In part 2 of this post we’ll look at building your local community, borrowing ideas from others and how to stand out amongst all the other bands.
- Stand out – Look at a band like Cardiacs. They are an amazing live act, very theatrical with make up, costumes and confetti bombs. Initially people hated them but over time they built an amazing cult following by being weird, interesting and remarkable. What makes your band special? Why should people go and see your band when they could go and see a thousand others? If you give your audience a reason to go and see you, you’ll have more chance of gaining a following. Promoters want to work with interesting acts that will draw a crowd. If you’re not that band think about how you can improve. You need to be so amazing live that it encourages word of mouth and it attracts the interest of fans and promoters alike.
- Be brave – Sometimes you’ll lose money playing live to build an audience. Sometimes you’ll have to sleep in the van or travel for hours to play. It is not easy and if you’re not prepared to put in the work it is not going to happen for you. Sure lucky breaks can speed things up, but the harder you work the more chance you have of these “lucky breaks” happening. You get out what you put in.
- Work with promoters – Offer to play for free in exchange for good support slots later on. Find out if there are any drinks promotions at the venue and use them as part of the marketing and promotion of the gig. Play open mics and make friends with everyone at the event. Offer to play a last minute gig when other bands let promoters down. If you can’t get promoters to work with you hire a venue and put on your own gig. Don’t let anything stop you playing live, dig in and work hard.
- Go where the fans want you – Ask where your fans are via social media and Twitter. You may find you have a group of fans in one particular area. Contact the promoters in that area (find them on Live Unsigned) and say you have fans that want to see you play and can you get a gig. If the promoters aren’t interested ask your fans if they want you to play a house concert for them. There are always options if you really want things to happen.
- Think ahead – Don’t try and book your gigs a few weeks ahead. Plan them months in advance so you can get everything organised, get fans there and make it a success. Poorly attended gigs mean you won’t get to play again.
- It is all about who you know – Roadie for other bands so you get to meet promoters. Hang out at the gigs where you want to play and try to get talking to promoters and people in bands. Make an effort to get to know the people in your scene and you’ll get more gigs. Follow local promoters, bloggers, and other bands on Twitter and become friends with them. This is how you get the best gigs by having real relationships with the people putting them on.
- Look at where other bands at your level in your scene are playing – Using the Live Unsigned listings find where other bands in your genre are playing and look to play there. Watch what other bands are doing and copy what works.
- Build your local community – Play with other bands and swop gigs. Ask them if they know the local promoters and how they get gigs. Book local nights where all the bands in the same genre in the same city are playing and you’ll have more chance of gaining fans from other bands fan bases. If you can build a positive local scene it can make a big difference when you are looking to get bloggers and the press interested in what is going on in your area.
- Have a decent recording that represents your live performance – A poorly recorded demo won’t help. One of the problems with easy access to home recording is that everyone can create average recordings using the free tools available. If you really want to stand out, record something that sounds amazing. If you don’t have the equipment and skills required pay for a professional studio. They say great songs shine through even the poorest recordings but it is always best to give your music the best possible chance to impress people.
- Play alternative venues – Getting more gigs means saying yes. Playing at local parks, the launderette or busking in the street means playing more gigs. There is more information on getting gigs in alternative venues here.
If you don’t go out there and get gigs yourself no one will do it for you. If you want your band to be a success you need to work for it, push yourself. It is the early stages of your career that are often the hardest, once you get things moving and you have some fans it gets easier. Once you have a reputation and an audience you’ll be offered gigs. A lot of amazing talented musicians have got nowhere in the industry because they didn’t have the skills to book gigs or a team to support them. If you want to get management, fans, a booking agent or even an old style record company deal you need to get yourself out there, playing live and working hard.