Getting Music Gigs

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: My band and are are looking for gigs. We knew a couple of club owners that were able to give us a our first gigs, but we have no idea how to get more of them since we don't have connections. How can we market ourselves so that we can get gigs at other clubs?

Answer: Establishing relationships with club owners is essential to get your band booked.

Getting Your First Gigs

If you don't have a booking agent, getting the first gig could be a hard shell to crack. Once you get your first one, you'll have it a lot easier the next time.

Looking for Your First Gig

Start off by looking in your hometown for a club, or bar that may be willing to take a chance on a "local act". Make sure you promote yourself as such, as a lot of venue owners will be glad to help local bands/artists get their first break....especially if you turn out becoming huge! They will be able to say that they hosted one of your first gigs! Another great place to look, once you are ready to break out into areas other than your local area is the Indie Venue Bible.

Peparing to Get Your First Gig

You have to get your demo CD together (more and more band are putting demo DVD's together with video of their band's performances). You will also want to put together a press kit to help shop yourself to club owners and talent buyers. These two pieces of marketing material are essential if you plan on playing a lot.

Talking to Club Owners and Talent Buyers

Make sure that every communication you have with a club owner, or talent buyer, is short and to the point. If you are requesting dates to play, always give them a range of dates that you are available. This makes it less likely that they'll just say "no" and hang up on you.

Why Clubs are in Business to Begin With

Remember that you must speak to club owners with their interests in mind. Always have it in the back of your mind their incentive for hiring you...a packed house, with people that purchase a lot of drinks and food. That's it. The club owner is in business to make money, not to necessarily help bands get started (although there are a lot of great club owners that do there best to do so). The more people you can bring in to the club...the more money your fans shell out...the more you will be asked to play there again and again.

Market Your Band Yourself

Do not expect the club owner to market your band for you. Although some do help out quite a bit, this is going to be a huge responsibility for you.

Tips for Marketing Your Band's Upcoming Performances:

  • Use your email list (send only to those that are geographically able to make it).
  • Market with other bands using their mailing lists and fanbase. Help each other out by marketing each other. This helps both bands grow their mailing lists.
  • Put up flyers at all music stores in town.
  • Get interviews in local radio, tv and newspapers.
  • Go to other shows (with similar music) at the club you are going to play at (if you physically can) and give out flyers to the people that are there.
  • Make sure you have your schedule up on your website (and MySpace page)
  • Invite people whenever you can. You would be surprised how many people show up from a casual mention about the show.
  • Ask your fans to bring their friends! This is a big one and can also help you grow your mailing list.

Gigging Logistics

Show up on time! This can be stressed enough. Make sure that you get an exact time that you and your band need to be there to set up, do sound checks, and start playing, as well as the times for packing up. Know how and when you are going to get paid. Get all of this information in a written contract.

Encourage Your Fans to Purchase Drinks and Food

The club owner wont be able to thank you enough if you can find a way of talking about how great "the burgers are" or something like that. Remember what the priorities of the club owner.

Say Thank You

Always, and I mean always, thank your fans for coming out. Thank them for purchasing your music (even if the haven't yet...hey a little encouragement always helps!) Thank the club owner and talent buyer for having you there and make sure you tell them how much you appreciate the chance to play there.

Be Grateful. Be Sincere. Be On-Time. Pack the House!