How does your band get gigs?

Ghostin one

Senior Member
I'm curious to know how bands get shows. Word-of-mouth, demos, use an agent? Advertise somehow?

I'm in an ordinary cover band that's been around for years, but I just joined about six months ago. They seem to be at a standstill as far as getting shows goes. With few or no shows on the horizon, some of the band are losing interest. I'd be happy to punt and find another band, but these guys are pretty good, and close-by.

I might try to do some bookings myself but I never needed to with past bands.

What does your band do?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
All of those things, as well as visiting venues in person.

The venue will want to know if your band will draw people, which is a fair question and gauges (somewhat) how much you can expect to be paid. The value of any band - to the person hiring as well as the bandmembers - is in how many people will spend money as a result of seeing the band. That is, will the people who came to see the band buy drinks at the bar? Will they pay to walk into a venue? The more paying people that the band brings, the more the band will/should make.

Demos should be short, and comprehensive. Nobody is going to listen to 45 minutes of the band. Make a 3min demo, and segue 6-10 songs for variety. Post it online and on CD for a physical press kit.

Oh yeah, make a press kit. A one-sheet describing the band and its experience, and a couple of photos. Also post it online on the band's web site, facebook, everywhere someone might possibly need to view it.

Bermuda
 

2bsticks

Platinum Member
Lots of leg work, phone calls. Find out who books a club. Outdoor events call town halls find out who is in charge of recreation. Talk to other bands that playing around who to contact about a certain venue. Call agents. It's not easy but if your willing to knock on doors and be diligent it will pay off.

,
Make sure your band is what the venue is looking for.
 

No Way Jose

Silver Member
Well for example there is one band that plays at a restaurant bar near me. The band members decided to go on vacation. I asked management if my band could play there. We got a few gigs for the summer, until the regular band returned.
 

KEEF

Senior Member
I check where other local bands are playing and contact those venue's...and KEEP contacting them. You just have to keep bugging them until they give in and give you a date. Then have faith in the product and trust that you'll wow the owners enough to invite you back. You'll most likely have to keep bugging them for that too but (polite) perseverance is the key.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
For us, being able to play quietly has helped. For example, a lot of places such as wineries and breweries are afraid to get bands due to volume. This has helped us quite a bit.

  • Also, who all is actually TRYING to get bookings? Is anyone putting forth any effort? If you are the only one trying to get your band booked, have sit-down with the band and pretty much tell them that if they want to play, they are going to have to find bookings because you are tired of doing it all. You CAN'T make band members care. If they really care, they will try to get you booked.

  • Don't overcharge and don't undercharge. We charge based on the booking; we don't have flat rate.

  • I used to tell people to do a demo and pass them out. These days, the thing to do is have a promo video. Here is a friend of mine I used to play with and his demo video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT9pUIrJCag&feature=youtu.be


I'm friends with a member of this band. He said ever since they did their promo video, they started getting bookings like crazy.

https://www.facebook.com/BooneBands/videos/1451551308211584/


  • Having a band website is crucial just to get your contact info out there. We did a Wix site, and I think it costs us about $125/year to keep it up.

www.TheNewRiverDrifters.com


It takes a team effort to make it happen.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
When you talk to the booking person, emphasize one point. How much money the bar/event will make. You'd be speaking their language.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
A friend and I walked into an otherwise empty bar on a Wednesday, found the owner, and told him we'd make his Wednesdays as crowded as his Fridays. We invited every musician we knew to come and jam, we invited other bands to do a short guest set, we played the requests from the regulars, and, in the first few weeks, we went into our own pocket and bought a round for tables of friends of ours. We built up a weekly event, not just a gig. And for the next year or so, the Wednesdays were more crowded than the Fridays.

He said ever since they did their promo video, they started getting bookings like crazy.

https://www.facebook.com/BooneBands/videos/1451551308211584/


  • Having a band website is crucial just to get your contact info out there. We did a Wix site, and I think it costs us about $125/year to keep it up.

www.TheNewRiverDrifters.com


It takes a team effort to make it happen.
This is a great example!

