Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Hugh Hession4
Brad Broadrick, Talent Buyer, Rock Solid Entertainment, Atlanta, GA
Getting exposure is the top priority for any music artist. That being said, booking shows is a large part of that equation. Making it in Music brings you this interview from Brad Broadrick; one of the top talent buyers in the Atlanta, Georgia market, with extensive experience booking national, regional and local acts. A must read for both bands and those who are interested in getting into the field.
Hey Brad. Good to have you on Making it in Music! Through the years, you’ve worked to establish yourself in the Atlanta market as a reputable talent buyer and booking person. Tell our readers how you got your start and what venues you book?
I started booking bands in college at Ole Miss. I was asked if I wanted to be our fraternity’s Social Chair person and book the band parties. After doing it for a couple of years, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to be on the committee to book the bands for the college. This was a no-brainer for me. He offered me the position to head up the entertainment committee, and I agreed. I was able to work with acts like Phish, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers, 311, No Doubt, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Better than Ezra, and several more. Also while I was in school I worked at Proud Larry’s in Oxford, MS, that had some of the best regional bands coming through and playing the venue.
After I left college in 1997, I was offered a job as a booking agent with Metro Talent Group out of Atlanta. Cass Scripps was an up and coming agent and had worked with several leading 90’s rock/pop acts like Edwin McCain, Hootie & the Blowfish, The Storm Orphans, and Drivin ‘n’ Cryin. I was the college agent for those bands and an agent for the Rob Thorworth Trio, a blues rock band from Birmingham and SKWZBXX, a ska rock band from Charleston. I also worked with Warren Haynes, Gibb Droll, Big Ass Truck, Dash Rip Rock, and many others that came and went.
I left Atlanta and moved to Chicago in 2000 to be the road manager for a band called Hello Dave and also booked a venue there called Lakeview Links, which is now called The Bottom Lounge, which has since moved from its old location. The cold weather got to me so I decided to move back home after another job offer.
In 2003, I was managing Andrews Upstairs and handling all of the talent buying for them. This job was great for a while because I had a better budget to go after some bigger bands. I left in 2005 to start my own company, Rock Solid Entertainment, where I was buying talent for festivals and venues, and also running a booking agency, and a small management company. I dropped the booking side of the company a few years ago, and haven’t managed any act in a couple of years since. I’m strictly just talent buying for venues now. I handle a few bars in Buckhead, Sadie’s Tavern & Kramers, and music venues Peachtree Tavern and Loco’s. I also book the Peach Drop downtown every New Year’s Eve. Outside of Atlanta I book Sixes Tavern in Canton, GA, The Cypress Grill in Cordele, GA, and The Railyard in Opelika, AL and I’m always seeking more opportunities
What does it take to be effective in your role, and what metrics are determined to gauge success in what you do?
Handling several venues always has me asking the questions, “What else?” as in “What else can be done to promote this show?” What else can we do to get ticket sales?” You have to be very detailed oriented. I use multiple calendars and am always having to be on top of them. The metrics are hard to gauge in general. I’m never fully satisfied with a show, but that might be because I’m a perfectionist. There can always be more attendance, better song choice by the artist, more bar sales, etc. I can say its “a good night” when the bands are paid and happy, the bar sales are high, and I walk out with cash in my hand.
Booking shows is probably the most crucial element of a bands promotional mix. With that being said, the competition for slots in reputable venues is fierce. What are the things that bands can (and should) do to get on your radar?
They need to prove to me that they are willing to work their asses off, by willing to promote, and get the most possible fans out to a show that they can. Bands to me are innately lazy. I know I like a band when I get several posters sent to a show well in advance, see Facebook posts about the show, email blasts, etc. They also need to come across as professional as possible. Do they have a well done EPK (electronic press kit), press quality photos, a well written band bio, other tour dates, well produced music, connection with the fans, and other promotional materials when I ask for them?
My attention span listening to new music is extremely short. I can tell you if I like the band within seconds. I skip to sections of the song and hear the chorus. If the music was recorded in a parents basement and sounds like shit, then I just stop listening to it immediately. Don’t put something out until it sounds like you, with songs that would be good enough to get on a radio station. If you don’t have good pictures of the band, get some! Ask a friend with a camera to take a few. Avoid the same redundant pics, like on a dirt road, on a curb, next to a railroad, in front of a brick wall. Get creative! Also, get a Reverbnation account, a Twitter account and a Facebook band page.
