Much of this is common sense, but as I look at hundreds of artist profiles all over the web and talk to musicians, there seems to be a big gap between what venues want to see and what musicians are willing to do.
1) Yup, you're going to want to make your press kit on ShowSlinger. Where else?! It's totally free so click the button to sign up here! Here's mine: https://app.showslinger.com/acts/foxtrotnovember
2) Even if you don't make a profile at ShowSlinger, find somewhere to do it and fill it out completely. Yes, completely. This is where most artists get VERY lazy and that will cost you future gigs. I get that you have 40,000 accounts all over the web to manage your business. But pick one site for your EPK (electronic press kit) and keep it updated and looking great. ShowSlinger makes this easy because we have info on your profiles that you can't find anywhere on the web such as being able to upload your set list, stage plot and deeper details to advance the show. This will put you above all the other artists. Trust me, as a booking guy, I get sick and tired of asking "please send me a set list, video, audio, etc.". Yes, people ask for gigs without even submitting media. If you are one of those, you need to step up!
3) ONLY PUT UP YOUR BEST MEDIA. This is the golden rule. Less is more. Booking agents will not go through all your songs and all your videos to find what you think if your best stuff. If you have 20 low quality iPhone videos and one good video in the studio, put up your good studio video and one of your best live performance videos.
4) You need one live performance video that's great and one in a controlled environment, like your studio, house, a park or in public. A live performance doesn't have to be a gig at a venue. Use a visually appealing space not the bedroom of your messy apartment. Yup, I know musicians are broke. So, go find a great public park, a cool part of your city that fits your style and just shoot one good song on your phone. If you're a country artist, go find something outdoorsy. If you're a hipster, find something in the city, etc. Oh, and record something upbeat if you want cover gigs! Don't forget to smile!
5) Here's the key folks, and I can't overstate this enough: VENUES WANT TO SEE YOU MAKE AN EFFORT when you submit your material to them. Every single bit of your image (songs, logo, videos, email blasts, etc) has to be the very best you can do. I know you contact a million venues a week, but if you want the gigs treat it like an interview because it is one. If you do the bare minimum, they don't want to book you because they know you won't promote, be professional, show up on time, etc. etc. Don't spray and pray.
6) Put up a set list the venue wants to see. If you play 1960's - current top 40 cover gigs, don't put a bunch of Elvis and Creedence songs on your set list when you submit your profile to that 20-something hipster bar. Put the current hits you play.
7) Look at your competition (other artists) and do it better than them. If you want the gig, you need to look better, sound better, work harder and present yourself better. Spending all your days rehearsing your songs won't help if nobody will book you because your EPK is bad. You don't need money, you just need to make an effort!
8) Put the current city that you live in as your location. Do not list your home town. Booking people only care where you are right now. If I'm a local venue, I don't want to have to hunt down your true location. Make it easy on them to find you!
9) Upload a stage plot with input and lighting cues. ShowSlinger profiles let you upload a stage plot document. Create one file that has a visual stage plot, an input list (if you're playing a venue with a house PA) and lighting cues. For those newbies:
Input list: This tells the sound guy how many inputs you'll need for all your guitars, vocals, drums, etc. List it like this:
1) Lead vocals
2) Backup vocals (male)
3) Backup vocals (female)
4) Guitar cab (Vox AC-30)
5) Bass cab (Ampeg 8x10)
Lighting cues: tell the lighting guy the general feel of the song. Is it fast or slow? Do you prefer a certain color? If you're in small clubs, you can't really control much of the lighting so these notes are short and vague. But throw the sound/lighting guy a $20 before the gig and you'll be in better shape than the other bands. If you're a hardcore touring band, you probably have your own sound and lighting crew that you've rehearsed with for years so this applies to the new guys.
1) Fast - red/yellow lighting
2) Slow ballad - blue center spot
3) Medium tempo - orange/yellow