To try to minimize the uncertainty that comes from booking shows in this way, a group of ten, highly motivated bands have come together in Chicago to form the Chicago Roots Collective. The CRC consists of bands that fall into compatible music genres and share a common vision and work ethic. The premise is simple: by working together, each individual band—and more importantly, their fans—benefit. Suddenly, the mentality shifts from: “how do I book my band for this show?” to “how do I pitch a successful lineup to this venue?” The truth is, from a venue’s point of view, the success or failure of a show depends on the whole bill, not just one band. So, if you can pitch a bill from a network of bands you know to be reliable, that venue is more likely to work with all of your bands.
Aside from gaining more leverage with booking, there are also many other benefits to working with a collective. Having like-minded artists working toward a shared goal can open the door to new ideas, new resources, and new fans. With a collective, you can easily coordinate things like poster designs, publicity, backlining—even online event invites. In addition, a well-run collective lends credibility to each member band and makes it easier to engage local graphic designers, photographers, videographers, etc—all of whom can benefit from associating with the collective. Not to mention, the more bands you have in the collective, the cheaper everything becomes by splitting the cost.
If you’ve already been gigging in your hometown, you probably have a good idea of bands you like to work with. Reach out and try to get some of them together in one room, simply to talk about your experiences and goals as independent musicians. At our early CRC meetings, we found there was a shared experience and enthusiasm for collaboration among the bands. One of the first major projects we focused on as a collective was a CRC showcase, featuring performances by all ten bands. The event was an overwhelming success that garnered a lot of people’s attention, especially our fans’. Regardless of the city you call home or the genre of music you play, there are plenty of local, independent bands like you who could benefit from genuine collaboration—you just have to reach out and grab ‘em.
The Chicago Roots Collective is a group of musicians working together to get their music heard. Co-authors Danny Surico and James Hyde play in the folk/rock/pop band The Future Laureates. For more information on their band and all the bands in the CRC, please check out: sonicbids.com/thefuturelaureates and chicagorootscollective.com