How Does a New Band Get Started?


Steve Juffe has been booking talent since he worked for us as a booking agent at DiCesare Engler Production twenty some years ago.  His company The Concert Manager, books bands into clubs and colleges in the mid-west.  One of his outstanding artists is Chris Higbee who used to be in the Poverty Neck Hillbillies.  Chris is now out on his own and doing fantastic packing places.


I called Steve specifically to ask the questions,  “What must a new band do to make it in the music business?  How does an act succeed in the entertainment business today?”

Here are some of his responses:

  • Most important thing is to put together a great live show.  That means you have to practice a lot and be unique.
  • The way to make money is playing live gigs and selling merchandise.
  • Interactive.  You need a great website.  When people hear about you, the first thing they think of is your website and say, “I’m going to check it out.”   If you are being contacted, you must respond.
  • You must be active on Face Book and Twitter
  • Bands in Town is an Ap that you can buy and find out if your favorite band is in town or where they will be playing.
  • Money can’t be an issue for a long time.  Don’t even think about making money at first, because you won’t.
  • You have to build an audience.  In my opinion, that’s how you do it.  I have a client who is doing fairs and festivals for guarantees of $5,ooo to $8,000 but he will play for $500 to open for a big act in a new town or on a big show.  I have an act who is strong enough that when they decide to expand and want to break into a new area, they seek out a bar owner who helps to promote the show and will start out at a much lower guarantee just to get in.  But, their show is so great that the act can build up a new market and build up a new crowd.  When they sell out the 500 seater then I build them up to a 2,000 seater.
  • Do everything old school but be involved in social media.  At some point you will build a crowd.  If not, that’s what breaks up bands- they are not making any money.
  • Each member in the group must be committed and stick with it.

Original material vs cover.  A lot of groups feel they shouldn’t play cover material. In a lot of cases with new country artists, the first song they record is a cover song.


Sarah Darling recorded , “Blackbird” as one of her first songs. Covers come in handy and are important.  If you are only a cover band, you are only going to go so far.  You might play every Friday and Saturday and an occasional wedding and make $1,500.  That’s all you are going to do, but if you can mix your original material with established hits, then you are giving yourself a chance to be heard.  If you are an original act, you must slowly introduce your new material.

Steve is solicited more by agents in NY in regards to new acts than Pittsburgh artists.  Most local acts with new material don’t bother to send Steve material rather he gets more CD’s from out of town people.  Agents from the major agencies like CAA or William Morris will call and say,  “We have this great new act and they have a new release and a great web site. Check it out.”


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