Booking Basics with Andy Warpigs

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Photo courtesy of Andy Warpigs

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

If you’re a new band starting out, the prospect of landing that first gig can be a little intimidating. Even if you’ve been making the local rounds and are ready to start looking toward furthering your fanbase, a little booking rundown can help you find shows in new area codes. We asked Andy Warpigs – musician, performer, booking guru, and man about town – to help us understand a few of the show-booking basics.

YabYum: So… how did you first getting into booking shows? Was is something you had to learn to do as a musician? You book shows not only as a musician but also as a show promoter. Is that correct?

Andy Warpigs: I first started booking shows when I was 19. I would find bands on ReverbNation and Myspace and websites like that. I used to book shows at different DIY spots downtown and then I got more involved in The Trunk Space and learned to book more through them.

Booking is definitely something essential to being a musician. I feel like learning things from the venue’s perspective and running shows and doing sound are all skills that you are going to learn eventually if you are a serious musician.

I have booked shows for my own band, and have also booked for my friends bands and community type events. I have also worked with different bars to set stuff up for traveling musicians or residency for local bands.

As a musician, are there some basic steps you should follow in trying to book a show?

I think the first stop in learning booking from a musician’s perspective is to make sure you have open channels of communication with the venue. You have to tap into their built-in crowd and their promotional resources. It is also really important to build a show that is cool from the audience’s perspective and has a variety of acts ’cause that will keep them on their toes.

It’s really important to make sure all of the bands involved are on point and doing everything they can to promote the show as well to their fans and friends. It can be really helpful to book shows through a collective with different like-minded friends, so all the responsibility doesn’t fall on your shoulders.

As a promoter, are there things you look for when you’re approached by a band interested in booking? Social media outreach? EPK? Is there anything you feel is essential when considering a band for an event? 

I’m just learning about electronic press kits. Personally, I book new bands because I like their attitude, sound, style, or sense of humor or theatrics. Web presence is important, but it’s about how good they are at engaging their audience, not necessarily how many [followers] they have numbers wise…

So, let’s say a band is just getting started. What advice would you offer to help them get out there and performing? 

New bands should play as much as they can. Practice playing out is just as important as rehearsing the songs or practicing your instruments. You hone your craft that way and learn how to work a crowd. The idea of playing for exposure is kind of inflated but you never know who might see you. What’s the worst that could happen? Lol.

Let’s say your a new act looking to book a gig. What’s the best way to go about it? Talk to other bands playing that venue? Ask a bartender? Email the venue directly? Is there a method to this madness?

Emailing a venue and asking who their contact person for booking is always a polite and acceptable way to get a foot in the door at a new spot. Sometimes you can even get things going at a place that doesn’t even do shows by approaching them with the idea.

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Check out the Andy Warpigs Facebook page for all his upcoming shows including opening for Bigger Than Mountains on Dec. 29 at the Trunk Space, at Yucca Tap Room Jan. 5, and at 51WEST Jan. 15!