The Gig Is Up – Getting Those Gigs

Time for your music dreams to come true – playing live onstage to masses of screaming fans…or at least a room full of people listening in to your creations. Though the ultimate goal is a good-paying gig, an artist or band just starting out may have to take on some freebies. Consider them as experience. Use this list as a start on how to get gigs, a checklist of the basics, and an idea starter.

The Prep:

  • Talent – know your style, be solid in your performance abilities before you take on too big a gig
  • All band mates know their responsibilities
  • Calendar – create your timeline
  • Internet – online presence, class ads, forums, press, make friends with other bands
  • Networking – go to shows of other bands and meet them, create critical allies, rub elbows
  • Press kit – with contact info, web address
  • Demo tape/CD with your 3 best songs
  • Rehearsed extensively
  • Decent equipment – with backups and spares
  • Reliable transportation for band and ALL equipment
  • Funds – who handles your band finances, food, gas, places to stay
  • Booking agency or manager to get bookings – when affordable and research thoroughly
  • Sound Technician
  • Playlist – well shaped, great flow, more than enough for the time allowed, minimal pause between songs

The Places:

  • Fundraisers, charities, benefits
  • Festivals, fairs, city free concert venues, trade shows
  • Music competitions, songwriting contests
  • Battle of the bands
  • Clubs, bars, pubs – karaoke, open mic night
  • Weddings, special occasions, private functions, parties
  • Country clubs, cruise ships
  • Restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bookstores
  • Schools, churches, colleges
  • House concert
  • Jam sessions
  • Online video
  • Gig trading with other bands of similar style – one band opens the show, the other closes

Getting the Gig:

  • Attitude should be “how we can help each other”
  • Understand what is expected of you – don’t assume anything, including food and drinks
  • Make sure the venue has a good rep for being fair
  • Be ready if you need to do a live audition during a club’s less busy hours.
  • Venue specifications, space, sound
  • Keep your word, build respect, do what you say you will do
  • Get it in writing, contract
  • You know it’s up to you to promote your gig, right?

The Promotion:

  • Word of mouth with enthusiasm!
  • Flyers, posters – get permission as needed (e.g. parking lots)
  • Street teams, fan clubs
  • Internet marketing – Artistopia events, email, ezines, newsletters, class ads, Blogs, concert calendars, mailing list (online/offline)
  • Call ALL your friends, family, co-workers, school mates
  • Press releases to any media available
  • Newspaper, radio, local gig guides
  • Bulletin boards, music stores, record shops
  • Go where your particular style of fan would hang out or work – do your market research
  • Swap promo with local stores, restaurants, come up with some cool idea
  • The number of heads through the door is the most important factor for a re-booking

At Work:

  • A gig is a job – so the same rules apply: be on time, don’t take too many set breaks, be prepared to do your best and be professional at all times. The reputation you create will proceed you.
  • Sound check, balance, volume levels
  • Make sure the audience knows the name of your band
  • A good catchy opening line
  • Be adaptive to your environment – have a sense of humor
  • A musician under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a recipe for disaster
  • Merchandise for sale – CDs, t-shirts, stickers…door prizes
  • Have someone take good photos (video) for adding to your photo albums later – and schmooze with your fans! Get fan names to add to the photo narrative online.
  • Collect emails, hand out biz cards, promote the next upcoming gig, get references
  • Something will probably go wrong, think through typical disasters and try to be prepared
  • Have a great time because you are doing what you love to do!

The Follow-up:

  • Let everyone know you had a great time and appreciate that they came to see you and thank the venue operators and staff
  • If you have a band following you, be polite and move your equipment as quickly as possible
  • Have your pre-appointed money collector do their job
  • Drop the rock star attitude – don’t get a big head
  • Respect the people around you and don’ burn any bridges
  • Learn from every experience
  • Add any upcoming gig or follow-up press release to your Artistopia profile. Show the world what you are about!