There’s nothing worse than a band that sounds great on record but sounds like garbage live. No performance is 100% perfect, but from my experience, there are things I’ve learned to overcome those mistakes and bumps in the road and still leave showgoers with the feeling that my band is halfway decent and knows what we’re doing. Here are a few of my suggestions.
Entries in Concert (8)
In recent years, the music industry has experienced a shift as audiences get younger and music fans become more accepting of a wider range of sounds and musical genres. Streaming services and online music stores like iTunes have completely changed the way that we buy and access music by placing the entire history of the artform at our fingertips. We no longer buy the albums that sound like the ones we already own. (After all, who wants to pay $18 for something we might not even like?) Now, we sample everything because it’s extremely easy and cheap to do so. The effect is that, over time, our tastes evolve to let in a larger variety of sounds and styles.
Festivals, intimate club shows and arena tours are the places to be to see your favorite band or entertainer. In fact, you might see several shows a month because music is your passion. When you frequent concerts, there’s a specific culture that you encounter. From mosh pit rules to bathroom etiquette, take a look at some of the best ways to enjoy every concert without hindering the experience for someone else.
Every musician has to start out booking their own gigs, but, as you’ve probably realized, this is a lot easier said than done. After all, there are so many musicians and bands competing for very limited performance spots. For promoters, it’s a game of risk management - they want to book bands they know will fill the room - so getting the spot as a new band can be very tricky. There are, however, some things you could be doing that can help you get those gigs!
What is a Promoter?
A promoter or venue owner is someone who buys talent. Depending on the size of the venue, they work independently or with booking agents to book bands and musicians to perform. For local clubs and venues, promoters and venue owners get a percentage of ticket sales and also make money from food and drink sales. As you can see, the business of promoters is really all about numbers - if they don’t fill the room, they don’t make money. This is where you come in. If you want to get the gig, you need to be able to prove that you can bring an audience, therefore lowering the risk for the promoter.
In today’s music industry, gigging is a huge revenue for a lot of indie musicians. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of competition for the limited gigs available. Just standing out of the crowd of talented performers can be a challenge, especially when you’re trying to grow into cities and towns you’ve never played before.
If, however, you are dedicated and have a strategy in mind when looking for gigs, you’ll have a much better chance of getting noticed. I’ve broken it down into 5 basic tips that you can follow as you’re trying to book more gigs.
Collaboration is the first step to this equation. I’m sure you know how hard it is to get a spot in new venues, especially if you’re not yet at the point where you’re working with a booking agent. Venue owners and promoters just feel safer booking a band that they know can fill the room. If, however, you can connect with the bands the promoter knows, you might be able to get gigs you wouldn’t normally have access to.
A ticket stub does so much more than just admitting you into an event. A ticket stub is a filled with memories, emotions and, if you’re lucky, your favourite singer’s autograph. Just one glance at that flimsy piece of paper, and the flood gates are opened. You are submerged in a pool of memories, like which song the band opened with, the moment you made eye contact with the guitarist, the hoarseness of your throat from screaming along with the lyrics, and how, for a couple hours, nothing else mattered in the world. That flimsy piece of paper can become a prized possession.
If you treat someone’s home (or your own) like a public venue, you are inviting several types of liability with potentially serious consequences. House concerts should be private events, and this article describes ways to safely build an audience, and the problems that can arise if you go “public.”
If there’s one thing I learned from my former years playing in houses of worship, it’s that the Sunday morning experience is designed for maximum effectiveness. Granted, some churches are more finely tuned than others, but the principles of your average worship service should apply to every single concert you play.
- Start with an engaged crowd. Even if it’s just the first row or two, a well-timed “Hallelujah!” now and again will get the cold crowd to warm up a little.
- Appeal to all five senses. Studies have shown that we remember events better if all of our senses are engaged. The Church, in its various forms throughout the millennia, has evolved to adopt this level of impact.
- Sight: Robes, banners, crosses, flowers, statues, you name it. Stained-glass windows and flying buttresses were designed specifically to catch your eye.
- Sound: Obviously, a church service involves talking and music. If your shows don’t have either, you’re reading the wrong article.
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(Updated January 13, 2016)