Primary Blog/Gigging Musician Podcast/Episode 218 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: A Musician's Guide to Preferred Vendor Success

Episode 218 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: A Musician's Guide to Preferred Vendor Success

Monday, January 22, 2024

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Episode Recap

In this episode, Jared Judge shares his personal journey and insights on booking high-end private event gigs. Despite the challenges of cold Denver weather and adopting two playful cats, Milo and Nori, Jared remains focused on his gigging goals. He delves into his successful strategy of becoming a preferred vendor at event venues, a key to securing bookings without relying on gig websites. Jared's persistence pays off with Lionsgate Event Center, leading to a contract and immediate gig offers. He emphasizes the importance of building relationships with venues and event planners, and how his gig vault strategy is scaling his operations. Jared encourages musicians to start building these relationships, highlighting that delay is the enemy of success. For those interested in accessing their gig vault and reaching out to venues and event planners, Jared offers a free trial of BookLive at

Best Quote

"Persistence pays off with Lionsgate Event Center, leading to a contract and immediate gig offers."


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What's up, gigging pros? It's Jared Judge. Welcome back to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast. And I've got a couple great stories for you that will definitely help you trying to book higher end private event gigs.

But first, I want to let you know that I'm sorry I haven't podcasted in a while. It's been maybe a week or so, and the reason, truth be told, is that I can't really podcast in doors in the morning because I don't want to wake my wife up. And so that leaves me to podcast outside on my way back from the gym, which, yes, I've been going to the gym, keeping my new year's resolution.

How about you? But the problem has been the temperatures here in Denver have been single digits or negatives for the last week or so. She's just been crazy. Too cold to do anything.

Wife and I have been seeing a lot of movies. We've got a season pass at this movie theater chain called Alamo Drafthouse. Anyone here an Alamo Drafthouse fan or season ticket holder? It's so amazing.

All right, and then one more personal update before we dive into the stories I mentioned about gigs, which is we got cats. We adopted two beautiful cats last night. Their names were originally Lily and James.

Yep, like Harry Potter's parents, but we renamed them to Milo and Nori, and they're tabby cats. One is orange, one is gray, and they're the cutest things, and they're so playful and social. They actually snuggled with us in bed last night, which was so nice.

All right, TMI. Getting back to the gigging stuff, which is what you all came for, I assume, which is the last week or so has shown a lot of amazing progress in developing my gig vault, building up my partnerships with venues and event planners. So a couple of quick stories.

There's this one event venue called Lionsgate Event center that I had been trying to partner with. Get on their preferred vendor list, because if you're new to this podcast, the preferred vendor list is the key to getting bookings at these high end corporate events, weddings, et cetera, without spending any money on those gigging websites like Gig Salad and the Bash. So getting on their internal list of recommended vendors as a musician is totally possible.

And that's where I get the majority of my gigs, actually. So I've been trying to develop this relationship with one called Lionsgate Event center. They're the venue that I actually played for a televised wedding on the national tv show Married at first sight by lifetime.

Channel, but I'd been reaching out to them and trying to get on the preferred vendor list, but hasn't been going super well. They've been busy. And then I saw they posted about hosting what's called a date night event, which is just an event that they invite their wedding clients, their brides and grooms to, and prospective brides and grooms as well.

Because don't forget, these venues are in the business themselves. They have to market their services just like we musicians do. And so they're hosting these date nights to, I guess, get some more bookings themselves and then help the couples who've already booked them for their wedding, help them get a head start on their planning and make them feel more connected to the venue, which that in itself is a good lesson for us musicians.

Once you book somebody, do you do anything to help them feel more connected to you? I think the closest that I get to is like, I do a consultation call with them. I call it the music planning session. But anyway, back to the original story was they're hosting this date night.

And I was like, hey, I want to play at that date night. Because if I could get in front of their couples and show them what I got, they have a chance of booking me. Right? So I commented on their Instagram post about it and then I emailed somebody about it and the comment got ignored.

