How can you get gigs for your band?


If you are in a band, you are probably trying to get gigs. This requires a lot of work, but here's how to do do it efficiently and successfully.


Finding gig venues

The first step in getting gigs is finding the appropriate venues. This means finding venues like music festivals, bars, theatres and stages organizing live gigs, that are aiming for the same kind of audience as your band generally attracts. Most festivals and stages are specializing is a certain musical genre. It can be difficult to put your own band in a box like that by sticking a genre label on it, but this is how the music world works.

Find these venues easily on the internet by searching artists in your region or country that are playing music of the same genre as your band.
Go for artists and bands that are about as successful as your band, or a bit more successful, and find out where they play. These places might also provide a gig opportunity for you. Paste all the venue names you find in a text document.

Another way to find appropriate venues is to look for venue lists on the internet. These are usually created by cultural agencies or by the government.


If you happen to live in a very big city, just visit the appropriate venues during their concert nights and talk to the programmer/owner/organizor in person. Show your interest in their venue and what they're doing. If you've started off a good conversation with them, you can probably make an offer for your band to play there. Nothing beats meeting people in person.
If your situation is different and venues are too far away to go there in person, read on.


Organize venue details

The next step is two make two seperate documents on your computer/laptop: one with annual events, like festivals, and one with events throughout the year. Make spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel or whatever) documents. This way you can vertically put all the venues. Horizontally, you add all the information that can be found on the venues' websites. The most important data are: event date(s), location, (festivals: which month?, stages/bars/theatres: which day(s) of the week?), website address, programmer(s) name, programmer email, programmer telephone, venue postal address, venue email.

Update all missing or out-of-date information later when first getting in contact through email or phone. Add one column for 'status'. This is where you will put in updates in how your contact with the venue holder/programmers is developing.

Gigs 2


Because you're using a spreadsheet, you can easily code a venue with a colour to be able to get a quick overview of the status of your communications with that venue. Use different colours for:

- email sent (include date), waiting for reply

- call back (include date)

- not contacted yet

- press kit sent

- follow-up call (include date)

- venue said 'no', or program is already booked full.

- gig date received (victory!!).


Press kit

Now that you have an overview of venues booking your kind of band, in your region/country, you have to get together a simple press kit. This ALWAYS has to include: CD or DVD, band biography, photo, contact details and a personalised message to the programmer(s) in charge of the venue. Make sure everything in your press-kit looks good. This means carefully layouted, colourful, nice materials, readable etc. Put a bit of money together with your band members if you must.


Don't have a CD or DVD yet?? Time to make one. Even in this internet-age, the physical thing can't be beaten for most programmers. You can't hold a Myspace page in your hands. That said, there are also programmers that prefer going to your website/myspace and listen to your music that way.


Contact the venue

Now, you start contacting all venues by email. Be sure to make address each email directly to the programmer (include their name in the subject field). Anonimous looking emails tend to get deleted. Tell them that you are interested in performing at their venue and WHEN (for throughout-the-year venues, find out on their website until which month they have gigs booked). This way it doesn't look like you're always available, or desperate for gigs. It also helps them decide. If your email is not replied to, make a phone call later. Collect all the missing info in your sheet from them, even if you can't reach the programmers themselves and are talking to someone of the venue in a different function.


If you do get hold of the programmer by email or phone, and you will eventually, ask them:

- if you're calling at a convenient moment;

- if they are interested in having your band (tell them in 2-3 sentences what your band does, this is called an 'elevator pitch');

- when they are programming for their venue. Most of these programmers do this 1-4 times a year, so find out when. That way you can get back to them when it's most convenient to THEM.

- if they are interested in receiving your press kit. If they are, get the address from the programmer. Thank them and send the kit that same week. Get back to them 1-2 weeks later on the phone to ask whether they've listened to it.


In all your contacts with the programmers, remain friendly and relaxed. Show interest and try to find out whether they are genuinely interested in having your band gig at their venue, or not. They do not always tell you everything in a straight-forward manner, so ask specific questions. If they do not give you a performance date or are already booked, tell them that you'll contact them next year and thank them for their time.


Fill out the outcome of each call or email in your data sheet, most importantly, WHEN to follow up on a certain venue.


Fees and payment: wait

NEVER discuss money with a programmer if you haven't been given a performance date yet. When asked, tell them that you'd rather wait for a confirmed date and ensure the programmer that you and him/her will have no problems negatioting and establishing a suitable price. The reason to not mention money too soon is because you can only lose the gig if your quote is too high or too low.


Keep following up

Continue contacting the venues and programmer(s) and follow up on any emails or phone calls at the appropriate moments. Do this until you've either received a gig date or a definitive NO. Don't feel bad about contacting the same person many times; you need gigs and it's their job to talk to, and book, artists. As long as you stay polite there will be no trouble. That's it. Hopefully you'll be able to get your band a few - or even more - gigs this way.