You’ve been playing guitar for a while now, you got some tunes written, and you’re ready to play them for an audience of music-loving fans! But how exactly do you go about this? How do you set up a gig? Who do you need to contact? ..and where can you play?
I’m pretty sure these are the type of overwhelming questions that are bouncing around throughout your head, am I right?
If you answered yes – this post is just for you!
Why You Should Be Playing Gigs As Often As Possible
One of the great things about being a musician is that you get to write music. But what’s even better is, without a doubt, getting to play that music (music that you wrote!) in front of an audience. There’s just something about playing in front of a large crowd of people that gets your blood pumping – an experience most musicians never get a chance to do.
There could be multiple reasons – maybe they don’t know how to set up a gig, or perhaps they’re just not interested – that they don’t make it any further than there own driveway. To make a name for yourself and reach a point in your music career that allows you to play full-time, it’s essential to play gigs as often as possible.
By writing this post, I hope to offer you my knowledge of booking your first acoustic gig and, hopefully, encourage you to follow-through.
How To Set Up Your First Gig
Setting up a gig is not all that hard to do, especially when you know how to do it (obviously). There are simple steps I have used to pick up gigs when first starting:
- Record a demo
- Visit local venues
- Make some cold calls
It is all that simple!
Record A Demo
When it comes to playing in clubs – primarily when knowing the body’s heard of ya – many of the promoters will not want to give you a gig unless they’ve either listened to what you sound like or know that you will bring a crowd. This is because it’s there job to book musicians that have a following, ultimately bringing in money.
Before you even worry about playing a show, you need to have some sort of demo to pitch, or at least a following. Since you’re reading this article, I’m going to take it that you don’t yet have a following. I could be wrong, though!
There are two ways you can go about getting a decent demo recorded:
- Record it yourself
- Book some studio time
Most musicians starting will not have a budget that will allow them to book time in a professional recording studio, thus leaving them no other option but to record one on their own.
Record It Yourself
Recording your demo can be done with a laptop and a cheap microphone, just as long as the mic is not too cheap. Otherwise, your demo will sound like poo. You can find a decent quality microphone at RadioShack or online.
When setting up, try to record in a bedroom rather than a metal garage, as the metal in the garage will sound bad. Also, don’t position the mic so close to the music you are recording, as this can distort the sound going into the microphone.
Book Some Studio Time
For those who do have the money to spend on a studio session – you won’t regret it! Just flip through a phone book, and you’ll find all the studio’s in your surrounding area. Call everyone you see and get their price per hour – some may be per track – then ask to listen to some of the previous stuff they have recorded.
Being a musician, you should have no problem identifying what sounds good for the money, and what doesn’t.
Visit Local Venues
Now that you’ve managed to get a nice-sounding demo together, you can begin scoping out venues in your area that you would like to play at. This can be done by visiting some of the places in your area to get a feel for the atmosphere.
If you go to shows frequently, you should already have a good idea of where you would like to book your first gig. Talk to some of the club promoters and ask them what their requirements are for a musician just starting and wanting to play their first show.
This will give you a chance to meet them face-to-face, …which is the perfect time to pitch them your demo and grab their contact number.
Make Some Cold Calls
Another option is just to make some cold calls. Go through the phone book, writing down all the numbers to venues that host live music, and call them up.
Ask them what type of music they are interested in booking if you could send them a demo in the hope of an opportunity to play there yourself, as well as all their requirements.
Even if they turn you “down” on your first try – don’t worry – keep their contact number anyways. You may have an opportunity in the future!
Promotion is just one of the things that come with booking a gig. If no one knows about the show – no one will come out to the show! Considering that you’ve finally convinced a club promoter to give you an opening slot on an upcoming show, they will expect you to at least bring some sort of crew.
This would be a good time to tell all of your friends and family that you will be playing an upcoming gig and would like them to come out to enjoy some live music.
There are other promotional tactics you can – and should – implement to get the best results. A few of these include:
- Passing out flyers
- Buying a Newspaper advert
- Handing out free tickets
- Posting online
As you can tell, there is quite a bit of work involved in regards to setting up your first gig. It certainly does help to be pro-active, that is, if you’re serious about really playing regularly.
It’s not hard, though! Stay active, connect with some club promoters, and you’ll be playing your first “real” live gig in no time!