How to approach getting gigs?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by podiumboy, Dec 25, 2013.

  1. My band recently got back together, with the focus on being a general pop/rock cover band. We haven't played a gig in over 4 years, and all the places we used to play regularly are either closed down, under new format/management, or we are too old to play in (i.e. college bars).

    How do you guys go about this? Our old sources have pretty much gone cold, and that's fine. We're kind of looking for a new beginning and trying to do things differently anyway.
  2. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Get you local music flyer/paper, see who hires, call them, ask who books, call that guy, ask for a gig. Then call all your active musician friends, ask them who books, call that guy, ask for a gig.
  3. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Be ready to record song demos, make a press package, develop a website or FB page for the band, and shoot some kind of video of you playing. Venues will want to see stuff like that, especially if they don't already know something about you.
  4. Thanks for the suggestions. The first time around we were college age, and it was a different game. Our friends in other bands would let us open for them, or we'd play at open mic nights or parties, and the networking grew from there. So I basically have never gone into a place cold turkey and asked about playing there.

    We're in our early 30s now, we have shed the shackles of our old singer and no longer have the pressure that come with being an originals band.
  5. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    It's all about the local market. As said here look where other bands like you are playing then go out to those clubs and see what's up and speak to the owner/manager.

    With facebook, youtube a demo is not as important as it was in the past IMO. Put some music up on your site and give them links to the music with info.

    You have to see what the market is like and what it pays. Will you need to travel to get/find a market or is it good and solid local? That is something to consider with gas prices and what clubs are paying bands these days.
  6. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I used to use the demo/press pack thing but in the end all the bars and owners wanted was a link to a site to see and hear us.

    Foe fairs and festivals you might need a demo and kit but most still view you on a site to decide.
  7. If your good, do some benefits and open mic nights. You need to get heard.
  8. sparkyfender2


    Nov 25, 2013
    Good luck with your efforts! Hope everything goes great for you......

    I am almost in the exact same situation; after 4 1/2 years away from playing out, our band has decided to make another run at gigging.

    But; wow, things have changed locally! We spent last weekend hitting the old venues, bars, clubs, casinos, etc. Checking out what is going on and who is doing it.

    The change has NOT been for the better. A couple of places have closed completely. {including our old favorite haunt, a place we played regularly and with great success. The owner passed away and the place has sat empty for a couple of years.}

    Some of the others have went to canned music only. No bands need apply. {Yes. We did ask.} We did catch one band at a rock bar an hour's drive away, a bar that used to have a great reputation among the area musical community. And........

    It was interesting. 4 man metal cover band on tap, drums, bass, guitar, and singer. Thrashing out Metallica, Iron Maiden, etc. Nice equipment, great hair. LOUD. But could not hear the bass man at all. Seriously. Not a note cut through. They had a crowd of about 25 bodies in a joint that held 100 + at capacity. Interesting, like I said.

    Maybe we will do better on the next scouting trip. It was fun, even if somewhat of a disappointment.
  9. I have found the same thing as you, sparkyfender! We used to have a bar that was essentially "our bar". We played there very often, and had a lot of great nights there. We knew the owner well, and we could get a gig there anytime we wanted. As long as we continued to bring in the crowds, he didn't care what we played as far as covers:oops:riginals ratio.

    That bar closed! That was basically our safety net, and for awhile we played there so often (weekly or at least bi-weekly) that we didn't even have rehearsals.

    Live music is kind of a dying trend around here, but there are some bars that still have it. I'm lucky that I live in the middle of Dayton and Columbus, Ohio, with several other smaller sized cities within a reasonable driving distance. Gigs shouldn't be too hard to find, but we'll have to pursue it actively.
  10. sparkyfender2


    Nov 25, 2013
    Yeah, podiumboy, we do seem to be going down the same bumpy road!! :p

    Hopefully, we can look around and find some new places to play, but yes, losing our old familiar haunt definitely took us out of our comfort zone........

    I am in your neighboring state to the west, but don't have quite the large urban populace you have around Columbus. Good luck!
  11. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    The more professionally you approach your intended venue, the more you will impress them and get their attention. The 'I'm in a band. Can we play here?' approach won't be successful against bands who go the extra mile to present themselves well. In this day and age, it's so easy to look and sound good and reach a particular audience. The resources are everywhere and no longer are just for privileged operators. A little ambition and creativity can go way far, for cheap.

    Edit: Playing the music better than everybody else is not good enough and has NEVER been good enough. Great players are everywhere, often bitching about scarce opportunities. There has to be an image for the band, as well as a vision for where the band wants to go. That there is the hard part, because you have to get everyone to buy in to have even a slim chance.
  12. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    What you need may depend on your location and market. I can tell you what my bands have done.

    You'll need an EPK (Electronic Promotion Kit) which is basically a PDF file, formatted like a flyer (maybe 2 pages at most), that has some pictures, a little bio, with links to your website, some online promo video (perhaps live and in studio), and a few studio demo recordings that can be streamed or downloaded. Most places/agents don't really want a lot of paper and CD discs these days, just something you can send in an email.

    You can either invest some money in professional photography, video, and recording or use a friend who is well-versed in the arts. There are websites that specialize in bands and have templates to help you. is one. Find the local booking agents and send them your EPK.

    If you're just stating back up you may want to play some critter lodges (Elks, Moose, VFW, etc) and for those venues you will probably need something old school to promote yourselves. You may also need the proper repertoire. ;)

    Network! Hang out and get to know the other local musicians. Invite perspective clients to your nice gigs. Hit the open mic and jam nights. Get some cards printed and pass them out. Run ads in your local Pennysaver or community newspapers.

    To get things started you could even rent a venue and throw an event yourselves. It's a lot more work because you'll have to arrange for others to manage the food and beverages, collect money, do security, buy insurance, etc. But if it's promoted properly you can make decent coin.

    That's all I got for now. Good luck!

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  13. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Contact local agent.
    Get a video up on social media.
    Go to a jam session and have the whole band sit in.
    The latter worked for me when I put a new band together, every week we worked on 3
    tunes and went to the weekly jam session and banged them out. Instant feedback & it
    also forced the lazy guys to work on their **** after they screwed it up live.
  14. claytitan


    Mar 12, 2008
    You can play great places right off if you're ready. More than likely you may need to lower your sites a little to get started. Most of the small places are not that hard to get into. Contact whoever books and ask. If they need something they will tell you. Be ready to show them a link on a website of the group performing. If you don't have that offer to send the lead singer and the guitarist by to do a short 4-5 song acoustic set. Most people want to be sure the vocals don't suck. That has brought us a couple gigs. We have also played one time for a discount rate for a place that wanted to try us out. Risky but we play there regularly at a normal rate now.

  15. Get in your car and take your promo pack to whichever venue you hope to play and meet the people, and ask who does the bookings, and search the internet for booking contact info too and start calling people. In other words, in a nutshell - you need to meet new people.

    Good luck, and have happy new year.