How to get a gig

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Slaphound, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    I have a band. I want to get gigs. I want to be paid fairly. How do I do it?

    Is it fair to say something like this? "Hi. I wanted to see if your hiring bands. We get $400. If we don't get a crowd, we will take half and you won't see us again."

    Is this the 'wrong' approach? I can never be sure that I'll have more than 4-6 people come. Usually 4-6 people come and sometimes more. There have been nights that no one has come.

    We play regularly at on place that pays us $200 for the night 4 hours usually of playing time. I'd like to expand. I have a few volunteer gigs that don't pay at all but that's all just for fun and exposure. I'd like to move into a more lucrative market.

    Am I delusional?
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I believe you already asked a similar question. Find the going rate in the area. Decide on a minimum price (for me $100/person). The first time you play at the place, get people there - I don't care if you are buying beers to get people there. If the owner asks your draw, tell them you will publicize the gig, and expect to have xx people minimum. Don't offer to take less.

    You have to develop a following - NOT just your friends, if you expect more and better gigs.
    PauFerro, musicman7722 and ArtechnikA like this.
  3. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once...

    Feb 24, 2013
    You don't get to set the price. Remember - the first person to state a number loses. The venue will pay what they pay, you have to decide if it's worth it. If you have no draw, any number they offer will be worth it...

    Think about this like you're the venue. If those 4 people are spending $125 each, every time, it might be worth it to them. Otherwise, they are losing money on you. This is definitely negotiating from a position of weakness...

    When you are packing the house, demand more. Until then, look at it as paid rehearsal. You must promote yourself and the venue. Do you know your demographic? What are you playing? Are you playing venues where people who like what you're playing congregate. Do you put on a good show?

    Until then, maybe not so much delusional as naive.
    MonetBass and getbent like this.
  4. It's sales and it's really no different than selling a bass, or selling a used car, or selling yourself to the band you're auditioning to get in.

    Make sure the product you're selling is the best it can be. Make sure your product fits the market or you find the market that fits your product. Make sure your product is priced correctly. EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE! Think long term. It's easy to lie and make the first sale but that will be your only sale!

    There are plenty of tips and techniques you can use but it's all about making your product fit the buyers needs. The more you have to offer the more leverage you have and the better you can expect to do in the deal.

    A buyer that needs seats filled? You need to be able to fill those seats if you want to be able to get the gig and get paid what you want. A buyer that needs a professional show......well, you get the idea.

    PS - Don't start by offering to discount your price. You're telling the buyer you don't even see the value in what you're selling. Let me rephrase that - we've all probably discounted our price to get in the door. The way you had it worded just lacked confidence to me.
  5. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    It really depends on WHAT you are selling. If you play originals, you may have to slog it through dozens of those horrible '9 bands in 3 hours' shows just to get people to listen. Originals and non- mainstream is a tough sell.
    If you are playing covers, classic rock, Dad rock, you need to do it extremely well, because the competition is fierce. It doesn't matter what kind of discount you offer, if you draw 4-6 people, you're not getting invited back.
    Get yourself out on EVERY social media platform, and up date it every couple of days.
    Do something that makes people say 'We should check these guys out'.
    Give people a reason to spend their beer dollar seeing you, as opposed to the other band playing in the neighbourhood.
    Sometimes old school is the way to go. Posters and flyers. Your poster is more likely to be seen and read above a urinal than in a bakery window.
  6. 4-6 people isn't exactly a crowd. Hope that doesn't include the band.....nonetheless, be honest with the management. Don't promise something you cant deliver. I just don't think your gonna get More money til you draw a bigger crowd.
  7. Danny O Danny

    Danny O Danny Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2015
    Georgetown, TX
    Youngspanion likes this.
  8. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Suspended Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    There is no magic formula. Take yourself and your band to the places you'd like to play. Hang out. Talk to bartenders and servers. Make your presence known. If there are open mics in your area, attend them. Perform at them. Go see bands that you believe are your competition. Chat them up, they'll tell you all kinds of stuff you'll want to know. Social media is great, but nothing works as well as being there.
    neckdive, SoCal80s, andawun and 3 others like this.
  9. andawun


    Jul 13, 2009
    Most of the successful (gigs/pay) bands I've been in had a BL who's day job was in sales and they usually talked to venue management in person or on the phone. Social medial is great for promotion though.
    Youngspanion likes this.
  10. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    I gave an attempt at that route. We all did. We started going to an open jam and playing a few times. We went about 3 weeks in a row. All on a Wednesday night. Wasn't horrible getting up at 430 for work but It wasn't the most fun. Either way, we did that and one of the waitresses thought we sounded good and had hoped that she could get the owner to give us a shot one weekend. We made him a CD. Just a few tracks that we rehearsed in my house basement and recorded with a Zoom....... Zilch...... I don't know why but it just played out that way. We probably should have tried other places too but its not easy. We are working adults and none of us are really 'going out' type of guys. We spent money there too. Y'know. Dinner, drinks.

