e-mail address: email@example.com.
HOW DO I GO
ABOUT GETTING A SHOW AT BOTTOM OF THE HILL?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to introduce your band. Do
not send a note to our social media accounts; we use those for
promotion only. There is no phone number to call when making your
introduction, but we do respond to your emails—if you do not receive a
response, send a follow-up in a week or two. Remember to be patient
with us because we get a large volume of inquiries. In your email, tell
us the name of your band, the style of your band, where you live, how
long you have been a band, and send links to your music, not downloads.
We want to see that you have a web presence: official band website if
you have one, Facebook account, YouTube videos of your shows, bandcamp
or SoundCloud, and anything else that gives us your history and your
sound as a band. You can tell us previous bands your members have been
in and what kinds of bands you have been paired with in the past. Also,
let us know what venues in San Francisco you have played. Let us know
how many people you would expect to be able to bring out on a Tuesday
or a Wednesday night. Tell us what your fan base is like: are they
under 21 for the most part, and can’t stay out past 10PM on a school
night? Or are they in their 30s and drink like fishes on any night of
the week? Let us know what your stage show is like: energetic and lots
of dancers? Or a laptop and a table and just you?
BOOKING OUT-OF-TOWN BANDS?
For out-of-town bands playing for the first time (and this includes the
North and South Bay and Sacramento and Santa Cruz, etc.,) we’ll be
it’s very difficult to get booked on our stage without the advocacy of
a label or booking agent. We need to know that you have local draw,
whether that be through having played on tours around town for years
and built up your fan base the old-fashioned way, or getting a
promotional push from your management. Or maybe you have just garnered
a lot of national attention from having a big presence online. But you
need to demonstrate to us that you can motivate your San Francisco fans
to come see you. Merely being willing to flyer around town, we have
found, or do a radio spot, is not really going to be enough.
IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR A BABY BAND FROM OUT OF TOWN TO PLAY BOTTOM OF THE
No, it isn't. The best way to do it is to make friends with
San Francisco bands that have some draw. As you make connections in San
Francisco you can start getting your records played on local radio
stations, place your music in local music stores, play some smaller
venues, and eventually the momentum builds. Consider that just as
knowing a San Francisco band can help you get shows in this part of the
world, knowing you will help them get shows in your part of the world.
WHAT TO EXPECT
YOUR FIRST TIME:
have never played our stage before, do not expect to start out opening
for our bigger acts or playing weekends. That’s something you build up
to by impressing us on the shows we will put you on to begin with. We
use our locals-only shows on weekdays to make sure you weren’t
exaggerating when you told us you could bring out 25 people on a
weekday. We are also making sure you actually do sound like the very
produced recording you sent. You might want to play those better shows
right off the bat, but we are open 5-7 nights a week, and we have 3
bands per night. That’s a lot of spots for us to fill. The more
flexible you are about when you are willing to play, the easier it is
for us to book you. And if you do your part, really promote, and are
easy to work with, we’ll ask you to play all the time, and eventually,
you’ll be asked to open those bigger shows.
Here’s the reality: The Bottom of the Hill has no “foot traffic.” We
mean ZERO. No one comes to the club except to see the bands. So if you
expect to play to a crowded house, and you don’t have any fans, you
will be sorely disappointed, and so will we. You will not get booked
HERE’S WHAT WE
EXPECT FROM YOU:
To play a Sunday through Wednesday, your band should be able to draw a
minimum of 25 people. If we reach 75 paid customers in our club, that’s
the amount at which it no longer looks completely empty and cavernous.
Please be realistic when saying you can do that—it’s not as easy as it
sounds. It’s helpful if you start at some of the smaller or more
centrally located clubs around town and work your way up to our
off-the-beaten-path venue, which fits 325 paid customers. For a
Thursday, we are looking for your band being able to draw around 40-50
people on its own. And on Friday and Saturday, we want to approach
sellout numbers, which is, again, 325 paid.
OH, COME ON! SINCE
WE HAVE NO DRAW, COULDN'T MY BAND OPEN FOR ONE OF THEM BIG NATIONALS
COMING THROUGH YOUR CLUB?
Basically, no. Of course everyone wants to open for a show that is a
potential sell-out, but please realize that by saying you'd like to
open for Mountain Goats, you are putting yourself on a list of 5
billion other bands. Many of those bands you see opening those killer
shows have paid their dues at the Bottom of the Hill and have built
their own draw over time.
Further, for purely business reasons, we need bands that draw on those
big bills as openers to bring the crowd out early. We have seen many
shows where the 10 PM band plays to just about nobody and then 400
people show up at 11 PM. If we book a show like Mountain Goats, you can
bet that Mountain Goats are taking nearly 100% of the proceeds from
ticket sales. Therefore the only way the club makes any money on huge
shows like that is if people get there early and buy some drinks. It is
very possible for the club to actually lose money on a sellout show,
after paying out staff and hospitality expenses.