If you're a newer group, the promo video is absolutely necessary nowadays, because it gives owners and managers a better idea of what they're getting. They can judge for themselves if their regular customers will like it, or if people off the street will stay for it.

The audio from the camera's mic will not make the impression that a multi-tracked recording will. So, invest in a mixer that has recording capability. And smile for the camera.
 

Ghostin one

Senior Member
Thanks for the ideas, very helpful.

I liked hearing specifics about the video promo - my band act like they'd be filming "The Last Waltz", instead of editing parts from a few songs into something for short-attention span viewing.

Part of the problem is their former drummer (now deceased) did some of this stuff for the band, and they sort of fell out of the loop by not playing regularly, so it's almost like starting over.

I don't spend any time in bars anymore, unless I'm playing, so more research is needed to know what's happening where.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I started a 50’s band four years ago. We contacted someone from a Rock n’ Roll dance club who came and heard us at a rehearsal. They booked us for two dances. We now do six shows/ year for Rock n’ Roll clubs. Once we had done a few shows we approached two other venues that book 50’s bands. Eventually got a couple of gigs a year at each. Also sent photos and bios to several agents. One replied and gave us a regular gig 8 times per year. All up we now play 24 - 30 gigs per year now, which is enough for us.

We also have a basic website (free through Weebly.com) a Facebook Page and a YouTube channel with half a dozen song clips from gigs. We’ve had six enquiries through the website, leading to four paid functions. Also some Facebook enquiries leading to private parties and events.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
I think a huge element to the answer is where you’re based and what happens on the local scene.
In the North East Of England I’ve found that hitting the phones either to speak in person or to exchange texts and Facebook Messenger has worked for my bands.
And even though as individuals or as entire bands we have many many years of experience on the local circuit, that doesn’t make life any easier. Often being in touch at the right time is more important than being brilliantly prepared and being in touch at the wrong time.
If you look at agents, are they “proper” agents and what will THEY do for YOU? In my neck of the woods there are too many people who ask for £25 simply to pencil your bands name down in one of the diaries that they’ve (IMO) fooled a pub into handing over to them. Ditto showcases and Battles Of The Bands, never done one, never needed one, done alright for gigs in the grand scheme of things without them.
I also feel, and this is just my opinion, that at a lot of the pubs we play in the job of the band is to entertain the people who will be there expecting to see a band, not to draw a crowd over and above the usual. Not that we don’t care about attracting more people but what I’m saying is that it’s a low bar. Pubs aren’t expecting brilliance or innovation or stupendous musicianship, they simply don’t want a band to be so bad that their customers will walk out.
Yes websites and a Facebook presence keep the pot boiling but they won’t proactively get you gigs. And yes video clips on your sites or YouTube CAN be useful, but in one of my bands we took the decision to take down almost every video that had been posted because they were done on phones and the quality of the videos (not the quality of the band I’m keen to stress ;-) ) didn’t do us any favours. Better to have very little, but good stuff as opposed to loads of tat.
Getting a multi camera video with properly recorded sound is the best bet if you want to look good, but if you want to do that I recommend rehearsing and reherasing and rehearsing what you’re going to play, how you’re going to play it, and how you’re going to stage it so that it comes out as good as it can be. Too many bands get excited at the prospect of a proper video and jump in when they’d have been better off rehearsing their material whether or not it was going to be filmed.
I do agree that social media and digital media have an importance nowadays, however ANYONE can rustle up fantastic imagery and people aren’t fooled by it as much as they were. A brilliant poster and Facebook site does not necessarily mean a brilliant band.

I suppose the short answer is that there are no universal right answers and no “easy” way to do it. It takes persistence so that your name gets remembered when a pub needs a band (& one late cancellation that you fill could lead to 2 or 3 gigs a the same place every year thereafter) & to work to what the bookers want. If they say they’ll get in touch next week and they don’t, you politely get in touch with them. If they say their diary opens on a certain day, make sure you’re in touch the day before.
 
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