Industry Insights: Drew Jensen on Booking DIY Artists in Chicago
Ever wondered what it would be like to throw your own shows? Or what it takes to get booked for your first shows as an up-and-coming DIY artist?
Drew Jensen is part of the team behind Fun House Entertainment, a company started in mid-2016 to bring a wider variety of acts to Chicago and to help undiscovered artists book shows. As a musician himself under the name Sink Slow, he enjoys experimenting by producing music all over the genre map. He wanted to bring this same range of tastes to live audiences, who he feels often miss out by only attending shows within their favorite genre.
Fun House Entertainment is a marketing and booking company that works to bring music fans together in one space and expose them to new genres. Drew’s interest lies in booking indie rock acts, while his partners focus on hip hop and electronic dance music acts, creating a spectrum of shows for fans to find their new favorite artists.
“Chicago’s a really interesting scene,” Drew said. “Chance the Rapper is setting the groundwork for Chicago artists to be independent and successful, showing artists you don’t need a label. I think Chicago is unique in the sense of DIY. Chicago is also a smaller market than others, so it’s tight knit and you can network easier.”
When looking for acts to play Fun House shows, Drew says there’s a fine line when it comes to choosing acts that are already touring.
“If I’ve heard of a band or know them, of course they get priority when it comes to being booked. But beyond that if bands are playing shows, I look for how many events they’re playing, especially around the city. There’s a difference between playing and oversaturating your market. If you’re playing too much in Chicago, you may be less likely to get booked because you won’t sell out.”
An artist’s digital presence also plays a key factor in booking shows in today’s social media driven world. Drew says it’s not the size of the fanbase that counts, but the dedication of the fans.
“I look for what an artist’s interaction is like on Facebook. If they have 3,000 likes but have no interaction on their statuses, I’m wondering if they just bought their likes. If they have less likes but more interaction, that’s more attractive to someone who’s booking because they actually have a fanbase. The bands also have a lot to do with getting people out to shows. A promoter can only promote so much. You need bands who are going to help the production company out; it’s a two way street.”
In the first few months of running an event company, Drew learned a lot about what it takes to throw multi-act shows.
“The thing about events you learn quickly is that it’s going to be chaotic no matter what, especially if you have multiple acts playing one gig. No matter how many shows a band has played, it can be a challenge making sure everyone gets there and is reliable, especially when you only have 15 minutes between acts. You need to be ready in your mind for anything and be ready to troubleshoot.”
On starting his own company, Drew says you have to prepare for the worst, but that chaotic moments can create the best learning opportunities.
“You have to be prepared to fail. It’s a hard thing to deal with, but you can’t expect to do everything right the first time — it’s impossible. You have to fail and learn from your experiences. That’s why i love Fun House and working with everyone on the team because we’re all on the same page. We’re young and motivated, and know the best way to learn is to just get out there and do.”
Stay up to date with Fun House Entertainment’s upcoming shows on their Facebook page.