How to think like a college activities committee is completely different that any of the past Biz Booster’s in this series.
Playing colleges can put some jingle in your pocket, but it’s a true juggling act to complete a booking with college activities committees.
Depending on which committee you are trying to work with, concert, coffee house or lectures, you need to prepare yourself for a different way of doing business.
First thing you need to prepare for is that you may be dealing with a student or student committee rather than a staff person or staff committee. The Activities Director oversees the committee and will most likely be the person signing the actual contract. But, it probably will be the students who make the booking decisions.
Next thing you need to know is that since this is a college extra curricular activity for which the students contribute an annual fee, any activity set up by these committees do not necessarily need to make money…they are running them to offer entertainment or educational experiences to the student body. They have the money to spend and each committee MUST spend the money in order to be funded an equal or greater amount the next year. With this in mind, these student committees usually pay higher fees than say, a club owner would. The committees are not always focused of their bottom line. So most acts can get higher fees than they may be used to getting from other types of venues.
College activities committees look for novelty, they book concerts and coffeehouses according to what’s in vogue, what’s on the radio or what might be the next big up-and-coming thing. Name recognition acts, popular mainstream acts are not necessary to sell to the college audience. These committees often take a chance on unknowns or breaking acts.
Since you will be dealing with students, having them make the deals and negotiate the contracts is part of their educational process, so you’ll need to be somewhat “educational” in your approach as well as patient. You are not dealing with a professional. They may not get back to you in a timely manner. They may even change positions. From one week to the next, you might even be dealing with a different student. Always make sure you know who the Student Activities Advisor is for the committee. This will most often be the Student Activities Director.
Bookings often happen as a result of attending a campus activities booking conference, either a regional or a national conference. The two organizations responsible for these conferences are NACA, National Association of Campus Activities and APCA, Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities. When students attend these conferences they are inundated with the latest acts to hit the college market and do most of their booking with the acts or agencies representing acts at these conferences. If you are attempting to break into the campus activity market, check out one of the regional conferences of either of these organizations and start your foray into college booking at the regional level to get acquainted with the scene. Regional conferences have lower showcase and membership fees and it makes sense for creating regional touring opportunities.
Now when dealing with student committees, always get the student committee chair’s name and supposed office hours, email and cell number so you can follow up with that student. If they haven’t gotten back to you after a good first conversation where you were left with a positive impression of a booking, try the student advisor to get an update on the student’s plans. Don’t linger on the prospect of a booking if after 3 or 4 return calls to them, they are not getting back, move on to another gig or another committee or another college.
Working in the college market can be frustrating, often expensive when attending and belonging to the above organizations. But, when you learn how to think like a college activities committee, bookings in the college market can help fund your tour dates to less lucrative venues. If you have an act that could do well at colleges, it just might be worth testing the waters for at least a year and see what gigs you can land to put that jingle in your pocket.
Here’s a more detailed article to further help you learn how to think like a College Activities Committee.
How Your Band Can Break Into the (Lucrative) College Market
Do you play colleges now? Have you wanted to get into the college activities market? What has your experience been when trying to book gigs on college campuses?
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I can’t wait to hear about your success.
Thanks to Carol Ehrlich for this week’s Biz Booster graphic image, “How To Think Like A College Activities Committee.”
Now, Thanks to the Band Curfew from the UK for providing the Biz Booster theme Music, Future Dance. Check them out at www.curfew.co.uk
And for more career boosting tips, articles, books, resources, tele-seminars and online courses, visit me at Performingbiz.com