Music Business: Before, During, and After the Show Checklists

By Loren Weisman

In the music business, you have to worry about what happens before, during, and after the show. Before/during/after-the-show checklists ensure that everything you need to handle is either being handled or is on the list to be handled. With all the different activities going on before, during, and after a show, it can be overwhelming to remember and track it all. Keep a little reminder sheet for each day and each show to help you remember to cross the Ts and dot the Is.

After you lock in the date

Refer to your database sheet for local media contacts. Reach out to your media sources and have a press release ready to go five weeks prior to your show. Then research that city or town for promotion options, cross-marketing with other bands, sponsorships, and ways to save on food and lodging.

4, 3, 2, 1 week out preparations

Start to follow up the press release at the five-week point with emails and calls to local media. See if you can get assistance in postering around town for the show. Make contacts more frequently as each date comes closer.

Show day and loading in

Arrive early to assist with some last-minute postering and potential pre-interviews before the load-in. As you arrive at the venue, get the gear inside, but also touch base with the other bands and the venue personnel. Make sure you know when and where you need to be as well as when sound check happens and what the exact show times are. Be cooperative with the venue and the staff. Play by their rules.

Da gig, da gig

As you take the stage and focus on the set, don’t forget to include all the call-to-action elements in between the songs. This is easily forgotten but is also a core part in building your fan base and recognition. Set up a list on either your set list or next to your set list to remind you to

  • Say the name of your band after each song.

  • Give out website address and social media information throughout the show.

  • Plug and pitch the merchandise and where it can be purchased.

  • Recognize the venue, the other bands, and any sponsors involved in the show.

  • Ask fans to sign up for your email list or join you on your social networks.

  • Give something away from the stage to an audience member for free.

  • Thank the venue, the other bands, the audience, and tell them where you’ll be after the set if they want to talk.

Have the band or at least a few members present for the sets of the other bands. Regardless of whether you’re the opener or they’re opening for you, show that respect to build better networking and opportunities to play together again.

After-show administration

After the show is done and you’re loading off the stage, the administrative follow-ups for getting paid, networking to see about getting a return gig down the line, and filing your set list with your performance rights organization are often overlooked. Collect all the information from other bands and local media, and ensure your agreement with the venue or the event producer is executed so that you’re either paid that night or you know when to expect your check.

If you’re a band, have a couple members connect with the audience while another member double-checks with the venue and handles the administrative tasks to keep things from being missed.

Filing for royalties after a live show

Outside of being paid by the venue, the event producer, management, or booking agent, make sure to file your public performance statements with your affiliated performance rights organization. Yes, you can get royalties in the United States from a live venue for playing your music as long as that venue is paying their fees to one of the three U.S. organizations.

After the set is over, register your set list with ASCAP Onstage, BMI Live, or SESAC Live Performance Notification Systems. The legal venues pay royalties to allow live music in their clubs. By registering your set list, you receive royalties for your performance at that venue.

Follow-Ups

You may have moved on from your show in one particular town, but keep a list for follow-ups and check-ins. Add reminders to your calendar to touch base with the venue a week or so after your show as well as with the bands and others involved. Thank those who need to be thanked for a job well done, send links to any great pictures of the venue or other bands, and open up discussions for other shows in the future.

The follow-ups are almost as important as the show itself. As you stay engaged and connected with the bands, the staff, and the venues, you stay on their radar and in their mind for shows down the line.

By having a checklist of everything — from booking the club to booking the hotel on through sending a press release to promoting the show, then from the performance on stage to handling the administrative tasks afterwards — you build up your presence as you showcase your professionalism and see more opportunities coming your way.