How To Book More Quality Gigs
Last year sucked. Covid sucks. The live music industry took an absolute beating with a projected $30 billion loss.
The good news, according to Goldman-Sachs “Music in the Air” report, is that a strong rebound is expected in 2021. Along with that, beyond 2021, the live music sector is projected to return to a 4-5% annual growth rate – raising the sectors value to $39 billion by 2030. So, while you may not be able to play live (at least consistently) right now, it’s a good idea to start planning for when you can.
Live music is how artists earn approximately 75% of their revenue. It helps to push merchandise and it’s the absolute best way to form a connection with existing and potential fans (which leads to more record sales!). It’s an extremely important aspect of an aspiring career musician but most people don’t know where to start. We’re going to go through all of the ways that you can get your foot in the door and establish yourself in a real way – without simply hiring a booking agent. For the more experienced artists, hang in there because we have a few really cool resources we're going to highlight that will help anyone at any level.
First we are going to cover what you need to have in place before reaching out to potential partners. Second, we will go over the ways you can draw interest completely on your own. Third, we will go over some really cool online networking resources that put artists and venues in touch (no not Facebook and Twitter).
What To Have Ready
Before you go and reach out to a potential vendor, make sure to have ready what they are going to ask you for. Let’s start with recorded material and a press kit or EPK. These are two thing you should have at a minimum.
The vendor is going to want to hear what you sound like and, obviously, recorded material will take care of that. Make sure you have a few well-done recordings of some of your favorite material. If you’ve performed in the past, a recording or video of your performance is also great to have.
Vendor’s want to view your material in the most convenient manner possible, which brings us to your next thing to have – a press kit or EPK. An EPK, or electronic press kit, essentially lets the venue manager know who you are, what you’ve done, and why they should care. It should include music, photos, a bio, social media links, contact information and if you have it – a website link, music videos, and performance videos. They are also going to want to know about you and your EPK will take care of that. EPK’s used to be distributed as PDF’s, but I recommend having a dedicated website for this purpose. I’ve included a couple links below for websites you can use that will help you build an EPK and host it on a dedicated web address.
EPK Design Websites
What You Can Do
There are free things that you can do right now to expand your network and find opportunities. These are the old, tried and true tactics.
Network With Local Venues
Get involved with the live music scene in your community and get to know the people who book shows. It’s no groundbreaking tip but some old-fashioned relationship building can go a long way! Attend concerts at and bars, clubs, restaurants, colleges, festivals, and anywhere else you can think of. Find the audio engineer, staff members, or the artist after the show and introduce yourself. Ask if you can introduce yourself to the booking manager. Tell them about who you are, have your EPK link ready, and try to close something or get a phone number for future collaboration.
Network With Other Artists
Live music isn’t a zero-sum game. The live music industry is projected to grow steadily, and artists can, and do, help each other out. Sometimes people need an opening act, sometimes a personal issue pops up out of nowhere and they need someone to cover their gig, sometimes they know about a great opportunity - but it conflicts with another opportunity, and so on. Knowing other artists is a great way to find gig opportunities and it can lead to a lot of music industry opportunities outside of live music.
A dry hire is when you rent out a place out of pocket and then promote the show yourself. This is a great way to just go for it and make it happen. If you do this, be sure you are on point with your promotion.
Online networking, for the purpose of finding gigs, is a growing niche with a lot of cool companies that put booking managers and acts in touch directly. Below I’ve outlined a few useful sites, both free and paid, that will help you land all sorts of gigs including music venues, bars and restaurants, corporate, college, festivals and more! Indie On the Move Indie On the Move has the most comprehensive and up-to-date database of venues, and venue reviews, on the web. You will be able to access contact info for thousands of venue booking agents and utilize cool features like show availability alerts.
The website offers a ton of different plans and a la carte services ranging anywhere from a free account to a dedicated professional who will help you book shows and tours. They also include colleges, festivals, and conferences along with traditional music venues.
Free: Includes an artist profile, photo/video tagging, member to member messaging, show and band availabilities, classified listings, and can rate & review music venues.
$9.99/month: Pro Plan which includes everything in the free plan plus venue and college booking details, festival and conference booking details, advanced search capabilities, venue and college emailing, and press and radio details.
$29.99/month: Deluxe Plan which includes everything in the previous two plans plus QuickPitch Emailing, timed emailing, saved booking templates and email analytics.
$475+: Do It Together Tour Booking Experience (includes a professional to route your tour, perfect your booking pitch, evaluate your web presence, and contacts suitable music venues in desired markets on your behalf). $475 will get you representation in 10 markets and the price increases with more market representation.
$150: Booking Pitch Consultation
$130: Web Evaluation
GigSalad Gigsalad allows you to network directly with people who are actively looking for gig musicians. Whether it may be birthday’s, parties, weddings, or venues, event planners or private individuals can go on their site and search for an act. This is a good site to check out for both solo musicians and bands alike.
The tiered plans both include leads, a 2.5% booking fee, access to client phone numbers, acceptance of deposits, and a profile allowing pictures, videos, and audio samples.
$169: 3 months of the Featured Plan
$139: 3 months of the Pro Plan
Gigmor Gigmor lists gigs across the country that you can apply for. You can view these listings without signing up, but you need to sign up to apply. However, with some investigative work, you can view a listing and then search around and find the contact information yourself.
Free: Allow you to create an artist profile where you can upload music, a bio, photos and so on. You are allowed to publish and reply to Seeking Posts, but need to upgrade to apply for Gigs or reply to Avails
$9.99/month or $99/annualy: Premium Plan allows you to apply to up to 5 gigs monthly, and will have access to the GigScore metric (which is a system developed by “combining years of intel gathered from talent seekers about their booking processes and unique social media scoring systems to create a single metric that artists can rely on as a barometer for how they look to a talent seeker)
$19.99/month or $199/annually: Pro Plan allows you to apply to unlimited gigs and have access to the GigScore metric
These platforms seem to stand out but there are other ones, like ShowSlinger and Festival Net, that are worth checking out. Take some time to look at all of them and see what looks best for fit for you.
If you've made it this far, thanks for checking out our first article! Hopefully this gives you some solid ideas to get your live music career on the right track. Check back in for some more informative content!