Problems getting gigs...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by invader3k, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. Hey all. I'm sure a lot of you have been in similar situations and can relate, so here goes.

    Currently my band has no gigs lined up. Nothing, not even some battle of the bands or local festival (like our last show was). We have a demo (which isn't great, but gives people an idea of the material we play), a press release, business cards, and will hopefully soon be getting some promo shots done up. I've already invested money in the business cards, t-shirts, and bought and maintain our website. I also work a full time normal job weekdays.

    Our guitarist has previously volunteered to go out and give the demo packet to bar owners, etc. The problem is, I can't get him to actually _do_ it. Every time he says he's going to, something ends up coming up, and no demo kits are distributed. Right now he is laid off 'til the end of the month, so now would be a perfect time. Our drummer is a nice guy, but not very reliable or possessing good social skills, so he probably isn't an option.

    Anyway, today I was talking with our guitarist on the phone, and he raises the idea of finding someone to get us bookings, and giving them a percentage of any takes we get...***? First of all, I asked him who he had in mind, and he didn't really know of anyone. I told him it probably wasn't a great idea and he should just go do it himself, since it's not like he's foreign to the local bars anyway... :rolleyes:

    What can I do at thins point? Personally, I figure the day time is the best time to go and do this, like in the early afternoon, since owners tend to be around, but not busy with customers like in the evenings. I don't have time for this due to my job. He has plenty of time right now...I'm at my wit's end, and getting a little fed up. This band has been together for almost five years and we still aren't getting regular gigs. And people tell us we're good, so it's not like it's a talent issue or anything. Like someone in another thread stated, I'm sick of playing in the basement all the time, and not getting out to actually play. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Obviously, dropping off promo packets in person and giving your best sales pitch is the best thing to do. But, if you guys aren't willing or able to do that, you gotta do something.

    - You don't necessarily have to give a sales pitch, you can just drop off the promo pack at the bar

    - In the very least call the bar, and mail a promo pack to them.

    Or get a professional manager.
  3. Yeah, I agree with your statements. I tried to tell him that he doesn't have to go into some sales pitch or something, just drop off the material, try and introduce himself to the owner/manager, etc. All he really has to do is drop off the material though. It's just getting him to go out and _do_ it that is the problem.

    As far as a manager...well, I frankly don't think a three piece relatively unknown cover band is going to need a manager, but who knows?
  4. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Fine, suggest that he be that person then. Give him a carrot, like 10% off the top, eh?

    My band had a similar problem last year, although we got enough gigs from people coming to us to keep things rolling a bit. I was new in the band, so I just put up with playing lots of freebies that others in the band thought were a good idea. We did get a lot of exposure, but I got really burned out by the end of the summer too.

    This summer I've been unemployed, and I booked 11 summer gigs last week, which is all I really care to play anyway. I don't get a bonus cut, because the others in the band supply PA, but I don't have to give them a spiff for doing that either.

    But IMHO, promotion ain't about who "has the time". It's more about who has the talent for it, and the motivation, no? I went through the same deal for years with my old drummer, and I finally realized he'll just never do anything helpful on the promotion end. He's very picky about what dates he'll play and stuff like that too. Now my guitarist hired the same drummer for a new project, without asking me first. It'll end in tears, I'm sure. :meh:

    Bottom line? I think you already know: you're going to have to make it happen yourself.


  5. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    The longer you're in the music business, the more contacts you'll build up (granted that you keep up a good reputation, of course). Our singer is the "salesman" of the band (and a damn good one), but I still try to get to know the club owners. Even though I don't book with this band and I hope that it last a long time, poop happens and I may not be in this band five years from now. Whatever band I'm in later one may need some of my club contacts to book shows. It's just a preplanning contingency thing, I guess.

    I know that really doesn't help you in this juncture quite yet, because you're still trying to get the first couple of gigs, but it's something to keep in mind as you go through the business. If you were already a top-drawing band, a promo pack would probaly be enough to get a gig at a new club, but club owners aren't just going to call you right now because of a promo pack. You're going to have to hound them. I would recommend you opening for a band so they can take a gander at the goods. Networking with bands is very important. Why? Because someone in a band may get sick, prompting the band to cancel. They're going to need to find a replacement because it's going to reflect poorly on them if they stick a club two days before a show without a band. Getting an agent/manager is good, but I would be leary of agents at this stage of the game. Most "legit" agents don't want to touch a new band; they want to work with established bands who are already drawing on their own. It's mostly crooks and ametuers in the early stages. The crooks and ametuers are still there when you are a big name band, but finding a legit agent is going to be a lot more easy.
  6. I'll take the comments under advisement. I think one of the above posters may be right...I'm probably going to have to handle this. I am a little disappointed because I was hoping one of the other guys in the band would show a little commitment and do it. I feel, frankly, like I've handled enough of the other stuff for right now and it would be nice for one of them to step up to the plate and show some effort and commitment.