The email got basically like a standard automated message, like, thanks for your inquiry. We'll get back to you as soon as possible. And then ignored.

Pretty annoying, right? So instead of just getting rejected, I'll be honest, it made me a little mad. And so that frustration, I think, actually caused me to swing hard in the direction of like, okay, I'm doubling down on my pursuit. It's kind of like, you want what you can't have.

And this really motivated me because I couldn't have it. It's just within grasp. And so I followed up again, and then I called their phone number trying to offer my sponsorship, and then finally got through to somebody who was like, oh, we already have a DJ for that night.

Thank you so much. But I'll pass your info to our owner, which, okay, we're getting somewhere now. And then I think because I was still kind of frustrated, I asked them, hey, would you mind giving me the owner's phone number? And I'll just reach out to them directly.

And they were very insistent on not giving me the owner's phone number. And I get know people's time should be protected, but I'm me, right? Do you know who I am. No, I'm just kidding.

I'm not a Karen. So I accepted that. And then, much to my surprise, a couple days later, I got an email from the owner.

I wasn't expecting anything. And the owner was like, hey, yeah, saw you're interested in sponsoring our events. Like our staff member mentioned, we already have a DJ, but would you be interested in being a preferred vendor? Which that was actually kind of the original goal anyway, was to become a preferred vendor.

And so I was like, hell, yeah. I am so down. Let's do it.

How do I make this happen? Of course, I'd grow my email a little more professionally than that. And then I got an email that surprised me, which was great. Here is our preferred vendor contract, which I have never gotten one of these before, and it was like a combination of a contract and also brochure about being a preferred vendor at this event venue.

And I will tell you, most event venues and event planners do not take their preferred vendorship program this seriously. But it was really cool to see, because inside of this brochure, it explained exactly what it means to be a preferred vendor, which the big takeaway is that they actively pitch their preferred vendors to their clients. So they talked about their process.

They said that when a client books with them, they have a consultation meeting with them, and then at this meeting, they talk about vendor options that would pair well with their vision, and they only recommend their preferred vendors. And they said that our vendors on the preferred vendor list see, like, a 90% booking rate, which is amazing. And so I read through the contract, and here you guys are probably waiting for the shoe to drop.

And, yes, there is a shoe drop. Read the contract. A lot of it was basic stuff like, hey, if you're working with one of our clients, we expect a fast response rate and so forth.

Like, you are an extension of our brand, so don't mess it up. And then that's all fine. Then there was one line in it that said, you, as the preferred vendor, agree to give Lionsgate 15% of your bookings that come through us.

And so most musicians would probably be a little miffed by that. But I took some time to think about it, and I was thinking about booking agents, because that's essentially what they're doing is like, if the only way I would pay them is if they book me, so they are effectively acting as a booking agent for me. And what do traditional booking agents charge? Anywhere between 25.

And I've seen all the way as high as 50%. It's like 15% is much more reasonable. And if this is the only way, then I'm down.

Sounds fair to me. Plus, another way of thinking about it is that when you pay money to these booking websites like geeks out, the bash, et cetera, you're paying them a monthly fee or yearly fee plus on gig salad. And I think the bash as well, you're also paying them a percentage.

So the total percentage of every gig that you book is probably at least 15%. And so I feel like this is right in line with what I'd be willing to pay anyway for my marketing budget for every single gig. That's why we build a profit margin into our gigs, and I keep hammering home about that.

So signed the contract, returned it, and boom, became officially a preferred vendor of the Lionsgate Event Center. Hooray. But I think that's all great.

Getting on preferred vendors is awesome, but that's not like the final step, and I think a lot of musicians get confused about that. The final step is when they actually give me a booking. And so I didn't have to wait long for that because a day or two after I signed the contract, I got an email from one of their wedding planners, their on staff venue coordinators, and she was actually one of the coordinators that I'd worked with at that gig that I played, played at their venue.

