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Question about getting shows

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BassMisfit, Jul 31, 2001.


  1. BassMisfit

    BassMisfit

    Dec 31, 2000
    Irwin, PA
    My band is moving forward and we want to play at bigger places such as cd warehouse and local clubs. I'm suppose to try to get us shows there but I don't know how! Do I just call them up and ask them or would it be better if I just showed up in person and asked? Our demo sucks because it was recorded through a computer's mic, and they might turn us down just for that. What do you guys do to get a show at such places?
     
  2. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    Well, first off, I would recommend getting a better demo tape, for that is the key. Just walk into the office and ask about playing, follow their instructions, and leave a copy of the tape if possible. Be persistant(but not obsessive, see the movie "Airheads" for obsessive), because most of the tapes are thrown out. Thats about all I know. Good luck!
     
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    First, I'll assume you don't have a manager, that your band's name isn't likely to be known to club managers/owners, and that you're talking about playing in your area.

    - Do you know anyone playing, or who has played, in the places you want to play? If they can reco you to the club owner/manager, I find they like word of mouth best. If not, get to the place early (before the crowd shows up) on a night when a band is playing, preferably a slower night, like during the week, (except Fri.). Catch them at a slow time to discuss having your band play there. Just ask a bartender or a person at the door if they can direct you to the person you need to speak to. And look and act "PRO." Dress like you would for the stage.

    - The demo; a must have, and a decently recorded one, too. The reason is that every veteran club manager/bar owner has been burned somewhere along the line by hiring a band sight unseen or unheard.

    You can phone and ask, "Is there sometime I can just drop off our demo for you to listen to?" Most don't mind you dropping off a demo. But, what you're actually going to try to do is play some of it for them when you "just drop it off." So, if you bring a portable player, your demo doesn't get put in a drawer and forgotten.
    If they don't know about you by word of mouth, just your word that people like you isn't going to cut it.

    - Pictures of the band playing which include or indicate a large audience help convince them you can get people in the door.

    If you don't have them, maybe there's a free show like a civic event coming up where you can get some pics of the band with lots of heads apparent in the audience. It also assures them you have the gear to handle a bigger venue.

    - A short bio sheet of the band to accompany the demo helps, too. Use it to communicate that you have a proven track record by listing places and dates your band has played. It can also contain a couple of your set lists, so that they know the demo is representative of what you intend to play all night. (They don't want a Mr. Big scenario, where they hear "To Be With You" on the demo and then find out, "Addicted to that Rush" is the style your band plays 95% of the time).

    - Play for chicken feed, as a second bill, on a slow night, if you must to get your foot in the door. Shoot, do it for free if you absoutely have to. Why? Because then you have clout. You can approach another big club and say, "Currently, we're playing at (place's name)."

    - If the place is really big, at least some I've played, they may even have you come down and play when the club is closed, a.k.a., "audition."

    - You might consider telling them that you'd be willing to help with promoting the night you play. Be willing to offer that you'll be outside the doors when the place closes to pass out handbills or sticking flyers into windshield wipers advertising the night you'd be playing.
    If your band has a large social circle, do whatever you can to get them to commit to coming if you get the gig. I've been in bands where I could tell the club that we'll bring at least 50, 75, 100 people through the door on our own.
     
  4. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    I think that Rickbass has covered all the basses(pun intended),and this tip has worked for us several times.We were lucky enough to open for some friends bands on Fri and Sat nights at larger clubs,and we wound up with the managers calling us for future gigs cause they liked us.And like Rick also said,act like a PRO.I cant over stress this enough.If youre lucky enough to ride coattails into a gig like this,your(and your friends)reputation is on the line.Better have your $hit together,you only have one chance to make a first impression.

    Good luck.
     
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Absolutely you must have a good quality demo if you want to play at a decent club.

    I know studio time is not cheap, but most clubs won't even give you the time of day if you can't give them a demo tape, or preferably CD.
     
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Shoot, Misfit!!! I don't know where Irwin, PA is but I forgot to mention a "bigger places" opportunity that one of my bands will be hooking into soon - university/college gigs. Hopefully, you have some in your area.

    The Student Activities folks usually welcome inquiries from bands for the students to hear on the weekends. Sometimes, they pay great, sometimes their funds are strapped. Either way, college students come to these things because most of them are on a tight budget.

    One big upside, besides exposure and a chance to sell merchandise, is that you can get a loads of your handbills/promo swag for your upcoming gigs to an incredible number of your potential club audience.

    School will be gearing up soon. Think about it.
     
