Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2016 5:22 pm Post subject: How to get a gig (paid or unpaid); solo performer
Hey everyone, seeking a bit of wisdom/advice here.
After playing in bands in my early/mid 20's (I'm now 34), I'm looking to get out and find some solo gigs to play, and am trying to figure out how to get a foot in the door and get on the gig merry-go-round. I live in the Elwood area, and would be happy with an unpaid weekly gig playing on a weeknight, Sunday arvo, whatever, anywhere in Melbourne really.
I played for free in a little bar in my area for a few months last year, but there was BARELY EVER anyone there (the owner was new to the game I think and didn't know what he was doing), so there was no incentive to continue.
I've contacted a few venues offering to play (I can do two 50 minute sets easily enough and play acoustic blues) but haven't heard anything back. I don't have a website or anything yet at this stage either....
Any regularly gigging musos have any pearls of wisdom as to finding a venue (with people in it) to start with? Again, money is not a priority.....
Here are a few tips that I hope can help. To put things in context, I am a working drummer who books gigs for the bands I play in, and also book for a few other acts as well (solo, duo, trio etc.)
First of all, it's no good trying to get gigs if you don't have anything to offer. What I mean by this is that if you're calling or emailing these venues with no photos, recordings, videos, testimonials etc. then they have no reason to believe you'll be worth their time and money. Venues are very short on cash for live performers, so if they're paying someone to play they want to make sure they're paying for quality. It's no good waiting to show them how good you are in person, as there's no reason to give you that chance when there are potentially other available musos who they know and are comfortable with.
That being said, venues are often willing to try out new performers. Here's a few tips on getting your foot in the door.
First of all, you don't have enough material. You said you have enough for 2 x 50 minute sets. A lot of venues who employ solo performers expect 3 x 45 minute sets, or sometime 4 x 45 minute sets. At around 12 songs a set, i'd suggest having 50 or so songs up your sleeve at a minimum, to ensure you can entertain their crowds for as long as required.
Secondly, you absolutely MUST have promotional material, and I don't mean shitty iphone photos or videos. If you really want to do well and get paid for playing gigs, good marketing material is essential. The thing you have to remember is that you're competing with a lot of people who do have great promo, and when booking a live act, the potential employer will us this as the deciding factor in who they book a lot of the time. Try and find a photographer, as well as a small studio who you can record demo tracks with. Have a neatly formatted song list, and if possible, some testimonials from places you've previously played.
Finally, remember that this is a business. If you play for free, know that you're not doing anyone any favours. If you're playing music for someone (a restaurant, pub, bar, whatever) and you are providing entertainment for their guests, you are making their business more appealing to their customers, and you should be paid accordingly. By playing for free or not much at all, you're not only selling yourself short, but making it harder for everyone else to get paid what they're worth too. Go out, ior even just online, find the places you think you'd be suitable for, put a package together, and go for it.
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