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Booking Gigs - Question

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Booking Gigs - Question

Postby thewilderdaze » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:13 am

Hey guys,

I'm a new artist that has never booked shows before. All the articles I'm reading say to e-mail the venue and suggest the dates you're looking to play (Hi, I'm blank and I'm wanting to play your venue on such and such nights).

My question is, since I'm only looking to book a 30-40 minute slot how do I suggest dates? I'm not a promoter or event coordinator so I'm not looking put together a show or find 3 other bands to play with me, do I just look at their websites calendar for nights that aren't booked?

Thanks all, any advice would be much appreciated.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby James Perrett » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:31 am

If you are looking for a short slot then that implies that you'll be playing on the same bill as other acts. Those sorts of shows are usually put together by a promoter so you probably need to contact the venues and ask them for the details of the promoters who put on shows there. Some areas have Facebook groups for musicians and promoters so it could be worth a dig around to see if groups exist for the areas that you are interested in.

The other thing I would do is to get out to plenty of gigs and talk to people - the personal touch really helps when it comes to getting involved in gigging.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:58 am

Here's tuppence from a spent, worn out old boot. When I was starting out we played anywhere that would let us and if we couldn't get a gig, we'd play anyway. somewhere. A venue was often a street corner. Coffee shops, art houses, record stores (I'm old...) didn't/doesn't matter.

If you want to play clubs, think like a club owner. Money is made at the bar, so, show them you can bring paying customers to your show and maybe they'll rent you the stage and split the door with you. There are a million places to play.

Parroting James, Go to shows! talk to the performers, the people at the board, the people at coat check. tip the bartenders well and make them laugh. Booking happens because people know you can fill a room and sell drinks. When you get bigger crowds, more experience, the equation evolves, but at the beginning, bars want to sell booze. Coffee shops want to sell lattes and scones.

Booking also depends on where you want to play and can be as simple as walking in and asking. Some places have one or two people who run the gate. Learn who they are and see if you can make a friend, or at least a business partner. Put together a demo. (my experience is each song should be a short clip, booking agents listen all day and don't have time for the magnum opus)

oh, and be easy and gentle with people. listen and care, then put on a show that'll make 'em talk.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby blinddrew » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:03 am

A couple of suggestions from me as another person playing the bottom of the gig food chain:
Put together a press-pack: mp3s, photos, bio, quotes etc, all available via a single drop-box link that's easy for a venue or promoter to access. Think about getting a cheap set of business cards run off with a QR code that links to this too.
Look at the venue listing, as far ahead as is clear, and look for the acts for whom you'd be an appropriate support. Speak to the venues/promoters about these slots. There's not much point putting a metal support on for an EDM headline.
Overall, make it as easy as possible for the venue to consider you.
And when you're not playing inside, get out and busk with a nice obvious sign with your name on it. A) it's a free gig that you're in control of, B) it's a great way to test new material and practice-with-purpose, and C) you'll probably make far more cash than you will in any formal gig. :D
Good luck. :thumbup:
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:04 pm

Get an agent! 80% of something is a whole lot better than 100% of nothing!

A busy venue does not have the time to frett over 20 different acts - they want someone to come in and fill the entire month with entertainment, in the same way that they will buy all their catering equipment from Nisbets or Brakes and get all the electrics done by one company.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby Mike Monte » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:38 pm

First and foremost: Have-a-good-product-that-is-"marketable".

There are many single/songwriters in my area that all sound the same: meh/vanilla/plain, etc.; decent voices but marginal musicians... Some of them think that once they can strum/comp three or four chords in a row and sing along "they're there". Others load up their presentation singing over tracks/effects in karaoke style. Talent is....well, talent.

A good product "sells".

If you want to do clubs/restaurants you'd be best to put together three hours of material (with breaks added in). A club/restaurant owner would much rather deal with one act per evening, not bother cobbling-together an evening's entertainment.

Network. There are many(?) resources such as; https://www.facebook.com/groups/559957584435115/ There are always bands looking for an opener or someone to share a bill.

Put together a good press kit /demo. What's a good one look like? Look online for acts that are similar to yours (acts that are gigging) and check out theirs. Go to their gigs and see what they do - network.

As far as hawking gigs is concerned, look for places that, in your summation, your music would work. Visit them and introduce yourself to the power that be.
A site visit and friendly handshake works way better than an email IMO.

Once you are on a venue's list, be ready for a last minute fill-in gig....even if you have skip a date that evening with the hottest gal in town.

A foot-in-the-door is better than a "knock on the door".

