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Every performer reaches a stage where they have to start booking their own gigs outside of their local area, which means identify venues, booking gigs, getting contracts signed, sending out press releases, developing and maintaining contacts, updating websites, etc. It's a step that probably is the undoing of many indie acts: the sheer volume of work that surrounds booking gigs steals precious time and energy from developing their art, without mentioning the time it steals from family, day jobs, recreation... you know, that thing called "a life." Sadly, many artists (indie booking agents, band managers, labels, etc.) never successfully manage the transition from local success to expanding their market, let alone touring. That can change.

www.Onlinegigs.com is a powerful, web-based tool designed to organize and execute the complex process of booking, promoting and managing a music career. I was amazed at the huge amount of work that Onlinegigs.com performs with just a few clicks of the mouse! What would take days and weeks now literally take minutes.

Jay FlanzbaumThe creator and founder of Onlinegigs.com is musician, former band member and indie booking agent, Jay Flanzbaum. In this interview with Jay, you'll learn lots about his great service, and you'll also discover his commitment and passion to serving the indie community. I strongly encourage you to visit Onlinegige.com and see for yourself how this tremendous tool can change your career options!

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Jay, what prompted you to create Onlinegigs.com?

Jay Flanzbaum After successfully booking my own band, I was approached by a number of acts to help them put together their own regional and national tours. Eventually, I became a full time booking agent with about seven touring acts, and a bunch of other that I booked one-offs for. I was booking tours for independent bands from all across the country and trying desperately to take on more acts. Booking new bands in new markets is an extremely labor intensive process with relatively low pay off, so the key is to have a large roster of working bands. It was then that I had a realization: if I was going to grow as an independent booking agency, I had two choices. I could invest heavily in furniture, computer equipment and more staff or I could [use technology]. I have a background in Management Information Systems, so I thought I had a really good idea of what kind of application I wanted and what it needed to do. I was amazed when I discovered that it just did not exist. What I found was an unbelievably complicated, incredibly time consuming and ridiculously expensive set of choices. It was at this point that I knew I needed a web-based solution.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] What are the most powerful features of Onlinegigs, in your estimation?

Jay Flanzbaum The most powerful features are the contact management and automated functions. Everyone wants more gigs, but nobody likes to book them. Booking and managing a band is sales and marketing, plain and simple.

Contact Management:

First and foremost, Onlinegigs is a fully functional contact manager with integrated fax and email messaging. Every single email sent or received; every single fax, every phone call, every important task, meeting or gig is fully track-able and archived. With an Onlinegigs account members can simply log in from any internet connection, look up the appropriate contact and see a concise, personalized, chronological accounting of every single thing they have completed with that contact.

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Similarly, members do not have to remember all of the important booking related activities that they need to get done. They can easily set important reminders so they do not forget crucial tasks, and it can even automatically set those reminders for you. So for example, the moment a mailing label is printed to send out a CD, posters, press kit or anything, Onlinegigs will automatically attach a note to the contact as a reminder note that something was sent today, and schedule a reminder follow up to confirm receipt of whatever was sent. To the hard working or touring band and the average agency, record company or music manager, these tools are priceless.

Automation:

A decent amount of work goes into landing the gig, but the reality is that once the gig is booked the work has only just begun. Contracts or written agreements need to be created, other people need to be notified, websites need to be updated, itineraries and driving directions need to be compiled and press releases need to be sent out. With Onlinegigs all of these tasks are basically done the moment the gig info is put into the member's account.



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A formal written agreement or Contract with a fully customizable rider is generated at the click of a button. The system also stores emails and fax numbers for each member's team, such as band members, booking agent, manager, record company, publicist and tour manager, so everyone automatically gets written confirmation of every gig booked as soon as it is confirmed.

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With the Tour Date Publisher, members place one line of code and any website can get every detail about every confirmed gig. Members can be confident that they have every new date for every band they book immediately on their website, and individual bands can also have a constantly updated website with their own dates.

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The Tour Itinerary feature will compile every address, phone number, compensation detail, set times, etc., and insert all the info into a formal, chronological document. The itinerary function even pulls detailed driving direction from one gig to the next.

