10 Tactics For Scoring Your First Gig

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Photo: Epic Concerts

For the aspiring musician, playing live is one of the best ways to level up. Not only is a live gig the most excellent practice for boosting your playing ability, but it also allows onlookers to witness your raw talent before their very eyes. 

But isn’t getting a gig really hard? No, not necessarily. Getting your first gig needn’t be difficult if you follow some simple tactics laid out here by music guru Zac Green from ZingInstruments.com.

1. Get to know the music scene in your area.
The very first thing you want to do is check out the local scene in your area. If you live in a major hub like London (like I do), you’ll be spoilt for choice. But even in more remote places, there’ll be venues that are interested in putting on your band. Remember, you’re a cheap way of bringing consumers in.

2. Go to gigs.
Before you start pitching your band (or you, if you’re a solo artist), it’s a good idea to get into the habit of visiting some gig venues first. Check out what other bands are playing and make a special note of what kind of music goes down well. Venues have their own unique clientele and have a bias on the type of music they prefer. You don’t want to be playing folk in a heavy metal bar.

3. Approach other bands.
As you go to gigs, make a special effort to befriend other bands. Making friends with other bands opens up lots of possibilities. You could support them at their next gig, even play with them. Either way, a bit of band networking is going to hold you in good stead for the future. Who knows, you may even poach their amazing drummer.

4. Don’t expect immediate riches.
In the early days of playing gigs, you are hustling and should count yourself lucky to get any stage time. Expecting any financial reward is expecting too much. Just be happy to have a bit of the limelight. In London, it’s not unusual to have to pay to play.

5. Make a demo tape.
To get your foot in the door, a demo tape is essential. You can network and befriend all the people you like, but if you have no evidence of your music then it’s all hot air. Record yourself in your home studio using something and make your sound as polished as possible.

6. Build your online presence.
Building up your band’s presence on social media is a prerequisite these days. Start with a simple Facebook page for your band, and put all your recording tracks on Spotify and SoundCloud. Once you’re rolling, you can venture into Twitter, Instagram, etc. If you want to look really pro, build yourself a website.

7. Get some business cards.
Business cards? This is music, dude. Yes, I get that. But here’s the thing: In a dingy bar, however good someone thinks you are, there’s a good chance they won’t remember you the next day. Designing some simple business cards and leaving them scattered around the venue makes you look pro.

8. Put on your own night!
Can’t find the venue of your dreams? No sweat. How about putting on your own night? Join forces with other bands, find a venue that’s willing to host you, and put on your event. It’s a great tactic that’s worth trying.

9. Learn good gig etiquette.
There are certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to gigging. For a start, bring you own instrument and don’t assume some guy you don’t know is going to be happy handing over his guitar. When it comes to drums and percussion, drummers are prone to being sensitive about others using their favorite snare drums and cymbals.

10. Show up on time to the sound check.
You’re going to need to arrive early at the venue to do a soundcheck. Make sure you rock up early–don’t be the guys who arrive late and annoy everyone else. Also, don’t annoy the engineer! Often young bands act like rock stars and treat the sound engineers like rubbish. He’ll get you back by ruining your sound.

So there we have it, 10 top tips for getting (and keeping) your first gig. In the beginning, keep your expectations low. Before you know it, you’ll be flying.

Good luck!

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