots For Your Band’s Next Residency

by WAMM on July 11, 2011 · 12 comments

A flyer for Wine From the Moon's branded residency, Strip Down at Uncommon Ground

[Editor's Note: This is part two of Ryan Sweeney's series about the merits of securing a residency for your band. We're posting them on his behalf because he's out in the sticks of Brazil with a band right now]

Curating a residency can be great for an artist’s career. If done correctly, it is a powerful promotion tool, a unique opportunity to build new relationships, and a strong way to grow a fan base. Here are 14 Do’s and Do Not’s to keep in mind when curating your residency.

Do
Find a venue that you can easily fill for every show of your residency, teetering on the point of selling out each show. If 80-100% of the seats have been filled at every show, you picked the right venue.

Do Not
Rely on your fan base to be the main draw for most of the shows, especially if the residency is more than two nights. The best idea is to have other acts that can draw well. Balance every night based on each band’s average draw.

Do Not
Invite bands to play just because you know them or you have a friend in another band. Invite bands that have similar fan bases and can help further your career. This is a chance for you to create or further your relationships with numerous bands in a short period of time.

Do Not
Only invite local bands to play. Use this opportunity to expand your band into other markets by inviting out of town acts to play. Show trading is great, and this is a perfect opportunity to trade numerous shows in a short period of time.

Do
Use every residency show to promote your band. This seems obvious, but there are lots of small things you can do to increase promotions.

At the bar and on tables, have handbills for your band. Between each act, mention that your band is hosting the residency. Walk around and introduce yourself to people. If multiple bands are playing each night, hand out download cards or CDs with a track from each band. Have multiple e-mail sign up sheets spread throughout the room. Have your posters hanging around the venue.

Even the band's managers should send everybody to a single Facebook page

Do…
Cross-promote with other bands for the residency shows. Make sure everyone is using the same posters and Facebook event. There is no need to create a new Facebook event for every show, list all the shows on one event. Have each band take a certain amount of posters and assign them a certain part of the city to hang them in.

Do
Brand your series. You can create a name and look for your event.

For example, I recently hosted an acoustic style series at a venue called Uncommon Ground. We had all kinds of bands play, from folk to rock, but the rules were no electric instruments and no drum kits. We called the series “Strip Down at Uncommon Ground.”  All of the promotional material was branded with this name and with images of cartoon drawn cowgirls in panties, bras, and boots. The series lasted for two months, and two weeks into it, people knew what to expect because we did a good job of branding the series.

Do
Keep your residency consistent. If you have three bands at every performance, your act should play the same time slot every week. If your series happens once a week for five weeks, be sure to keep it on the same night and have the same start time every week.

Do Not
Forget to be extremely thankful to the venue, promoters, and bands you’re working with. You cannot say thank you enough times.

Do
Everything you can to make things easier for all parties involved. If the venue asks for you to be there at 6:00 every show, get there at 5:30. If bands are coming in from out of town, help them find places to stay. Every time you are on the microphone between acts, thank everybody involved. This is your chance to show others your kindness, which goes a long way in this business.

Do
Have back-up plans in case something goes wrong. When you are hosting numerous shows, something is bound to backfire. If a band doesn’t show up because their tour bus broke down, have a back up set you can play. If the sound guy’s iPod breaks between acts, make sure you have yours. I had a night when the sound guy didn’t even show up. I always have someone on site who can handle the board in situations like that.

Do…
Back line the evening whenever possible. Having bands share amps and drum kits is ten times easier than having every act bring their own equipment. This takes a bit more planning prior to the show, but is well worth it. You will be less worried about keeping things on time, making your evening less stressful.

Do Not
Expect all the bands to remember all the details. Let’s say you book the shows three months in advance and send all the details to the bands. At the two-month point, send a reminder about promoting the show, along with the details again. At the one-month point, do the same thing. A week out, send the final reminder. And when a band still shows up with all its own equipment because they didn’t pay attention to any of your emails, don’t get upset. Just smile, and politely remind them they must use the back line.

Do…
Enjoy yourself at every show.  Keep things loose but organized. If you are relaxed, the rest of the room will be too.

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