So, you got the band together, you’ve written some material, and you’ve found some time to rehearse what you’ve got. Your band is ready to start booking gigs! If you’ve never done that before, though, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help you and your band mates get over the hump and out in front of the people, we’re going to share some ways in which you can book your first gig.
Start with Your Network
The best way for your band to book gigs is through the other musicians that you know. If you’ve been involved in the local scene for any period, then you’ve likely made contact with people who are in other bands. Start your gig search by reaching out to those people. First, it’s entirely possible that they themselves might have upcoming gigs for which they need another act or two. If this is the case, then they might be willing to slot you in with them. Absent that, they can fill you in on the different venues around town and the names of people whom you’ll need to get in contact with.
If you’re currently lacking for a network of other musicians, then it’s time to change that. Head out to some shows in the local area and start talking to musicians who are playing out. You don’t necessarily need to talk shop when you introduce yourself; in fact, it’s better if you don’t. But, in order for your future gig-finding endeavors to be successful, you’ll want to know as many people in the scene as possible. So get out there, support some local music, and be friendly while you’re at it!
Inquire at Local Venues
In the event that your network fails to yield any leads, or if you’re too shy, as yet, to start building a network, then you can go directly to the venues themselves. Most will have online calendars that you can peruse for open dates. When you find open slots, send the venue an email briefly introducing yourself and the band and expressing your desire to play.
If you do opt to go this route, there’s one matter of importance. In almost every case, you’ll need to have a demo. Now, this demo doesn’t need to be professionally recorded, but it does need to accurately portray the sound and style of your band. For a venue to book you, they need to know what they’re booking. So, consider making a rough recording and throwing it up on SoundCloud or a similar service.
The DIY Scene Is Your Friend
Over the last several years, there’s been a huge growth in DIY venues and house shows. These venues and events are an amazing opportunity for a band that’s just getting started out. Unlike a traditional venue, which will be concerned with its take at the door, liquor sales, and things of that nature, a DIY venue or show will not be concerned with this. In most cases, they exist solely for the purpose of bring musicians and people that like music together.
Therefore, keep your eyes peeled around town for posters advertising these kinds of events, and make it a point to attend them. When you figure out who’s putting events together, ask them about getting on a future bill. Likely they’ll be happy to add a fresh face to the scene, and they will take you as is, without the need of a demo tape.
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Ultimately, it takes time to gain success at booking gigs for your band, especially when you’re starting out. So, be sure to be persistent, while also not hassling people and venues too often. If you keep at it long enough, you’ll get your band out in front of an audience sooner rather than later.