IF YOU BOOK
BAND, WHO BOOKS THE REST OF THE BILL? AM I EXPECTED TO?
We do the booking ourselves, for the most part, but if you play a very
specific genre and you are more of an expert than we are, feel free to
give us suggestions about who to put on the bill, or ask them yourself.
Also, sometimes you will get booked on a Tuesday, and your good friends
are in a really strong band who might say yes to you, their friend, to
playing a Tuesday, but they know we would book them on a weekend
anytime., so they might not say yes to us. We’d really appreciate you
pulling in those favors. Also, some of you are way pickier than others
about who you want to be on a bill. Remember, being that way can be
annoying to us (we like you being open minded,) but if you want to
craft your own really special show with only bands that are your
absolute favorite, we get it. Just remember, if you share the same fan
base as your friends, you might not want them on the same bill as you
because you won’t get any new fans and your draw will be half as
I GOT MY BAND
First off, makes sure you really are booked. Many times when you ask
for a show, or we ask you to play a show, the booker will give you a
tentative date saying something like: "why don't we shoot for the 3rd
-- you ask the other people involved and I'll make sure the date is
clear and we'll talk again to confirm it." Or, “Might you be available
on August 3 to open for The Jerks?” That is NOT a confirmed show, even
if you say yes. A million different things can happen on both sides of
that conversation. The drummer is out of town, you forgot you have a
show too close to that date, you are offered a different show that fits
in better with your plans, the Jerks have meantime pulled off the show
and now it’s an alt-country bill.
We don't consider a show confirmed until we have discussed the full
bill (opener, support and headliner), load-in/sound-check/set times and
what each band can expect to be paid, what the ticket price will be.
Once confirmed, we want to know your basic stage plot and inputs, a
contact number for the band, how many musicians are in your band, and
if any of them are under 21. We need all that info to properly advance
the show with you. Send us a band bio, and the link you’d like us to
use for your band in our listings when our show is confirmed.
Otherwise, our social media team will find potentially embarrassing
things written about you on the web and use those.
Once you have your show booked, come pay us a visit before your show.
Check out what we have to offer. See what our other bands are doing for
their stage shows. Bottom of the Hill is well equipped to make your
show here a special event.
Important: check your listing on our website! Check it in four
places—our picture calendar, our list calendar, our event detail page
(which you can access from either calendar page), and our Facebook
event. Sometimes we might mess up when doing research, especially if
you don’t provide us your own band bio, and post the listing for
another band with the same name instead of yours. Or maybe we put a
“The” before your name and you prefer it without a “The.” Check the
music we linked to. If it’s an old example, send us the newest stuff,
the music you’re most proud of.
Most of the time we have 3 bands per night. Sunday through Thursday our
shows generally start at 9:00 PM, and on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:00
PM. We generally have one band per hour, so bands would be 9, 10, and
11 on weekdays, and 10, 11, and 12 on weekends.
DAY OF THE SHOW:
For most shows, the headliner loads in and soundchecks first. The main
support band follows suit a half hour later, and the opener a half hour
after that. The below chart is a good rule of thumb, but always make
sure the booker has advanced the show with you, and you have gotten
your instructions from them directly, because this is only a guideline.
There are lots of exceptions.
to 1 hour
should pick one person in the band (your most responsible band member,
or a tour manager, if you have one, your sound engineer) to be
the point person for the band. There will be forms to fill out, drink
tickets to be got, etc. When you get to the club, the first thing your
point person should do is find our house sound engineer and introduce
yourself. At that point, you will be directed to load in. Our sound
engineer will tell you where to set up. The drummer should begin
setting up hardware right away. As much as possible, be quick and
efficient with your time at soundcheck, and always listen to our sound
engineers. They are top-notch. If they tell you to turn down on stage,
you need to listen to them. They know what sounds best on the floor.
Go to the bar to talk to the bartender or manager (they usually arrive
an hour after the sound engineer.) Please do not ask your sound
engineer about hospitality or pay issues, or whether you can use the
band room. Our house manager will help you with those details when they
arrive, and pass out all your paperwork.
Again, the details of your hospitality should have been shared with you
in advance by our bookers, and if you have a contract with a
hospitality rider, be aware that the rider may have been amended by our
booker somewhat. You will not always have access to the band room. If
you require it, this needs to be worked out with your booker in advance
of the show.
