To be a successful artist, you have to start small. That means playing live. Tracking down a gig can be as easy as finding a birthday party to play. If you put a little effort into finding a gig, you can finally take your talent to a test audience.
- Get Your Music Out ThereHaving music available for listening is probably the most important thing for an artist to do. You’ll hear endless stories about big breaks coming due to slipping a cassette tape demo to the right person. Nowadays, it’s more likely that you’ll slip a link to the right person. This brings us to the first point: even if you have to record it in your closet on your computer, get your music out there! It’s the first step to potentially booking a show. Bandcamp and Soundcloud are two of the most widely-used sites to host your music files. Better yet, posting performance videos on sites like TalentWatch will showcase your performance skills.
- Make Yourself Known Network in every sense of the word! A basic fan page on Facebook will help you spread the word, even if it is just to your friends and family at first. It’s also a convenient place to put links to new music you are working on, and advertise that you are ready to play live in the hopes that someone will take you up on the offer. Social media has made it so easy to declare yourself an artist, but that same technology also makes it easy to get lost in the crowd. Networking in real life has great potential to help you book gigs. Attending local shows allows you to meet other artists and figure out who is curating all the gigs that you could potentially play.
- Make a Personal Video or Electronic Press KitYou want people to know who you are, and there’s no easier way to do that than making a personal video. It won’t take too much of your jam session time to outline a little about yourself or your band, explain it in a video, and post it online – and it will be immensely helpful for people who need to research a soloist or band before booking them. You can add other elements to the video such as snippets of some of your performances. You can separate yourself from the throng of other artists who only have a few photos to bolster their music by making a bio video and putting the link on your social networks. The people who book shows will be thankful for all the information – it makes filling a support slot with a likeminded artist a lot easier.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Ask You have the tools at your disposal: social media, friends, and phone calls. If you feel like you have perfected your songs, or at least have them worked out enough to play live, start advertising that you are available. Ask your network if there’s any bill you can hop on. Tell your friends or parents to keep their ears open for opportunities. If you want to play a show, don’t be afraid to ask people if they are willing to let you play their next party. There’s something to be said for a little persistence. Calling local venues, even if you haven’t had any luck so far, will at least keep your name fresh in the minds of people who work there. You lose nothing by asking, and can potentially book a gig. If there is a local artist you admire, you can always ask them to consider you if they ever need a support act. That method is how Jonathan Richman, front man of The Modern Lovers who later went on to star in “There’s Something About Mary,” got his first gig opening for The Velvet Underground.
Put in the effort, and you’ll be playing live in no time! A little work goes a long way when it comes to hunting down shows.