And she's like, hey, here, we're going to be partnering. So exciting. By the way, one of our weddings had their violinist canceled for October twelfth.

Are you available? So boom, we went from just being on their preferred vendor list to getting a gig offer right away, which is awesome. So I replied saying, yes, I'm available. Let's make it happen.

And then actually, the second part of her email was like, by the way, I know you aren't playing on our January date night, but we're having a February 1. And would you be interested in playing? This is more like a wedding expo. And I said, heck yeah, because I don't have to pay to be at this wedding expo.

Most wedding expos you do, and they can be profitable if you pay for them, but you have to have the right strategy in mind. So having a free one is even better. So I said yes to both of those things, and that is the process to getting free.

Well, not free, but I'm not paying upfront for these gigs. I don't pay marketing budget, I just pay if they book me, which if they're doing all the recommendations and they're actually handling the transaction so that my gig money will be coming directly from the venue and not from the bride or groom who booked me. And so that's the preferred vendor list process, and that's why I've been spending so much time working my gig vault.

That same process has happened with Villa Parker, which I've done a podcast episode on the way back from several of the gigs that I've played at Villa Parker, and they finally added me to their preferred vendor list web page. So you can check that out if you go to like,, I think, and there's a preferred vendors tab, you can see extreme strings under the entertainment section, which is pretty cool.

And so, yeah, there are over 600 venues in the Denver area, and I'm just literally scratching the surface. And the cool part is I only probably need like ten to 20 of them to have a fully booked year, which that's crazy. This is how one musician is able to scale their operations up to the point where I will need more musicians to play multiple gigs in one day just because I'm going to be generating so much demand for my services through this strategy combined with others.

Like, I'm still on gig salad and the bash and wedding wire, but it doesn't take much and I'm experienced enough to figure out how to make these conversations work. There are a lot of musicians who are just, you haven't done it enough to feel out how do these relationship dynamics work? And that's okay. That's not a reason not to start.

In fact, that's more of a reason to start and get all the awkward figuring out part out of the way sooner rather than later, because delay is the enemy of success. So I'll leave it there. If you'd like to pursue opening up your Gig Vault, getting some preferred vendor lists going, then now is the time to go to

and I will give you a free trial of BookLive, which has all the venue and event planners baked right. Just log in and say, hey, I'm in Austin, Texas, and then it'll give you a list of all of them in Austin, Texas, and then templates and ways to reach out to them so that you get on their preferred render list just like I have. All right, thanks for tuning into another episode of The Gigging Musician podcast.

Remember, "Your music will not market itself!".

Bye, everybody. Bye.

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Episode 230 - Unlocking the Secrets of Consistent Networking and Modern Sales for Musicians

Episode 229 - The Power of Networking and Recommendations in the Music Industry

Episode 228 - Navigating the Gig Economy: Venue Tours, Expos, and the Power of Numbers

Episode 227 - Strategic Moves: Venue Tours, Expos, and Unexpected Gigs

Episode 226 - Maximizing Gigs: New Tools for Tracking Success and Boosting Bookings

Episode 225 - Unlocking Gigs: Venue Tours and Strategic Partnerships

Episode 224 - A Day in the Life: Venue Tours, Unexpected Gigs, and Networking Wins

Episode 223 - Landing Gigs Post-Wedding Expo: A Musician's Success Story

Episode 222 - Navigating the Wedding Expo Scene: A Musician's Journey to Success

Episode 221 - Maximizing Success at Wedding Expos: A Musician's Guide

Episode 220 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: Venue Tours and Virtual Assistant Strategies

Episode 219 - Maximizing Your Music Career: The Power of a Personal Assistant

Episode 218 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: A Musician's Guide to Preferred Vendor Success

Episode 217 - Gigging Musician Podcast: Joe Deninzon Interview


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