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Posts : 485
Website Started : 2013-08-04
Location : The Tardis


The best thing you can do to start gathering a following and getting yourself seen, is to begin gigging as
soon as your band feels comfortable about the act. Gigs range from bar and nightclub gigs to even more
lucrative moneymakers such as weddings and private parties. Although DJ's have become quite the rage,
many functions would still prefer live music. There are also touring gigs and the question of booking your
own gigs or hiring a booking agent. Other topics to consider are decisions on equipment, costumery, etc.
We will touch on all of these topics in this article.************

Before even looking for a gig, you'll need a submission package. Packages should contain a cover page, a
one page bio, at least one page of press clippings, a business card, photo, and demo. Video tapes can be
an optional extra. We have already covered promo packs in a previous article, so check for it in
SOJOURNS index of past articles. Your cover letter should be short and to the point, stating who you
are, a few accomplishments, and why your band/performer would be good at that particular venue. Bio
should be self-explanatory, just keep it to one page. Be honest and don't exaggerate. Clippings should be a
couple of lines of brief description from each article including the by-line and the name of the publication
that it came from. Business cards should be hard stock and have logo if possible. Also use logo on your
letter head paper and envelope. Photo should be taken professionally and should have all contact
information printed at the bottom. A video would give the owner of a venue a great idea of how you are
as a performer, so I encourage you to make one. Demos can be done in several ways, all acceptable to
bar/club owners. The most obvious is going into a recording studio and producing a demo. You don't
have to spend a lot of money, there are studios that range from 20 to 80 dollars per hour that are just as
qualified as the $150 plus range studios. This is a subject that we will touch in greater length at another
time or you can check the recording tips section of this site.*****************

Next it is time to do the foot work. You will want to start a log including the names and contact
information of local bar/club owners. If you have friends in the business, ask them if they can tell you
what certain clubs pay, as this would be very helpful information when it comes to setting a price for your
fee. Some clubs have a standard rate which they pay all performers, but some still ask what you would
charge and deal with you accordingly from there. You don't want to sell yourself short, nor do you want
to shock them with extremely high rates. Call the club before you send or deliver a copy of your demo
and ask for permission. Keep a record of who you spoke to each time you called in the log you have
created. If you do go in person, try to get the contact person to watch your video or listen to your CD
while you are still there, but don't be pushy. Once they have your demo pack, keep following up on calls
(without being a pain) until you get results. Some of the things you might watch out for are club owners
who may ask you to perform live before hiring you. You may want to invite them to other gigs you have
scheduled. If by chance you have no scheduled gigs anytime soon then you may want to set up a freebie
gig somewhere. WARNING: This is the only time that you should ever play for free, unless you do
something that benefits a charity. Beware of anyone who claims they will hire you if you perform for free
or anyone that offers to "allow" you to play for free for exposure. Although playing for the door can
sometimes be to your benefit, be very cautious about accepting door gigs. Playing for the door does not
guarantee any money, except a percentage of what's made at the door, which is usually minus what the
club decides it needs to pull off the top, usually including taxes, publicity and promotional costs,
production costs, and any other surcharge that they may decide is feasible. Other problems that may arise
can be getting shorted by the club or not drawing enough people to make it all worth your while. Some
clubs have an audition night. If you take advantage of situations such as these, make sure you invite as
many friends and family the night of the audition to insure your acceptance. The same method goes for
any public establishment that you are allowed to invite your friends and family. One big piece of advice
concerning guest lists tho. Make sure your guest list does not exceed the money you make, you do not
want to get caught forking out something such as mandatory production costs, or exuberant bar tabs from
your own pocket, or worse, not have enough money to stand up to your end of the agreement. You
should keep your guest lists tapered to about 1 or 2 guests per member. Most of your friends, and even
family members understand this etiquette, and you can always make it up to them at another

College gigs are usually handled in the same manner as clubs and bars. You can contact the college and
find out who handles bookings for such events. Also try on campus venues like coffeehouses and pubs.
Contact fraternities and sororities, each has an entertainment chairperson who handles bookings. Also
consider hotels that have occasional dinner/dance where local band/performers are needed. Just beware of
what is called a "continuous engagement", which means the band never stops playing. Since these gigs can
last four hours, band members will have to take turns breaking, which WILL require a lot of

