Booking agents will work with you but only at a prominent stage of your musical career. You are not likely to be contacted by the agents overnight. Initially, almost every musician has to book their own concerts and gigs. There is simply no alternative. However, booking gigs and shows on your own will make you face a battle of wits. It’s never as easy as it sounds.
In this modern world, we are filled with musicians everywhere. Truth be told, you are going to face fierce competition in achieving performance spots. This is because the slots happen to be very limited and the numbers of performers are HUGE! Sometimes you will feel bummed and hopeless because of being ignored that would make you feel like giving up.
No venues want performers that don’t have any previous experience in playing gigs. So if you are a rookie for gigs or stages, they will probably not even give you the time of day. They are always running after different ways to make money during a show, so they have to make sure that you fill the room for them. Hence giving a newbie the gig over a more established act is often what they dread.
BUT (yes there’s a but), it is not impossible to win gigs even when you aren’t an established band or performer. There are a lot of ways that you can utilize some experienced advice to book a gig. These tips and tricks will surely help you to get on the radar for local venues.
In this article, we are going to talk about those tips that will help you get on the stage even when you are new. Utilizing these methods will do magic for you. Don’t know how? Well, let’s talk in detail.
But, first, we need to know…
What is a Promoter?
A promoter is a person who hires talent to perform at their venue. The owner of the venue can also work as a promoter. Especially when it’s a small venue, the owner happens to manage the bookings, working as a promoter. On the other side, when the venue is a large one the owners tend to hire booking agents to make decisions for them so that they can book musicians who could bring in conversions, as in the audience, for them. The bigger the audience, the bigger the paycheck. It’s as simple as that. When the venue owners sell the tickets, they get a percentage from that. That’s what they call a conversion. They also get a percentage of food and drink sales.
It should be clear that venues make money through their audience. If you don’t bring enough conversions for them, they may not care about you as much as another artist that did. To make sure that you get selected by the booking agent, you have to ensure that you are going to bring your entire fanbase to the gig. Make the day or the night profitable for them; it is going to be profitable for you as well.
Once you get a lot of shows under your belt, or you have some other leg-up on other bands like raw talent or landed a spot on American Idol, you’ll be able to get your own Band Manager that will have great connections to book you gigs and do a better job negotiating the terms with venues. Until then…keep reading.
Consider having an Electronic Press Kit for your band in this case. An EPK is somewhat like a portfolio for your band. It depicts all your gigs, accomplishments, albums, music, etc. within it. It helps to convince the booking agents to consider booking your band or yourself. This can often be a website or other digital presentation for press or agents to hear or see some of your best songs you plan to perform. Sites like BandZoogle offer a quick and easy way to get you started.
Do Not Book Your First Gig until You’re Ready to Perform
There is no point in booking gigs if you are not ready to perform yet. It doesn’t even make sense—practice, practice, and practice. Without a considerable amount of band practice, you will not be able to rock the stage. Hit your rehearsal space as often as it takes to keep everything and everyone on track so that you don’t miss a beat. If you don’t have your own regular practice space, try booking a rehearsal room by the hour. We have our Hourly Studio at The Music Box that bands often use to get tight before a show or even a tour. There is likely a good option in your area as well if you’re not near one of our locations. It’s a good idea to know the size of the stage at a venue you’d like to perform at. Tape it off with some masking tape on the floor so you can also practice your on-stage arrangement. Make sure that you are confident enough to make your audience dance or headbang on your performance. Your debut performance comes only once in your life. So, have patience and hold yourself tight. Remember, having patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.
A Demo Audio or Video is A Must
A demo track is what lets the booking agent judge you, to determine whether you are eligible to play on their venue or not. Though demo tracks are outdated these days, what we mean is a song, be it a demo or a mastered one, that will help showcase your expertise. After all, the booking agent needs to know about you, your style, and your talent as well. A recording for your YouTube channel, along with your entire band playing in the basement or at your rehearsal space could be the best one to deliver to the agent. It will surely impress him if it is good enough. If you can show that your band has been on stage, that is even better!
Outsource the Network
As you have your EPK and demo tracks ready, now is the time to determine who to send these essentials to. There are typically two ways to book a gig:
- Book directly with the venue
- Book with a promoter
When you book directly with the venue, you have to bear all the expenses to promote the show. On the other hand, when you deal with a promoter, the promoter takes the costs and responsibilities of developing the show.
