A lot of the bands we meet have questions like: "How do I book my band?" "How do I book BETTER gigs for my band?" "What can I do to actually stand out a booking agent?" ... and while there's more than one right answer, sometimes it helps to hear it straight from the source. Knowing this, we're nerdy-excited to feature local-music-scene legend Lucas Fritz as part of our Music Insight Series (aannd *cue applause*).
If you live in Richmond, VA (unless you live under a rock), you've probably heard of Lucas -- when it comes to booking, he's seen it ALL and has a lot of insight about how bands can get it right. Like you guys, I had a number of questions I really wanted to ask him -- below are a few, asked just for YOU.
P.S. If you skim through this whole blog post, don't miss the band pix & videos of Lucas living the dream.
What role do you play in the music industry?
Not sure. I feel like I am a number of things. First and foremost I’m a venue manager and talent buyer. I own and help run two venues, book shows in about a dozen and everything in between. I feel I also act as a sounding board for musicians and friends who have questions and thoughts about their next steps. Having the privilege of booking a number of rooms in Richmond, I feel as if I’m also able to help curate the eclectic calendar of the city’s music scene.
How'd your career start & lead you where you are?
I went to VCU and majored in Jazz Studies (trumpet) with a minor in business. Over my tenure at VCU and afterwards, I took and held any job or gig that I could that involved the music industry. I was a bar back, worked door, ran sound, booked shows, played in cover bands, played in original bands, worked at a church, taught private lessons, etc. All of them honed my skills and helped me focus on what I was most interested in and best at which is a mix of accounting/bookkeeping/business management and the arts.
What's the best or most rewarding part of what you do?
I love music. Seeing a show through from the first contact with an agent to locking up after the show, I love seeing the joy that people have at the concerts. Seeing pictures, posts, and reviews after shows play out in which people talk about how much fun they had is the most rewarding part.
Describe a typical day-in-the-life (...if there is such a thing).
Usually I wake up between 5:15 and 6:15 am to exercise. I will either run or go to the gym and lift. Afterwards, I try to get into “work” as early as possible. That could mean opening my laptop on the kitchen table, heading to The Camel to process invoices, make deposits, etc or heading to The Broadberry to set up my makeshift office in the middle of the floor. Each day of the week has its own general things I work on - Monday’s we settle the previous week’s shows, Tuesday’s I get information ready for the upcoming week/weekend, Wednesday’s are for meetings, Thursdays are for finalizing the weekend, and Friday’s you just pick up the pieces. I will usually work until anywhere from 4-7pm and head home for dinner and Jeopardy with my wonderful wife. After dinner, I’ll either be exhausted and pass out asleep to start the next day or head off to whatever show I want to catch or need to cover.
What is your process like when you're planning a show or event?
Every show is different and thus I will work on each show or event differently. Some are easy and can market themselves without much work on my end. Others require a ton of critical thinking and creative thought to get the right information in front of the right audiences.
Best experience(s) you've had booking a band -- what made it great?
Best is hard to quantify but a really good experience was the first year we did a multi-night J Roddy Walston run over Thanksgiving weekend. We did three nights with three different local openers. It was so much fun seeing the shows come to fruition, announcing the various support bands, and being at the shows as they played off. I remember the first night when Rod was about to come on they cut the house and stage lights and then the crowd just went wild. It was a pretty cool feeling knowing I had a small part to play in making it happen.
Worst experience(s) you've had booking a band... have you recovered?
Pass…jk. There are a number of things that can make shows, bands, artists, agents, managers a little difficult to work with. I feel one of my strengths is communication. I am quick to reply while being clear and concise. Not getting information, or getting misinformation is extremely frustrating.
What are 3 things a band needs to do or have for them to be considered?
1) History - I generally work off of history with bands. I realize it is a chicken-egg situation however I look towards a band’s history when deciding which room would work best for them.
2) A product - Bands and music are products. We are selling them via tickets (or bar sales at free shows). You need to have a product that people want, whatever that is. If it’s original music, great! If it’s covers, great! If it’s a tribute, great! But you need to have something of value and substance that people want.
