Saturday night my band played a nice-paying and well-attended private party (a statewide annual convention). This was a gig that had been booked almost a year and a half ago when the client saw my band at a State Fair gig. When we got there we realized that the event was basically a “who’s who” of people across the state of which many are responsible for booking bands for the small-town festivals and street dances that comprise the majority of my band’s yearly income. Thankfully we responded with a great show and as a result we not only secured a repeat booking for next year, but got several strong leads on other opportunities as well. So the “success chain” in this instance goes: Fair gig -> Private gig -> Same gig for next year, + one more strong lead on another private gig, + several more potential clients with biz cards in their hands. Takeaways? #1, play tunes people like, play them well, and put on a good show. This seems like a “duh” but it should inspire us all to give our best, every show. You never know who might be out there. #2, be scoping the crowd to see if there are potential future clients in the house. A lot of times these are folks that aren’t really participating in the “scene” but are intently watching the band nonetheless. A good front person /BL will often know by intuition who these people are and will make it a priority to connect with them on breaks. #3, be aware that at any given gig, you’re under the microscope offstage as well as on. That means during load-in, on breaks, and loading out as well as the show itself. If your band is having an off night or there’s drama between members or whatever, save it till after the show or at minimum, take it outside and air things out in private. Don’t be the band that convinces a client to hire a different band (or a DJ) because you can’t stay sober, you’re late to set up (critical no-no for private gigs especially) or you’re airing issues out on the stage. #4, seize the moment while you're at the gig and in the moment. On our first break Saturday night the first person to come up to our BL was a gal asking if we were available for a major event next summer. Thankfully we had just stocked up on business cards that day. One thing my BL did that was especially smart was with one guy who seemed especially interested, he not only gave him a business card but he got the other guy’s number as well and put it into his phone on the spot. #5, support whoever in your band is doing the heavy lifting with bookings. One of my bandmates Saturday night was griping because the BL wasn’t helping with teardown and I pointed over to a table where the BL was in an intense conversation with some folks and reminded him that he was probably getting us a future gig at the moment. That shut him up pretty fast. #6, aim for repeat clients, and treat those clients like gold. If you’re playing gigs that are annual events, you should be trying to lock-down next year’s event before you leave the venue that night. We have several gigs already booked for next summer that are “ask-backs” from this year and when you can get a few of those it gets a lot easier to fill out your schedule.