What's Up With Bookings This Summer?

A number of our clients have been asking what's been going on with bookings this summer. Is it always this hard? The answer is, "no."

Sure, getting bookings is one of the toughest things for an emerging artist to deal with. But even in the booking agency side of our business here at TCM, we're feeling the heat.

In a nutshell, here's what's happening... 1. You have the first summer in about five years (certainly the first since September 11th, 2001) that a majority of Americans are getting out on the roads and traveling instead of staying in their own neck of the woods.

2. Remember in the "Grow Your Band's Audience" seminar, that I talk about how you're competing with ALL of the other things that your audience could be doing with their time, not just other bands? This year, your competition is water parks, theme parks, Las Vegas and Hawaii, with vacation prices dropped nicely to meet demand.

3. The hockey-stick growth of summer concert ticket prices fell off the cliff like that little dude from The Price is Right. When it's less expensive to spend an entire 15-hour day at Disneyworld than it is to see a three hour folk concert, folks will go where they get the most perceived value.

4. The stronger acts swallowed hard and felt the pain with their partners at Clear Channel and Ticketmaster. Notice the $20 fire sale from a few weeks back. Better to fill the sheds than go dark.

5. Acts that couldn't pull off their own summer tours have disbanded their bills. This is where you guys start to feel the pain. Tours like Lollapalooza feature about 16-20 bands per city. In this climate, a savvy agent for each of those acts has been putting smaller venues "on hold" in case the big show falls apart. That way, they can splinter off, follow about the same routing, and go "every man for himself."

6. Talent buyers are eager to get these A- and B-list acts into their smaller venues, so they block off the date, knowing that some of those dates won't result in actual shows. But the ones that do will be really lucrative.

7. As a result, there are even fewer opportunities for independent and emerging acts to play out at clubs this summer.

What do you do about it? Host your own concerts, for one. If the big acts' fallback position is to gobble up stage slots, your fallback is to create your own opportunities. Try hosting a concert for an out-of-town musician, and have them reciprocate. You'll have fun, and you'll probably increase each other's audience by a few dozen. Much more productive than shoveling through this s@#$storm.