Getting a gig

Guitar Lessons by Jeff Dunsmore in Butler, Pennsylvania

How to get your first gig for your band

Don't worry, I still remember what it was like trying to get our first gig for our band. We always wondered what the best approach was but lucky for us they had a magazine out (way back then) called Gig Magazine.

I remember them talking about making a good demo and having a press kit. So, those are a couple more things you need to consider doing before approaching a venue or bar owner about getting your first band gig.

I don't want to go off on a band tangent but I do remember hiring a good photographer and going to every COOL location in Pittsburgh and taking pictures. Sure, we dressed up and did the best we could to look like rockstars in the 80's and shot some nice glossy black and white photos. We also did a lot of studio photos, which if my memory serves me correctly, we ended up using.

OK, that is enough old band trivia, lets jump in and talk about your band's first gig.

Your bands first local gig

  • Have a little promo pack put together for your band and here is what to put inside:
    • Cover letter - about your band and the type music your play. A misson statement.
    • Demo CD.
    • Photo (Impress them with a good black and white glossy).
    • Comprehensive Setlist of everything your band can play. Originals and cover tunes.
    • Contract (you probably won't use it, but it will show professionalism). If you need a contract, hit me up on my contact page and I can send you one :). Eventually I will post one and make it a free download.
    • Business card with your booking contact info and your main web address if you have one. If you don't have one, you can always use myspace for free or many other sites too.
    • Hopefully you have some type of website you can send them to. Let them know you have a lot of friends on facebook and you plan on marketing the gig as much as possible. Just remember, that the venue won't always provide people for you to play for and it is a two way street, you have to let them know you are prepared to bring some people to the concert. Since social media is so big these days, I recommend including a sheet talking about your Social Media and Social Networks that you use to promote your band.
    • If you have an agent, have them make contact with the venue, set a time to drop the promo pack off, and let them represent you and take the promo pack to the venue. If they can't meet with you, get there address and mail it in, providing that is OK with the person in charge of booking bands.

Well, that is the basic promo pack, but here are a few more things you might want to do before approaching the first venue or bar to book your first gig.

Talk with other Local Bands

If your involved in your music community, I imagine you go see other bands when you have time. So, if you go see bands at a place you want to get in, ask them how much they get from the venue. It never hurts to ask, but I can gauruntee they will be honest :). Keep in mind that some bands that are well established, even at a local level, might make a lot more money than what you will get. It will give you an idea of what they pay bands in your area. Don't be afraid to play your first show for less money and prove to the venue that you can bring people if your playing local. Make sure you set some type of price for the second show after your prove to them you can market and advertise and bring your fans to your shows. You might even have to play your first gig for free. So at least be prepared to deal with it if that is something they ask you to do. Personally, I play benefits for free and will help any legitimate cause, but I don't believe in playing for free under any normal circumstances. OK, now that I have said that, keep in mind I am talking about a band that has worked very hard and reheased all the material and have a good professional show ready! If your band is not at a top notch calobor yet and everyone in the group just wants to play because they enjoy rocking out, sure, give in to them and maybe do one show for free. By all means, if you are looking at warming up for another established band, then you might have to play a free show too and prove yourselves. I have more to say about bands that play for free and when, where and why to do it, but I will save that for another topic and a rainy day :). I think you see where I am going with it though :).

Social Media

That is a little social media topic above, but social media is HUGE these days. Make sure you setup all your social networks and make them look as professional as you can. If you have your own website make sure you link to your social media sites from your website. Sure, make sure you like from social media sites to your main website too :).

Just remember, a lot of people like going out to see live bands and first impressions last. They also last when you first contact a venue about a gig, the first time they view your promo pack, and the first time they meet with you or your agent. Alway put your best foot forward. Best wishes and keep on Rocking! This is a new topic for me so I will revise it more and please feel free to offer suggestions for our getting a gig page.

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