3) Drive - if you don’t care about your band, the turnout of your show, and where you are headed, why should I? You need to want your show to sell out more than I do.
What are 3 things a band should NEVER do, or stop doing?
1) Lying. Don’t say you can sell 300 tickets if you can really sell 30 tickets. It will make me mad and you will look silly. If you can only sell 30 tickets now, tell me. Know how much you are worth currently and work every day to grow that number.
2) See number 1.
3) See number 2.
If a band really wanted to impress you, they would ________.
Know their worth and over-deliver. A band that is all over their promotion game is very impressive. If you have content on top of content that you are able to use effectively to market and promote your show, that will go a long way. Post on social media, put the show up on your website, run a few Facebook or Instagram ads, do a giveaway. Get people excited about your show like you care about your band.
Electronic press kits... what are the absolute must-haves?
Short bio - who are you, genre, BRIEF story. Links to website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, 1-3 Youtube videos. Last market play, turn out.
Have you ever been in a band? If so, tell us everything.
HA! I’ve been in so many bands! Here are a few in (semi) chronological order:
Alive and Well - this was my straight edge, hardcore band I played in when I was 15-17. It was a 5 piece band. I played guitar. We mostly played house shows, VFW shows, community center shows, etc. There were three songs recorded but I think only one survived. It was called “I Wish I Stood You Up.”
Southside Funk - This was a band of 7-12 people I played trumpet in from 2007 until about 2011ish. I started showing up to their gigs when I got to VCU and would sit in on a few tunes. Once I learned all the songs, they started asking me if I could make the gigs. Super fun band. The peak was probably playing Friday Cheers opening for someone…I wish I could remember who.
Southside Funk @ Browns Island 2008
Richmond Afrobeat Movement - This was a fun band. We played all afro-beat music. Mostly Fela Kuti covers. We shot a PBS documentary at the Canal Club in 2009 or so.
Richmond Afrobeat Movement - random poster from 2008 (maybs?) + filming for PBS @ The Canal Club
The Black Brothers - I played in a band with Saw Black and his brother for about a year. SUPER fun. Justin writes some amazing songs. We did a tour up north the summer of 2012 (I think). Got as far north as Vermont I believe?
Black Brothers after Watermelon Festival 2012
2012 Black Brothers/Comrades Tour
Compass Rose Orchestra - This was my 8 piece, modern jazz group. I formed it while at VCU and we continued playing for a year or two after I graduated. We were featured in the Style Weekly Music issue (maybe 2012) that’s still framed on the wall in my home office.
Compass Rose Orchestra - Album Preview
Elby Brass - This was a super fun brass band based in Fredericksburg. Think the No BS! Brass band of the ‘burg. I wrote a real fun song for the band called “DTF”…Downtown Fredericksburg…You can find it online somewhere I bet.
Elby Brass - DTF
The Blue Tips - The Blue Tips are a 6 piece motown/soul band that did a variety of private and public gigs (mainly weddings and big parties). We played up and down the east coast from GA to NYC just about every weekend all year long. It was during my tenure with the Blue Tips that I learned a TON of valuable information about the industry that I was able to translate to my work at The Broadberry and the Camel including advancing, public speaking, dealing with clients, dealing with venues, travel time, etc. I stepped down as the trumpet player and business manager of the Blue Tips in 2014 when The Broadberry opened so I could focus on the venue more full time. You can still find them all over NC, VA, DC, MD and the rest of the east coast just about every weekend.
The Blue Tips - Promo Reel
2012 NJ show
... what's your karaoke go-to?
Recently I’ve been real hot on “Total Eclipse of the Heart"
List a song you're digging right now.
SO HOT on Lizzo right now. All about the juice...
If you could give a musician reading this one piece of advice, what is it?
Go practice. Practice everything. Practice excel, practice your instrument, practice writing, practice reading. Hone your craft - whatever that may be. There will always be someone out there that is better than you at your instrument — you cannot control that. You can work harder than everyone else though.