Country bars can be raucous places – folks line dancing, singing along with the band, boots stomping and hats swinging in the air.
The energy of a country bar is unlike any other, and the main way to feed the frivolity is through booking the right entertainment. Whether you are looking for country duos, solo artists, or full bands, there are some things to consider while booking the right artists.
Do Your Research
You know your clientele well and have probably seen the types of music (live or otherwise) they respond to. Consider this when narrowing down what acts you’d like to hire to play.
Oftentimes cover or tribute bands are best, as what they play is familiar to the crowd and gets them involved.
Are they an interactive band that likes to rile patrons up, or do they simply play a straight set? How much time can they fill? What is their fee?
Watch Them Play
The fun part of research is going to one of the act’s upcoming live shows so you can experience how they are for yourself.
If you see an opportunity to meet a member or two after the show, do so to make a personal connection.
In doing your research you should take note of the best way to contact the artist or artists. This may be a direct line, or you may have to go through a booking agent.
Be sure to have your request for dates, times, and any other pertinent information in order before reaching out. The more concise and clear you are, the better chance you have at hearing back about hiring them.
If you are working through an agent, be mindful of your budget and their fee. Ask first what the fee is and work to negotiate it if it is not within your budget. Often agents will quote a higher price as they take a commission.
Remember you can also utilize offering food, drink, and covering travel and accommodation expenses as part of your negotiation.
Prepare a Contract
You will want all of the specifics of the gig in writing should any sort of emergency arise and things need to be canceled, or there is a problem the day of the event.
Cover the details of the performance, what is expected of you, what is expected of the artist, and a clause that protects you if the artist cancels. You will also want to include a clause that protects the artist ensuring they get paid or something cancels the event that’s out of their control.
Ready Your Venue
Some acts require specific stage space and equipment. Ask them what they need for a smooth performance in terms of space, lighting, sound. Ask what they provide on their own or what they’ll be bringing along.
You want to have ample space in the bar for not only them, but an active audience who is enjoying their set.