By Kenny Kerner
part one  |  part two

Always call the venue to confirm all of the information about the gig at least one day before you're scheduled to play. It shows you're professional and it gives you a last-minute chance to clear up any misunderstandings before the show.

Be certain that your performance contract specifies the number of sets you are to perform and the length of those sets. You will need to rehearse accordingly. Nothing is more embarrassing than having to perform the same 10 songs three times in a row on the same night.

Here's a helpful tip for you: Right after you arrive in the city you're playing in, check into your hotel and call the club. Tell them you're in town and make sure they're expecting you at the designated time. That's a subtle reminder for them to wake the stage manager and sound man and get them ready for work. Try getting to the club a few minutes early to hang posters and photos of your band before the doors open. Hopefully, you will have remembered to include a handful of the posters in your initial press kit mailings to the clubs.

In reality, you should plan on not getting paid at all for any of the gigs. Sometimes, out of sheer pity, a club owner will throw you $50-$100 for the night. Take it and don't look back. It will help offset your losses. Keep in mind that if you draw some people or, if you play really well, you'll be invited back again and then you can ask for some more money.

After the show, immediately get out into the audience and start handing out fan address cards and begin selling your merchandise. Here's where you can really turn a profit. CDs that cost you only about $2.50 to manufacture can be sold for $10 at clubs. That's a nifty little profit if you can move them. If you decide to go back stage to dry off and have a beer, the club will be empty when you finally get around to returning. Don't miss this opportunity.

If you are getting paid, the group member who initially spoke with the club booker should ask for the money. Take the cash, thank him politely for the opportunity, tell him you had a great time (lie if you have to), and express an interest in coming back in a few months. Chances are he'll forget who you are before your van pulls out of the parking lot.

Here's another hot tip: If you have a signed contract and the club refuses to pay you, forget it. Do not start a fight or make trouble. Fifty dollars is not worth fighting for, nor is it worth losing your equipment or your health over. Just chalk it up to life in the music business and file it away under—Road Stories! Remember, in this business, it's okay to get screwed once or twice. The trick is to always be around to tell about it!

Checklist: What to Pack

Going out on the road sounds like a lot of fun, but trust me, there's nothing humorous when your truck blows up in the middle of the desert and all you see are vultures flying above you.

Something similar happened to the band I manage just last year. On their way to Arizona, the first stop on a two-week mini-tour, their van's radiator blew up on the outskirts of Who Knows Where, California. Did they panic? No! They simply pulled out their trusty cell phone, checked their list of emergency telephone numbers to see where I was at that particular time, called me up, and asked for advice.

In a matter of minutes we determined that, with towing and time for repairs, the band would never make it to the gig on time. So, with hours to spare, I called the venue and cancelled, giving the club ample time to book another local band and, by acting professionally, assured us another opportunity to play there in the future.

Next, the band pulled out their trusty AAA-Plus card. (The Plus, which costs extra, allows for additional towing miles, which came in handy. Also, the band paid more AAA dues to cover their RV/van and not just their auto). And, still never leaving the van, the band called for someone to tow them to a nearby repair station. While waiting for the tow truck, they lit the red flares to alert traffic in the area.

Having burned his hand trying to check out the radiator himself, the band's roadie reached into their first aid kit for some cream and a bandage. All of this excitement is apt to give you a splitting headache, but fortunately, the guys remembered to pack Aspirin/Tylenol/ Excedrin/Advil (pick your favorite) and, sipping on a cool, refreshing drink, they got out of their ice-filed cooler and waited patiently for help to arrive.

If you're thinking that I made all of this up to prove my point, YOU'RE WRONG. This was a true story. It really happened. Now for the scary part: Picture the same scenario—van breaks down outside the city limits of a small, strange town. Only this time, there's no cell phone, no AAA card, no flares, no first aid kit, no emergency phone numbers, nothing to drink, no relief for your headache or burned hand. Get the picture. I sincerely hope this never happens to you—EVER!

What follows is an abbreviated list of essential items to pack in your truck/car/van before leaving home on any tour.

Don't Leave Home Without These
  1. AAA-Plus Card (upgraded for RV or van towing)

  2. Driver's licenses and other forms of I.D.

  3. Checkbook

  4. Medical insurance cards (in case of accident)

  5. Prescription medicines/pills taken daily

  6. Flashlights/batteries

  7. Cell phone (and car adapter)

  8. First aid kit (fully loaded)

  9. Some food/drinks

  10. Flares

  11. Snow chains (if applicable)

  12. Emergency phone numbers




    Family members

    Equipment insurance company

    All clubs on tour

    Booking agent (if applicable)

    Hotels booked

  13. Maps

  14. Credit cards (useful for security deposits or I.D.)

  15. Pens/pads

  16. Expense reports (for tax purposes)

  17. Emergency cash (not everyone takes a check)

Excerpted from the book, Going Pro by Kenny Kerner, published by Hal Leonard. Available at all bookstores and at

About Kenny Kerner:

Discovered and produced KISS. Also produced albums for Gladys Knight, Jose Feliciano and Badfinger. As a publicist, he represented Michael J. Fox and Jay Leno. Was the former Senior Editor at Music Connection Magazine and wrote a best-selling music education book called "Going Pro" Kerner is currently the Director of the Music Business Program at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Specialties include Personal Management, Artist Development and Music Business.

Kenny Kerner
Musicians Institute
Director / Music Business Program
(323) 860-1122
Fax: (323) 462-6508

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