Getting Paid Gigs

I have a jazz group and I was wondering what are some of the best ways to find gigs? Have a demo CD? go to the actual place? Who to talk to? Any advice would be helpful.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I think exposure would really work well for you. So have a CD, have business cards to hand out, but if there are no opportunities to play out - create one. Throw a party and invite all your friends, hit up the coffee shops and go play for people. Video those events and post YouTube vids so other people can see what you're doing. Any way to expose the group to an audience should eventually lead to people looking for jazz groups to hire. Just think in terms of what who you're competing with is doing. Do what they do, even though you're not a major recording artist, try to approach it the same way. And all the while you're doing this, make friends and eventually someone will start recommending you.
 

keepitgreen

Senior Member
Not trying to hijack the thread or anything, but a good friend of mine posted this on facebook today, and it's relevant... Over here in Asia, it's ridiculously hard to find paying gigs... The going rate is a few beer tickets, and maybe a burger and fries if you're lucky... The few guys I know that are actually pro's (ie. trying to make a living making music), are definitely not making it... Tough business over here!
 

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bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Not to disparage jazz, but making money depends somewhat on the city you're in. New York has more opportunities to play than say, Lincoln, Nebraska. But it's not all about the size of the city, L.A. for example has few opportunities to make money playing jazz.

Also, your willingness to adapt to the available paying gigs governs how busy you'll be. There are more jazz trios playing restaurants and making a few dollars, than places to play progressive jazz (or fusion) and which pay practically nothing. I don't mean $50 nothing... I mean $20 or $30 nothing. Sometimes, actual nothing.

Again, not making a statement about jazz, just saying there are some variables. It's not a very popular genre among the masses anymore, nowhere near as hot as it was in the '50s and '60s.

Bermuda
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Not trying to hijack the thread or anything, but a good friend of mine posted this on facebook today, and it's relevant... Over here in Asia, it's ridiculously hard to find paying gigs... The going rate is a few beer tickets, and maybe a burger and fries if you're lucky... The few guys I know that are actually pro's (ie. trying to make a living making music), are definitely not making it... Tough business over here!
I get that and I'm sure we all know this, but think about it, what are you going to do? If you don't know anybody where do you start? This has been a problem with the arts for millennia. Part of me agrees - don't give anything away, but what do you do if nobody wants it? It's tough for everybody out there. Not just musicians.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
As a musician in a band looking for gigs you have to market yourself like any other business. You need to find your market and saturate it to the best of your abilities. In your case you need to find the jazz clubs and make yourself known to the players, owners, booking agents, whoever is involved in that performance. Being a regular does not mean the sloppy drunk guy at the bar every Friday night.

There is a fine line however. You need to walk the tightrope between being friendly and being professional. The ultimate goal is to get people thinking of you when they have a slot to fill. Remember its not who you know, its who knows you.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
As a musician in a band looking for gigs you have to market yourself like any other business. You need to find your market and saturate it to the best of your abilities. In your case you need to find the jazz clubs and make yourself known to the players, owners, booking agents, whoever is involved in that performance.
Yes, and saturation should stop short of becoming a pest. People that book bands don't like getting calls every week or two from the same band asking when they can play. Following-up on a press kit that was sent is one thing, but repeat calls can do more harm than good.

Remember its not who you know, its who knows you.
Hmmm, now where have I heard that before? :)

Bermuda
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
Bermuda, do the side bands you play with have agents or any representation that helps with getting gigs or are they like most of us that do it all ourselves?
 

Redbeard

Senior Member
A sexy female singer always helps.
just kidding (no I'm not)

Good advice so far. You'll probably have to play for free to get your name out there. But I've played at parties for friends/family, and gotten other gigs (mostly parties) from people that were there. These days you have to have a website/facebook with good sound files, and Youtube videos are helpful.
As with everything else in life, networking is verrrrry important. You need to know people at the restaurant or event/festival that can help you get your foot in the door and vouch for you. Also, when you do get a gig at a public place, try to get everyone you know to come out and spend money. In the end, that's all the organizer cares about. If they feel like they make money by booking you, you'll get more gigs.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Bermuda, do the side bands you play with have agents or any representation that helps with getting gigs or are they like most of us that do it all ourselves?
All of my bands have one or two members who handle bookings. Some are better at it than others, some bands are simply more desirable and it's easier to get gigs, etc. I wish I could say there was a tried-and-true formula, but every band, venue, and booker is different. As such, being a permanent member of 4 bands and subbing with 4 or 5 others, means I average 2-3 gigs a week, and get a good variety of styles at the same time. It's actually a great situation, unless one band starts to get really busy, then I'd have to consider dropping others.

Perhaps the only situation that practically guarantees getting gigs, is a band's ability to draw a crowd that spends money wherever they go (and doesn't tear up the joint in the process!) Bands like that typically have one person who fields calls as they come in from venues, and such in-demand bands command a higher price. Obviously, everyone strives to be that band, although beyond simply hustling for gigs, there are crucial factors like song selection, stage presence, volume, musicianship, entertainment value, and a proven track record that come into play (and are also discussions for other threads.)

Bermuda
 
While this is all helpful information, I still need to know who to talk to and what to say and the best way to promote the band. Also what types of places should we hit up for this type of music? Wine bars? Italian restaurants? Also, we are not just playing straight ahead jazz. We extend out to some Glasper type stuff or BADBADNOTGOOD and even J Dilla, so we actually have some variety in there
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
While this is all helpful information, I still need to know who to talk to and what to say and the best way to promote the band. Also what types of places should we hit up for this type of music? Wine bars? Italian restaurants? Also, we are not just playing straight ahead jazz. We extend out to some Glasper type stuff or BADBADNOTGOOD and even J Dilla, so we actually have some variety in there
The managers (or owners) of these venues would be a good place to start. Just be business-like and don't waste their time, they have businesses to run, so the better you are at communicating clearly and quickly, the better they will be to you. You're selling a product, not unlike any other business owner, so you act accordingly.

I think some people start making friends with bartenders or waiters/waitresses, and you're just adding people to the chain. Go straight to the source of who can say yea or nay, then you're not wasting more time.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I agree with Jon about the lack of venues for live jazz. It's pretty much a non-starter, even in New York, if you're looking to make any money playing it.

But if your band is absolutely solidly great then focus on one or two venues and get yourself booked there, and the money's going to be practically nothing if there's any at all, and play your asses off, impress the hell out of everyone there, particularly the owner/manager.

Anything less than that is just not going to make it. The vast majority of people do not give a damn about jazz, in fact they just really don't like it, which is something that everyone who plays jazz needs to come to terms with.

Do you have any recordings of your band that you could let us listen to?
 

Arky

Platinum Member
lonegroover,
did you mention that this is your website/that you're directly related to that site?
(No need to, I'm judging from your e-mail.)
That would be a nice info to add next time you're recommending that site, ok?
 
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