  7. ldiezman

    ldiezman

    Jul 11, 2001
    Nashville
    I got most of the gigs in my band. But i just happened to luck out recently. One of the guys who runs a music halls we played at a few months ago called me up and told me if I had some demo Cds to get them to him.. I gave him about 5.. he called me a week later told me to bring some more. That was about 3 weeks ago. We have about 5 gigs planned so far all over North and South Carolina. Mostly in south carolina. The other 2 band mates go to School at USC and I am in Rock hill South Carolina at Winthrop University... but the hour drive to practice is well worth it. ANyway. it is cool to have a booky as long as you don't sign anything with him.. Some of these gigs don't pay alot.. but I don't care.. as long as I get gas money... or hey just some recognition..... goodluck with your bass
     
  8. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk

    Apr 14, 2001
    Pennsylvania
    You need three things:

    1. A decent demo; so go out and re-do it - no excuses.

    2. Play a free gig. Most places will let you after hearing a demo. Something on a weeknight or an opener for an established act.

    3. Bring people to your try-out show. Especially chicks!!! Make sure they show up WHILE you are playing and cheer loudly without giving any indication that they know you. If they are there while you are setting up, it's a clear giveaway to the owner or manager that 90% of them are only going to be there that night and never come to another show.

    When you do get a shot - in order to get called back - play songs that the audience can connect with (not obscure down tempo stuff or originals). Even if you are an original act, save them for later shows. Also, get them involved. Bring girls on stage with you to do goofs like playing a cowbell. You may be a serious arteeeeest, but you want to be an ENTERTAINER. Worry about your musical ethics later...

    Another thing is to play a free show for a sorority or fraternity party if they promise to stack the audience for your club gig. They rarely need an excuse to get out and will build a bond with your band. Kind of like a mini-following - Hey, that's our band!!!

    "Otis, my man!"

    Good luck.
     
  9. A Rock

    A Rock

    Mar 18, 2001
    New Haven, CT
    hey guys....how many songs should be in a demo???
     
  10. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    My experience and that of some fellow musicians - a club owner/manager will listen to part of one, assuming your songs aren't one minute wonders like the MinuteMen.

    But in case they actually like the song, I'd reco putting a 2nd song on. Sometimes they ask others who work there what they think. Two also allows you to show you can play different styles, which is a plus, as long as they're songs that get people drinking/dancing/moshing.
     
  11. BassMisfit

    BassMisfit

    Dec 31, 2000
    Irwin, PA
    I really thank you for all the replies, keep 'em comming. I just found out today that my guitarists mom is friends with a guy who owns a studio, and she's going to try to get a discount on us recording there! Wow, we have connections I didn't even know exsisted. About playing at frats, since were still in high school,and don't live near any, I doubt that will be a possibility. But we will make all attempts to get bigger gigs if at all possible, so far all we've done is let people in on our practices, and they truely liked us (including chicks, woo hoo). The one kid who were friends with is even making contacts for us to play at places. Well keep the replies comming and i'll keep you informed on whats going on.
     
  12. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk

    Apr 14, 2001
    Pennsylvania
    Dude, it's going to be really hard (read - nearly impossible) to get club gigs if you're in high school. That is unless you have specific "music" clubs to play. Establishments that let all ages in are concentrating on selling food to families. They have to take orders over your noise. Not what they want. Which is why bands usually start after 9pm.


    Concentrate on playing at parties and school functions. Also, there may be a local youth organization that will give you an opportunity to play. My sister did that at your age. She ended up getting many gigs. Usually at the Juvenile Detention hall or for public holidays at the park. All of that can be fun too.
     
  13. Contrary to popular belief, you can get shows without a demo tape. My guitar player and I know a couple of guys that book shows, and they set up most of the shows we play. Out of town shows are usually handled by word of mouth. You can set up your own shows if you want. Go a local bar or club and see what nights are open, then ask if you can set a show up. Most bar owners are happy to have the extra alcohol income. Of course, you or someone with you will be responsible for taking money at the door, checking ID's, paying the band (and possibly the bar owner), etc. Once you play enough, word of mouth may suffice. By that time, you'll probably have recorded a 7" or CD that you can send out to anyone who wants it.
     
  14. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    But Matthew - aren't you guys an established band with a track record? If so, that's the position he needs to get to.
     
  15. Not when we started. We never had any type of demo tape or press kit. But then again, it's indie rock. We're not playing covers to top 40 crowds, where I would imagine a demo tape would be essential.
     
  16. BassMisfit

    BassMisfit

    Dec 31, 2000
    Irwin, PA
    Actually their is places to play that are all ages and thats where bands want to play most. One is called The American Music Cafe, and we are trying to make contacts there. Another good thing is that our drummer is best friends with a guitarist for another local band who is very popular around here, and we may end up opening up for them at their shows. Which would be great. Another question is when turning in a demo to a place, should the entire band be with me, or should I just go solo?
     
  17. It's unlikely that the person who does the booking will be there anyway, so full band presence is not necessary. Unless you want to do an impromptu audition on pots and pans or something.