How to Book Shows as an Independent Artist

by Andrea Abbondanza of LiveTrigger

Are you planning to book shows for your band, or as musicians? You are in the right place! Sometimes booking shows can be challenging because you don’t know where to start or how to reach out to the right people.

If that’s the case, let’s dive into the process of organizing live music shows together.

All Pics by Bill Golding, Johnston Street

How To Organize Your First Show:

The best way of booking shows is to have:

  • One or a few well-recorded (or at least decently recorded) tracks, already uploaded on the best right platforms, such as Soundcloud, Spotify & YouTube.
  • At least a good video, where you can show the potential promoter or venue, how cool you are when you play your music – to have better chances, I recommend upload your video on YouTube (or Vimeo) and Facebook.
  • It would also great if you have a list of your previous shows, if you have already played live shows before -if you did, it’s great to have a list of your previous shows on your website, Facebook or Instagram. 
  • Create a promo package, with all your info, your BIO and the story behind your project and why you like music. Everyone likes when you have a great story to tell! 
  • A stage plan could  be really helpful, cause it helps the organiser to understand the way you want to be on the stage.

Of course I understand that It might be hard to have everything ready straight away and at the same time, especially if you are just at the beginning of your career.

Today, the competition in the music industry is tough. There are numerous talented musicians, like you, that would like to play in venues. But the venues are few while there are a lot of the musicians out there.

And also today less people go to live shows and venues everywhere in the world struggle to pay bills. These are some of the reasons why it is hard to get a spot in the right venue.

You are probably dreaming of playing in a big venue, where you saw your heroes having a great show.

Well, you can  get there, but it could take some time, hard work, and good connections.

That’s why I always recommend making friends with the best promoters of your music genre in your city or region.

Many musicians and artists have huge dreams of being well known and becoming  famous after they write or record their first five songs.

However, that’s not the way that it works; it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get there.

And also today less people go to live shows and venues everywhere in the world struggle to pay bills. These are some of the reasons why it is hard to get a spot in the right venue.

You are probably dreaming of playing in a big venue, where you saw your heroes having a great show.

Well, you can  get there, but it could take some time, hard work, and good connections.

That’s why I always recommend making friends with the best promoters of your music genre in your city or region.

Many musicians and artists have huge dreams of being well known and becoming  famous after they write or record their first five songs.

However, that’s not the way that it works; it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get there.

As times go by, reality sets in and it becomes clear you need to put in a lot of work before your dreams can come true.

It is also essential to make the right decisions and be disciplined enough to see the fruits of your labour.

Most people believe that you need to build an audience before you can get a gig, but that’s not always true.

Venues and promoters could ask if you already have an audience before they can organise a show with you.

It has happened to me a few times; and it sure sounds daunting, but, sometimes you need to deal with it.

Start Locally

First of all, I suggest that you start organising shows with your peers in your local area and then when your live show and your music is ready for the next step, that’s the time to take the next step in your music career.

As a singer or a band, you must know your local music scene first.

  • Do your research and find out which venues and promoters support up-coming artists?
  • Which bands in your area could use a supporting act?
  • Which venues have touring bands that might need a local opening act? 

Getting a gig can be easier if you know the right venues to approach, and it could have a lot of benefits.

It can be even more comfortable if you are working with several bands because venues will ask for numbers, and if you don’t own any equipment, you can share amongst each other.

Find the Right Venue

If you want to organise a memorable gig, make the first move by sending emails to the right venues.

But before doing that, try to find out the person who is in charge of the organising gigs on their website, and send them an email with your booking request and your promo package.

If they don’t answer, try to contact them via messenger, Facebook or Instagram to see if they are interested in your music project. Often, organisers will tell you that they will contact you, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.

If they don’t give you an answer straight away, be proactive by following up after a week or so, through email or phone calls. Do not stop until you get a response, but please always remember to be polite and professional.

People are often busy, primarily because they work and manage a booking agency, or have other activities that need their attention to their day-to-day lives.

Keep in mind that in the music industry, especially at the bottom level, a lot of people organise concerts, shows, and parties they do it because they love music and they want to support their local scene.

Please note that if your band doesn’t have a following, it might be tough your first gig if you book the venue by yourselves because you will need to do the promotion, pay for the venue’s rental fee, and see to it that you make a profit.

If you are not up to the challenge, it is wise to join an existing concert bill.

Speak with the Right Promoter

Promoters do all the work for you if you want to be headlining at the venue. If this is your option, you can reach out to a promoter by sending a promo package just like you would with a venue and wait for the promoter’s response.

If the promoter is interested, they will need an artwork, or poster that you have created for yourself so that they can book a venue, and promote the show for you.

Some promoters will not put you on alone; if they give you this reason, always ask if there are any shows available for you to play as an opening act. If you want to find new promoters you can try services like LiveTrigger, Sonicbids or Reverbnation. These websites will help you find the right promoters for the genre of music you play.

Promo Package

You must always be ready to introduce yourself to promoters and venues, and you should, therefore, have a standard promo package.

Always ensure that this promo package is short and sweet, with a quick demo CD, or at least a Bandcamp or Spotify link to your recording, a brief bio, a sheet to introduce the band, and any press clippings that you might have.

If you are going to use an email to send your promo package, refrain from using attachments because most people do not open them and your email can end up in the junk folder.

Instead, always include a link to where people can listen to your music.

Have Fun and Make the Gig a Memorable One

This might be your first deal, or fifteenth, but it is the gig before your next one and you have to handle it in a way that will have a lasting impact on your ability to get future shows.

Rehearse, be on time for soundcheck and performance, be professional, be courteous, and play a great show.

Regardless of the music scene, remember that the stage is your office.

As such, you should respectfully relate with the promoters, the venue, the audience, and your other band members for chances of getting a better gig in future.

It can be tough to get gigs at first, but your performance, patience, and discipline eventually pay off.

Although most bands find it difficult to book live music gigs your band does not have to be troubled if you know what to do about it.

As it is expected, good things take time; with music, businesses, and even art.

However, it is essential to keep things professional. Always remember that there is a thin line between persistence and desperation, and do not make your band vulnerable to disadvantages by appearing desperate.

If you are putting on a show, have fun and play the best way possible so that you can create lasting memories and a lifelong fanbase.

Do you agree with us? Please leave a comment and tell us what you think about this article. We are really curious to know your thoughts about it.
BIO: Andrea is LiveTrigger Founder and Head of Contents, and he is also a drummer and a music lover, living in Melbourne, Australia!

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