Obtain a Paying Gig for Your Band
Edited by Msanzo, Alma, Eng
So you want to be a rock star? Luckily for you, the modern age has made it much more realistic to find a path to pursue your dream of playing music. With greater technology plus the use of the Internet and social media, it's not impossible to find the right connections in the music world. After you've assembled your band and ran some practice sessions, you might be craving the idea of playing in front of a live audience.
While some may presume that finding a gig for your band is hard, it really isn't as hard as it seems. Of course, it is dependent on where you are located - bigger cities may have a higher market for entertainment. Even still, nothing today is too far out of reach.
Measures to Get a Paying Gig for your Band
Perfect your sound.
Playing in front of a live crowd is a lot of fun, but you want to make sure your performance isn't sloppy. The best way to have your sound at the top-notch level is to do the obvious - practice, practice, practice! If your band's equipment takes up too much space at home or in your garage, there are plenty of alternatives to get by this issue. Practice spaces or rehearsal studios are easy to come across, and the hourly rate isn't too expensive. For example, in Toronto, an average rehearsal unit can range $10-$15 per hour
. Having these rehearsal studios at your disposal can come in handy because you have an array of space where you can develop your performance techniques and even work in some instruments you typically would not work with. Similar to an athlete grinding away in the gym, a musician in the studio needs practice to become better at their craft.
Write and Record.
Now that you've assembled the core of your sound, it's time to get creative. In order to become a band that gets paid to gig, those in charge of hiring you are going to want to hear what type of sound will be blaring throughout their establishment. Technology today has allowed so many artists to record their own music in the comfort of their own home through the use of programs such as
GarageBand, Reason, Ableton, and so many others. Even digital instruments are much easier to incorporate into recordings than ever before. Using instruments like a MIDI keyboard open up a plethora of different sounds and options to experiment with. As fun as writing and recording sound, though, you will definitely want a professional (or someone with experience) to mix and master the tracks for the best final product. This is such an important process in bringing your sound to life and moving you forward in your ultimate goal. When recording a song or an album, it's best to use a proper recording studio because they are typically fully equipped with the right equipment, appropriate acoustic environment, and most importantly, a sound engineer. While they can cost anywhere from $40 - $500+ hourly, you unquestionably get what you pay for. This step is critical to any musician or band because it is what defines you - just like a poet and his words or an artist and their painting. After the mixing and mastering are complete, it is always good to think about the project as a whole, and this may include some visual additions to the package.
Creating an Image.
As an artist or band, it's imperative to think of yourselves as not just musicians but also as a product. To project yourself as the total package you may want to consider putting together a photo shoot to get a nice visualization of who and what you are. This may be part of your press kit or go with you album/demo artwork. Of course, it would be best to get your visuals done by a professional, but there are always different ways to do it yourself at home. For one, you can always ask a friend who may have a photography-quality camera to snap some pictures for you, and as for the actual editing and designing of artwork, there are programs like Canvas's free album cover designer that may help you save a pretty penny. This step may not seem directly linked to helping you get a paid gig, but in all actuality, it is important. Someone who is hiring you to perform for them wants to know what they are getting. Steps like these create the notion that you are a professional. Giving someone a blank CD cover that is filled with tracks that are not mastered is the equivalent of a student handing their teacher a five-page essay that is handwritten rather than typed out. Creating an image is essential in giving a visual understanding of who you are, and it is so important to look the part of a legitimate artist or band. Doing so will go a long way in helping you get that buzz that many promoters look for in performers.
Use Social Media to Create a Buzz.
We live in an era where everything flows in and out of social media. To gain popularity and recognition in the music scene, use every aspect of social media to your advantage. Promoters and credible people in the music industry want to see what size crowds you attract at your shows, or even what type of following you have on social media. This "buzz" that it is often referred to is essential to your success at becoming a legitimate band that gets paid to gig. Now that you may have your recorded songs and photographs done, it's time to show the world of social media who you are. For good measure, try and use the same handle for all your online accounts, this way it's easier to find. The more ways there are to find you it's likely that there will be a larger following. After all of the accounts are set up, you must keep up to date with them and attempt to engage with fans and get others to follow you. A good, fun idea would be to create a YouTube channel and post videos, vlogs, and live performances of your songs. A great way to become more interactive is to come up with your own renditions of popular songs. Cool and creative covers often get people talking, and this will also help to add to the repertoire of music for your gigs. Depending on the venue or event a promoter may ask that you have cover songs ready, so this may be your chance to stand out.
Getting the Gig.
After you've done all of the hardest parts, this is where the fun begins. Getting a gig at first seems like a daunting task. You have to hustle and be persistent, but most of all, you have to be professional. Professional Advice:
Make connections and try to network with everyone and anyone you meet. Using these connections, you can even try to set up your own events! Once you have your songs recorded and packaged properly, you now have a product to offer. Here is where it is important to stand out from the rest. You can head to a local pub or restaurant and try getting in touch with the manager in charge and simply ask about playing in their establishment. It doesn't hurt to try. The power of the Internet is so great - you can reach out to whomever and just send a link to all of your work. Apps like GigTown make this process much easier too - just sign up and create your page to start reaching out. There generally are promoter groups that offer bands the opportunity to host them if they can promise to bring out a certain amount of fans. While it may not be glorious, you have to start somewhere. After a few times, it will be easy as 1-2-3 and you'll be touring around before you know it.
Luckily for modern musicians, the power of technology is easily at hand and can be used so many ways to boost you up the ladder. Just imagine back in the 1970's being a band that was trying to get a gig - you had to either be signed to a record deal or have some great connections. Your reputation was based on word of mouth and not much else. Thankfully, technology has helped evolve this process, and there are so many ways in which to help musicians prosper and become successful. As with anything, you must keep at it and don't give up. At first it may seem like a long haul but the truth is that there aren't many better feelings than playing live music in front of a crowd. If you can get paid gigs for following your passion, then consider yourself a success.
Tips and Tricks
- Always carry your CDs or demos with you because you never know who just may be at your show!
- Twitter can be a useful platform to create a following and interact with friends and followers. From here you can post links to everything else you do to stay up to date and involved.
- Instagram is a great outlet to post visuals about yourself or the band. You can also post snippets of songs or videos to garner attention.
- Every artist or band should consider creating a SoundCloud account where you can post your music for free. With this, you can post links to your other social media accounts to spread your sound.
- Making a Facebook page is also a great way to interact with fans and sync your other social media accounts. You can also track some analytics and get an idea of what type of demographic you get most attention from.
Recent edits by: Alma, Msanzo