So festival season is over and It’s getting colder (sad face), but… this means that gig season has arrived in full swing! (happy face)
In our digital age, artists make a vast majority of their income from their live shows. It is therefore arguably one of the most important aspects of an artist’s career, being vital promotion for those of you in the earlier stages.
Do you have some upcoming shows that you don’t feel ready for? Don’t worry, not all of us are going to be the organisational types, but the more prep you do beforehand, the smoother things will run. As the saying goes: fail to prepare; prepare to fail!
From pre-gig to post-gig, read our handy checklist below to make sure you are fully prepared for, and making the most out of playing live as you can (and be sure to check out our complete guide to playing live here):
When you’re at the early stage of your musical career, it is incredibly important to hone your craft and begin to get comfortable performing on stage in order to be the Spinnup Superstar you are! If it’s your first ever proper gig, then there are many ways you can begin to prepare to thrive in a live-setting. Before you’re more established it’s a good idea to try out a number of these:
Open Mic Nights
Use openmicfinder.com to see what local open mic nights are in your area. Facebook groups are also a great tool to try and find local gig postings local to you.
In some towns and cities you need a license for this, so always make sure you find this out beforehand to cover yourself. More information on this can be found here.
Play friend’s parties or house shows
Playing live at every opportunity you can is only going to strengthen your craft and house shows are always good fun (and a great way to meet new potential fans)
Getting more gigs
Once you feel that you’ve exhausted all of the open mics in your area, you might feel ready to perform your set in more established venues and even further afield:
- Research online for tours you could get on the bill for. Focus on artists similar of genre to yourself; making sure you suit the bill is important.
- Filming: make sure you film as much of your live shows as much as possible and select your best material for you to create a showreel. The showreel can then be sent to agents and promoters etc.
- Target bookers and promoters directly
- Use Gigtown to organise and find more gigs: this app/website enables you to submit to open mics and add future gigs alongside also browsing upcoming neighbouring gigs, which allows you to meet local artists and make connections.
After getting your showreel and online presence to the best it can be, don’t wait for promoters to come to you, reach out to them directly! Keep going until you get a gig. If you’re asking to be on a show, it’s useful to a promoter if you can show you can improve their ticket sales. You can read a bit about pitching yourself as an artist here but, be sure to send music links, video links (i.e. instead of files)
Promote your gigs
Promotion; one of the most crucial aspects of anything! How are you going to encourage people to come to your gig?
Usually, most gig tickets are purchased close to the announcement date or in the last few days leading up to it. These are the crucial promotion windows when you need to put the most focus into your promotional activities.
Announce your gigs on social media
Create Facebook events that people can RSVP to, share and invite their friends. In the lead up to the gig, you could post content on your socials such as rehearsals or past live videos to create buzz around your show.
List your gigs
Design, or commission someone to design promotional posters for your gig and put them up in the months/weeks leading up it. Usually, if you’re being added to a bill, you will just need to send across a png of your artist/band logo.
Remember these 5 things when promoting your gigs.
- Get a good rehearsal space
For a band, a regular rehearsal space in the run-up to a gig is essential. When picking a location, choose anywhere that is comfortable for you and lets you get in the zone.
- Establish your setlist
Your rehearsal is the perfect place to develop your setlist. You’ll want setlists of varying lengths for different types of shows i.e. support slots, showcases or headline sets for example. If you and your band are more spontaneous with your set, just make sure that you can all play your songs back to front.
- Record your rehearsal
Pre-gig rehearsals are all about refining your act. Recording them allows you to analyse what’s really tight, and what needs working on. You can use this as promotional content for your socials!
- Know what to expect
Usually, prior to the show, you will get sent a document called an advance. It will include important details such as load-in times and the point of contact on the day. It will also have venue and technical specifications such as whether there is a green room, how many power sockets there are or whether you need to bring your own PA and speaker system (this is always useful to have as it will open up more gig opportunities for you) etc.
- Write a checklist of equipment
Refer to this list (known as a Tech Spec) before you leave for a gig, and when you’re packing up (you don’t want to leave anything behind!) Always make sure your equipment is safety tested, and always bring backups. It’s also a good idea to make sure your instruments are serviced beforehand so they sound the best they possibly can.
Merchandise is a great way to maximise your income on the night of a gig. You don’t need to have a certain level of fame to catch people’s eye if your merch is interesting! Think outside the box. For more on merchandise read our blog post here.
Tip: Use app Merch cat to track your sales and execute cash and card payments at gigs. This app will also give you analytics so you can optimise your merch revenues.
Travel and accommodation
Organise your travel and accommodation beforehand
If the venue is walking distance then you may not need to fork out on travel, but you may still need a way of getting all of your gear down to the venue. Having your own car or van is ideal, but if you can’t, try and find someone who can drive or hire a van between you.
Approach the media
Since you’re going to be playing some shows, it’s worth trying to get some press coverage as well. Read our Guide To Pitching To The Press if you’re not sure on how to do this.
On the day of the gig…
Get in the zone
A lot of artists like to get into the zone before a gig and many have their own rituals. For example, Lorde likes to take a nap under the same blanket and eat berries or dried nori. Think about what gets you in the zone and go with it. No idea is too crazy!
If you are a singer, your voice is your instrument, so you need to treat it with the same care that you would any other. Practising vocal warm-ups should be something you do before every rehearsal and gig.
Drinking and eating
This may not be something you think about often when it comes to your music career, but what you eat and/or drink can have an effect on your vocals:
- Avoid dairy as it thickens mucus in your throat (so yes, we’re afraid that means chocolate)
- Drink room temperature water as cold water causes your vocal chords to tense up.
- Avoid drinks that dehydrate you such as caffeine and alcohol.
- Drink manuka honey (if you can afford it), if not standard honey and lemon will help soothe and keep your throat lubricated.
- Suck on throat sweets such as Vocalzone; they also do tea!
What about after the gig? What are the next steps?
Thank your fans
It’s always a nice idea to thank your fans on your socials for coming down. This keeps up the engagement post-gig.
Thank and congratulate your band members and crew
A little appreciation goes a long way.
Analyse what went well what didn’t
There will always be mishaps, but they will prepare you for next time.
Finally, keep on practising
You will always want your next gig to be better than the last, so keep on practising!