By Jeri Goldstein

One method to expand your audience is to serve as a support act for a known headliner on multiple tour dates or to open a single show for a larger act. These are choice slots and many bands are vying for them. Sometimes you can get lucky and be at the right place and the right time. If you are more interested in process rather than chance, here are three methods to follow that may land you these choice support performance slots.

1. Select and contact bands that are logical, compatible choices. In some instances, you may know a compatible band personally and are friends with some of the members. This would be the most direct route to getting on a tour or single date.

If you were unfamiliar with anyone in the group, the next step would be to contact the act's management. Emerging bands, still building their own following, but much more established than you, often have a hot list of new acts on the scene from which they select potential support or opening acts. Get on that hot list. Check on their tour schedule for an upcoming or recently played date. If they are playing locally, check with the venue, if not look on www.Musi-cal.com or check Pollstar to see if they are listing their itinerary. Pollstar, www.pollstar.com has a management directory and Billboard's International Talent & Touring Directory lists management, agency and record company. These directories are often costly.

Once you reach management, tell them you are interested in being considered for an opener or support act. Let them know you are very familiar with the act and why you think you would be a good addition to the show. Offer to send your current press materials and latest recording and some support materials detailing your activities. Be realistic, you may be one of many acts attempting to be considered, make sure you represent yourself well.

This process may take some time as you develop a relationship with the act's management. Be persistent. Keep in touch with your contact. Provide them with updates as your career and tours take shape. The payoff may not be immediate, but it may be well worth a wait if you have selected the right act.

2. Contact the Booking Agency. Bands may not have management but may have a booking agent. Approach the agent in a similar manner as you would management. As you build a relationship with the agency, this may also serve as your entrée if you have been looking for an agent for your act. As you consider groups for which you may open, it is likely that those agency's rosters would also be logical choices to represent your band.

3. Contact the Venue Booking Person. As you determine where you would like to play, specific venues in certain markets become important. As you identify these venues, you may find it impossible to get a date if you haven't previously played the venue. Asking for an opening act slot may be a way of gaining entrance. Check the venue's Web site for upcoming shows. If you can identify a few of the upcoming acts as ones with whom you might be compatible, suggest that to the booker and ask to open that show. Send your promotional material. Often, they will have to check with the acts management or agency. You can ask for the act's management contact in case you need to establish contact and begin your process with the management or agent as suggested above. Let the venue booker make the initial contact. Some venues have the ability to arrange openers for certain acts and sometimes they receive strict instructions from the group's agent regarding their policy on openers. Inform the venues so they know about your intentions, ask to be kept in mind when appropriate situations arise.

Getting opening act slots or a support tour should be one of the many strategies used to expand your audience. Begin this process by making a list of groups you might consider appropriate headliners. As time goes on and your group develops, the list will need updating. There is no time like the present to begin this strategic audience development process.



Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide To Successful Touring 2nd Edition UPDATED. She had been an agent and artist's manager for 20 years. Her book, CD-ROM and information about her other programs are available at www.performingbiz.com or phone (434) 591-1335 or e-mail Jeri at jg@performingbiz.com.

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