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How to Get Quality Gigs for Your Band or Musical Act
Develop a good marketing pitch
When approaching a venue, be sure to include the pertinent information they are seeking. Give them a brief synopsis of your music, provide links to an updated online EPK and let them know your estimated draw. Provide a list of other venues you have played and links to press clippings. If you do not have press clippings, consider asking reputable people in the field to generate a testimonial about your music or live performance. If you have few or no gigs under your belt, use this to your advantage. Play up the credentials of your bandmates and market it as a highly anticipated debut show or point out how you are rapidly gaining momentum with each gig you've played.
Network with local bands in your genre
The importance of networking with bands in your genre cannot be emphasized enough. Seek out local listings and utilize Reverb Nation or local music publications to discover acts. Check Facebook events for bands that are similar to you and see who they are playing with. Team up with them to coordinate your own bill and approach the venue with a full line-up of bands. There's nothing a booking agent likes more than having an entire night booked with virtually no effort on their part. This will also prevent you from being paired with acts that have absolutely nothing to do with your style of music, which will ultimately turn off your audience. If you're a folk act that has been on the same bill with a death metal band, then you know what I'm referring to.
Document your shows
Have high quality pictures of your performances available for bookers online, as well as video footage with a clear picture and good sound. Unless you've already established a name for yourself through positive press reviews and word of mouth, this is the only way the venue booker can see you in action to get a taste of what you will be producing for the night in question. If the show is packed, make sure to include audience photos or video footage, as well. Documentation of your shows demonstrates a commitment to quality concert performance and will set you apart from other recording artists.
What method of promotion has been most beneficial to your audience turn-out at gigs?
Promote your shows
This should go without saying; however, it needs to be reiterated. Many bands expect to show up at a gig and miraculously end up performing for hundreds of people and record executives. This is normally not the case. Utilize direct communication and social networks to promote your shows, generate a press release and send it out to all local media outlets, print flyers or postcards to hand out at local bars and clubs, hang posters in local establishments, and/or consider taking out ads if you have the capital and are lacking a viable social network to get the word out. If you promote your shows and have a good turn-out, word will spread, and you will have access to more prestigious venues.
Update social networks and website regularly
Nothing turns a booker off more than an inactive social media and online presence. If you do not put that much effort into maintaining your social networks and website, the booker will assume you're not that serious about your career in general, which could translate into little or no promotion for the gig you are trying to book through them. If they stumble upon a Facebook page with very few likes, where the most recent post is from last month, or a website where the last gig listed was a year ago, they will be hesitant to take a chance on you. Consider syncing all of your sites together, so you only have to make updates in one location, if constant updating across sites seems burdensome.
Produce high quality marketing materials
Unless you are in a punk rock band or are making an artistic statement, your flyer should not look like it was made by a kindergartener in Print Shop or Microsoft Paint. A flyer is the first representation of your band many people will see, before even hearing the music. If the booker and potential audience get the initial impression that you don't care about your marketing efforts, they will lose interest in the live performance aspect.
Consider starting your own party
Once you've established a network of bands in your genre, take matters into your own hands and create the environment you want to see your music thrive in. This not only entails putting together the bill, but creating your own party altogether. This would include booking other talent, such as DJs and promoters. Once you and your party have established a reputation, you can approach other venues and expand. You can even offer to move your party out of state and begin swapping gigs with other acts across the country.