When it comes to playing gigs, any serious band will agree that steady shows are the lifeblood to their career. Playing live is the best way to make money (gig income, merch and CD sales), network with others in the music industry and most importantly socialize with your fans. What’s that? You don’t interact with your fans? What is wrong with you?! 😉
Playing more gigs will also get your name out there which in turn brings you even more gig opportunities in the future. When starting out take just about any gig you can get just to get your name out there. When I say just about any gig, I don’t mean that pay to play gig your Facebook friend who is a so-called “promoter” asked you to do for them. Avoid those at all costs!
First and foremost if you want steady gigs you are going to have to be great live meaning great songs, excellent stage presence and smooth transitions between songs. Work on killing it at your live shows and word of mouth advertising will get you more gigs than anything else will.
Even though word of mouth advertising works great, you still are not going to want to rely solely on that kind of exposure to get your gigs. Remember you must always be actively searching for gigs to fill up your schedule! Find out who the local promoters in your town are and contact them to play one of their shows. Once you get booked do everything you can to impress them at your show. Play great, bring a crowd and don’t have an attitude! Always remember how important first impressions are. The need for a great first impression is especially true when it comes to meeting contacts in the music industry.
If you are thinking about putting on a show yourself, you could bypass the promoters and contact the bar owners yourself. You will need to note that it can sometimes be difficult to get in contact with certain bar owners. If you are going to take this route, then make sure you have a large crowd to bring with you to the show. Impress them by making them money, and they will want you back often. I remember a couple of years ago putting on a show at a bar, and the owner was extremely skeptical about us playing. It didn’t matter to him that we had a great following and radio play on stations in that city. Well, we sold out that gig, and a couple of the bartenders slipped up and told us it was their best night ever. They made over $6000 that night. Guess what? We can go back and play there whenever we want!
If you have a website (If you don’t then get one ASAP!) put a booking/contact form on it so people who visit your site can contact you for potential gigs. Some of my bands best gigs came from our website form. It is important to note that your site should be professional looking as it increases the booking opportunities you will get.
Start booking gigs in your city and branch off to adjacent cities once you are getting gigs and have a good following. Creating a buzz in your city will make it easier to get fans to come to gigs in cities that you haven’t played in before. Existing fans won’t live too far away, so getting to your show won’t be much of an issue. One great way of getting gigs in other cities is to do show swaps with other bands. They open for you in your town, and you open for them in their town. Show swapping is a great way to help you fill a venue at a place you haven’t played in before.
Remember!!! Simply playing great at a gig can get you more shows. There are always people looking for bands to play at parties, fundraisers, events and even weddings. If one of these people see you and love your music, there is a good chance they will ask you if you would like to play at their event. It has happened to me on numerous occasions.
Do you have any other suggestions to help musicians get more gigs or pack their shows? Do you think I missed out on something? Let me know in the comments section below!