    We are not a mainstream band anyway and I think that may have something to do with it all. We are a cover band with just one singer. And now, we are going to go at it with just three of us. Guitar/vox, bass(Me) and drums/percussion. Neither one of us can really sing back up or harmony. Its just good music but don't ask us for any specific covers. "Hey! You guys do any Jethro Tull? How about AC/DC?" No. We cover folk, country, blues, rockabilly (slapping the upright) and then a few radio favorites. Layla, Margaritaville, Moondance... you get the picture?

    I think the last part about chatting up other bands and going to see them. Honestly, I don't really go out and hang out late in bars listening to bands and I say "I" because of the three or 4 of us (that's another story) no one goes out to get gigs. So its a little hard.

    I'll say this. The guy I play with. He's a great musician. A great guitarist. He sings very good too. We really fit well together. He likes to think of us as Jorma and Jack Cassady. Like HOT TUNA! And its great. I've grown so much since I met him. He has allowed me to be band manager, treasurer, recruiter and practice host. Its his music that we delve into many of the times. He has brought to me The Dead, Doc Watson, Terry and McGhee, Hank Williams and tons more. He easily agreed to play songs like Thats Alright Mama, Folsom Prison, One Way Out, Wayne Hancock and more. Its been great. But he has no friends and he doesn't take an active roll in getting gigs or any other band stuff. He's very happy to just play in the basement. But that's why I say "I". And as Band Leader, I can do a better job leading.
  11. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Great advice. Thanks.
  12. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Suspended Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Okay, I gotcha. But if you want to work, you gotta keep on trying. We have an advantage: We've been around for four years, we play the hits. But the looking for new places to play thing never stops. My BL is out four nights a week, plus a weekend gig or two. I'm out to support her three times a month. If you want to get busy and stay busy, this is what you gotta do. Perspective: Back in 2011 I was living in North Carolina and started my own band, playing stuff I liked. Put out an EP with four original songs, two covers. Sales started out slow, and then they kinda tapered off. We got a nice review in the local rag, ("What the Rolling Stones might have sounded like if they were actually from Tennessee") but after a few months I shut it down, because I could not in good conscience keep asking the guys to play for five bucks in front of five people. And also because I was sick to death of it myself.

    Now I'm not following my artistic impulses, but I am doing all right. I wish you the very best of luck, it sounds like you've got a compatible partner and you're playing music you like, and that, as we say, is two out of three, which is pretty good.
  13. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Managing a band, at any level is hard work. I was pretty good at it, but it drove me nuts at times. I'm not gonna write a book here, but I'll make two points that I think translate well to any scene.

    1. Make sure your band is good, tight. This sounds like a no brainer, but it's overlooked by a million beer leaguers and guys who treat the stage like their basement. Record some rehearsals and identify what you are really good at, and what you aren't. If you can't fix what you're bad at - ditch it from the set. Don't force fit material into the set just because someone likes the song in the band. Since you are playing covers, identify what types of songs are working really well, and find more in the same vein.

    Also pick some identifiable tunes for the audience. In my old band, everyone would complain that I wanted them to play Cash tunes basically by the book. The crowd never complained though. Suck it up and drop some standards into the set for your genre.

    2. Identify venues that are good for what you are playing. You can't draw a crowd, so you need to find places that have a built in or rotating crowd to begin with.

    Consider things like:
    - how loud are we?
    - what's the age group were likely going to be most popular with?
    - what time are we playing? (Are our friends and family not showing up because we play at 2am in dives)
    - does the band have an aesthetic that works better with certain venues?
    - are you background music, or are you the show?

    Just a few points to consider.
    TWolf and Jimmy4string like this.
  14. Slaphound

    Slaphound Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Staten Island, NY
    Points taken sevenyearsdown.
    sevenyearsdown likes this.
  15. Managing a band is like driving a train where the cars are made out of wandering cats to a destination called drunk happy audience town.
    It is a hard meandering track and requires time, effort, social skills (pick your battles) and ambition.
    You may have to replace some cars along the way to get to your destination.
    All the above posts are great advice. Look at your band with a critical eye and be honest. Get ready for a sometimes tough sometimes great ride.
    watch your speed and don't let it wreck!
    Koala of Doom likes this.