Story time: One of my percussionist friends in college went to NYC after graduation (early 80's) to find a gig. He networked a bit. One day he got a call to fill in on a show playing on Broadway. He nailed it and soon after he became a regular on the pit circuit and made an excellent living.
Oh, and his excellent sight reading chops landed him a gig as the auxillary percussionist on the David Letterman show for 20+ years...

You never know....

Be ready when the call comes in.

sorry for my early morning pre-coffee semi-rant at the beginning of my post.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby shufflebeat » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:51 pm

Mike Monte wrote:...single/songwriters...

Freudian or just big thumbs?

"Both" (Freud, S.)
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby Mike Monte » Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:29 pm

shufflebeat wrote:
Mike Monte wrote:...single/songwriters...

Freudian or just big thumbs?

"Both" (Freud, S.)

Ha! SINGER
(but you've got me thinking...)
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby BigRedX » Thu Nov 21, 2019 12:06 pm

thewilderdaze wrote:Hey guys,

I'm a new artist that has never booked shows before. All the articles I'm reading say to e-mail the venue and suggest the dates you're looking to play (Hi, I'm blank and I'm wanting to play your venue on such and such nights).

My question is, since I'm only looking to book a 30-40 minute slot how do I suggest dates? I'm not a promoter or event coordinator so I'm not looking put together a show or find 3 other bands to play with me, do I just look at their websites calendar for nights that aren't booked?

Thanks all, any advice would be much appreciated.

Is this for a band or a solo artist. Covers or your own compositions? What genre? Also where in the world are you based?

While there are generalities that apply to the vast majority of gigs, the specifics can make all the difference between having the right approach to getting the right gig and never getting out of your bedroom or rehearsal room.

Unfortunately I'm also going to "rain on your parade" and say that the very fact that you have to ask this question in the first place means that you are unlikely to be doing much more than play the odd gig here and there until you get bored and pack it in. Speaking from personal experience the bands that get gigs just go and do it. They don't think about it or over-analyse, they simply get their shit together and get out there and play. And no doubt they'll make some mistakes along the way, but if they have anything about them, they will learn from the process - especially what works for them.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby Watchmaker » Thu Nov 21, 2019 5:07 pm

blinddrew wrote: get out and busk ...you'll probably make far more cash than you will in any formal gig. :D
Good luck. :thumbup:

haha, I forgot about that. I frequently made more money selling blood plasma than I did for playing my ass off the first few years. Don't ever let a no discourage you too. It only takes one yes...sometimes hundreds of small yesses, but no is meaningless on its own.

You may have picked up the secret fact that there's no magic formula. every story is different and I for one applaud your courage in asking. Wish I'd learned that trick before I was 50.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby James Perrett » Thu Nov 21, 2019 10:40 pm

blinddrew wrote:And when you're not playing inside, get out and busk with a nice obvious sign with your name on it. A) it's a free gig that you're in control of, B) it's a great way to test new material and practice-with-purpose, and C) you'll probably make far more cash than you will in any formal gig. :D

I've just recorded an album with a busker recently. He makes a reasonable living at it which is supplemented by quite a few gigs which mainly come from people who see him busking. He spent years doing the conventional band circuit before discovering the delights of busking.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby blinddrew » Thu Nov 21, 2019 10:42 pm

Busking was what got me through college without having to take a real job. ;)
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby CS70 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 11:14 pm

Crazy thing in Oslo, the local council has actually banned any busking with amplification. Which essentially means any busking worth doing - or listening to, at least so long is just to one or two people..
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:08 am

The buskers code of conduct (drafted by the local council :headbang: ) which buskers are asked to conform to prohibits amplification. It isn't specifically banned though and, obviously anybody busking with tracks, loopers or electric instruments simply ignore it. That said I wouldn't describe all un-amplified busking as not worth doing or listening too (but then there is much amplified busking that is not worth listening to so maybe it balances out.....).
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby CS70 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:10 pm

I see. It's simply that playing a non-resonator guitar (not to mention signing) will have such a puny volume in say a busy subway station, to make it rather pointless - almost nobody's gonna hear you. Stuff like a grand piano, may work as it's far louder, but a voice ... unless one sings Pavarotti style :D
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby blinddrew » Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:52 pm

All my busking was un-amplified back in the day. You need to choose your spot well and learn to properly project your voice.
Sensible use of a capo to keep you in the right zone was also a requirement. :)
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:24 pm

In practice there doesn't seem to be any attempt to discourage amplification around here as long as it's not too loud.
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Re: Booking Gigs - Question

Postby James Perrett » Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:51 pm

CS70 wrote:I see. It's simply that playing a non-resonator guitar (not to mention signing) will have such a puny volume in say a busy subway station, to make it rather pointless - almost nobody's gonna hear you.

Try telling that to some of the buskers I used to hear in London in the 70's. They were plenty loud enough to be heard from a distance.
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