Most of the time, venues have their own promoters or booking department who promote the shows, but some venues tend to be different. It is best to reach out to the venue before you start sinking any money into your own promotional expenses. It will help you to get the hang of how the venue works. If they have no promoters and you don’t know any promoters, ask the venue to suggest you some ideal promoters with whom you can promote the show effectively. Ask your other band buddies, ask them who they love to work with. This is where the community of a rehearsal space can really come to life. Make a list of all relevant promoters and booking agents. Settle down, do your homework, and choose the ones that you feel comfortable with. If you think that this might take a lot of time for you or hamper your band practice, you can also hire a manager for your band who will look after all these things.
A Promotion Plan Will Take Your First Gig Booking to The Next Level
It is better to promote the gig yourself if you are planning to make your debut with a local, small venue. When you reach out to the venue, you need to demonstrate how you are going to promote the gig. Initially, you can set up a Facebook event, put some graphics on the cover of the event, and share it among your fan base. You can share it through emails as well.
But, this is just a first simple step. To promote an event, you need to be extraordinary. Give away some discounts or bonuses to your fans who come to buy the tickets earlier than others. Maybe you can give “buy one get one” offers or “50% discounts on two tickets” etc. offers. Set up a fresh theme for the show. Perhaps all the bands could cover one song from each other’s albums or cover any songs from any legendary band or bands that inspire you. To make the show stand out, you have to think outside the box. Be creative; it works.
You can leave an option for your fans to vote on the order. They would be directly engaged with the show and will think of this show as their own, and they will be more likely to support you financially.
Professionalism at its Best
When you successfully achieve the gig, it doesn’t mean you have gained everything. The process does not end right here. Without showing up on venues regularly, you cannot connect with the local audience. Hence, you have to be friendly to every single person who is involved in this gig and make a connection with them. Make sure that the venue booker, staff, technicians, promoters, like you as a person.
Be professional; it is the best technique to get them like you. It will help build a strong relationship with venues. Do not be late for the show. When you are just starting out, you have to make sure that you arrive at the venue earlier than other bands. It will grab their attention. Do not forget to test all your gear because any faulty equipment would make your night get off to a bad start. Give respect to the light and sound technicians. Always stick to the rules that are set by the venue authority. Play the songs that you know very well, which you have practiced like a thousand times at your rehearsal space. One show can change your life, your entire career, your entire journey. Do not neglect any appearance. Instead, be prepared on your every show as if it was your first show ever.
Do the Deal
A good gig depends on how good your deal turns out to be. If your agreement doesn’t go the right way, then there are chances that the show might lose money. While starting, you should not focus on profit-generating opportunities much. Think your debut gig as a promotional opportunity, as a life-changing opportunity. You have to show your willingness to work with the venue, with the promoter. This helps in convincing them to consider your band for future gigs.
Let them know how you are going to split the income among everyone. There are a few things, such as backline, riders, sound checks, and accommodations that the promoter and booking agent want to know. Let them know about these aspects. If you can think of anything that the venue booker and promoter should know, let them know in advance.
Think Outside the Box
Traditional venues are not your one-stop spots to go for booking gigs. Our culture revolves around live music. There are a lot of doors open for you when it comes to playing music in public. In fact, it is 3x times easier to get to book gigs if you step out of the traditional venue scenes. Not sure yet? Think about charity events, company parties, store openings, etc. These events are always up for live shows. It’s not that much of a hassle to book gigs for these events instead of traditional venues.
College gigs should also be taken into consideration. There are a lot of gigs open to performing for the performers. There is even a whole industry that works to book college gigs and tours. So if you are interested in these kinds of gigs, know that they can be a profitable venture for you.
A lot of options available at your hand, but that’s not what you should be thinking about. You have to determine what your goals are. Some might like to do college gigs, while some other love to play at traditional venues. The choice is yours, but you need to determine your goals first. However, while you are starting out, college gigs or corporate parties would not be a bad idea.
Make sure that each gig you play takes a step closer to your end goal. Do not do gigs for paychecks all the time. Sometimes you can take those paychecks but in the end, you are not satisfied with the event. This might not result in the best path for you. It will ultimately get you discouraged and run out of the drive.
Now that you have prepared everything, now is the time to show up and play a good show. Once again, show respect to everyone at the show. Showing respect tempts the promoters to work with you more in the future. Do not try to be a disrupting or disturbing person, especially if that’s part of your natural personality. An irritating band never gets a call back for future gigs.
Take full advantage of the audience. If you have any upcoming releases, talk about it at the show. You can also ask your audience to visit your website or social media pages. Encourage them to subscribe to your channel and website so that you can connect them whenever there is something new. Remember, entertaining the audience is what you are doing on the stage. Make sure you are doing that first and foremost. It’s possible to have fun while being on stage, but many bands get drained by the drama that can come with performing. Enjoy all the moments! That’s why you’re there, after all. However, it goes that first time, take it back to the next rehearsal to Get Loud and Get Better!
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