Epic Advice for Bands from Jimmy Harden of Guards of May

A young, inexperienced band asked the Guards of May page about how to support bigger bands promo2014and I saw this in their outbox. Jimmy took the time to write a really helpful set of rules for that band. He didn’t have to – and that’s why Jimmy is a legend. These rules really ARE the 101’s of booking yourself and he nails it here. It sounds basic, but there are those who haven’t found this out yet. So without further ado, a guest blog by Jimmy Harden of Guards of May (Check out their amazing new song Annotata here at Soundcloud).

“Every band is a little different when it comes to bookings, and there’s a lot of little factors that go into picking up a support slot. All of the slots that we’ve got so far have come from different opportunities, different people we’ve been in contact with and so on. Some have come directly to us via people we know, some have come via our booking agent.

So I guess rather than telling you step-by-step what to do to get a support slot (which likely won’t work for everyone) – here’s a bunch of things to think about and consider:

1. Professional press kit? Yes. Absolutely. Do this. Spend the time (and money) on making sure you have a well written bio (spellcheck and proof!), up to date, good lookin’ photos of the band (and make sure you have different versions for websites and printing! Print version are much higher quality) reviews of your live show or recorded music etc. And remember when talking to press – give them a story. Give them an angle to talk about you, whether its a new track, new tour/shows, new haircut (jokes – but you get the point), whatever.

2. If you want to get the attention of people who put on gigs, put on a show that people talk about. Rehearse often. Often = more than once every two weeks. Keep your gear well looked after. Make your shows a performance, rather than a gig. If you’re not sure what I mean, think about the difference between seeing an opera at the Sydney Opera House verses seeing a covers band at your local pub.

3. Furthermore, if you want to get the attention of people who put on gigs, put bums on seats. It’s the hardest and shittest part of being in a band and harassing your mates, but you need to get people through the door. Regularly. See point 2 above for how you might be able to more easily get people through the door.

4. Research who books who. Get each of your band members to make a list of 5 local acts they like, 5 national acts they like and 5 international acts they like. Then, go and research and find out as much as you can about the team behind each of those acts – who books them, who manages them, who sponsors them for gear, who their TM is etc. Then find their contact details and email them *when you have something to show them (see point 1)*. Keep it to the point. And if they’re local, ask if you can buy them a coffee and get some advice. There’s a difference between asking for advice and spruiking your band. You’d be surprised how approachable many of them are.

5. Go to shows when you’re not playing them. Be a part of the community. Meeting people is important. And fuck, if all else fails you have more friends to get drunk with.

6. Be prepared to do this stuff for yourselves. For a while. A good booking agent will be ready to take you on *generally* when you can prove to them that you have enough of a snowball rolling that you need outside help.

7. Be professional. This goes for each band member, everywhere. At shows, in emails to promoters, techs etc etc. Just don’t be a dick, basically. Playing music is meant to be fun after all, right?

8. Did I mention “have a kickass show”? Yeah. That.

Hope that helps