How To Get Your First Gig

How To Get Your First Gig

The gig. It’s the holy grail of musicianship. It’s the reason why you spend hours practising and writing songs. It’s your chance to show your family, friends and fans exactly what you’ve been doing in the basement for the past two months with your three best buddies. So how do you get your first live show?

First, make sure that you’re ready to play a gig. Aim to have a 30-minute set. Your performance – whether you’re an acoustic solo artist or a six-piece rock band – needs to be tight as well. How will you speak to your audience and what will you do onstage when guitars need tuning, strings break or sticks fly into the audience?

There are two main ways to get a gig:
1. Approach a venue
2. Ask a band if you can support them

If you approach a venue, make sure it’s suitable. A bar or music club is perfect. A pub with a back room can also work. If you’re just starting out, don’t waste time trying to contact big venues. They often have promoters to arrange their gigs.

Find an email address for the bar manager (check out the venue’s website) and say that you’re looking to play a gig. Don’t expect to get paid. It’s only when bands pull a decent crowd that venues pay them. Some music venues operate a ‘Pay To Play’ policy where you have to sell a number of tickets to friends and fans in advance. This is OK if you’ve got lots of people that want to come to your gig, but it can be stressful in the lead up to the gig if you can’t sell the tickets and lose the money. For example, the venue wants you to sell 50 tickets at £5 each. You have to give the venue £250 upfront, and then take the money back as you sell the tickets. If you only sell twenty tickets, then you’ve only made back £100, and therefore lost £150. Always check before you agree to play a gig.
If you know a good local band, then ask them if you can support them. Often, they communicate with the venue and you just turn up and play. You will also get to play in front of their fans as well as your own.

However you get your gig, make sure you promote it. Use Facebook, MySpace etc. Make flyers and posters and distribute them in appropriate places.

Finally, make sure you play well! The venue will want you back and you’ll pick up some fans!

How To Get Your First Gig
Key tips:
1. Don’t expect to get paid unless you bring a LOT of people.
2. Include lots of information and links to your songs online when emailing venues or bands.
3. Always be polite and friendly to venues, bands and promoters. You never know their connections.
4. Email first. Follow up with a phone call a week or so later if you haven’t heard anything.