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How do we get a gig and get paid?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by strummer21, Jan 23, 2009.


  1. I'm hoping for some advice on how to approach getting our first real gig. We are a cover band that plays for fun and our goal is to play local venues occaisonially. We have a few parties lined up and we feel we are about ready to play out somewhere. As far as being paid, we all have regular jobs and the money that we make would go back into the band for better equipment etc. We play an ecclectic mix of rock/alternative songs and have a fairly unique set list for around here (we aren't classic rock or hard rock/metal like most cover bands around here). Anyway, we feel we are adequate enough to play out, but this being a business I feel that we don't need to have a slick demo tape and proof that we sound great as much as we can demonstrate that we can bring a crowd that spends money. There are 6 members in the band (2 vocalists) and we all have different sets of friends from each other and we could bring between 30-50 people to see our shows (prefer no cover charge). These would be mostly people in their 30's with money to spend. How do we go about approaching the venues, who de we talk to and how should we negotiate to get paid? Do you think this way will work, by this I mean selling ourselves by the crowd we bring? Is that the way it is done, or is it typically all about the music and how good we sound only? Thanks in advance for any and all help!
     
  2. deathbyjune

    deathbyjune

    May 19, 2008
    New Jersey
    sounds like you are good to go.

    you should just put together a quick demo cd, a few pictures, and contact info into a folder and give that to the club owners.

    you will need about 4 hours of music total, thats about 45-60 songs.
     
  3. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    A few ideas come to mind.

    1. Find some smaller venues and just stop in and talk to 'em. Talk to the people that book, let them know what material you do, be honest, and make sure they have your number and email when you leave.

    2. Find a decent open mic or two that can accomodate your band (or at least part of it). There are times when a good open mic can be like an audition for the weekend gigs at a place.

    3. Check out other local bands - make some contacts with similar bands. Word of mouth is still really good for bookings in some areas.
     
  4. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Club owners tend to re-hire you and concede to demands for more pay when you demonstrate that you can bring in (and hold) a crowd that makes the cash register light up like a slot machine.

    You need to secure a gig in order to demonstrate the financial viability of your particular "brand".

    To get that first gig, it helps to know somebody, and you will probably need a demo/press kit. This requirement gets eased considerably once you've been gigging a while and have made a name for yourself, but just starting out, you would be well served by a demo to prove that you don't suck.
     
  5. deathbyjune

    deathbyjune

    May 19, 2008
    New Jersey
    to answer more of your questions about negotiating pay. first decide with your band a price that is fair. i wouldn't go lower than $250 or higher than $500, since you are just starting out.

    call the club, get the manager on the phone or if he's not available ask to set up a quick meeting with him/her. Show up, shmooze them, be prepared with the band portfolio, suggest a price on the higher end..if he bites, sweet, if not, negotiate.

    ALSO, about bringing the crowd, some clubs will expect you to bring people. At first, it will certainly help to have as many people as possible (friends/family)...but as you guys work the scene, ideally you will get to a point where your band is good enough to be paid for your entertainment exclusively.
     
  6. Joe Murray

    Joe Murray

    May 14, 2008
    Fairfax, VA
    You guys are a new band...the chances of you getting hired (paid gig) without the room charging a cover is slim to none. So be ready for that.
     
  7. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    It's both the crowd you can bring and how good you sound. A demo CD, even if it's recorded live at one of your parties, will help. A picture of your band will also help, along with a picture of your band playing in front of a relatively sizable group of people at one of your parties. A play list should also be a part of your promo pack. Certainly talk up your ability to draw an audience of drink-buying friends when you talk to the bar owner/manager/booking agent. The best thing you can do is make friends with one or more of the bands that already play the venues you want to break into. Ask them how they got their bookings. Ask them what each venue is specifically looking for. Ask them how they negotiated their price. Musicians are (almost) always willing to help other musicians.

    Congratulations on taking this step. As my 20-year-old son said to me after he played his first real gig: "Gee, Dad, now I know why you enjoy doing this so much. There's nothing like being on stage with a rock band, is there?"
     
  8. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I agree that you don't need a "slick demo", but you should at least have a clean sounding recording of your band. No need to spend big coin on studio time, you can usually do a "rehearsal-direct-to-disc" session for pretty low money (around here it's in the area of $30/hr, 2 hr minimum) ...

