When you are in a band, many times the biggest hassle is booking a gig. If you have a manager, then you don’t have to worry about it. The manager handles all of that hassle. However, most bands just starting out don’t have a manager. They have to do everything on their own. If you are looking to book a gig, follow this simple guide to make things easy on yourself.
Have a Press Kit
You want to have a press kit that you can give club owners and venue managers. This press kit will have a lot of information about your band in an easy-to-read package. The press kit should include your contact information, a brief biography of your band, an example set list, your musical influences, a band photo and a CD of your music. If you want to make things really simple on yourself, you can have all of this information available on your band’s website. You do have a website, right? If you don’t have one, then you need to set one up right away. No booking agent at a venue will take a band seriously these days without a website. One page on your website can have an electronic version of your press kit.
Find a Venue
Whether you are looking to book your first gig in your hometown or are looking to go out on the road for the first time, it is important to choose the right venue. Set your sights on somewhere small when you are just starting out. Even if you are only playing for a couple dozen people, you have to start somewhere. Find a coffee shop, bar, pub or club that looks like it would appeal to fans of your type of music. Once you find the venue, then you can contact them. Either give them a call or shoot them an email asking who you need to speak to about booking. When you get the booking agent’s contact information, then go ahead and send them a short email. In this introductory email, tell them that you are interested in playing at their venue. Ask them which dates they have available in the next few months. Include a link to the electronic press kit on the band’s website. Keep this introductory email short, somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-50 words. Once you have sent this email, wait three weeks for a response. If you haven’t heard from them after three weeks, send a follow up email asking them if they received your introductory email. After that, keep sending them follow up emails every three weeks. Don’t stop until they either give you a solid rejection or ask you to play. Being persistent is one of the keys to landing gigs. You never know when a follow up email will land in a booking agent’s email box at the perfect time to get you a gig.
When planning for your gig, remember that you need the right equipment to sound your best. Scout out the venue to see if they have all the audio equipment you will need. Use the house PA system if they have one. If they don’t, then you will need to bring your own. Depending on the scale of the show you have in mind you may need amps, microphones, speakers, stage equipment, lighting and/or a sound board. You can rent this from an audio visual hire company if you don’t have it. Make sure to include the cost of the rental in your calculations for the gig fee.
Once you receive an offer to play a gig, then the most aggravating part of the process begins. Negotiating a fair deal is one of the biggest headaches in the music business, and it is the primary reason most bands have managers once they can afford one. The booking agents will lowball bands as much as they can get away with. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money than they offer at first. You want to receive enough pay to make the gig worth your time. It should be enough to cover food and drinks for the band for the evening. There should also be enough to pay a fair hourly rate to each member of the band. If the gig is out of town, you also want there to be enough to cover gas and lodging costs. Add all this up and make sure that you are receiving enough dough to make the gig worth your time. Keep after it and you will land a gig before you know it.
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This article is written by Aaron Edwards, a Perth-based musician who has been gigging locally in his spare time for over six years.