Chapter 18:How to find gigs

Making music takes a long time and even the most passionate of musicians can get tired of doing the same thing over and over again, without having any outlet to show people just what they have done.

Playing live gigs to a musician is the reason why they spend all that time perfecting tracks. It’s the reason why they stay up all night trying to get a riff just how they want it. The thrill of the performance is second to none and without the opportunity to perform, everything else is sort of pointless.

However, finding a gig is not as easy as just going down to your local arena and asking them to set up a night for you to play a few songs to your fans, but in the same breath it is not as hard as you probably anticipate, either.

Have a demo

Quite possibly the most important thing to have when it comes to booking gigs is a demo. How can people book you if they don’t know what you sound like? Your demo should be a professional effort and you should aim to make the recording as clear as possible.

Many people say that having a raw demo is perfectly acceptable, but what if raw is just a little too raw for the person you are handing it to and they decide you wouldn’t sound good in their venue? Strike up a happy medium.

You don’t have to actively seek other gigs; you can create your own

Not everybody will just come up to you and ask you to do a gig in their establishment and it’s important that you identify the bars and clubs that fall into your niche of music. Once you have done this, set up meetings with managers so that you can discuss potential gig opportunities.

Setting up gigs needs to be viewed as a business transaction and you need to reiterate to bar managers and bookers just why they should have you gig in their establishments; the top and bottom of it is if you can prove that you have a following, they will be more likely to book you.

Bars and clubs are around to do one thing and one thing only; they want to make money. If you can bring a footfall through the door that will make them money in the way of people buying alcohol on a night that may not necessarily be busy, then chances are you’re in.

Network with venue bookers

Find out who the bookers are for the venues that you would like to play at and make a conscious effort to network. Follow them on Twitter, send introductory emails and most importantly, set up meetings.

Simply telling people who you are isn’t enough, you need to be proactive and go out and see the bookers face to face so that you can convey what you do properly and they can get a proper idea for who you are. Building a connection with venue bookers that is on a higher level than interacting over a computer screen will hold you in good stead when it comes to pitting you against other bands in the area who want that same spot as you.

Network with similar artists to yourself

Sometimes doing a gig with nobody else on before or after you can be daunting, and other artists often think the same. Network with similar artists to yourself and discuss the prospect of possibly holding events together as joint headliners in order to merge two sets of fans and generate a larger audience.

Don’t expect pay every time you gig

Sometimes the exposure is just as important as any monetary benefits and when you are starting out, you shouldn’t be commanding high artist fees, if any. At the beginning, gigging is your platform to show people who are you and gain a following. Once you have a fan base that actively wants to come and see you, then you can start charging things like ticket prices or asking venues for a cut of takings in return for the amount of people that you bring through the door.

Be professional

Don’t turn up late, don’t expect VIP treatment and don’t put on a rubbish show. Professionalism when gigging is absolutely imperative as if bookers like you and your attitude, they will be more likely to book you again. If you start kicking off about the state of the toilets or turn up with equipment that doesn’t work and makes you sound awful, you may as well kiss goodbye to a future booking right there and then because it won’t happen.

Promote Yourself

Have posters made if you are about to release a new single and post them around bar areas, as well as go into the bars and see if they would put up your posters. This could trigger an interest from bookers as artists who are advertising tend to mean business and offer better performances than those who are slightly bordering on the side of amateur.