How To Land Your First Gig
Are you a band or musician?
Make sure you've got the quality
First things first, you need to know you've got what it takes to perform in public to an expecting crowd.
Nowadays this is easy as you've got the social media at your fingertips. So, record a video of you performing one of your songs, whether it's an original or a cover, and share it with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. If they like it, you're in for a winner. If they don't, get them to tell you why and you can improve from the experience.
The great thing about this is that if the video goes down well your friends will be keen to see you play. That means you've already got a guaranteed audience at your first gig, so you won't let whoever booked you down and you'll have a great time on stage knowing that you're in safe hands with the audience.
You're gonna be on stage for a good while so you and your band members need to know exactly what's expected of you. So practice your set as many times as you possibly can. When doing this, try to replicate the stage setup that you will have rather than sitting around in your bedroom. Playing standing up in the middle of a stage in front of a crowd is a lot different to sitting at the foot of your bed playing to the wall.
While you're practising, you might as well get some video footage to raise some more hype for your band or yourself. Keep networking through social media. With buzz comes confidence and even more motivation to get your first gig.
The first gig is the hardest part but once you've played once you'll be addicted, and you'll be playing twice weekly before you know it!
Now that you've got your act together and you're confident that people are diggin' what you've got going, play a song or two to a friend or family member and get them to give you some feedback. Or even better, play to another musician as they'll be able to give you some great tips regarding stagecraft and songcraft and all that jazz.
Networking is the most important job of a musician (besides putting on a bloody good show) as it is only through networking that you will be able to gain regular, well attended and well paid gigs.
Attend local gigs
You don't have to perform at every gig you go to, but you do need to be in with the gigging crowd to be able to even perform at all. So go to all the gigs that you can find, preferably those that will be of a similar genre and set up to your intended performance. While you're there, take note of the way the bands and musicians perform, watch how they engage with the audience, watch how the audience react to the different techniques they use, evaluate on which performance was the most successful and take your inspiration from that.
While you're there, talk to musicians, get some inside knowledge and try to spread your name around. It always works in your favour when you introduce yourself to someone and they say: 'oh I've heard your name!'
Work your way up the ranks
Before you get your first paid gig you'll need to get yourself known on the live scene.
There are usually many many open mic nights going on at pubs around town. If you're in a particularly lively area there'll be one a night! So take your pick and attend as many as you possibly can. Go up, do your thing, and introduce yourself to the other musicians there. Make sure you attend regularly and soon you'll be part of the music community. Once you've wedged yourself in with the gang you'll be hearing about gig opportunities all the time. Now it's just a matter of bagging that opportunity.
Another great way to get yourself out there is by busking. And you might even earn yourself a penny or two! Make sure you let people know who you are, it may help to make some business cards that people can take away with them so they don't instantly forget about you.
Get the gig
As long as you speak to other musicians, show an interest in their music, attend their gigs and speak to more musicians there, speak to venue managers, find people on Facebook or Twitter after meeting them and stay in touch there, share the music you've posted on there with them, never leave the scene and keep asking about upcoming gigs, you'll eventually find one that's looking for a support act, or that's got quite a big lineup but has a slot free. All you have to do now is get yourself in there and get that gig.
Chances are people will have at least a vague memory of your name by now. They're brainwashed into thinking you must be good. They decide to give you a go. And voila! They book you for the gig.
Congratulations, you've just landed your first gig.
Keep it up
It's all well and good performing once but if you disappear from the scene for a long period of time people will forget about you. Not only this, but you'll lose your touch! So it's incredibly important that you keep going, learn your stagecraft and improve at every gig.
Don't be afraid to move further afield, find venues or events outside of town and play to a fresh new audience.
Hand out cards, keep up a good internet presence. Be there all the time but not to the extent of spam.
Just keep going and don't stop and you may even be able to start upping your rates. Soon you'll be earning enough for a night out you won't remember! Actually, don't spend your money like that... Save all the gig money you earn, stick it in the pot and take it out later to buy some studio time or some home recording equipment and eventually you'll be releasing your first album!