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Finding Music Gigs: Tips from the pros

The School of Voice / Musician Resources / Finding Music Gigs: Tips from the pros

May 14, 2024
Photo of a band performing on stage in the venue
Ready to take your musical talent to the stage? Explore strategies for finding venues, connecting with other musicians, and landing your first gig in this comprehensive guide.

Looking for venues where you can display your blossoming musical talents? Growing your music career starts with finding that first gig. Our guide explains how to engage with local venues, network, and leverage online platforms to showcase your talent.

As a learning musician, local venues and online platforms are wonderful starting points to find gigs. Consider showcasing your talent at open mic nights, small concerts, cafe shows, and private events. Many online platforms and freelance job sites can connect you with people looking for live music or session work.

For beginners, small-scale performances such as playing at local cafes, at a friend’s party, or church events can be ideal. You might also consider performing in community theatres and at open mic nights. These platforms provide a great way to gain stage experience and refine your performance skills.

Networking in the music industry is key to finding gigs and collaboration opportunities. Join music forums, attend music events or festivals, get involved in local music communities, or use online networking platforms designed for musicians. Building relationships and establishing a solid network are critical steps towards getting reputed gigs and furthering your musical career.

“Throughout your journey, be persistent, stay professional, continue learning, and maintain your love for music.”

Begin by searching for open mic nights, local festivals, community events, or small local venues that welcome new artists. You can also network with other musicians, join music communities online and offline. Don’t hesitate to reach out to venues or events directly and express your interest in performing.

Finding venues looking for bands, performers, and singers

Are you a musician looking for your first gig? Our guide offers essential advice on finding performance opportunities, networking, and navigating the music industry.

Here are some strategies to help you get started and land some gigs:

  1. Local Music Scene: Engage with your local music scene, including open mic nights and other live events. Visit these venues to understand which ones cater to your genre, making them potential stages for your performance.
  2. Networking: Connect with other artists, musicians, event organizers, and music producers in the area. You can use social media platforms or local meetups. They can tip you off to potential gig opportunities.
  3. Social Media and Websites: Search for venues on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. There are definitely several Facebook Groups out there dedicated to this. Many venues use these platforms to call for performers. Also, checkout websites listing local gigs or venues offering live music.
  4. Reddit: There are several subreddits dedicated to connecting aspiring musicians with potential performance opportunities.
  5. Online Gig Platforms: Websites like Sonicbids, Gigmor, and Openr, BandWagonGigs connect artists and venues. Set up a profile showcasing your music to get discovered.
  6. Direct Contact: Don’t hesitate to directly reach out to venues you’re interested in. Send them a press kit containing your bio, contact information, pictures, and sample music tracks.
  7. Music or Performing Arts Schools and Colleges: These institutions often host concerts or music festivals and are always on the lookout for new talent.

Remember, finding the perfect venue is just the first step. What truly counts is connecting with your audience and delivering a memorable performance.

What every musician should know about finding gigs and getting paid as a working musician

How should I approach venues for gigs?

Before approaching a venue, research to understand what kind of music they usually host and which demographic they cater to. Make sure you send a professional email with a brief introduction about yourself or your band, including links to your work, preferably a live performance. Follow up if you don’t initially get a response.

How can I increase my chances of getting paid gigs?

Improving your online presence, professionalism in communication, and networking effectively can help. Releasing quality music regularly and connecting with your audience both online and in-person are vital. Do not forget – never underestimate the value of word-of-mouth referrals.

What is the average pay for a music performance gig?

Payment can vary significantly based on the venue, the length of the performance, your experience, and other factors. As a beginner, performing might not be enormously profitable – the focus should be on gaining performance experience, growing your audience, and building your reputation.

How should I price my gigs as a learning musician?

Pricing can be a tricky subject. As a beginning artist, you might want to consider several factors such as your experience level, the scale and duration of the gig, travel time, and preparation needed. With experience and increased demand, you will be able to adjust your pricing accordingly.

I’ve been offered a gig, but it’s for ‘exposure,’ should I take it?

This depends on your individual strategy and goals. While exposure doesn’t pay the bills, strategic free performances can sometimes lead to paid opportunities by getting your music heard by the right people. In the end, ensure it offers sufficient value in powering your music career forward.

Should I sign a contract for a gig?

Yes, absolutely! Contracts clarify expectations on both sides and provide legal protection. The agreement should cover your compensation, performance duration, equipment provision, cancellation terms, and any other necessary specifics. Consider consulting legal help if you’re unsure about a contract.

What should I include in a performance contract?

A performance contract should clearly state all details related to the gig including date, time and duration of the performance, compensation details, equipment provided by the venue, cancellation terms amongst others. If you’re unsure about contracts, please seriously consider consulting a legal professional.

Do I need a manager to find gigs?

While having a manager can be beneficial in securing higher-profile gigs, it’s not essential when you’re starting out. Many musicians manage their early careers independently. When you feel ready or if managing bookings and promotions become overwhelming, that’s when you can consider hiring a manager.

How can I get paid for my music online?

With the digital revolution, musicians have various ways to monetize their music online. This can be through streaming platforms like Spotify or Apple Music, selling your music on platforms like iTunes or Bandcamp, offering online lessons or webinars, or even crowdfunding and Patreon.

How do I effectively manage finances as a musician?

Start by setting a budget, tracking your expenses and income. Learn basic financial management techniques and consider seeking advice from financial advisors experienced in working with artists or freelancers.

How do I network as a musician?

Networking is essential for a musician’s career. Attend industry events, support other local musicians at their performances, engage in online music communities and utilize social media to showcase your talent and connect with peers.

How do I promote myself and my music?

Once you have a solid repertoire of music, consider creating a website, or at least having a dedicated social media page to showcase your work. Regularly share updates about performances, recordings, or behind-the-scenes insights into your musical journey. Networking and collaborations with other artists can also help increase your visibility.

How can I increase my earnings as a musician?

Diversifying your skills can be beneficial. Consider giving lessons, recording music for sales, songwriting, or even branching into music production. Use social media to build your fanbase and consider crowdfunded support through platforms like Patreon.

Next steps

Remember, building a music career takes time, perseverance, and a lot of determination. Every gig is a stepping stone to your success, whether it’s your first small show or a spot on a big festival stage. Learn from each experience and keep your passion for music alive and thriving.

Keep practicing, keep performing, continue learning to be a better musician, and keep singing your heart out!

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