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But my favorite feature has got to be the Press Release function. Every venue has their own media list and most venues expect bands to send a release to these media outlets. It never makes sense to play a gig and not let the local media know about it. With an Onlinegigs account, members can literally click three buttons and send out thousands of releases by both email and fax, simultaneously, for entire tours in just minutes instead of days. The Onlinegigs Media Directory is huge right now, but because members earn money back off their subscription for adding in new contacts. It is growing even more rapidly than I would have ever dreamed.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Are booking agents and labels using Onlinegigs, or is this primarily an artist service?

Jay Flanzbaum Despite the fact that I built Onlinegigs specifically to de-mystify the booking and promotional process for independent bands, Onlinegigs is still mainly being used by booking agents and record labels. I am obviously happy that I have found a completely new customer base, but I am still passionate about educating musicians to empower themselves with new technology. My hope is that Onlinegigs shows bands how simple the process is when they have the right tools and resources at their disposal.

Every band wants a reputable booking agent, but a new band with no market history has very little market value. This means a band has to take control of their music career. They need to be their own agent, manager and publicist. This will in turn attract representation to the band and by that point the band will be a lot savvier about the music business.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] What are the most common misperceptions bands have about Onlinegigs?

Jay Flanzbaum Some have decided that Onlinegigs does not list enough Hip Hop rooms in Iowa or Emo rooms in Connecticut. But this is missing the point entirely; Onlinegigs is not a directory service like Galaris or the Indie Contact Bible. Those resources are still a very neccessary part of ones booking arsenal. But once a possible opportunity has been identified there is so much more work that needs to be done to actually book a gig from start to finish. The contact info needs to be stored somewhere for future reference, CDs need to be sent out, mailing labels need printing, follow-ups calls need to be remembered, contracts issued, itineraries created, driving directions and press releases sent and so on. Onlinegigs actually gives members free use of these suite of tools simply for doing what they should already be doing anyhow: tracking down and updating contact information for possible gigs.

The other huge misconception is that a band or an agent can book gigs by just signing up for Onlinegigs and sending out a bunch of generic emails or CDs to talent buyers. Unfortunately, this is not the way booking works. Talent buyers are bombarded everyday with CDs and emails from bands all across the globe. The only way to book gigs is to establish relationships with the person in charge of booking. This means they need to call the buyer, introduce themselves, send their CD and do religious follow up until they book a gig or are told that the club is not interested. But even if they are told that the club is not interested, the talent needs to understand that this is the start of the relationship. They need to ask if it is okay to stay in touch with the buyer, send them their next CD and constantly (but professionally) work the venue into the future. Onlinegigs gives them the ability to organize and keep track of these efforts and it is amazing how much talent buyer's appreciate diligence and professionalism over sloppy rudeness.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Does Onlinegigs provide tech support?

Jay Flanzbaum I have live, online, chat style, tech support. I am available on chat support mostly weekdays from 9am-4pm and 6pm-12am. I also am reachable by a toll free number and email. My members comment all the time how Onlinegigs provides prompt, personalized customer support better than any other web site. The reason is simple, they are not dealing with outsourced, tech-support reps located halfway around the world, they are dealing directly with the owner.

[The Aspiring Songwriter] Jay, where do you see the industry going and how do you see Onlinegigs fitting in?

Jay Flanzbaum I am not sure what the exact numbers are, but in the last few years live touring dollars are surpassing record sales as the real money maker in the music industry. The music is essentially free, but the magic of the live show is priceless. When independent bands cannot get played on any radio stations or MTV, the only way to get exposure is to play as many gigs in as many different markets as they can. Until now the process for booking gigs and tours has been shrouded in secrecy.

But Onlinegigs is the tool that now makes it possible for any musician to find new booking and promotional opportunities anywhere in the country, systematically reach out to them and track their efforts. But more importantly, Onlinegigs will handle most of the resulting administration automatically, from any internet connection. Putting this kind of power into the hands of everyday musicians is exciting. When they see it in action their jaws just drop. Anyone who has tried to book even one gig can see the playing field completely leveled with the Onlinegigs suite of booking and promotional tools.



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Copyright © Tag It 2004 - Republished with Permission