It’s an interesting and, for artists, rather unfortunate reality that clubs, restaurants, bars and such in many towns are, for the most part, paying no more today for live acts than they were when I was gigging around 25 to 30 years ago. Many venue operators think they can’t afford to pay more than they are or simply don’t have to. With so many acts these days wanting places to play and fewer establishments than ever offering live music, it’s a buyer’s market.
So, here’s a few tips that could help you increase your chances of landing the kind of gigs you want.
Make sure that hiring parties, or your agent if you have one, can get ahold of you readily. Check your communication devices frequently for messages–at least twice a day–from parties you’ve made submissions to or who might be contacting you cold to see if you’re available. If you aren’t prompt getting back to the person, they are just as likely to move on and try somebody else as wait around patiently for you to reply.
Take an appropriate attitude into all your dealings with the party. Don’t be full of yourself or act like you are at a level you are not. Be honest, full of enthusiasm, reliable and professional. You want that person to come away with the impression that you can and will in all respects successfully fulfill the mandate they set out for you.
If you are asked to audition, it stands to reason that you want to prepare for it as well as you can. In most cases, however, hiring parties don’t consider holding auditions convenient or a good use of their time. That’s where the live performance promotional video comes in. If you are anything other than a background music act, make sure you have one available. It needn’t be more than a few minutes in length (you can use relatively short, impactful clips from different songs) or anywhere near broadcast quality. But, ideally, what you include should be representative of the range of your repertoire that is appropriate for the kind of gig in question and the performance should reflect well on you in terms of your on-stage professionalism and your ability to connect with an audience. That means you don’t record it in your garage or use clips showing you in front of a sparse or unengaged audience.
In most popular genres, cover acts have more live performance opportunities than original music acts. It’s just the way it is. So, if your main shorter term goal is to make money and perform lots, consider building up a substantial repertoire of well-known songs. This really helps to not only get into clubs and other similar venues, but you open the door much wider for lots of other types of paying gigs as well, like weddings, conventions, cruise ships and special events. If you do write original material, hopefully you will land at least some such gigs where you can still sprinkle in the odd original song here and there.
There’s certainly more that goes into the mix when it comes to increasing your chances of getting paid performance opportunities as well as getting asked back. I’ll have additional things to impart about this in a future blog, but let me finish by saying this: with any gig that you really want to get, don’t give up easily if the hiring party doesn’t respond or turns you down. Be persistent by following your initial effort with periodic tactful attempts at getting them on board. If nothing else, they’ll be impressed with your tenacity and eventually may well accede to giving you a try.