Assuming that you have strong songs and an kickass live show, here are ten (10) simple things you can do to get more gigs:
1. Create a YouTube channel for your band.
Upload a live performance video on YouTube that represents your band at its best. Include a phone number and e-mail address too, so that anyone who wants to book you can contact you easily. Say something like “Contact ________ to book us for a live show.” To show professionalism and interest, try your best to respond to every inquiry within 48 hours.
2. Print up nice business cards
…with your band name, links to your music, live videos, and a phone number and e-mail address that can be reached for booking purposes. Also, include a link to your website so they can learn more about you. You’d be surprised how many bands STILL write down their phone numbers on dirty napkins and torn pieces of paper. Wherever you go, tell people who you are, how good you are, where you are playing next, and how easy it is for them to book you directly.
3. Go watch other bands that sound like you.
If there are any bands in your area with large followings, get out to a couple shows and become friends with other bands. Ask the bigger bands to let you open for them, maybe in exchange for some kind of help like designing a website, flyer, banner, etc. The harder you work for a band bigger than your band, and the more respectful you are to them and their efforts, the more likely they will consider you for an opening slot. Talk up how good your band is and why you are better than similar bands in the area.
4. Tell your fans how easy it is to book you.
Wherever you play - the street, house party, club or major venue, make sure your fans are aware that you’re willing to play anywhere. Use the Live Music Machine’s booking and calendar widget. Put it on your Facebook page, MySpace profile, personal web site, etc. and tell your fans to go there and book you for their private events, house parties, etc. After playing a gig, you should walk around the audience, engage people, ask them what they thought of the show, and let them know you are available to play live anywhere they want you too. Telling them that will definitely help you stand out from the pack.
5. Get guerilla.
Set up wherever there is a crowd of people who might like your music and play for them. Club, high school, venue, and stadium parking lots. How many tailgate parties do you think would love some free entertainment? Play outside clubs where bands are playing that fit in with your style of music. Those people waiting in line are going to be bored, so playing a spontaneous gig right on the spot will definitely make an unforgettable impression.
6. Don’t forget the old school.
Hand out flyers and post cards at events that have a link to free stuff and a way to book you for a gig.
7. Network with key industry people at events and conferences.
Radio PD’s and DJ’s, club owners, band managers, label executives, and others all attend music conferences quite regularly. Say hello to these people, maybe buy them a drink or dinner, but don’t make a nuisance of yourself. Respect their space and don’t try shoving a CD in their face two minutes after meeting them. Introduce yourself casually, let them know who you are and where they can see you play. If’s it’s a club owner, tell them you would love to come in during the day and do a free audition for a free gig. Just make sure you can get a place to sell your merchandise if you nab a gig. Offer to play at places that may not always host live music, like restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and malls.
8. Get creative.
Write up a proposal and present it to the appropriate person at your local school board, offering to do a series of free shows to raise money for the school athletic or band program. Ask to perform during a school assembly when they can provide you with a built-in audience.
9. Find places where bands similar to yours play.
Use ReverbNation’s “Gig Finder” to figure out where bands are getting booked in your area. However, e-mailing clubs with your RPK or EPK usually won’t get any results, because many of these venues have yet to claim their venue pages on ReverbNation. Instead, after finding some good places, print out your press kit and mail it to them, or better yet, personally drop it off it in a nice professional package along with a CD to any decision maker at the club. Follow up with a call within a couple of days so you stay fresh in their minds. If the decision maker has an assistant, get to know that person and you will find that it will be much easier to get in the door. If you email them anything at all, make it your MySpace link along with a concise paragraph stating why they should book you. For some reason, most clubs still feel most comfortable checking you out on MySpace, so play by their rules.
10. Do a gig swap!
If you have a respectable following or are an up and coming band, use sites like Indieonthemove.com and Splitgigs.com to trade and share gigs with other bands who might want to break into your market. Collaboration is key to success in today’s fragmented music industry.
BONUS TIP! Everywhere you go, wherever you play, whomever you talk to about your band… collect as many e-mail addresses as you can. E-mail is still one of the best ways to communicate directly with your fan base, and develop long-lasting relationships.
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