Booking Your Own Gigs and Getting Shows
It has always been a struggle for musicians to find a place to perform life, indeed this may be caused by the amount of places close to them, or the general number, if they allow them to play their genre of music (many bars or small venues petition you to play certain genres as it might me easier to promote or feel the venue will be full of clients) even so, the most important part on getting to be allowed or convincing a venue to allow you to play in their venue (or the place you have selected) is to be convincing, professional and have a good network of places to choose from.
Today that is exactly what we will discuss, methods for you to be your own promoter and book your own gigs and actually have a very good chance of succeeding, now a very general question by musicians today we want to answer to boost your positive attitude and your inspiration to try this out…
How Important Are Gigs Or Live Performance?
To some people this question may sound dull, specially if they are in a band and they have played music for years it becomes instinctive the reason why behind this question, but still there are those who are not so daring to take the first step into attempting live performance, specially solo artists, so here the main reasons:
- Boost fans, Quick!: Yes, we know that with today’s technology you can reach out fans online, but there is nothing like the experience of discovering a talent on a night you less expect it, it is more probable to earn a trustworthy follower who has seen you in person, rather than a “listen” on a social network, without us really knowing if they listened to the whole song!
- Build Connections: There is always a few other musicians in the audience, or someone who might be in the music business in some way, performing live is opening the gates to networking and building professional relationships.
- Promotional & Marketing Must Do: When you want to really have success performing live is one of the main boosting factors in a promotional or marketing campaign and that is unquestionable! It has always been and it will continue to be one of the main strengths to push you forward as an artist and to also boost sales in all aspects! Our new album, your merchandise, your brand, and anything else you have to offer your fans.
- Fan interaction: After a few performances familiar faces start to pop up occasionally, they are your first followers and they will check regularly on what is new with you and attend your gigs, these are the fans who can even work as a street team (a marketing tactic which works by petitioning fans to reach out new fans for you) and will support you in some cases even for a couple decades.
So, what is it that you need to learn first to start booking your own gigs and reach out all these important aspects for your musical career to have more success?
Becoming Your Own Promoter
What is A Music Promoter
A music promoter is an individual who will do publicity and promotion on your upcoming local or national live events and concerts also, he or she will organize the events, book the band or bands, and advertise in a way to bring in as many people as possible, which in turn, will bring in profits.
Taking on such role is a bit of a daunting task for many artists and they do not even attempt it but at the start of your career it can be a very powerful decision as you can decide how far, how strong and how much effort to put into it! And you will also save money from a budget that might become scarce to quick or insufficient if you hire all the individuals needed at different stages of a musical career too soon (promoters, publicists or marketers, lawyer, producer(s), mixing engineer, musicians.. etc..) starts to sound convincing, right?
Organization, Be a Musician & Promoter At The Same Time
Your first step is to prepare yourself and be organized, be ready to network and approach a lot of venue owners or booking agents for the places you will want to perform at, we will get to the “approaching them” a bit later, but for now we need to set you up with your tools to convince and make the venue owners or booking agents for the venues take you seriously, you will need three things to be a “convincing” Promoter:
- Rehearse Your Music: You or your band have to be prepared and ready at a moments notice, you might be able to book a good date, but it will be very soon or just a few days away and the last thing you want is too embarrass your self in front of an audience missing notes and singing rusty, also if the performance is not convincing to the owners of the place they might not let you play again and close their doors on you, this is why be ready to perform your best as soon as possible! And it should be the first thin you take care of!
- Have a Demo Or Recording: If you have material to show to the venue owners (which in many cases they do request for it to assess the success possibility) it will be the best presentation card you can have for them! Also, many venue owners like to support artists who have an upcoming album as they know that they are playing live as part of their promotional campaign or their marketing campaign, which in both cases means more money for both sides, keep that in mind!
- Promotional Material: What else do you offer? If you have merchandise and the venue owners can get a share of the sales from it! That is music to their ears, seeing that you have promotional material or merchandise can be a noteworthy aspect for two reasons, their economical acquisitive probability and how seriously they will take you as they will see you are investing your self in your art form.
So far, so good! There is still another aspect we will go into detail into that you need to have ready as soon as you start networking and contacting Venue Owners and Booking Agents and that is..
A Press Kit
A press kit in it’s most pure form is a recollection of all your noteworthy achievements, you can think of It as a resume of your band or in the case you are a solo musician, of yourself as a professional, as for what you should include in a press kit:
- Bio: a well written, short bio (not longer than half a page) explaining who you are, how long you have been a musician, why you are a musician and any basic information you want fans or other professionals to know.
- Press Photos: Any photos that are professionally taken and edited and/or have been featured in magazines, music websites or interviews.
- Favorite Press Quotes: Many music critiques will give you a quote or two that you might take a liking for, this are good to promote your band when a gig is coming up through flyers or any form of advertisement you are doing to raise the ticket sales.
