By Jeri Goldstein
For those of you who are uncomfortable with originating new booking calls, consider using a list of questions or a script to remind you of all the points you would like to cover in the initial conversation. Composing a script or a number of different scripts helps to anticipate the promoter's questions and keeps the conversation flowing. Actually, having a script to refer to may be helpful until you incorporate the questions you want answered into the flow of your conversation naturally. It will serve as a prompt—allowing you to get the information you need.

You can compose scripts for all the various performance situations you anticipate wanting to play. For example, create tailored scripts for festival calls, club calls, performing art center calls, etc. Each script will focus on the individual performance environment and enable you to zoom in to your intended promoter's specific scenario.

Rehearse your script until it feels natural. It is not something that needs to be memorized. With time, however, you will find yourself covering all the questions you have scripted in conversations with prospective presenters. I find myself composing simple scripts in my head prior to most calls.

Once I have thought through the main points that I want to make during the conversation, I write out a list of talking points as a reminder. Preparation will allow you to present yourself more professionally. You will sound more knowledgeable about yourself, your needs, and how you want to be presented. You will accomplish more in one phone call and avoid a second or third call with questions that you initially forgot to ask. After some practice, you will not sound like you are reading prepared questions. The information gained from these prompts is worth a few practice calls while you get the hang of it.


You need to capture a promoter's attention and hold it as you develop the flow of your patter. Fielding as many calls in a day as a promoter does, your call needs to be as succinct and to the point as possible.

Know Something About the Venue

As with most successful conversations, people enjoy speaking with someone who shows an interest in the things they care about. Know the basics about the venue or promoter before you call. Find out the kind of shows they book, the size of the hall, who has played there recently and, if possible, what kind of budget they work with. Knowing the specifics can help eliminate venues that are not suitable for you and provide you with additional conversation starters that demonstrate your interest in the venue and the promoter.

Two Minutes to Hook Them

You may only have two minutes to hook someone into your conversation. In other words, you need a good opening. For example: "Hi. I'm Jane Smith with the TuneSmith's Trio. We perform Country-flavored originals and will be in your area during the week of September 23rd to promote our new release on XYZ label. We still have a few dates open. Our recording has been out only three weeks and we are receiving airplay on over 40 east coast radio stations."

You need to capture a promoter's attention and hold it as you develop the flow of your patter. Fielding as many calls in a day as a promoter does, your call needs to be as succinct and to the point as possible. In the beginning, a script may help to introduce yourself and get a conversation going. Along with your introduction, include some piece of information that implies urgency or time lines. This will usually prompt some questions for more details. Now you are into the conversation and can continue with your agenda. By having information on hand, you begin to win them over. Remember, talking points should include venue size and type of presentation, as well as annual budget, hall specifications, budgets spent on specific kinds of performances, and a variety of contact personnel.


How you phrase a question can make or break your conversation. Questions should always prompt conversational answers or be open-ended.

The Art of Asking Questions

How you phrase a question can make or break your conversation. Questions should always prompt conversational answers or be open-ended. Keep in mind that this is your information-gathering stage to be used later during your negotiations. The goal is to ask these questions in order to gather as much information about the promoter and the venue as possible without sounding like an interrogator.

*Ask Questions to Get Positive Responses

When asking a question, a good technique is to phrase your question to elicit a positive response. Avoid any opportunity for them to answer with a no. This technique will get them used to responding positively to you and eventually get them used to saying yes.

Question: I understand you have a very successful Jazz series each season. Possible Answer: Yes, we are very pleased with the turnout in past years and all indications are that it is continuing to grow.

*Ask Open-Ended Questions

Similarly, avoid any questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no answer. Your goal is to engage in a conversation. Asking open-ended questions helps you to accomplish that goal. This subject is discussed in greater detail in my book. But for now, let me offer an example of an open-ended question.

Question: How often do you present performances? (This question can certainly be answered simply, yet it cannot be answered with a yes or a no.)

By asking an open-ended question, you have prompted a response which provides you with much more important information from which to continue your conversation. Had you asked, "Do you present concerts?" the response could have been a simple one-word answer, yes or no, and your conversation would be stalled.



Excerpt from the 2nd Edition of "How To Be Your Own Booking Agent THE Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide to Successful Touring" by Jeri Goldstein which is available at www.performingbiz.com.

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