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A Vocalist’s Guide To Booking Gigs

January 15, 2013

Since my band recently recorded a new demo, (which you can read more about HERE) I have really been pounding the pavement to get us gigs. New year, new demo, new gigs! Getting gigs is not as easy as it looks in the movies. There isn’t always a prospective employer just waiting to pick you up! YOU have to find THEM, and even then, this is a business. Just because you have talent, doesn’t necessarily insure that you are going to convince them to hire you to play in their venue. I still have a lot to learn, but here are some tips I have found useful in booking gigs so far:

Don’t give up. 
You are probably going to have to approach venue after venue after venue before you finally book a gig. Don’t be deterred! It has nothing to do with you, your talent, your band, etc. It just takes time and pressure. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Don’t settle for anything less than what you are worth. Now, when I say this – I don’t mean, be a stick in the mud. You do sometimes have to know when to bend. However, don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If the venue is not willing to pay you what you are comfortable being paid, it’s not worth it! Obviously, you may have a personal reason to play at a venue for little to no pay, and in that case, you have to weigh the importance. When you are first starting out, it may be beneficial to perform for little to no pay just to gain experience, develop a fan base, get photos/video footage of the performance, etc. My point is, don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. A lot of venues will try to get it all for nothing.

Have a good recording. I know this is difficult when you are first starting out, and you have a limited budget. You may need to use some amateur recordings in the beginning, just to get your feet on the ground. As soon as you are comfortable doing so, try to have a professional demo made. This is the first thing prospective employers see/hear. This is what is going to sell you/your band. Always be sure to include these things on your demo and any other promotional material you give to venues:

  • Name/Band Name
  • Phone Number
  • E-mail Address
  • Facebook/Website Link
  • Genre of Music You Play (Jazz, Rock, Metal, Pop, etc.)

Be prepared. You may think you will have loads of time to prepare if/when an opportunity presents itself. Wrong. Rehearse whenever you can. You may receive a last-minute call from a venue that the band they originally had scheduled backed out and they need an emergency replacement! Who knows – you need to be ready to jump! Always have your promotional materials (business cards, demos, postcards, flyers, etc.) on you. You never know when you may meet someone who is looking for exactly what you can offer.

Have a following. The reason venues hire bands is often to bring in more business. They are looking to attract more customers, and hoping the customers will stay longer and purchase more food/beverages while listening to YOU! Invite your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone else you know to these events. The more business you can drum up for the venue, the more likely they will be to hire you again.

See other bands perform. This may sound like an odd tip, but watching other bands perform will help you. You can see what they are doing right, and why THEY are booking gigs. You can set yourself apart as an artist and make what you do more unique. You may be inspired!

Once you have a gig… 

Always arrive early.
 This may sound like a no-brainer, but always arrive early to a gig. Give yourself plenty of time to set up, as well as take a breather before the gig. You do not want to be running to get to the venue and arrive out of breath, quickly trying to set up – and probably making big mistakes along the way.

Relax. Enjoy the moment. Don’t stress yourself out and end up not doing your best because you’re so worried. You’ll be fine. Take some deep breaths, drink some water/tea, and have confidence! Good luck!

The Growing Artist Signature

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 15, 2013 8:37 am

    Great list of how to get on not just as a vocalist but in any self-employment! Good luck with all your gigs and make sure to let us know on Facebook when you’re singing in NY!

    • The Growing Artist permalink
      January 17, 2013 2:25 pm

      Thank you! I was hoping it would be helpful in some way to everyone! 🙂

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