- Online Links: Simple, Your social networks, your website or blog and any online stores for your music or merchandise.
- Contact Information: This is for fans or other musicians or people in the business, a good thing to keep note of is to make yourself as accessible as possible for others.
- Your Stage Input: how you will place yourselves in the stage and your gear, how many amps, or if you have an instrument rack for guitars and basses, Drum Kit size, etc.. any spatial questions, so if modifications are needed they can be taken care of, some venues have stage extensions for this purpose.
That covers up pretty much all you need to start off as your own promoter, now as promised, the approach to the venues and how to be convincing or raise your chances of getting a date to play.
Venue Contacts & Networking With Them
Here comes the real challenge and the fun part! Before we start we want to mention that there is a bit of a learning curve for how to approach and treat your contacts, at first many people feel a bit nervous and that does not help them much, but if we have to give you an early piece of advice it would be to always be honest and be yourself.
So, here is the first step to finding your Venues and spots to play with your band or performing…
Locating A Place to Perform
Look for all the local places you can! Your best choice is to ask other local artists or friends who are musicians where they perform and see if they can set you up with a date.
Another great way to approach finding a place is to step in the shoes of the music fan! Where would you go to discover new artists who play the style of music you play?
Make sure that this places are at your “range of motion” what we mean is, don’t pick a place that is too far away from you if you do not have proper transportation or a sure-to-go method to get there on the assigned date, you and your band are the ones that can not be late no matter what!
Also, you can look online for places, you can start with a few bars or restaurants that have a band stage and ask the owners if they know of other places, chances are they know the venue owner personally and can hook you up with a date to meet them and talk business.
Networking & Promotion Plan
As you read, locating a place is pretty straightforward, the tricky part is actually getting a date to play and to do that you need to sound and be convincing and professional.
Networking is a musician’s must in his tools for contacts, you will have to network for many reasons and to meet many individuals who will help in your artistic career, but for now the basics on how it works. Networking basically refers to approaching someone with the intent of working with them and sharing a positive result with them, in our situation we want to approach a venue owner so they allow us to use a space to earn fans and a bit of money and they get a share for allowing us to use their physical space to perform. It is a win-win situation Indeed.
When you contact a venue owner they will most probably want to meet you and your band in person and sit down to talk about how much they earn in percentage, what will you offer, if there will be an extra income source besides the tickets that sale, and a very scary question many amateur musicians in the business do not expect, how many people can you bring for sure?
Do not worry, we got you covered! This answer comes from your Promotion Plan!
A Promotion Plan
A promotion plan is how you are going to sell your tickets to your fans or convince people to go check you out the night of the event, but how can we put a Promotion Plan together?
- Honesty & Realistic Goal: First of all you need to be honest with yourself and consider how many people you can really convince to go to your concert, including local fans and friends, before you approach a venue owner or a booking agent be ready with a list containing the approximate number of people you managed to collect to ask them if they would go or not in any given date of the month.
By realistic we simply want you to make an estimation of the approximate amount of people who usually attend to your live performances.
- Ask Online: if you have followers in social networks ask how many of them are close to you and explain the reason behind the question.
- Street Team: A street team is an assembly of local fans who are willing to be on the streets spreading the news about you, you can probably gather 10 or 20 people even if you are starting your career as a professional musician and ask them to go out to the street and tell people about you, you can reward them with free merchandise, tickets for your gig or your upcoming album even! It is up to you.
- Flyers and Advertisement: Almost as if it was a micro- marketing campaign! Your concert or gig must be treated this way, how can you distribute the information better? Handle flyers to music stores willing to support you and ask friends and family to share social network posts or flyers at their work.
- How you both benefit: with all the mentioned aspects above, now it is your turn to tell them what they want to hear, how much they earn and how much potential you think your promotional plan has.After your offer, discussion will start on variations on amount of gained percentage, but it is still a great advancement for you once you have gotten this stone out of the road, as you are just a bit closer to having a date to perform live.
A very common situation is that the venues will give you the tickets to sell them yourself and if you do not meet the required number they might reconsider allowing you to perform next time until you muster a bigger number of fans, even so, here are a few rules to avoid rushing you too much.
- A date with at least 2 or 3 weeks worth of time: Many venues like to test out newcomers by giving them a very early date, this with the intent of testing their tenacity and seriousness, you can not blame them, they are running a business and take a chance with every new artist!If you do not feel up to the challenge, try to pick a date that you can assure them to collect the required amount of people and the reason why, if this is your first big gig or even your first live performance there is a good probability they might give you a chance!
