Independent Records
Independent Records
Independent Records
Independent Records

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Getting The Gig

If you're like most other bands and artists, the number one thing on your list is getting gigs. I mean, that *is* what it's about, right? In a time when live music is disappearing in many places, this is easier said than done. Clubs have been hurt over the last few years, especially due to anti-alcohol laws. If you can't sell enough drinks, you can't pay the band. Correspondingly, there is a glut of bands all vying for the same few gigs. One of the worst parts about this is that it drives the prices way down. Have you ever had the experience of being asked to play for $35? Or worse, for free? Sure, we all do a number of free gigs if they help the band's career along. But with the decline in venues offering live music, it's not unlikely you will encounter being "undersold" by another band who agreed to play for less.

While none of this is good news, there is a number of things you can do to improve your success. In most cases, you are going to need a promo kit and demo tape. Keep working on your promo materials, constantly improving them as you can afford it. Anyone who books bands looks at a LOT of promo kits. And they all start to look the same after awhile. So you start with the ones that look pro, and listen to those demo tapes. The other tapes may never be heard, these people are always busy! And they get tired of listening to the ever-present stack of demos on their desk. So it makes sense to put yourself in the category that has a chance. Look at other bands promo kits when you get the chance. That will help you improve yours.

Always try and get the booking contact's full name and correct spelling, and address your materials to him/her personally. It is always good if you can call first, get permission to submit your kit, then follow-up a week or so after your kit arrives. Get the contact while your package is still stacked on his desk. When you call, be polite, and respect the contact's time. Many times you will find a booking contact hard to get ahold of. You may have to call back numerous times to catch him when he can talk to you. Persistence and a good attitude are really important. It may take you a long time to secure a gig at the top club in town. And even then, you may not get paid. Make sure you leave them with a positive impression of you as a professional. Even if you think the guy is an *&@&!%$$$#!!!!.

If you aren't playing as much as you would like, it pays to be creative in finding gigs. Don't neglect doing a benefit show for charity. This brings in a lot of free press and goodwill for the band. Try to get involved with the most visible (read: most money to promote your show) charity or organization. It also helps to really care about the group's cause. Also, it's OK to do Open Mic nights, especially when you are just getting started. These can lead to paying gigs down the line. Sometimes you can work out a show at a local music store that is stocking your CD. Set it up as an autograph-signing event. If your town is really lacking venues, it might pay to travel to the closest large town or college town, which usually have more venues to go around. And don't forget that there can be gigs where you least expected it. Sometimes a shopping center is having a grand opening. Or a walk-a-thon. Use your imagination. And learn to have resiliency. It's hard work getting gigs. But if you approach it intelligently, your success rate will increase.

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