Touring is a whole other story. Booking agents are generally not a good idea for local gigs, but they are a
necessity for tour gigs. They typically take 15 % of your earnings, but some independent agents may take
less, depending on the gig. I personally have always been flexible working with local bands, but may earn
a slightly higher percentage when it is a guaranteed good money gig. Your act should be polished and you
should have been playing local gigs for quite some time before you consider touring. Make sure that the
agency that you decide to go with is legitimate, there are sharks everywhere. You can check with former
clients and the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against them. Be wary
of "exclusive" contracts. You should always be guaranteed a certain amount of work, and have an escape
clause in the contract in case the agency doesn't live up to its promises. Always have a good entertainment
attorney look over any contract before signing. Don't go with any attorney that is suggested by the agent.

If you are planning on setting up touring gigs yourself, you have your work cut out for you. It's handled in
the same manner as local gigs, but you have to call long distance. Send out your promo package first, then
follow up with calls to the venue. This can be very difficult for an individual without the connections that
a booking agent has. You, unlike a booking agency, probably have no idea what clubs are where. You run
the risk of setting up gigs in dives or in horrible neighborhoods. Hotel gigs are a little easier. If you stay
with the bigger name hotels, your lodging is usually free. This brings us to another problem with club gigs:
lodging. Some clubs include lodging, others don't. You have to be careful with club funded lodging as they
often go with the cheapest flea bag hotel in town. And when clubs don't supply lodging, you need to be
sure that the payment for the gig will be enough to lodge you in that area and still make a profit. It's very
difficult to know the good clubs in areas that you have never been before, which is a main reason why we
suggest a booking agent for tours. A reputable agency will take good care of you. One word of caution,
make your first tour a short one, just in case you decide that touring is not for you. You can always
extend it if you decide that you like it. Whether you are touring or performing locally, you'll need a lot of
gear. You probably already have your instruments, and some other equipment already. You need good
professional microphones, and they can be very expensive. Make sure that you have sufficient capital for
this financial undertaking. If not already provided by some venues, then you will need a good PA system
that includes speakers and a mixing board and separate monitor speakers and mixing board if your budget
allows. A solo act may need drum machines, synthesizers, and sequencers. Your attire could also end up
costing you some bucks. If you are playing a wedding, you'll want to wear a tux or formal wear; and a
hotel or private party may want you to dress up a little or wear costumes. If you're playing an event with
a theme, it is probably a good idea to go along with the theme. Always make sure you know what the
dress code is, don't be afraid to ask, the owner will appreciate your concern.********

Now that you know how to get gigs, let's talk about gig etiquette. You'll always want to be early, no
matter where you're playing. This allows for traffic and gives you time to set up equipment. If you don't
know where a gig is, ask for directions from the club/bar owner/party host and write them down. Pass out
flyers at casual gigs (with the owners permission), and have business cards on hand at all gigs for those
who inquire about your availability. Have a guest book so that people can sign up on your mailing list.
When you have begun to develop a following, alternate your material so that they don't get bored with the
same old set. Treat the servers and the bartenders nicely, you should tip them even though you are an
employee. They may persuade the owner to hire you again. Assuming you are of legal age to drink, DO
NOT GET DRUNK. There is nothing more pathetic than a drunk sloshing around on stage. Talk to the
audience, you need to have a good personality to pull gigs off. Always have a songlist and setlist. The
songlist is for songs requested by the audience, the setlist is for your prepared material. Make sure to have
extras of the essentials, like guitar strings, drum heads & sticks, guitar picks, etc... Do your sound check
early, when the least amount of people are present, and make sure that your levels are set before you
begin playing. And finally, you can never be too eager. Check with club and bar owners about being the
opening act for nationally known performers that are playing there in the future. If you'd like to suggest a
focus article subject, or would like to write one yourself, please send your submission to us via email. As
always, GOOD LUCK - BE CAREFUL & ROCK (the freakin hell) ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Copyright By Angela Hobbs
Originally written and published in 1999

Editors Note: All articles written by Angela Hobbs are under copyright laws and their use is strictly forbidden without prior knowledge and written agreement of the author.
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