DIY can be difficult. Finding venues for your band to play can be a nearly impossible task, especially when you’re trying to perform outside of your hometown. Frantically reaching out to strangers or friends that might be loosely connected to a scene can be very hit-or-miss, and pay-to-play venues rarely work out in your favor. However, for bands looking to play Southeastern Michigan, it might be easier than you think.
Outta This World Booking is a group that aims to help smaller, self-run bands find shows around Michigan.
“I’ve been playing shows since the end of high school, and I grew up going to shows,” Pat Ray, the founder of the booking group, said in a phone interview with The Daily. “I was booking shows regularly for a couple years, sort of as a one-off thing where I would help out a friend or someone would message me and say that they could return the favor of booking my band.”
“But since graduating college, and working and being more quote unquote adult, I felt like I could make this all a bit more organized than the way I was doing it. And then, about a year ago, in the spur of the moment, I just decided to make a Facebook page and come up with a name that I can use as a banner to promote shows.”
From there, Ray recruited some friends and started Outta This World Booking, with the mission of helping out the local music community.
For many groups without a manager or a record label, touring can be a daunting task.
He added,“It’s hard to be like, ‘I just started this band. I want to play a show in New York. I don’t know anyone in New York … how the hell do I do that?’ And most of the time, you just have to take a couple shots in the dark.”
But Ray hopes to make this process easier for bands traveling through Southeastern Michigan.
“Touring is always hit or miss — sometimes it’s a Tuesday night and there’s like, ten people there,” Ray said. “The difference I try to make is that when these bands come through, I want to make sure they feel welcome, and that they’re getting a worthwhile experience.”
Since its founding, Outta This World has expanded into a team of eight or nine individuals, taking more of a do-it-together approach.
“I don’t really think of it as mine anymore,” Ray said. “I have a team of wonderful people that … more than pull their weight.”
Ray said that in the future, they’re hoping to expand their base with more like-minded and passionate people, and bring more consistency to their shows.
The group is also trying to branch out with new events and festivals.
“We’re also trying to do some more cool projects,” Ray told me. “We recently did a new event called New Year, New Music, where we had a bunch of artists submit demos to us, and then we picked the top ten of these artists to perform at the Loving Touch. We recorded all of these performances, and will be releasing them later on this year.”
Setting up a show can be pretty chaotic. The process consists of “a lot of frantic messaging,” according to Ray. Bands constantly reach out to the group in an effort to find a show in the area. After checking out their music, Ray said the group will also make sure that the band doesn’t have any history of unfriendly behavior.
“A big part of DIY is the ethical and moral beliefs that are inherent to this community,” Ray said. “We don’t really think that bands with drastic differences in those areas would fit very well in our community.”
Once the booking group has a band they’re excited about, they need to find a venue and local support for the band. Since a good chunk of the members on the team have played frequently at venues in the area, the group is at the point now where they can find a venue or house show contact point quickly in order to get the show set up. The next step is reaching out to artists to play along with the touring band.
“Something that I, and I think every booker could be better at is … when you’re setting up a bill, making sure that it’s not just an all-white-dude show, you know?” Ray said. “We want to make sure we’re giving a voice to the more marginalized communities.”
From there, the group is responsible for promoting the show with fliers and Facebook events and making sure the show runs smoothly the day of.
Since being exposed to DIY in southeastern Michigan almost four years ago (at a show Ray was playing, no less), I’ve really been fortunate enough to see it grow as much as it has because of people that care as much as Ray does.
“It’s really just a very inspiring community,” Ray told me. “I’ve become friends with people all throughout the country because of this community. And it’s awesome.”
Upcoming DIY Shows:
at Mac’s Bar in Lansing on Feb. 20
Labour Day Weekend
at Buttom & Bella’s Music Box in Ypsilanti on Feb. 22
at PJ’s Lager House in Detroit on Mar. 1