When it comes down to it, as a musician gigs are what we do. Whether you're just starting out or you've been on the scene for some time, gigs are our lifeblood and the best way to get noticed and in turn, increase your popularity. But if you are fairly new to the game or you've only played a handful of local spots, how do you go about getting more, especially if you're relatively unknown?
It might seem tricky to get to the next level but it's not impossible. Read on.
In an earlier blog post, I talked about working for free. When it comes to increasing the number of gigs you play, doing freebies is a must. Even if it's a slot at a local open mic night, it's still a gig that is going to give you increased confidence, more recognition and a chance to hone your craft. Use these non-paying slots to play around with your set, see what works well, which numbers maybe don't go down so well. Having a solid setlist is a must and can be the key to an average or a great gig. It's also good to have a couple of alternative setlists to use depending on the venue you're playing. Playing open mics, charity gigs or any other opportunity is a great way of increasing your exposure and your experience.
Another way of scoping out new opportunities is through networking. By this, I don't mean approaching random venue owners and promoters and asking for a gig. I mean getting to know other musicians in a similar genre to yourself. Talk to people, see what they're up to, what plans they have. Chances are they may well have played venues you haven't and could offer an introduction to a promoter or at the least give you a contact name. Be sure to reciprocate if you can, one good turn etc.
Also, by getting to know other musicians it's possible to support slots could become available. You could either offer to do some local support for acts coming to your town or try and work out some mutually beneficial gigs with some musicians you've got to know. As you become more well known opportunities will present themselves, it's a fairly common occurrence for larger touring bands to need a support act at short notice if they've been let down.
The key to getting more gigs is patience, being prepared to work for free and networking. If you do these things consistently new opportunities will come along. If you sit around waiting for gigs to come to you, you'll be waiting for a long time. One last thing to add, make sure your website and social channels are up to date with a good selection of music and pictures. Pointing a promoter or venue owner to your online profile can work wonders.