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Indie Musicians: How to Get Gigs When Your Band is Still Unknown


There is a certain catch 22 in getting a gig when you’re band is still new.  Booking agents won’t pay attention to you if you still haven’t played live even once, and you cannot get other gigs unless you have that first gig. It’s like applying for  jobs which all require 2 years or more of experience when you are just a fresh graduate.  So how on earth should a new band like yours get in if they basically don’t allow first-timers?

You need an impressive, can-do attitude

You have to start at the bottom-investing time and money for something you are not even quite sure would pay-off, playing for free just to get exposure, and you should be impressive all the time. Be impressive not only with your talents but also with your etiquette and professionalism.  People may not notice you at first but when you get their attention, they will really pay attention to each of your move so you better put your best foot forward every time. Leave your attitude problem at your door and you will soon realize you’re better off without it if you want to be somebody in the music scene.

Since there is no surefire formula for a successful career, then you should be willing to give it all you’ve got without expecting results the next day. You should learn how to wait gracefully and handle disappointments.

Prepare a Kick-Ass Press Kit

Your Press Kit or Promotional Kit is what bookers of live shows check. Never approach them without it. The Press Kit contains your band’s bio, photos, press clips (if any), and your Demo CD. Your demo CD should be placed in a decent CD packaging and should contain at least 3-4 of your songs. Make sure your kit has a common theme and it should somehow reflect your band and the type of music you play. You can leave kits at the clubs that play your kind of music or hand them personally to the booking manager so she/he can review your demo.

Play for Free

If you want to have lots of gigs, you better be prepared to play for free for other bands so you’d get exposure and contacts. Do not be shy to ask more established musicians if they need bands to open their show even if it’s the first time you’ve met. These people have more or less done the same things that you’re doing right now and are likely willing to help you out. You should give your best every time you perform and not think of it as ‘just an opening’. How are you going to stand out and succeed if you have that kind of attitude? Feel and perform like a rock star every time you are onstage.  This is not limited to concerts. You may also play at parties,  school events, exhibits, and many others.

Play at Open Mics

Look for clubs and bars in your area that offer open mics and play there. Do not be too picky. Many indie musicians start their careers by playing at open mics. It’s one of the best ways to get attention since open mics usually just have a small number of guests and performers. Many scouts actually watch out for new talents at open mics so you better come prepared by rehearsing your songs and your introductions onstage.  You also have to bring your kick-ass press kit just in case someone approaches your band.

Exhaust your Contacts

List down all the people you know who could possibly land you a gig-your uncle, your friend’s cousin’s best friend, your music teacher in high school. Let your band mates do that to and start dialing each of their phone numbers. Now is not the time to be shy-you have no choice but to promote yourself.

Good Luck and enjoy your first gig!

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