Got Airplay On 100+ Stations,
But How Do I Book Shows?
Ask Abbie Question:
I have a few questions I would like to ask you. I have a song getting air play on over 100 stations. I have been in the music business my whole life. How do I get shows booked in gospel music? Please advise.
To build longevity and success in the music business, you need great music and recordings, airplay, merchandise, a solid band, and touring.
You’re getting airplay, that’s a great thing. Booking yourself in these digital days can be a full-time job. It is overwhelming if you don’t have the merchandise, equipment, time, resources, and industry knowledge.
So, if you prefer the life of a musician, keep reading!
I assume you have a ready-to-travel band, merchandise, and a sound tech. Often you can ask the church venue to provide volunteers to sell your product if you don’t have the resources.
If I were to book you, I would work inside the areas where you’re receiving airplay. Each and every venue in the listening area of those radio stations are candidates to book you. Capitalize on the opportunity of airplay while you’re getting it.
Start with the radio stations. Tell them you are preparing a tour through the area and would like to know if they have any planned events or know of churches preparing events. Many radio stations offer free ads to local churches to announce their upcoming events. See if you can get involved with those churches in your genre that are offering events.
I would contact small and medium size church venues. If you do not have a traveling PA system, you will require church venues that have a decent PA system. I would contact a series of churches and book several shows using the airplay as leverage. Offer the radio station free CDs and tickets to give-away on air, and ask them if they can offer you any on-air time to either play live or do an interview.
Additionally, for any show you book at a church on a Saturday, ask the church and worship director if you can perform a song or two during their weekend services, and offer merchandise after each service. If you perform during a weekday and the church has a school program, ask if you can perform for the students.
I appreciate the question. However, my expertise on this subject is limited, so I deferred to the best in the industry. I asked 30-year music industry veteran Mike Smith president of Michael Smith & Associates who has successfully helped shape the careers of numerous artists in the Christian and country music industries.
Mike, what advice can you offer someone who is receiving airplay and needs help taking the next step?
I’ve had a number of independent artists come to me over the years. They often are getting airplay on a number of stations, and don’t know how to take advantage of the airplay opportunity.
Let me share a story of an artist we’ve managed for about 14 years. Their name is Go Fish out of Minneapolis. They started with their local radio station in Minneapolis. They developed a relationship with them before they started talking to that station about playing their music. It included them dropping into the radio station and volunteering to assist or play at station events. Eventually the radio station began to play their music and include them in live interviews. That station owned about seventeen other stations in that part of the United States. They eventually got introduced to all the other seventeen stations. The band traveled between them, contacted them regularly offering their help in any manner.
As an artist, that solid pool of stations gives you something to point to when you’re wanting to get other media or retail attention. Go Fish ended up in a three state area focusing on all the radio they could get within that specific region. They have developed their band so strongly in that area that they made a good living touring and selling records to just that region. It worked so well for them that Go Fish did a concert in the Excel Center in Minneapolis to a sold-out crowd of over 16,000 fans. Do you have to have a solid charting song? Not necessarily. Any exposure is good — if you got a plan to take advantage of it.
If you’re getting airplay in a market, even on an AM station, somebody’s listening to it. Build a relationship, get involved with them. Make yourself more accessible, visible, and helpful. Serve them. Build a network starting with a small group of stations, and you can literally launch a national career by having a dozen to twenty markets in which you really focus and grow strongly. People outside of those markets will say wow, there must be something there that separates you out.
I recommend a book from Seth Godin called Purple Cow. It is a marketing book. Seth is a marketing wizard. It will explain in more detail what I just talked about.
You offer Artist Management Training. Would it help this artist, and should an artist represent themselves?
Yes, I developed the program to fill a need I saw in the 30 years I’d been in the industry. So many people don’t understand how to strategically lay out a campaign to enlarge their pipeline. An artist must know how to grow, expand, sell more products, play more dates, and better dates.
My Artist Development Program works well with independent artists who don’t have management because they can’t find or afford one. It teaches them how to become not just a manager, but an effective, competent, and competitive manager. It is chock full of artist management and artist development concepts to show them how to make a good living doing what they love!