With romance and idealism you don’t get no gigs! From A like acquisition, over E like encore to Z like Zakk Wylde - it’s a tough business through and through. Of course the quality of the music is of great matter, but where should the promoter know of it from, if he doesn’t know the band at all? You gotta sell yourself the right way!
In the end it comes down to the first impression!
The first impression isn’t only relevant when it comes to dating. The outcome of the first contact you make with a new promoter, new fans or music lovers that are searching for new stuff, comes down to the first impression they get of you. Look at your social media profiles, your website and your EPK (electronic press kit) with a critical view. Check whether your band pictures reflect the kind of music you make and the things that mark you as a band or if you gotta shoot new ones. It may sound banal and superficial but you’ll see that the right appearance clinches your next gig.
Networking is king!
Snap out of being shy, “put up or shut up!” hit the keyboard and the phone. It’s time to socialize because you need the contacts. Build up a mailing list with contacts of venues, clubs, local promoters, bookers our touring agencies. All of them are receiving a sh*tload of mails every day and surely don’t read all of them, so you better make sure to cut to the chase. Frame a crisp subject/header, be brief with your text and get to the point. Put a link to your EPK in the mail where they can download (make sure it’s a trusty source e.g. Dropbox or the like) or view it with a single click and get all the important additional info about you. Two to three days after you sent the mail, you start with follow-up calls. It sure feels like canvassing from door to door and you surely get put off from time to time or reach a lot of voicemails, but it only takes maybe 20 calls or a few more until you reach somebody - and at least one of your contacts will be interested.
Failure? Catch a breathe and continue!
Don’t let a few failures at the start of your “cold calling campaign” get you down. It’s completely normal! Every salesman can tell you a thing or two about it. The success rate is small and that comes with drawing a blank every once in a while. But it’s a minor inconvenience on the way to finding the right contacts and getting the correct contact persons that are helping you getting your next gig. Don’t just give up and say “Success? Where? I only reach a bunch of voicemails!”. That’s simply wrong. You may just have not contacted enough of them. Keep it up!
Use every option available!
Even though cold calling and maintaining existing contacts and networks is essential, you still should have other options of getting gigs on your radar. There are a lot of different groups up on facebook, where touring bands are searching for support acts or where private people are searching for musicians for example. Other platforms also have a collection of these insertions. Just take a look around. Another option is gigmit, the marketplace where you easily can apply to gigs. Don’t just bet on one horse and start using all the tools and options. It’s worth it! Or putting it another way: you’ve got nothing to lose!
Take every gig!
Don’t be no diva! Play each stage that’s offered to you. You don’t have a gig at the weekend? Get that guitar out and off to the street it goes. Show yourself, be present! Only that way people are able to see you, discover you and become a fan. And you definitely need a fanbase to be of interest to promoters because they wanna have a full house if they book you. Nowadays nobody is able to afford the risk of booking bands without fans. And that’s why you gotta show yourself and catch all ‘em fans! (Pokémon pun intended) There are in fact a lot of opportunities for presenting your music. It doesn’t always get you the biggest of all fees but that shouldn’t stop you. It’s an investment into your future career.
You see how important it is to play the businessman every now and then. Especially if you don’t have a management or a whole agency-machinery behind you and your rocking everything DIY-style, it’s even more important to put the musician aside for once, to tackle the whole live-biz as strategically and success-oriented as possible.