Section 3: You Booked That Gig, Now What?
PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR IMMEDIATELY, PROPERLY with the correct, date, time, location and how much you agreed to be paid! As soon as you put it in your calendar, go and make a Facebook event and create a nice header for it. Don’t wait to make the Facebook event later that day or week, do it immediately so you have everything in line with your calendar, this is a great way to double check your dates. When you have done creating the event, invite a few friends who are around that area and post it on the wall of the venue you are booked at! In the Facebook event, you will want to describe the venue and what is great about it. Pump up the place you are playing at; the food, service, number of beers on tap or great patio. Don’t make the event about you; make it about the venue first, then, a little bit in there about you. You need to pump this event all the way up to, and while you are playing it. Check in at the venue they love that! Post a photo or tweet of your setup and any specials the bar is offering.
While you are playing the gig, its imperative that you interact with the patrons. You need to have business cards with you to provide to people there who like your music and may want to book you for a private party. PLAY TO THE CROWD! It’s a good idea to have some updated news, funny trivia or music information to be able to chat with people and between songs. You have the mic, and you can easily mention how hard the servers or bartender(s) are working. Give them a shout out…“and remember to tip your servers!” They will love this; you will quickly become their favourite performer and they sometimes report back to their boss about how much they loved you. MAKE FRIENDS, with all of the staff, and with the patrons. Fans is a weird word, these people are your friends and that connection will turn them into what some people call “fans”. When the show is closing out, be sure to announce your appreciation for the venue supporting live music and having you there to perform.
After the gig is over, you had a great show and you made some money. Go home and get back on the computer. Hit up the venues Facebook page and thank them again for having you and mention you would love to come back anytime! More formally, send them an email the Monday after and let them know how much fun you had or how you could better the turn out next time. Ask them what they thought, and if they have any suggestions to better fit your show to their patrons or venue. After you have discussed everything about the gig you have already played, mention you would love to come back and ask what dates they are currently booking for. You want to turn this one time show into a reoccurring show moving forward.
Increase your chances at a reoccurring gig
- Follow up and praise the venue on all social networks for having you
- Call them back and ask how to better the turn out, how their bar numbers were
- Connect, engage, and build relationships with the staff! Act like a co-worker.
Lather, Rinse and Repeat
This is an ongoing process, and you will continue to do all of the steps above over and over again. There will come a point if you continue to work hard you can ask for a little more money, turn down some gigs that are not great for you, and start to ask your regular venues for reference letters to help you grow your network of employers. Don’t give up, this is a long and tiresome process. You will get more rejections then you can count when you start, but after a year or two, you should have a fairly full schedule that will help support your financial needs.
Some Extra Notes
-Take care of your gear and do the proper maintenance when you are between gigs. There is nothing worse then having your pick up die with no extra battery, or break a string, or have a patch chord crackling and broken. The show must go on so be sure to have an extra one of everything with you all the time.
- If you are not finding any new venues then go out on twitter and follow a few musicians in your area who are gigging lots. Find out where they are playing by searching their website or Facebook and start to copy down the venue names they are playing at. Build lists on twitter to separate artists, and venues. This way you can track who is playing where, and when these places have live music. I personally have a list of venues and festivals throughout Canada, and a list of independent artists in the GTA. These lists provide new places to play on a daily basis.
- Get a few good searches that bring up open mics and go play them. While you are there, talk with the staff and see if they hire musicians to do full cover sets other nights of the week, chances are they will. Then you have a good way to audition live for them, and make a personal connection by just heading to their open mic.
- Build a playlist of the songs that you cover or want to add to your repertoire. This is the best way to pick out little hooks and things that you can mimic in your show to make the song more interesting. Little guitar leads, harmonies, or instrumental solos that are well known you can pick up and implement into the show. It will help you learn the lyrics so you are not 100% dependant on the book you have developed.