Info 4 Venues

Johnny D's Restaurant & Music Club

Johnny D’s Restaurant & Music Club, Somerville, MA

The relationship between independent bookers/promoters and venues should be friendly and symbiotic, realizing that we have the same goals in mind. However, this isn’t to say that much work goes into a successful night from both sides. After a decade of engaging in this activity, there have been times when this relationship hasn’t worked well. There is no good reason for this, and I blame myself in such cases for not being clear and communicating as well as I should have. I realize each venue is different. But the relationship, no matter what the differences in the parties, should be based on sound principles and procedures.

Each item on the following list has been gleaned from my actual experience. GPI greatly appreciates its hosts, and wishes to make each event smooth sailing, profitable for the venue, and as enjoyable as possible for all involved, especially the audience. (By all accounts we’ve had 99% great nights, but we always aim for perfection!) No one item on this list is a deal breaker, and all should be open to discussion.

  • The venue should understand that Gram Parsons InterNational is not a typical night of gig slots;  it is in fact a tightly run one-night festival which some venues have never really done before.
  • Establish clear guidelines from Day One. Generally like to keep a simple business model: Gram InterNational takes the door; you take the rest (bar/food). A guarantee may be part of the deal, with a percentage if above that. Many factors are involved, including the distance we travel to take the show to your local audience.
  • The entire audience is inside the space of the event; in other words, the door is paid at the door to the outside of the bar/venue, NOT inside at the entrance to another room or a space divided by a curtain. If an outside event at the gate to the secured area.
  • Strict adherence to the 10-minute changeovers are a must (unless otherwise agreed upon); this has not been an issue except for venues and sound engineers that don’t get this concept. Yes, there will be some fine tuning on the fly, and the sound engineer especially needs to understand this.
  • A club that provides backline gear, at least a good drum kit and bass amp, is preferred.
  • A very good and helpful sound engineer with whom I can communicate before the night of the event and often during as necessary, who needs to respond quickly as requested by me or the artist on stage.
  • A decent size stage, stage monitors.
  • Decent stage lighting, doesn’t leave drummer in the dark.
  • Solid P.A. and a sound board somewhat near the 21st century.
  • On a public transportation line and/or good free parking.
  • Adequate storage space for bands’ gear; a good-sized green room is great, preferably stocked with a fridge.
  • Preferably load-in through a separate entrance from customers, especially if parking in front is difficult.
  • While realizing that we have up to 40 musicians in one night, a discount on beverages and food for musicians and GPI staff is appreciated, or some other minimal accommodation (they do end up spending a lot).
  • A realization that Gram InterNational is a well-respected multi-year festival event that has been held in many cities, some 30 nights in several countries, and that we have proven that we will be one of your premiere events of the year.
  • A good website with a calendar that will fit our acts; a page I’ve found very helpful points me to a media list! I usually handle the poster but welcome help, especially a street team.
  • An understanding by the venue or the booker that represents them that this is a festival-type situation with upwards of 30 to 40 musicians and that there no doubt will be some changes in personnel and the lineup for various personal reasons, and that we will do all we can to substitute, if necessary, for bands or artists that drop out for such legitimate reasons. Such “tweaking” in the lineup shall not negate our agreement with the booker and/or venue.
  • After an agreement is reached and a date is set, please don’t wait until the week of to send me all your fine print or a contract! Or to let me know you really don’t have the equipment you promised. I hate surprises. If you have one of these, please send it months earlier (usually) when we have an verbal and email agreement. I promote early as many make plans to come from far-off places.
  • A desire to front some of your area’s top Cosmic American Music bands in one night of great music and a reputation that you do.
  • If a sponsor is involved, I need to know the details of the deal and how/if it affects me.
  • And then we do it again next year!

Extra credit:



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