Lastly, get in contact with us. I prefer emails over phone calls. my email is Booking@rocksolid-entertainment.com. IF you email me, please know what specific date(s) you are interested in playing. DO NOT say “we are open the entire month of October and November”, give me a specific Thursday, Friday or Saturday you want to play and know that every member in the band is good for that date. In your email your subject line should include which venue you are looking for and the date, if you know it. IF you call me, you better be ready to elevator pitch yourself to me within 30 seconds. Give me the venue, date, and your drawing capability for that night. My patience wears thin after you’ve spoken after 30 seconds and rambled on and on about your band. My time is limited, make use of it that you have my attention.
What are some common mistakes you see bands doing?
Playing shows too close together. If you are playing at Peachtree Tavern on a Thursday, 529 on a Friday and Vinyl on Saturday, then you just pissed off all three talent buyers by not telling us ahead of time. It’s hard for us to check every bands’ schedule to make sure this doesn’t happen. I don’t have a staff to do this and I trust you to be honest with me and tell me when your past show was and when the next show you plan on playing is. I generally like to see local bands space their dates out 3-4 weeks apart and for slightly bigger bands even further like 6-8 weeks. The shows mean that the band will properly promote the show and do their best to get fans out each time.
Another thing is not sending the venue any posters, like not one! Or expect me to print out posters for you of a pdf you sent me. That’s the bands’ job! Just because you booked a show at my venue doesn’t mean you are done and just show up and play. There are two types of bands, ones that work to promote their shows and ones that don’t. Another is not posting the show date on their website or Facebook page. It’s just wrong.
What is the Atlanta music scene like right now? What do you like? What would you like to see change?
To me, the Atlanta music scene goes through two year cycles. One year its up, and the next its down. Some bands come up and they are great and then fizzle out before they event got started. The talent buyers will support these new bands if you let us. Brandon Mize at Vinyl, Tim Sweetwood at Masquerade, Mike Roberts at Hard Rock, and Bryan Malone at Star Bar are all my good friends and we share more information on other bands than most buyers in other markets admit. If your band sucked we know, if you were rude, we know, if you were late, we know. But then again, if you rocked we know that too! Buzz travels fast.
What unsigned bands right now are hot in the Atlanta? Any up and comers that you feel have the momentum to emerge on the national scene?
I like the guys in Trances Arc’s new band called The Quiet Hounds. The Revels just played a show for me and were great. Radiolucent from Athens, and The Shadowboxers seem to have some momentum going into 2013.
What are the biggest challenges that you face in your role?
Not having enough quality bands that are willing to work and promote to choose from. If you are reading this and can prove me wrong, I would love to hear from you. Also getting all my dates booked in a decent amount of time. I don’t like booking a band for a date unless I feel good about it.
What do you love about your job?
No two days are the same. I like the freedom I have to do work when I want. I can bust my ass and have shows booked far out and other times I wait until a show is pitched to me that makes sense. I love dealing with music, it’s my passion. I’ve always loved music, most all kinds, although I dislike rap and metal. It’s just not my style. I like dealing with creative people. I can relate with the artists because I have a connection to them. I own several instruments, but I don’t play them, well. I guess I’m waiting for a band to come over and jam one night.
What advice do you have for those who are looking to get into the industry as a talent buyer?
Seriously consider this before ultimately choosing this profession. You do it for the passion of music, it’s definitely not for the money. There are only so many music venues in this market. Unless you are opening up your own place, I wouldn’t recommend it. You can’t go in with the idea or notion that you will only book the stuff you like. It just doesn’t work that way. I book some country stuff and I’m not a country music fan. I like some country, and getting to really dig the Texas country and Red Dirt music I’m hearing and booking, but its’ more southern rock.
Story time. Give us one of your most memorable moments.
Recently a band tried to start a fight with one of my sound engineers because he was cutting them off their set to get the support and headliners on stage on time. I had just left the venue and came back to hear the sound engineer and light tech’s version of the story. The band wrote me some long email after they got home and it was fully out of spite and they were still in the wrong. Needless to say that band’s name quickly was on the talent buyer’s radar and they have since been black-balled from several venues. Yes, we have that kind of power. I still think its funny.
What are your plans for the future?
Eventually I would like to open my own music venue and bar, nothing huge, but I have some ideas in my mind that I think Atlanta would like and needs.