    The venue manager/owner has no evidence that you'll bring in people .... not suggesting that he'll think you're lying, but still, no proof until they show up. So he'll want to be sure that you at least can play and not drive people out of the place. A lower budget demo disc will at least get the guy to realize that you aren't just another garage band .... then once your peeps show up and spend money you should be good to go for future gigs ...... :cool:
     
  9. Wow, great advice so far. I really appreciate everyone's help. Just to clarify, right now we can probably do only 2 hours (2 sets) of music. I can get pics of the band and some samples of us playing live and our set list. What I really feel pretty confident about is the quality of the clientele that we can bring in, so that's why I thought that would be a big selling point. It would be a sizeable crowd which sort of excludes some of the tiny dive bars that you just set up in the corner of the room.
     
  10. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    +1

    The manager at the club I mix sound at will not allow bands to play for no cover except under exceptional circumstances. And in those circumstances, he's not paying the band out of pocket. He feels that if you're not worth (at least) 5 bucks at the door to the average Joe, you're not ready to play his joint.

    There are plenty of counter examples to this though -- just depends.
     
  11. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Keep in mind that if you bring 50-60 poeple into a regular sized bar, that it'll seemed packed...especially if they have regulars that hang out.

    On the other hand, 50-60 people in a average sized night club could feel like playing to an empty house. Just things to consider.

    And I mean no offense to you when I say this, but it's a rarity that everyone who tells you they are coming actually does come out. You'll likely get your regulars, and your see you once in while crowd.
     
  12. Yeah, I'm talking about smaller bars, not nightclubs, so I see where you are coming from. When I say 40 people, I'm talking about inviting 80 and only expecting half. Also, I know that attendence from friends and family will be very high at first, but then drop off as we play more. But that first gig should be pretty well attended.
     
  13. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Well it sounds like you have a good handle on what you are trying to accomplish. Good luck - let us know how the first one pans out.
     
  14. Along with CD's and pics, give them a copy of your song list. We got our first gig by just going in and talking to the owner of the bar. He really liked the song list and we booked a date on the spot. It takes some stones to "cold call" at a venue, but having stones is a good thing! Another tool that you can use is having others go into the establishment and ask for you by name. If their regulars are saying that you should be playing there, it might just tip the scales in your favor. That one worked for us, too!
     
  15. Things you can do that I did:

    1. Regularly check out other local bands and national acts that regularly play in you area.
    Check out emerging and established bands. Get to know people and let them know you and your band. Talk to bands and club owners about new band showcase nights and opening slots.

    2. Play an open mic night and get a board recording of your band for buzz, analysis, posterity, and possible demo. Should cost $5 or $10.

    3. You have to take at least a few babysteps. Play multi-band shows for a cut of the door. Usually door deals are the way you will start. Door deal meaning a cheap cover charge at the door to be split between bands. The door could be a % to you. You could play for tips. It is always good to talk about things in advance and try to get them in writing even if it is just 80% of the door because 20% of the time specifics and details left to memory are not going in your favor. Owners don't want to give you a guarantee if you don't have a resume displaying your effort and levels of success.

    4. Post flyers. Go out the week before your show and hand out handbills to the people that you regularly see out at shows.

    5. Play with some consistency with regards to time and area. You don't want to poison the well but you may want to play an area once a month when you are starting out.

    -Good luck
     
  16. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    That's a good one! You can usually find me the first weekend of any given month at the Radisson. It's been that way for years!
     
  17. tycobb73

    tycobb73

    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    our promo pack is a website I did, complete with songs list, video, calendar, bio, etc. Make a webpage with these, call the bar owner up, tell them to check the site out, call back a week later.

    Or if you're a really good bull...um...talker like my guitarist you can get gigs without the website. But most don't have those skills.
     
  18. modulusman

    modulusman Banned

    Jan 18, 2004
    montana
    You need more songs. I would not show a bar owner a setlist with only about 20 songs on it.
     
  19. crijan

    crijan Supporting Member

    Jul 6, 2005
    Dallas, Texas
    Endorsing: JH Audio IEMs
    To get by with a short songlist would require you to share a bill with another band. To pull that off, I'd recommend finding the other band first, then working together to pull the date out of the venue you're interested in.

    Again, you'll want a decent photo of the band, a rough recording (i.e. "live off the board" as mentioned above would work fine), and a song list. Since your song list is short, phrase it as if it's just a partial list of your material ("playing songs such as...").
     
  20. Myspace has become THE tool for show bulletins, networking, and checking out venues and bands in a flash in one place. Plus you can be a flaky friend there as well.
     

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