This article looks at the need for innovation to tackle the issue of fans being ripped off when they buy gig tickets. “As an industry we need to be innovative and tackle the issue head on to support genuine music fans and make it easier for them to get hold of the tickets that they want when they go on sale and at a reasonable cost to them.”
Entries in Gigs (18)
Musicians are a scattered bunch. I know you agree with me. Don’t lie.
I think some of them just glide through life with this “things are bound to happen!” mentality. I mean, optimism is great and all but you know what’s better?
Actually being in control of what’s going to happen.
Do you know how you can get more control over your music career?
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.
My name is Paul Williamson, founder of www.Band-Stuff.com, musician, singer, and promoter. In the past 2 years I have worked as a promoter, putting on events in London, working with a variety of bands and artists ranging from small garage band acts, to international touring acts.
In this article I will go through the bare essentials behind being a promoter for your own shows. This is mainly to cover the nitty gritty essentials of putting on a show and not so much detail into the promotion side of things (since that is an extensive topic I will cover in another article at a later date!). This is by no means the only or best way to go about things, just one way.
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.
In some of my other articles, such as How to Book SXSW, I mention the importance of playing often. However, I need to add a disclaimer: it isn’t just about the quantity of shows plated, it’s also about the quality. While in theory, it sounds good to perform as much as possible because you can gain more exposure, the results can be quite different.
There is such a thing as playing too often, especially in the same market. Here are some of the biggest reasons why you should limit the number of shows you play:
A musician-for-hire is someone who provides a service to an event coordinator, talent buyer, or group of people that caters to the event’s specific needs and generates a notable yearly income.
You know, the guy that’s singing “Don’t Stop Believing” in the background of a picture-perfect wedding reception, or the guy kicking off “Hava Nagila” at the most anticipated Bar Mitzvah of the year. Even the cover band at the coolest bar in town is an example of musicians-for-hire work. There’s plenty of work like this out there for us to make a living from - but how do you set yourself apart from the rest of the bands trying to compete for these kind of gigs?
Well, although there’s no short answer, there are several steps you can take to set yourself ahead of the competition and create a “wow-factor” for yourself. Indulge:
This is the time of year where many artists many artists are starting to get their SXSW rejection letters. It’s also the time of year where you’ll see many contests on Sonicbids, ReverbNation, and other sites that try to have you have your fans vote your way into a slot at the festival. However, eager artists who want to break into the music industry will begin finding other ways to a part of the action and that includes unofficial SXSW showcases or other festivals taking place in Austin at the same time. Before you jump at any of these opportunities, you better educate yourself.
A while ago, I wrote a piece about The Unspoken Rules of How to Treat a Touring Band. Basically, it was some rules on courtesy between bands show share a gig. After going on a few more tours myself, I wanted to share some additional advice on how to make shows run a little more smoothly and how you can be a little more professional in your gigging.
Here are some assorted tips on the pro’s do it:
A while ago, I wrote this article about How to Get Better Results From Your Sonicbids Submissions. Since then, there have been a few changes to the site (both for promoters as well as performers). All of the advice from the first article still applies so if you haven’t read it, take a look at it first.
Here’s some practical advice for those of you who would like to use Sonicbids to get gigs and what my thoughts are on it (both as an artist as well as a promoter):
The “Four P’s” is a term used to describe the traditional Marketing Mix: Product, Price, Placement, and Promotion. Well, I’m going to borrow from that expression and talk about the Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation, Promotion, Performance, and Post-Show. This series of blog posts will cover the things that you can be doing as a live performer to maximize each show. Part 1 is all about preparation.
The Four P’s of Playing Live Shows: Preparation
We’re going to start with the assumption that you’ve chosen a venue and confirmed a date with the venue booker. For tips about getting booked, see one of my previous posts 5 Ways to Impress Venue Bookers and Get More Gigs.
Once the gig is confirmed, here are some things you will need to prepare for the show:
Who will the opening band(s) be?
I guess the first question really is will there even be an opening band? The answer will almost always be yes, as the benefits are clear. An opening band can warm up the crowd, hopefully bring their own fans to the show, and help with the promotion of the show. So when choosing an *opening band, a few things to consider (*and if you happen to be the opening band, much of this advice can still apply):
In a word: AWESOMENESS.
As an indie I go to a lot of local shows. I want to find and network with other bands, make friendships, and help support my scene. Some bands are great, some are good, and others are…’eh’.
The really great bands are firing on all cylinders. Great live show, great recordings, great merch table. The other bands always seem to be lacking in certain areas.
If the live show is THE most important thing for a band, then I think there are certain aspects, certain ‘Standards of Excellence’ that a band MUST achieve before stepping outside the rehearsal room. We just cannot afford to suck anymore, at all, no compromises. That doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect: to play a million notes a second, or whatever. Not perfection, just a commitment to excellence.
Here are a few Standards of Excellence I feel every band should consider the bare minimum before starting to gig regularly, if they expect to get results that is:
Dave Cool is the Blogger-In-Residence at musician website and marketing platform Bandzoogle.
One of the most common questions I was asked by artists during my time as a venue booker was how they could find a booking agent. I inevitably answered that they should just keep playing gigs, grow their fan base, and an agent would find them. But is the answer really that simple? In a word, yes. By far the best way to get a professional booking agent is for bands to book themselves until the point where they are selling out shows on a regular basis on their own.
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(Updated January 13, 2016)