Brain Compartment One: Booking Shows (Emailing Peeps)
One of the things that makes it so hard to be a self-employed person is all the totally overwhelming options you face every day: This is wonderfully illustrated by Edie Everette in her fantastic cartoon. To alleviate (but unfortunately not eliminate entirely) the panicky feeling so nicely illustrated by Ms. Everette, I loosely assign myself a series of different types of tasks per week. I can’t deal with the administrative stuff 24/7, but if I break it up into smaller bits it can become more manageable. I’ve really been getting better at it.
Goals help. I tell myself: “Self, this is the minimum amount of stuff I should get done this week.” Sometimes I surprise myself and do more than I expect. A lot of times I don’t meet my goals, but just having goals makes me feel more productive and secure.
(And, in the midst of all this, I can’t forget to keep practicing and DOING MY ART, which is the whole point, right? I do these chore-y type things so I can do music. I talk more about one incredibly nerdy way of keeping on top of myself in this blog post.)
So, here we have the inspiration for a blog series from Sage. This is how I’m attempting to compartmentalize my brain.
First compartment: the email chore. I don’t want to admit how many shows I’ve failed to book (at least two) because of simple negligence of my email inbox for five days or a week. I gave myself so much grief over those. I still feel horrible about missing out on them (and it’s been over a year and a half since the last one).
So, here’s the general rule I’ve decided to give myself in this here flurry of booking local shows for the upcoming summer season. Send out a good few emails every time I open my email account, and check for responses at least every other day. I can’t necessarily bring myself to sit in front of a computer screen every day (although sometimes I do) — but every other day I can do, especially since I’m all about hustling to get my duo booked as much as possible this summer.
It also occurred to me recently that I could go through my sent mail folder every week or two and check in on the people who haven’t emailed me back yet, even through that twinge of “Ah, Sage! Careful now, you’re being annoying!” that this tends to cause in my gut.
What makes me okay with doing this — with repeatedly emailing bookers who seem to be steadfastly ignoring my emails — is something I read in CD Baby founder Derek Sivers’ lovely ebook, How to Call Attention to Your Music. In this very helpful PDF file filled with great advice for musicians, he claims that persistence is polite. “As teenagers, we painfully learned that if you call someone and they don’t call you back, they’re just not into you. If you keep calling, you must be a total loser. But in the business world, it’s the opposite: persistence is polite, and if you don’t keep calling, you must be a loser.” Mr. Sivers’ encouraging words have propelled me to be more proactive on this front.
It seems silly, but I’ll say this next part anyway because it’s something I (embarrassingly enough) didn’t fully realize until recently: People are busy. The people who book shows in tiny “local” venues that are also often bars or restaurants have more responsibilities than just booking. They are collecting and unpacking shirts emblazoned with their brewery’s logo; ironing a few for the display case; getting the rest squared away in inventory; dealing with annoying supervisors; buying cans of cleaner from the corner store because they were on the way and the bartenders needed some; etc. They’re not insulting you personally when your email slips through the cracks. Help them out. Send them reminders.
In conclusion I’d like to bring it all together by saying that this ties up for now this first edition of “I Wear Many Hats, Vol. I: Brain Compartment One: Booking Shows (Emailing Peeps).” Future editions of “I Wear Many Hats…” will include such varied topics as internet PR, dealing with CD and merchandise sales, etc. See you soon!