How to Organize and Get Gigs

  • 11/19/2016
  • JamPlay, LLC

One of the things that I noticed in my time as a professional musician is that there are two types of bands, rehearsal bands and gigging bands. There have been far too many projects I have been involved with where there are endless rehearsals with no effort to get any real gigs. This can be extremely frustrating and can feel as if time is being wasted! The biggest hurdle is finding gigs is not only convincing a venue to let you play, but then also getting money for the gig. This sounds basic, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of venues that do not want to pay acts these days. They even want the act to do all the promotion and have a deal where you only get paid if a certain amount of people come! You would think the venue would want to promote it, right? Unfortunately, as a new band, you may have to play your fair share of crappy gigs!

One of the biggest concerns is organization and planning. If you are just starting a band then you are going to need to organize rehearsals, before you do this you need to compile all the music you are planning on playing in the band. Get a CD together with all the recordings and send a copy to each band member so they can learn their parts BEFORE the rehearsal. If you have charts for the songs they will be useful to give out as well. You wouldn’t believe the bands I have been in where so many hours of rehearsal time are wasted when members show up to the rehearsal not having learned their parts.

Once you have started rehearsing you need to set a realistic time frame to start gigging. Set a date and then begin finding suitable venues you might approach for a gig. Before that though, you need a press kit. If you haven’t got a demo CD then you are going to need to make one. A press kit should include a picture of the band (you will need to organize for this to happen also), a CD of the band playing and possibly even a video of you guys from a previous rehearsal or maybe even a previous gig. Make sure you type out a nice and friendly letter introducing yourself and the various members of the band and proposing that you play a gig at their venue. Explain why you think their venue would work for your band. Don’t forget to include your contact details.

It is very important that you target suitable venues for your particular type of music. For example, with my music I would target mainly Jazz and Blues venues. Be sure to send out packages to as many venues as possible.

That’s not all! You are going to need to give a follow up call a week or so later. Venues rarely get back to you as they are inundated with CDs from various bands. I know a jazz club owner that says he gets 40+ CDs a week sent to him! Most people that send their CD’s don’t do follow up calls so nothing ever happens! They get forgotten. It is important that you keep being persistent with the follow-up calls until you get the gig!

Make sure you do your research and find all the best clubs for your type of music in your area. The internet is a GREAT resource. Also try emailing venues with you myspace/facebook/youtube accounts – but be warned, these sometimes go ignored. I have got gigs through email though! Here are some of the Jazz venues I found in London, England when I was living there for a while:

The Abbaye. 55 Charterhouse St. Smithfield, EC1

FAO CARMEL, The Artesian Well. 693 Wandsworth Road, SW8

100 Club. 100 Oxford Street. W1

Baroque Ealing. 94 Uxbridge Road, West Ealing, London W13 8RA

Barracuda. 125 Stoke Newington Church St. N16

Battersea Barge. Nine Elms Lane, SW8

FAO Ricahrd Bird, Bluejay Lounge. 184 Uxbridge Road. London. W12 9NL

Boisdale. 15 Eccleston Street, Belgravia. SW1W 9LX

Brewery Tap. Catherine Wheel Road, Brentford

Brooks Wine Bar. Brook Green, W6

Bulls Head . 373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes, SW13

Central Bar. 58 Old Street. EC1

The Cactus Pit. Royal Parade, Blackheath Village, SE3

The Cafe Med. 2 Northside, Wandsworth Common, SW18

Canary Wharf. Canada Square Park. E14

FAO Chris Potts, Capital Gardens Jazz Nights. Museum of Garden History, Lambeth Palace Road. SE1 7LB

I found hundreds more just for a little over 30 minutes research.

So be persistent and be organized and you will be successful!

Good luck!