How To Book Gigs As A Musician
As a new artist, the concept of booking gigs can seem insurmountable. There are so many factors to take into account, such as bringing gear, talking to the promoter/venue, payments, and ticket sales. Performing on stage can be hard enough without having to worry about all of the other aspects of booking shows and gigs.
Though I haven’t played a gig in a few years, I have played multiple types of gigs in multiple music genres throughout my life. My experience spans from weekly gigs in a punk rock band to playing benefits as a classic rock cover band. Though my musical performances have changed over the years, the strategies to book gigs is fairly consistent for all types of musicians.
Today I want to go over a few ways in which musicians can begin to book gigs. There are many strategies that can be used to open up gigging opportunities. Find which method, or combination of methods, works for you. If you are a gigging musician and find that I missed one of your favorite strategies, let me know on social media!
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Strategies To Book Gigs As A Musician
Start With Open-Mic Nights
The beauty of open-mic nights is that they accept musicians and entertainers of all reputations and skill levels. This will help you get your feet wet in regard to performing. Check your local venues and cafes for open-mic opportunities.
It will also help you build relationships with club and venue owners and promoters. If you are regularly performing and supporting open-mic nights, more opportunities may present themselves in the future.
Have An Easy Method To Show Off Your Work
When pitching your act to a venue or promoter, they are going to want to see your body of work. They are not going to want to spend a lot of time searching the internet for you. If your music and information are not readily accessible, this could be a deal-breaker for promoters.
This can be as simple as having a website or a link directory (such as Linktree). You may also opt to make a media kit that can be easily emailed. An excellent example of an artist website be seen on my friend Emcee Graffiti’s official website.
Network With Other Artists
Sometimes getting your foot in the door is the hardest part. Many clubs and venues are not willing to take a chance on an artist they don’t know. Having some social proof and a good reputation can help you get more gig opportunities.
By networking with other artists in your area, you can increase your chances of getting booked for shows. Gigging artists may ask you to open for them. They may also know people who run the venues and clubs in your area. This is just one of the many benefits of having healthy relationships with your local artists.
Just like with any relationship, be as authentic and genuine as possible. Don’t hit up artists asking them for gigs. Get to know them, their art, and build a real relationship with them. Relationships between artists are some of the most meaningful relationships an artist can have.
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Call Or Email Local Venues
Just because most local venues will not take a chance on a new artist (or one that is new to performing live), doesn’t mean they all won’t. Call your local clubs, bars, and venues and simply ask about how they book performances. They might just be willing to take a chance on you.
Even if they don’t book you right away, you will still get experience in talking business. You may also learn what you have to do to be booked in the future.
Make sure that you are approaching each venue as professionally as possible. There are most likely other artists who are also contacting these same venues. Being professional can go a long way in these conversations.
Support Your Local Music Scene
If you show your local scene support, your local scene will support you back. Artist communities are just that: communities. Support other artists and your local scene as much as you want them to support you back.
Honestly, this is probably the most fun and fulfilling strategy in this article. Some of my best memories come from the friends and experiences I have had in my local music scene.
You can support your local music scene by attending shows, collaborating and supporting other artists, and helping promote other creators in your community.
Make The Best Art You Can
At the end of the day, performers are primarily booked based on their talent. Having great art is the first step to getting booked for live performances.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is an often overlooked aspect of getting booked for gigs. Many artists want to jump right into performing while they are building their catalog. While artists can find success this way, having a good body of work behind you will increase your chances of getting gigs (especially paid gigs).
Build Your Audience Outside Of Gigs
From a business perspective, club and venue owners want to book acts that will draw a crowd. This will increase their revenue through cover charges, tickets, food, and drinks. If your fans are not coming out to see you, you are less likely to be booked for subsequent shows and gigs.
Having an existing audience will also help you in negotiations for paid gigs. Promoters and venue-owners want to book artists that can bring people into their buildings. By showing that you have people that will show up for you, you can leverage better performance opportunities.
Have A Good Online Presence
When a club or venue is thinking about booking you, it is very possible that they will look at your online presence. Make sure that your social media accounts, websites, and other online outlets have consistent branding.
You may also want to consider having separate social media accounts for your personal and business hats. It all depends on how you want to be seen on the internet. While social media can be a fun way to talk with your friends, if you are trying to establish yourself professionally you may want to consider having professional accounts.
How Do You Book Gigs As A Musician?
We hope you enjoyed our list of strategies to book gigs as a musician. Are you a performing musician that has a strategy to add? Let us know on social media! Until then, get out there and start booking gigs!