I get a lot of questions about my booking practices, from other musicians and from venues that I work with. Like many of my brothers- and sisters-in-arms, I've basically worked out a process that suits my own style/needs. Let me offer some insight, in the form of a completely fabricated interview. ;)
How far in advance do you book shows?
Let's see... I usually have bookings about a year in advance. There are openings in the schedule, of course; sometimes I'll pick up shows a few days out. Occasionally I can do a same-day fill-in. But I try to maintain a schedule that has months-deep predictability for me, just so I can be sure I don't have to go out and get a desk job.
Do you use contracts?
No, generally not. I always feel like I should, especially when a venue has to cancel at the last minute. But in my experience, handing a bar owner a contract doesn't go over well; there are a ton of bands/musicians who will book on a handshake, and the venues don't feel the need to take the added risk. Which, of course, puts the risk on me. So I get a little nervous when I book outdoor shows that are weather-dependent, or shows at new/untested venues.
Every now and then I play a show at a venue that gives ME a contract, and I'm always grateful to get it. These are usually the larger venues, which I don't play nearly as often.
Do you have a 'standard rate'?
Kind of. But not really. I have a general formula, which is affected by the length of the show, the required equipment setup, travel, the size of the venue, that sort of thing. I never want to take money out of the till; it's important to try and hit a fair number for me and the club. That said, my pay is rarely associated to the 'door'. Usually it's a set rate.
There are a few rooms I know of that 'charge' bands to play, either by making them pay for the house sound man, or by buying tickets to the show which they must then try to resell. I don't play these rooms. This particular interpretation of 'sharing a calculated risk' doesn't sit well with me.
You play many different types of shows, by yourself and with several bands. What kind of show is your favorite?
I'm lucky to do what I love in a bunch of different and enjoyable ways. That said, playing my original material gives me the most satisfaction. At those shows, I can usually tell stories, and interact more with the audience. My solo shows are best for this, and The Midweeklings have a bunch of fun originals too.