Bands. You’re always lying to yourselves. Stop it…
This episode is all about how to get gigs: what do you need to get started, and how do you actually get yourself booked?
First off, here's a list of things to be sure you have before you even start searching for performance opportunities.
You need songs. Good songs, and several of them. You need to know them inside out, and be able to them play without being able to clearly hear your own instrument, or any of your bandmates, (Don’t worry, if that doesn’t make sense now it will when you start gigging)
A Set List
You need to be able to play those songs one after another with little to no gap between. Maybe have some different length setlists - for instance a 15 minute one, a half hour one, and a 45 minute one, just so you can fill a variety of slots. Also, once you’ve played a gig or two remember to swap out songs which your audience don’t seem to like with newer ones - it’s kinda more important to act on what an audience thinks than what you people in the band think.
An E-Mail Address
One from which you actually respond to messages. Maybe you nominate someone in the band to do that - that could be their “band job” - i.e. the thing they do in the band which isn’t playing an instrument.
Basically proof that you can perform music, which you upload to YouTube Not a music video, (although that’s cool, it won’t help you get gigs), but videos of your band playing a song or several, all the way through will help promoters see what you can do, and what you’re likely to be like on stage. It can just be you guys playing in a garage, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Once you’ve played a few gigs see if you can get video of an actual live performance, then start sending out the most recent footage you have.
Lastly, you need to be able to perform to an audience and look like a cohesive unit on stage. This is kinda hard to learn without playing gigs, but you can totally perform to your family or friends to get used to being watched.
Now we can look at the actual steps involved with getting yourselves booked.
Step one: go to the internet; step two: use the internet. It’s easy, type where it is you live followed by the word “gigs” or “events”. Maybe try “pub gigs” as well. Some of these venues will have an in-house promoter in which case you can just drop the pub an email with a link to your performance video, and a little bit of info about your band.
Research promoters. Again, use the internet. Some promoters will run different nights at different venues for different crowds so they’re possibly more likely to be able to help you than an in-house promoter. Even better, you could go to one of these local gigs from your research and at the end of the performances try and talk to the promoter When talking to a promoter don’t go into loads of detail about your band “we’re a metal band / we have our own drum kit and amps we don’t mind letting others use them” then you swap contact details.
Lastly, here's a few final considerations which may help.
So when you talk to promoters, (or anyone else for that matter), you don’t have to go scribbling your email down on a scrap piece of paper. Even simple business cards will make you look twice as professional.
A Facebook page
Promoters shouldn’t judge you by the number of likes you have, but some of them will. What’s important to promoters who are a little smarter is the number of interactions from fans, so try and propagate likes, shares and comments on whatever you post.
You have to be pretty ballsy to talk to strangers, especially when you know nothing about each other and you want them to give you gigs, so it doesn’t hurt to send the most confident person in the band to talk to promoters - as long as confidence doesn’t turn into arrogance.
If you’re able to move all your own gear around it makes it much easier on the promoter as they won’t have to find amps or cabinets or bits of drum kits for you to use. In fact, if you’re able to bring your own drums and amps and that you should consider letting the other bands performing with you use them - that will make you pretty popular.
This may be more helpful down the line, but any interviews, whether written, audio or video, can help a promoter get an idea of how professional you guys are. In fact, we have another video on exactly this - check out How To Get Gigs right here.
In this episode Liam talks about the importance of remixes, what they can do for your band, and what makes a good one.Featuring expert witness Yvette Chivers, DJ and founder of the B-Side Project.
As Yvette said, if you get remixed, you will get a wider fan-base. It doesn't really matter if you like the style of the remix, or indeed the individual track - the fact is, it will have the potential to bring you new fans. Also, consider this: the more different a remix is from the original song, the wider the scope of people it might attract. Music listeners aren't one-dimensional, they can like opposing music styles.
Stay True To The Original Track
On the flip side of that, it is fair enough for a band to make sure they're being represented in the best way. Producers need to be respectful of the original track, and make sure they're doing it justice.
Now, just like bands, to really make money and be a success you pretty much have to tour and perform tracks you've created. Luckily, performance hardware is easily accessible and super-easy to learn, so anyone can take their show on the road - you really have no excuse!
It's the same deal for DJs as with bands - you might not be able to perform many gigs at first, (unless you count weddings and functions where they won't want you to play original stuff), but you can definitely play at a friend's party, right?
Do It For The Love
If you're trying to create something, (anything in fact), you have to stay true to that - if you don't love doing it, people are going to notice, and they're not going to care. There is some compromise between expressing yourself and trying to appeal to people and make a living - but that's just a balance you'll have to get used to over time.
Tell A New Story
The last thing Yvette said there was interesting to me - depending on the instruments and effects used, or the way you mix a track, you can tell a create an entirely new track. So when working on a remix, why not try to tell a different story to the original piece? Rather than just a more energetic track, you could transform it entirely - that's a real challenge there.
Thanks again to Yvette for donating her time to talk to us. Remember to get more information on the B-Side Project from their website, and check out the full interview below.
References & Further Reading
- Tech Crunch - From Artistic To Technological Mash-Up
- Music Radar - 18 Pro Remixing Tips
- Dubspot - 10 Remixing Tips
- DJing For Dummies on Amazon.co.uk
The first episode in this new series looks at ways to quit your band. Liam's 6 tips are as follows...
1. The Ultimatum
An ultimatum is a simple "If this, then this" situation. Make it clear that you want to leave and your reason for that. If they're willing to fix the issue then it's probably worth staying.
An absolute necessity if you're gigging a lot or recording tracks. Say that you'll stay for a couple months, but after that you're gone.
3. Find a Potential Replacement
Offer the band a replacement who is at least as good as you, if not better. Don't offer this individual the job, but certainly make sure they're up for it if asked.
4. Be Transpaent
Don't lie about why you're leaving. If the band try to fix your issue you'll have to come clean about the real reason for leaving. Que awkwardness...
5. Be Firm, but Avoid an Argument
Shouting matches aren't rock n' roll - they could actually screw your potential future endeavours. The goal here is to minimize the amount of crap your ex-bandmates might say after you leave, but it's also important to be firm and clear so what you're saying isn't misunderstood.
6. Be Sure
Don't come crawling back 20 seconds after you quit. Because durh, obviously.
Those are our tips for quitting your band - we hope your next bailing is a joyful one.
(R.I.P. the Liam Taylor Musical Endeavour)