Hospitality is assigned based on the number of people who perform on
stage. A good rule of thumb is that we provide 2 drink tickets to all
performers who are over 21. Drink tickets are good for all beers and
well drinks and wine. You can upgrade with cash to get the premium
stuff. Most non-alcoholic drinks are free to band members. Sometimes,
instead, we’ll give you beer/wine/liquor in the dressing room. Again,
all this gets worked out in advance of the show.
Most of our touring bands get fed one in-house meal.
Collect your forms from the bar. This includes your guest list, where
you will list all band members and crew, plus your guests. You are
assigned usually either one or two guests per band member, but again,
it varies show to show. Also, you will have to fill out a tax form and
read our house rules. Included in the house rules are: no outside
liquor can be brought in, no one under 21 can be in the band room, no
pyrotechnics, no confetti, and no stage diving or crowd surfing can be
encouraged. If stage diving is integral to your live show, you need to
find another club to play at.
We only report your income to the IRS if you make $600 or more in a
calendar year, but we are required to collect that info for every
single band we pay. Don’t worry, your identities are safe with us. If
you don’t have a band Tax ID, you can use the SSN of anyone in the band
to be a representative of the band.
WELL, WE PLAYED.
WHO GETS THE CREDIT FOR THE NIGHT DOING WELL?
Our managers make notes for the bookers about who was there to see who
and whether you had draw, in addition to how you played. So be aware
that we notice when you really pull out all the stops promoting.
That being said, some bands feel like it's a good thing if they're on a
bill and their crowd shows up just for them and don't watch the other
bands on the bill. The truth is that sort of thing doesn't do anybody
any good. The most important thing for any band is to be associated
with a good night. At the Bottom of the Hill we typically host three
bands on the bill per night. If each band's crowd only comes for their
set then we only ever have 25-40 people in the club at any given time
and the club looks like we're holding a wake. Remember, we craft our
shows lovingly, to be complete nights of entertainment. It helps if
your fans see you yourselves watching the bands play, both before and
after your set. It’s a little ungracious to talk loudly with your
friends after your set when the other band is on stage. It doesn’t
impress us at all.
HOW DO I GET
First of all, be realistic. We probably won’t book you again if fifteen
or fewer people came to your first show. But if you take this as a
first step toward building up your fan base and really put yourself out
there at other clubs, come back to us in 6 months and tell us what
you’ve been up to and how you’ve built up your fan base, perhaps we’ll
give you another crack at it, especially if you have the right attitude
and are friendly and hard-working.
If you did really well, send us an email about one and a half to two
months before you want another show. Play around town at other venues
in the meantime. We will try to move you from the off nights toward the
better nights progressively, as you do well for us. As you get an idea
of how you draw, you can start to ask for a guarantee versus a door
deal. We may not say yes, but you should be aware of what your
expectations are from any club. Always know your deal in advance! Your
booker should give you that information. If they don’t, please ask!
Deals can be arranged in a number of ways, as a percentage of the door
sales (a “door deal”), a flat guarantee ($150 flat), or a combination
of the two (such as 65% of the door vs. $300, whichever is greater.)
If you make each show special and unique, and leave your fan base
wanting more of you, your shows will do better. Every band finds its
own pace for playing, but we find that playing once every two months
can be plenty, and that way each show is special, at least until you
start really gaining traction as a band. We ask for local bands to
leave at least 3 weeks on either side of a show with us, and a full
month is preferable. Also, try to bring us special events to help your
draw. Make it a CD release, or combine it with a birthday party, or
make it a theme show with other like-minded bands.
Ramona Downey is the main booker at Bottom of the Hill. Lynn Schwarz
and Ben Flanagan are associate bookers, and work with mainly first time
bands on weekdays.
All booking inquiries should go through email@example.com
unless you already have a contact number or email address for Ramona or
If you have already booked a show and have questions, you can contact
your booker, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROMOTING YOUR SHOW
While we encourage you to promote your own shows, we insist that you
only post flyers and posters legally, according to San Francisco
guidelines (see link below). Before playing at Bottom of the Hill, we
are going to have you sign a waiver acknowledging that you have read
and understood these guidelines and that you release us from
responsibility for any and all fines incurred by your actions or those
of anyone illegally posting on your behalf. The city has a generous
policy for bands that wish to advertise their shows. Make sure you pay
special attention to the details of size limit and acceptable locations
for flyers. Remember to use other forms of advertising if you can:
social media, e-mail mass mailings, posting at the Bottom, posting at
record stores and other neighborhood establishments (with their
permission, of course), radio station interviews and promotions,
advertising in weekly newspapers. If you are going to post flyers on
city streets, make sure you visit the sfgov.org site for the most
up-to-date rules about posting signs in San Francisco.
Here are the guidelines they had, unless they have changed the rules as