Now, the other side of contacting a venue (which you will get to it at some point when you have grown your fan base and they might start to request of you to perform at other places in the nation even,) is to contact venue owners or the booking agents via online, is there a trick to it? Well…
Contacting Venues Online
When it comes to online contact there are not many aspects for the venue owners to evaluate you, as they may request a skype call or phone call with you later on, but that is after you go though a selection process at their email list, as we mentioned, if you are contacting a large venue or place to play it is probable that is because your fan base has grown a bit and the venues you can pick from have expanded as you can fill in what they require (amount of ticket sales, a Merchandise stand or two, artist collaborations, proper sound design set up for live performance, etc…)
The only obstacle for you so far is a well written and professional sounding E mail that is convincing and well explained:
- Proper Use Of Names: do not use phrases like “to whom it may concern” find out who will most probably be reading the mail and use their name directly, and if you can not find the booking agent name use the venue owner’s name.
- A Short Intro: Simple as it sounds “we are a band that are seeking to use your space to host a live music event, we play x genre..” explain professional aspects of yourself and your band and do not leave gap holes in your explanation, a word of advice, keep it as simple and direct as possible.
- Link to your music: After the introduction Set a hyperlink with your music linked to it or upload a file of your demo or latest album.Now, here is a good promotional tactic to give yourself a better chance of being picked, send them a link to your song that is hosted on a social network, why? This way they will see how many followers you have and the activity your fans have with you (interaction, Q&A, Offers, latest gigs, your up coming material, etc) this can cause a good impression.
- Amount of people you can bring: Yes, as simple as it sounds, remember to be realistic and honest.
- Your Promotion Plan: The same one you have designed, if you had to make upgrades to it add them, and remember to make it transparent and comprehensible.
- Attitude: this is more of a personal learned lesson, avoid using “if” “maybe” “chances” and any word that can be balanced with probability, even if it is a local small venue or a stadium where you are attempting to perform, inciting your doubt will also incite doubt on whoever it is who reads your mail, do not leave that gap and be direct, realistic and confident in your statements and expressions.
As you can see, online contact is very direct, write a message and write plenty, send a couple a day and if there is no response don’t give up, there is always another place to try.
Now, what if you are an ABSOLUTE beginner and you are seeking the experience to perform live, or to be given the opportunity to do so?
Friendly Advice On Live Performance
If you are starting off and you do not even have a demo or enough fans to play live and be sure that you will sell tickets for the event here are some methods to start off and start acquiring your first fans attention:
- Opening Acts: Hey, it is no lie when we say that real artists help each other out! We know how hard it is at the beginning! You can ask local bands if hey would allow you to perform an opening act, perform two or three songs or covers and give you the chance to share their fans with you. Many assume that they would say no to your request but it really is 50/50, give it a shot.
- Song collaborations: if you are a solo artist this is a very good way to start off, collaborate with other local solo artists or with a band that does give you recognition for your participation in a song, sooner or later that song will be performed live and they will need you to be there to do your thing.
- Festivals: Many music festivals or festivals in general need performers for a whole day or two, it is probable you will come across your first fans here and you will not have to be tested or go trough an aggressive selection process to be allowed to participate.
- Bars, restaurants and small business: Many business hold events or need artists every week or month, the only thing here is that they usually have a song list they want you to cover, but after a few performances or times you play in the same place they might gather the confidence to let you play whatever you want once in a while.
Resources For Finding Gigs
There are many online websites that provide facilities of watching live shows of the musicians. It makes it all the more easy for the fans to catch up with their favorite songs and live shows over the net. The apps and tools that help in this purpose are mentioned in this chapter.
- splitgigs.com/ SplitGigs is a social network that helps emerging bands or musicians find gigs to play, through a simple but highly effective idea: the “SplitGig”GigsWiz– Using this site bands choose where to perform on the basis of the place where their fans want them to perform.
- Eventric– This software is basically used for industries related to professional live entertainment.
- Weiv– This app helps you to interact with the platform music. This software allows you to create a live visual performance or live visual music.
- SplitGigs– This is a powerful way to know about the not so famous bands and their live concerts.
- GigMasters– With this application you can book your entertainment according to your wish. You can book musicians and party singers.
- Gigwish– This app helps you to choose your artist and accordingly request organizers to arrange for a show where your favorite artist will perform.
- fm – Through this app musicians share their music to a particular venue and receive call letters from that venue for live shows.
- Live Music Machine– This app also helps you to contact your favorite musicians and bands in order to perform for you at a particular venue.
- ReverbNation’s Gig Finder– This also helps to search all the venues and night clubs and show what types of artists they have booked.
- Sonicbids– The most popular and famous web based booking site for musicians, artists and bands.
- SplitGigs– An online forum that helps new artists to search other artists and perform along with them.
reaching a venue out is a challenge at all stages of your musical career, it requires a learning curve from you and learning this process can be really helpful for when you need to be tactical (your marketing campaign, or promotion campaigns which require planning).
Also, the biggest benefit is that in time, you will create a network of venues that know who you are and will start contacting you when they need to fill a gap in their dates, that is where the most fun you will have as you will start to perform so often you will not believe yourself, strive for that and good luck!