Most musicians have a knack for being prepared enough to get by, but not over prepared by any means. Most of the time nothing goes wrong and so you give your self a pat on the back for being ‘efficient’. I was one of those musicians for many years - until I saw a friends band work their arse off at a show, and reap a lot of benefit. Their secret? Preparation.
A gig is more than just getting on stage and running through your set list. It’s an opportunity to create new opportunities, build your fanbase, and meet new people. All of which are fundamental to your long-term success as an artist.
These five suggestions are just tips that I wish I’d created a habit of in hindsight. If you have any hot tips to add, feel free to share them in the comments below.
1) Make an effort to learn about the other bands
Other musicians are an amazing source of opportunities – they may know promoters who they can connect you up with, they may be able to share your music with their audience online, and they may just be great like-minded people worth spending some time with.
Have a listen to the bands you’re playing with, learn their names, and where they’re gigging (who they might know), as it’ll make a first impression so much more powerful when you say ‘I listened to your song XYZ last night – you guys have a great sound’!
2) Get the most out of your audience
Playing to 500 people this week? What could you do to get them all on your mailing list or Facebook Page, so that when you launch your E.P you have 500 fans (who already know about you) to tell?
You could walk around with a pen and paper asking them to join your mailing list, perhaps with a small incentive to do so (a free MP3, sticker, or badge), or maybe you could take a photo from the stage and tell the audience to tag themselves in it on Facebook (which requires them to like your page).
It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure you consciously consider how you’re getting you’re hooking in your real-world fans into your band’s long-term marketing strategy.
3) Set yourself up for a good day
Your mood is important. If you’ve had a bad day you probably won’t perform to your best ability, so make sure you’re well rested, and focus on creative things that you enjoy – avoid those who bring you down and treat your self! A better day means a better performance, which ups your odds for leaving a powerful impression on potential fans.
4) Know the details – and then write them down
There’s nothing worse than rocking up to a new town and spending half an hour driving in circles trying to find a venue, yet we all do this time and time again. Not only does it make you stressed, it can also eat into your sound check, both contributing to a worse performance. Get to the venue early, know where you’re going, know the promoter’s contact details, know the gig’s timings, as well as any special requirements such as gear share etc.
A good trick I learnt from a friend is to create a ‘fool-proof list’ – you essentially write down everything that could go wrong (that’s relatively likely), such as a tire-going flat, snapping your only guitar strings, or not having a drum kit to use. Now work through that list creating back-up solutions. It may sound over the top, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5) Get warmed up and well-practiced
Where possible, get an hour of challenging practice time in a few hours before the gig, this’ll not only get you mentally prepared for the show, but it’ll also improve your technical performance.
So there we have it - five things to do before every gig!
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As mentioned, if you have any tips to add just post them in the comments below.
Image Credit: TimcMak