Folks are gearing up for the big holiday hoopla as this Fourth of July begins to get noisy. Thinking about this holiday reminded me of the challenges of booking tours around holidays. I thought I would offer some tips about holiday bookings, which ones to go after and which ones to avoid. Some holidays can be a gold mine, others a big bust. Some days aren’t even holidays, but should be treated as such when it comes to booking gigs. Holiday awareness can net you additional gigs and also help you plan ahead for travel challenges like traffic and airport delays.
My favorite holiday for gigging is Thanksgiving. Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend are two of the best concert days of the year. Steer clear of Thanksgiving Day, but if you could book a gig on either the Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving, go for it. Consider this, no matter where you are, in your hometown, visiting your family or in some new market, people are always visiting their friends and families. They’ve spent the entire day or even two days with their family and are simply dying to do something more interesting than watching the parade or football and eating yet another turkey sandwich. Local clubs and concert halls traditionally do very well on the Friday and Saturday nights of Thanksgiving weekend because people want to get out of the house. So next Thanksgiving, get yourself a gig, you won’t be disappointed. These are such good nights for concerts, you might even consider producing your own gig in your hometown, or someplace where you have a strong following. You’ll have to book the venue far in advance–others have caught on.
On the flip side, one of the more difficult times of years for successful touring is during the Christmas holiday season. Unfortunately, concert going seems to slow down right after the first week in December and it remains dismal until after the second week in January. If you play clubs or concert venues you may find this to be a good time to relax. If however, you have a holiday show, perform private events and parties or corporate functions, this time of year can be very busy for you. If you usually book your group into clubs, you might consider offering your show with a slight holiday slant or pitch your group to organizations, fraternities or local businesses who might throw the annual Christmas party in order to keep the band working. These parties may also pay more than your usual club gig.
New Year’s Eve offers a number of possibilities. Along with private events, many cities hold First Night Celebrations that provide varieties of entertainment geared toward the whole family. They are usually booked very early in the year, often March through May of the previous spring. Contact the cities Downtown Foundation or the Mayor’s office to find out more information about booking a First Night event.
The end of January/early February offers one of those days that is not really a holiday, but sure feels like one when you attempt to play a concert, Super Bowl Sunday. Most bars offer large screen TVs and party deals. Even people who are not necessarily sports enthusiasts often attend private Super Bowl parties. Unless you play late night gigs, this day might just as well be a drive day or a day to participate in the festivities without playing a gig.
Moving through the months, February is loaded with national holidays that shouldn’t interfere much with gigging. Crowded airports and blackout days for frequent flyers around the President’s birthdays might hamper travel, though. Mostly, February is dedicated to Black History Month. Depending on the type of venue you play, booking personnel may lean toward programming that fulfills this goal.
March is Women’s History Month. Universities offer many new opportunities for women performers during this month of programming. Contact Women’s Studies Department or Student Activities offices on college campuses. As women performers, if you attend college-booking conferences such as National Association of Campus Activities, NACA, consider offering a special program to book these types of gigs during March.
The other big March holiday is St. Patrick’s Day. This should prove to be a great gigging day no matter what type of music you play, but especially if you play Celtic music. The competition is stiff for Celtic bands during the two weeks surrounding St. Patrick’s Day, but gigs abound since partying is the main focus.
Depending on when the Easter/Passover Holidays fall, anywhere from late March through sometime in April, you may run into a difficult weekend to find work during the middle of a good time to tour. Club and bar gigs are usually not affected as much as performing art centers or college gigs.
That brings us back to holidays like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Since every small town and big city are planning some sort of celebration that may include performances throughout the day, this is a good opportunity to check with the Mayor’s office; the Downtown Foundation; the County Parks and Recreation Department or the Chamber of Commerce in your area. For U.S Chambers of Commerce check their website: US Chamber of Commerce Most of these gigs provides performance opportunities for local bands. They will often have a main act play right before the fireworks. There are numerous citywide celebrations that offer gigs. The benefit of playing some of these is that a very large community audience attends. This offers performers a new opportunity to expand the fan base and gather new members on their mailing list.
As you plan your tours, think about the holidays that might be involved during the tour time. If you fit into a specialty category that offers you extended opportunities, take advantage of them to enhance your touring. Be aware of days that just don’t make sense to play and plan other activities or drive days. Pursue new performing situations by checking with city and county offices for upcoming events in your area during some holidays and turn a traditionally off day into an annual gig.
And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at http://www.performingbiz.com. Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.
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