You’ve sent dozens of e-mails, printed and distributed hundreds of fliers and posted relentlessly on the Internet. Now it’s finally time to see if all your hard work paid off. There’s no reason that it shouldn’t (barring a natural disaster or something to that effect) and by all accounts the night will go off without a hitch.
Help is the first order of business. If you haven’t recruited a few friends to lend a hand for the night, you might be in trouble. Make sure they’re guys you trust and know won’t bail on you at the last minute because there’s going to be a lot to do.
Get in touch with the band at some point early in the day (if they haven’t already gotten in to town) just to touch base, make sure they know what time the show starts and where the venue is located.
Starting the show at a reasonable time is an important thing to do, especially on a weeknight. If you get started too late, things are going to run late and the last band will end up playing for the 15 people that stuck it out because they felt bad. Make sure that you’re at the venue an hour or so early to get everything set up to run smoothly. It’s a good idea to have the bands there around that time, too. That way they can load everything in, set up their merch and be ready to go before the doors open.
If you rented sound equipment, have someone relatively knowledgeable about that kind of thing there to help you set it up and make sure everything works. Make sure there are enough mic stands, extra cables and anything else that might break at some point. If time allows for it maybe do a quick sound check, but you can always do that as the night progresses.
Once everything is ready and people start lining up outside (or milling around the front door waiting for you to open it) have someone ready to take the money. Make sure you bring enough change to handle all the people that stopped and took a twenty out of the ATM on the way. Change is the one thing that’s overlooked a lot of times, so make sure you have enough. If you can, have someone standing by the door all night. That makes it easier for you to roam around and make sure things are running smoothly on the floor.
Once the majority of people are inside, have the first band start playing. Hopefully this happens sometime between 7 and 7:30. That gives enough room for each of the 4 bands to play for about 20 minutes, give or take. From my perspective, it’s always better for people to say “I wish you guys would have played longer” than to overhear someone say, “Geez, they played way too long.” If everything goes well, including 10-15 minute breakdown/setup time between bands, the show should be done by a little after 10, and you’re all cleaned up and out of there by 11 or so. This is the ideal schedule (as determined by me) but there are always exceptions.
Once the show is over and everyone is gone, it’s time to settle up with the venue and band(s). This is where things get a little tricky. Sometimes being in the presence of a lot of cash can cause people to get a little greedy. But if you want to keep doing this, it’s time to be honest. If the venue has a set price, I usually take care of that first. It’s best to keep the venue happy so that next time you want to book a show there, it’ll be a lot easier to convince them to let you use the place. If you develop a good rapport with them, you can keep doing shows as long as you want—and that’s a good thing for everyone.
Bands tend to be a little more understanding of money woes. If you promised them a certain amount, but came up just short after paying the venue they’ll probably be okay, especially if a lot of people bought merch. Ideally, the show will have brought in enough money to pay the venue and the band what they were promised, you were able to pay for the sound equipment and maybe even end up a few bucks extra.
If you do end up with extra money, there are a couple things you could do with it. If you give it to the band, they’ll be inclined to tell their friends to go through you when they need a show. Kicking back a little money to the local bands is never a bad idea, either or what I tend to do is put it aside and use it as emergency money in case the next show comes up a little short. You might have enough to do a little bit of both and hopefully that’s the case.
So there you go! You’ve put on a successful show. Now go home and prepare to do it all over again. There are bands waiting to play here.