Booking Horror Stories…Muahhhahaha

(& How to avoid)

We’ve all been there at some point…

A pipe bursts, flows all night undiscovered, and caves in the ceiling. The sound engineer never shows up.  Your key person quits the week before a huge production. And the all too common: after agreeing to a larger than normal guarantee, only a few tickets are sold. The variety and range of Venue horror stories is vast…

It doesn’t need to be Halloween to get a spine-tingle from these nightmares… we wanted to share some of the best booking horror stories we’ve heard around booking live music (and how AmptUp can help…well, we don’t do plumbing). (Have a booking horror story? Tell us about it, on Facebook or by contacting us, to win a $30 Amazon Card.)

Here are a few that give me nightmares (on both sides)…

  • A well-known Venue has a line around the block for a ticketed event, but no Musician. The Musician has played there before, and it’s in his hometown, no less. The Venue finally reaches the Musician only to find that they are currently setting up for another gig…in another city!
  • A Venue signed a lease and built out their space with the express purpose (as discussed with the broker) of having coffee and live music and had been, in fact, operating live music for years. Finally, the landlord put the kabosh on live music, and all booked shows had to be moved to other Venues until the coffee-shop-sans-music can find another location.
  • A group of young men played at a Venue and then followed the owner to their back office to handle the payment settlement. Then, as if straight out of “Dallas,” the owner opened a drawer, pulled out a gun, and laid it heavily on the table, saying, “Boys, I’m sorry, but I don’t have enough money to pay you tonight. I hope you understand.” They understood and got the hell out! Everyone always asks me where this happened…it makes a little more sense if to know it happened in Texas in the 90’s – but it was too good not to include!
  • A well-known band that regularly sold out 250 cap rooms in town was booked with a sizable guarantee, and two nights before show time? 2 tickets sold. The show had to be cancelled, but the open question was: what happens to the guarantee? The Musician hadn’t even posted it to their website.
  • The owner of a Venue walks into their Venue only to find it flooded, with a show scheduled for that night. They quickly found a Venue just across the street that very fortunately didn’t have a show that night, and they were able to move fans and bands safely to their new location.

(Have a booking horror story? Tell us about it, on Facebook or by contacting us, to win a $30 Amazon Card.)

Go where you’re needed

So, if you’ve notched a few booking horror stories on your belt, you’re in good company.  

The common thread here is that bookers, owners, and GMs have a thousand other things to deal with, and many are things ONLY they can handle.  Realistically, you need to go where you’re needed, and spend your time on higher value issues than repeatedly answering questions about how close the plugs are to the stage, or downloading headshots.  Let AmptUp handle that.

After hundreds of hours of deep listening to independent Venues,  AmptUp was specifically designed to get the monotonous, repetitive, error-prone tasks off of your to-do list, so you CAN get to the rest of your list.

Here’s how things currently work at *most* venues:

  • 90% use Google Cal, spreadsheets, and email 
  • Tons of back and forth, answering the same questions over and over
  • Average booking takes 3 weeks PER band (+ average of 15 messages)
  • Critical booking details get buried in email threads or leave with a booker (contact info, negotiations, even dates)
  • If one detail changes, everyone needs to be notified
  • Musicians report high uncertainty with payment terms (which change at every location and are often handled at 2am).
  • Double bookings are not an if, but a when, meaning the Venue may not have an act, or the Musician may not have an income.

Here’s how we’re changing things:

At its core, AmptUp is based on transparency, simplicity, and equity. 

We worked hard, spending hundreds of hours just listening, to take a complex process and simplify it so everyone has what they need – so that it feels a little like putting wheels on luggage. It’s simple, intuitive, and easy for everyone.

We hear most often that AmptUp is a “No-Brainer” and they “can’t believe this didn’t exist before.”


With AmptUp bookers can: 

  • Confirm bookings faster: reducing the average booking time to 3 minutes.
  • Create a single source of truth: unifying the Venue’s team (Sound engineers, marketing, production staff), AND the Musician’s (managers, agents, bandmates, labels). 
  • Spend time on more important things:  instead of copy/pasting and answering repetitive questions.
  • Get everything they need (including marketing assets) from the beginning…and SO DO Musicians. Answering most questions in the first conversation.
  • Support Musicians and give them more control over their career with more info upfront.

How we do that:

  • Smart automation flows booking & Venue details into an offer
  • Musicians are required to submit their marketing assets in order to approve the booking offer.
  • A single calendar provides ALL booking details
  • User permissions ensure that the owner always has control and can add/remove staff while still retaining data.

On AmptUp, Venues create a profile… 
>> that information flows into a booking, they customize the variables needed
>> that booking lives on the cloud, accessible by a link from the Musician
>> ALL details flow into the Venue’s shared team calendar.


Do you have a booking horror story?

 Tell us about it to win a $30 Amazon Card if it gets used for our next booking horror stories article.

Send your story and all the awful details to [email protected] – be sure to include your address and phone number where we can get more details for the feature.

Join AmptUp today!

Live gig bookings made simple, for Venues and Musicians
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