    As far as agents...we're not in a big city or anything...couple towns in the area with a population of about 10,000 each...I doubt there are any "agents" or "managers" in the area, at least that would be useful to us.
  7. RLT


    Jul 10, 2004
    South Central OH
    "Agents" and "Managers" are like roaches they pop up every where. Now one that actually knows what they are doing and works for you. Thats another story.
  8. cossie


    Apr 29, 2005
    My band has had a bit of a dry spell with gigs, we used to be playing every weekend solid for months, but pickings have gotten slim - even some of the more popular bands are having gigs cancelled by bars/pubs.

    sometimes its just the ebb and flow of the scene.

    however, we have hit a few walls when it comes to getting gigs ourselves, as there are a few "unpleasant" booking agents out there who have weaseled their ways into setting up links with a lot of the bigger pubs in the area.

    one particular pub we've played in, and had _great_ gigs (and got paid great $! too) is now in the mucky paws of a booking agent who offered us a gig there at a seriously reduced rate, while he pockets the difference, so even though we got our gigs there without _ever_ being in contact with this guy, he is now looking for about 30% of our money, for doing nothing -we got those gigs through putting on good shows and building a decent rep for ourselves.

    its really sickening that people are like that!

    i couldn't agree more!

    we have a bit of a system with some other bands around that we recommend each other or share out gigs if we get double booked.

    if you are going to go around the places yourselves, try to get in contact with some bands that have played in those venues before or get a feel for the type of clientele a place would be targetting and direct your "sales pitch" towards that.

    e.g. if you're a covers band, let them see your set list and say "we play X, Y and Z, these are all very popular songs, and people will want to listen to it"

    bar owners are business people first and possibly music lovers second, make them see the '$' and you have a better chance.

    best of luck!!!
  9. cheezewiz


    Mar 27, 2002
    The biggest detriment to getting gigs is sucking. Im not saying thats the case with you, but a bad repution or actual suckitude have killed many a bands bookings.

    I feel your frustation on the lazy guitarist. I'm in a 4 piece band. The drummer books about 50 percent of the gigs, I do about 40 percent, one guitarist does a few here and there, and one books no gigs, and doesnt help set up or tear down. Lazy is lazy, and there probably isnt much you can do about it.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Five years in the basement without any gigs should tell you something: you have to do it yourself.

    Probably not the answer you wanted :rolleyes:
  11. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City


    I've found that most places (at least around this town) have one person who is responsible for booking bands. Might be the owner, and or one of his managers. If you don't want to hoof it (typically the best way, you always want to meet someone personally if you can) call and ask for the person responsible for booking. Send your promo kit to that person and then follow up a few days later to see if they received/listened to it. If you get the chance to actually speak with them, ask to meet with him/her to discuss the bars needs/wants in terms of music. This will let them know your competent, serious and concerned with doing a good job.

    Be persistent. 90% of success is just showing up everyday.

    When you do get a gig, show up ahead of time, start on time and follow the routine for breaks and such that you agreed to. Keep the band inline, no drink-a-thons, or other ingestibles. You don't need the drummer getting hammered on the first gig. It may be a paying job, but the first time anywhere is essentially an audition. If you sound good, are decent citizens, and the crowd likes you, you'll be back. You'd be surprised at how many people get rehired, because they're reasonable, as opposed to being the best band ever hired, but were drunks and losers.

    If the manager is worth his pay, he hires people who aren't a problem first. If your demo CD is decent, the muisc part is easy.

    Good luck!
  12. Thanks for all the comments again, everyone.

    I agree that I will probably end up doing it's just finding _time_ to do it. Like I mentioned, I work full time, during the normal work week. I am also married, so weekends when I'm free are usually spent with my wife. So it's just a matter of finding the time to go out and take care of this stuff.

    I also agree about not drinking on gigs...honestly, our last gig didn't go as well as I'd hope, because like you said, the drummer was wasted or drunk, or something...we're going to make sure that doesn't happen again. If it does, he's gone. But, that's not really my biggest problem right now. It's just the fact that we have no gigs lined up right now...kind of defeats the purpose of having a cover band.
  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    A good time to go hit the clubs in person is early evenings on weekdays, i.e. right after work. Call ahead to see if the person you need to see is/will be there.

    Just explain the situation to your wife so she understands that you're not just out bar-hopping.
  14. lazyi


    Feb 14, 2005
    Hong Kong
    I have been the one in our little band to be hitting the streets and digging up gigs, I stopped 1 month ago to see if anyone else in the band would step up, but it seems to be not an interest to them. Some people are just like that and there is not much you can do about if you want to play. We do have a band manager now. He is a crazy Guy that actually likes our music. I told him he gets 10% of any gigs he lands us. It was a joke really, but after a month my phone rang and he got us a non paying gig for an all night music festival. It was at a place we had never played, so I said yes. It was at 8am in the morning and no one was there, except the staff and 3 very drunk people dancing to our original tunes. It was quite funny. Anyway band manager got 10% of nothing, but they say never turn down any opportunity to play. Anyway, when I told the boyz about the gig, they were like, can't we play at night. I was like no gratitude for just getting the chance to play. Anyway here in HK we take what we can get. Most bands are doing covers, and we have discussed doing some just so we can play more. I just hate when it feels so lop-sided in the band relationship.
  15. 8 AM? Wow, that's pretty darn early for a gig...but you're right, "beggars can't be choosers."

    I assume your band plays mainly originals? We're a cover band, so I would think that should make things a lot easier for us.
  16. Gomez

    Gomez Live from the Shire

    Apr 15, 2005
    Know anybody really annoying related to your band?

    Preferably a sales-person who has an interest in your band (very forward, butting in, expressing opinions nobody wants to hear) Give that person a job getting you gigs.

    Worked for us. :hyper:
  17. alapantera


    Mar 22, 2004
    I feel like i'm in a similar situation.

    If it will save you a little time, i know the Brass Rail in whitewater is looking for live entertainment. Not the biggest of places, but enough room for a 3-piece. also, the pay isn't really that great, but a gig is a gig.

    i would love to start playing weekend bar gigs, but our drummer is only 18 (old enough to to get gigs i know...), and my guitar player works at 4am :meh: . kind of makes scheduling tough.
  18. lazyi


    Feb 14, 2005
    Hong Kong

    Yeah We are an Originals only band, but we are learning some covers to get some more gigs. and to get paid as well. 8 am was fun but way to early, but it was a 24 hour thing and no one knows who we are and all the good slots were taken by well known bands.