So you have got the idea that you want to perform live in front of an audience? Great!
Most people who have picked up and learned an instrument eventually end up wanting to showcase their skills – sometimes it’s just to their friends and some prefer if it is in front of an audience.
If you’re in the position where you want to perform and play your first gig, you’ve come to the right place. But wait – there’s more to it than meets the eye!
WHAT TO CONSIDER FIRST
- Can you actually play? Have you listened to yourself back? It’s like singing – everyone thinks they might be alright, but it’s usually only a few who can actually sing. Gather your extended family and friends – those you can trust – to give you honest feedback.
- Do you have your own original material? This is an important one. While people do love the classics, promoters may not necessarily want to hear you playing Wonderwall and Hallelujah amongst others they fondly recognise. If you do want to perform a covers set, you may be better contacting local bars/restaurants and ask if they are looking for a performer.
- Think about where you want to perform. Most live music venues operate a strict age policy. While some venues do allow those under the age of 18 years old to perform, most venues operate a strict 18+ age policy.
- Do your have your music recorded? It may prove difficult to convince promoters to book you if they haven’t heard your music. Even if it’s lo-fi, grab your smartphone and record a video on your phone.
DID YOU PASS?
So you can play and have your own material? Congratulations – you’re a songwriter. This is an exciting time for you and we can’t wait to help you on your journey. It’s important to understand who is involved in the process:
- Promoter – the person/group organising the event at a certain venue. This could be a local music promotions company, the venue itself or a friend of a friend. The promoter will decide who to book to perform, when and how long you will perform and the conditions for your booking.
- Sound technician – the person in charge of making you sound great before you take to the stage. You will usually perform a soundcheck before the official opening time where you will plug your instruments in and test everything to make sure everyone on stage can be heard, that you can hear yourselves and that everything is functioning correctly.
- Other acts – more often than not, you will be one of a number of performers on the night. Other performers will be sharing the stage with you, sometimes sharing equipment and they may be on before or after you.
- Venue – it’s the venue job to ensure that the audience is comfortable and safe. They manage the opening and closing of the venue thus making it important for the gig to be over in time for curfew.
LET’S GET READY
Now you understand the mechanics of a live show, we want to help you secure your first gig as a musician and here is our main guide on how to secure that booking.
- Ensure you have enough material to perform a ‘set’. A set is how long you are scheduled to perform for. This can vary in length depending on the stature of the act but if it’s your first gig, you can expect to perform anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
- Understand how a promoter thinks. The promoter may have the costs of venue hire, sound technician fees, other band fees, promotion costs and a range of other things to worry about covering. They will expect that if you are due to perform, you will spread the word via your own channels and let your family, friends and indeed fans know where and when you will be performing and encourage them to attend. It’s worth noting that if you don’t believe anyone may come, it may be better to re-evaluate, boost your profile and arrange for your first gig a little later. If you think people will attend, go for it. You can basically sum this up as this: bring a lot of people consistently and you’ll get a lot of gigs.
- Contact local music promoters and tell them about you. Promoters may not have heard of you so this is your time to sell yourself – concisely. Make it very easy for them. Tell them who you are, where you’re from and what type of music you perform. Give them streaming links to your music online so they can hear your music and provide them with your social media links. Give them all the information so they don’t have to come back asking questions.
- And practice again. Then some more. If you’re putting in the effort of reaching out to promoters, creating your own original music then you got to make sure you can absolutely nail it in a live setting. Playing on-stage is a different beast then playing in your garage. Hone your craft. Invite friends to your practice rooms. Get them to invite their friends. Test it out in front of people you may not know.
- Now you play the waiting game and wait for a reply from a promoter.
- Organise your own. You could take it all on yourself and organise your own show. Please note, this may involve a lot of work but for the right person, it’s not impossible. You could take on all the risk, booking the venue, paying and arranging a sound technician and being responsible for promoting the whole show.
Small venues would be the most suitable for this as they have flexible policies but may require a lot of time organising where you may prefer concentrating on your music.