Performers’ Q&A

As a performer or agent, you don’t have time for guesswork and wheel-spinning in the booking process. So we at Voices Cafe have put together  a process that is relatively simple and transparent.  Outlined below you’ll find out what kinds of talent we book, how to submit ‘material to us,  how we notify acts, what we provide in terms of Sound System support,  how we pay acts and the range of seating configurations that we offer.  After you’ve sent us your information, we’ll (1) confirm that we’ve received it; and (2) give you a quick and unequivocal answer as to whether we are considering you for an upcoming show.

Here are some things you want to know -

What kind of talent do we book?  (What kind of music do we like?)

The majority of our acts fall in the Folk/Americana area.  For example we’ve had Peter Yarrow and Brother Sun and The Kennedy’s.  However,  that being said we’ve also had Paul Winter, a  kick ass ten piece Salsa Band (Mikata) and are planning a dynamite Chet Baker Tribute Concert along with Martha Redbone for the upcoming Season.  The common thread?  Exciting, vibrant live performances by artists who have mastered their genre and actually love their work and the music.  Sorry, no metal or hard rock but given that if you’re still interested read on.

That sounds like a fit.  What’s the process?  How do I/we get on your radar and in the door?

Please send a bio and a full commercial CD or tape (not a 3-song sampler, and not a home-reproduced recording) to me at The Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road, Westport, CT 06880, attn: Tim Wilson.  At the same time, or before send me an email stating your interest and pointing us to your website and/or to a YouTube or music sharing site video from one or more of your shows.  It’s more for a reference due to the usual crap sound quality but can be a good reference as to the audience and the ‘energy’.

How Will I Know Where Things Stand?

I will send you an email confirming that we’ve received your materials. Chances are, you won’t hear anything more from us until we want to set a date (which may be many months later).  But also you don’t need to be a complete stranger. Write or call as many times as you like, asking whether you’re on the “to-book” list and whether there are any opportunities coming up. You’ll get an unequivocal, straight answer. Of course, follow-up is not a requirement: even if we don’t hear from you, if there’s a fit you’ll still be on the list for a future booking.

What is the timing on your booking process?

We book roughly 6-12 months in advance. We book year-round.  And while much of the 2012 – 2013 Season is booked we have a few dates open and we are also starting to stage a number of House Concerts that are not at our main Voices Venue.  Please see below for more info.

What’s the Venue like?  What size shows do you put on?

Our main ‘stage’ is comprised of the entire Sanctuary space at the Unitarian Church in Westport, CT.  We are truly blessed with a piece of World Class Post Modern Architecture (please see  pictures above ) and because everything moves we can set up the House in a number of  different ways.

  • cafe style seating (round tables with chairs)  Apprx. 150 plus – very intimate and comfy.
  • concert style (straight chairs) –  300+
  • club/dance seating – chairs, some tables, dance floor – 200-275

In addition, as we are moving into this Fall’s Season, we decided to add a number of House Concerts.  For these we can accomodate upwards of 50+ in an essentially unplugged setting with a chance to meet and build a truly motivated fan base.  These concerts give us a chance , for instance to add a mainstream act that happened to have a slot in their travel schedule – when we couldn’t book  them for a main show – or to showcase up and coming talent that doesn’t yet have the fanbase to support playing our main Stage.

And we may have a few opening act slots available.  Depends on the Featured Artist.

As you can see there are a lot of ways to play.

What do you pay Performers?  What do you expect?

Our feature performers receive a guarantee plus a percentage of the gross ticket sales .  This refers to shows at our main Venue.  House Concerts  – due to the smaller audience size –  are usually a straight percentage, in the 90+% range with no guarantee.  Opening acts, when we have them,  are approved by the Featured Artist(s) and we pay a straight fee – $150 – $200.

We do not take a cut of merchandise sales.

We will feed you and within reason we take requests.

We have some housing available and will make arrangements for a local hotel if possible.

We pay the night of the Show if you have given us signed tax forms or we can mail a check the first weekday after show.

The featured performer usually plays two 45-minute sets.  Opening acts do a 15 – 20 minute set. We ask that feature performers not book other shows in the area within the 30 days before or after our event.  Depending on your popularity and fan base we may ask that you don’t book ‘locally’ for more than 30 days before or after your Gig.  This is more for folks who don’t have representation.  So while it may seem like we’re limiting your exposure we’re trying to be fair to other area Venues who might want to book you.

How will I sound?  Will I get promoted?

We have a state of the art digital Sound System (16 channel Presonus Mixer, QSC Mains and Sub if necessary, EV powered floor monitors, and plenty of outboard gear.)  If booked we’ll put together the sound  package you need to sound your best.  Stage plots and phone conversations help to ensure you’re singing through the mics you want (within reason) and if you have any special needs that we can meet.

Steinway Grand available if you need.

While many of our Shows are mixed by our Volunteer Staff, and these sound great, we have the means to provide a Professional  Engineer for your Show.  Why?  Some of our Acts want to record live and because we can, we do.  Or maybe some of your friends will be sitting in and you want everything to sound it’s best. (setting up with folks you don’t work with much can sometimes be tricky) Or possibly you’re wanting to presale some live material – which we’ll help you produce and sell.  In these situations we want to insure the best possible product.  Professional Engineering costs run from $150 – $250 per show.  If you would like to avail yourself of this service it’s negociable within the contract price.

Given that we want to give you the best sound we also get you the biggest audience.  We’ll work with you and your PR person to get the widest coverage possible.  Please send us as much info as possible to include a press kit if you have one along with some high res pictures and a bio if you have one.  We advertise in local and regional papers, maintain a web mailing list along with strong support from the Unitarian Congregation that sponsors and supports us.  We can try to arrange for a radio interview and we do a lot of posters and flyers.  We want you to have a great show and we expect that you will assist us in this effort by coordinating your mailing list with us, maintaining clear communication and notifying us promptly about any problems you might be experiencing prior to show time.

We want the best show possible and the biggest audience we can get you.

Enough said.