In talking to artists, the same question often comes up over and over: how do I get gigs? How can I get booked? Whether you’re a musician, a comic, a poet, or a six-machete juggler there are a few common steps that all artists can follow when trying to get booked for a show.
Taking your career to the next level by playing somewhere other than your stuffy over-crowded garage or the weekly open mic scene, is really the only way you are going to build a solid fan base and meet some of those people who might be able to introduce you to some of those people who might be able to sign you.
But where do you start? How do you do this thing called booking a gig? Well, it might not be easy, but it’s simple.
1. Demo Tape. The first thing that you need is a demo tape. You need a way to show off your talents. No one is going to take your word for it. If you don’t have the hundreds of dollars it might take to completely record, mix and master an album, find someone who can help you. Do you have a friend? Do you have a computer and a microphone? Can you do it yourself?
Some open mics will record your set for a minimal fee. Soapbox Sessions on Thursday nights in Encino is one such open mic and has great sound quality and great rates at $10 a pop. There is no reason or excuse to wait. This will be good enough for now. Get it done!
2. EPK. Once you have your demo tape, you need to make it available. Throw it up on soundcloud.com or bandcamp.com or some other online venue so that you can easily share the link with someone in an email. In the digital age, the whole world is online so you’d better be too.
You will want to create an EPK, or Electronic Press Kit. It is a slick way to present your self, your music and your relevant data to booking agents and the managers of venues. You can learn more about EPKs and how to create one from previous article What is an EPK?.
3. Contacting Venues. Now that you have your ducks in a row, it’s time to make contact. Make a list of venues that showcase your type of talent. I’m sure you have a handful or two already off the top off your head. List out as many as you can think of. Beyond the Roxy and the Whiskey, thing about bars, coffee shops, farmers’ markets and house parties that may need entertainment. Once you’ve got a good list of 25 or so places, track down their contact data. Once your whole list is complete with venue and contact data, it is time to reach out. Sit down and call through the list. Ask them what the submission process is artists interested in performing at their venue.
4. Opportunities Everywhere. Get into the habit of asking wherever you go. “Do you have live performances here?” If they do, as for the name and contact data for who you should speak to. Follow up with a call or an email.
5. Leverage the Work of Others. Do you know any local bands that have a similar sound to you? Go to their website and look at their show list. You now have a list of venues that book bands just like yours. Call or email those venues, too.
6. Networking with Bands. There is a good possibility that that local band has upcoming shows. Reach out to them. Ask them if they need a band to open at any one of their shows now or in the future. Send them your demo. Building relationships with other bands like this can really pay off. And if you do sound alike, there is a very good chance that their fans can become your fans.
7. Book Yourself. Now that you have all these relationships with other bands, create your own show. There are many venues that will rent out their space for events. Gather up a handful of acts and put together your own show.
Launching your creative career is all about creating your own opportunities. Until you are at that stage in the game where someone else will do it for you, you’ve got to suck it up and be the hero. And when you’re on stage at the MTV VMAs you’ll thank yourself for being such an awesome go-getter.
Stay hungry. Stay Well-Fed.
Chelsea Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, an artists community bringing networking, resources and advice to artists.
The Well-Fed Artist – featured in the 9 o’clock hour on Radio Soapbox every Monday night. Listen live or listen to the archives.
Latest posts by C.R. Cohen (see all)
- Lose Your Delusions: The How & Why of Creative Discipline - October 14, 2013
- Week 7: Tips to Help Artists Market More Efficiently - October 14, 2013
- Week 6: The Artist’s Platform – What Agents, Publishers & Record Execs are Looking for Now - October 7, 2013