Book your first show

Matt Lowe, a 22-year-old music major at Towson University, comes back to his apartment and logs onto his computer to check the Internet.

Lowe checks his Facebook and the e-mails he received that day, and then pulls up Myspace, where he reads messages from promotion companies and accepts new friend requests from bands across the country.

Above, Matt Lowe checks his Myspace for updates on local news and shows. Myspace is one of the many tools local bands use to help book shows.

Lowe plays bass for The Three Tree Experience, and he does most of the booking and advertising for the local rock/hip-hop band.  Myspace is one of the tools he and his band mates used to try and get shows when they first started out over two years ago.

“You have to have a Myspace account when you start out as a local band and you are trying to book shows,” Lowe said.  “It’s a great way to get your music out there for free, and it lets local clubs know who your band is and what your music has to offer.”

Social networking websites, such as Myspace, are one of many important ways in helping local bands that are just starting out, and they can help take that big step by booking their first show.  Booking shows can be a tough task, and the pressure that gets put on a band for its first show can be very intimidating.

Lowe and 3TE were able to get a big show at the 8×10 in Baltimore as soon as they started out. They got the hook up through a friend’s band that had played there in the past, and immediately started their journey on a big stage.

Some local venues, like the 8×10, provide different events specifically suited for local bands that are starting out, so they can get the exposure of playing on a big stage.  Owner Brian Shupe has seen many bands come and go in his time owning the venue, but thinks its important local venues look out for these young bands.

“Booking national bands is great for my venue, but I enjoy helping local bands by giving them a stage to play on,” Shupe said. “I could coax garage bands into playing a club and work them up to where they can become a theatre band and move on.”

Dan Schwartz and his band, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, took a different approach before playing their first big show.

Schwartz, 21, a marketing major at University of Maryland, said his major classes were able to help his band in a big way when they started booking shows.

Instead of immediately jumping to that big show, Pigeons started by playing small parties and barbeques on campus. Once they got the word out to their friends and started building a fan base, Pigeons booked their first show at the Santa Fe Café.

“Before we booked our first big show, we wanted to build on our repertoire so we could fill a 30-45 minute set,” Schwartz said.  “We wanted to develop our sound and have a tight musical connection, so our fan base and the club owner knew that we were serious.”

There are a couple of different ways local bands can book their first show.  Some bands can go through a promotion company that books the show for them.  Some bands go directly to the club and can play an open mic night, and hope that the club likes what they hear so they can come back. Other bands can go on the Internet to search different clubs and e-mail them to inquire that their band wants to play a show.

John Mancini, guitarist for JMB, started out by playing an open mic night at Hightopp’s, but Mancini said starting out was a hard process and has a tip for young local bands.

“Bands should realize that it takes time to build a band’s reputation and fan base, and that club owners care about one thing: money,” Mancini said. “They may seem cool and have good taste in music, but they have rent to pay. They’ve seen thousands of kids like you before. Bringing people out to the club is arguably more important than how you sound.”

Kirk Kubicek, drummer for College Park band Bad.Loud.Trio, thinks that it is important to give out all of your music for free when you start out as a band and want to book your first show.  Kubicek also stresses that it is all about who you know when you are first starting out and want to book shows.

“I think making friends with other bands is key when you are starting out as a young band,” Kubicek said.  “We got our first show through someone we knew in another local band, and we get a lot of shows by swapping with other bands.”

All of these examples are great ways to book your first show. 3TE, Pigeons, Bad.Loud.Trio and JMB experienced much success in their early stages, and their first show shaped the path that they are on.

With the Internet and social networking web sites on the rise, there are many ways local bands can get their music out and contact different venues for shows.  As long as your band has a good chemistry personally and musically, and you have a grasp on handling the promotional aspect, booking that first show can be a simple process to start your band out on the right note.

Check out some of the interview with Three Tree Experience bassist/vocalist Matt Lowe:

Go to The Funkbox

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Read the feature on the rise of live electronica in Baltimore

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