Playing live is bread and butter for musicians’. It informs what you are and is bedrock that everything is based around. It is when you, your band (if you are a band) and your fans communicate on your most visceral level. Sadly though it isn’t as easy as just starting to gig, people need to book you, or you need the fans to fill the venue that you booked yourself.
Your first gigs will probably involve dealing with promoters. There is no magic formula for finding out about gigs and who runs them, you need to exercise your greatest Googling capabilities. When you have the details of the promoters, the next step will be to present yourself in an appealing enough way that they should want to book you. This process can be depressingly similar to applying for a job (Rock n’ roll!), you will need a press release (essentially a CV) listing accolades, how you got into music, other places you have played, any favourable reviews, if any of you trained as musicians and any other interesting information that you deem relevant. You will want this press release to include links to any YouTube channel, Facebook page or SoundCloud that you may have. Make sure that these pages look clean and professional and have easy access to material that you are happy with.
In the earlier stages of your career you should think about gigging as more of a promotional tool than a reliable source of income so make sure you make the most of it. Mention to the audience, enthusiastically and more than once, your website and any social media that you have. If you have any merchandise to sell that can be a great way to make some extra money from gigs, learn more about merchandise here.
As you develop as an act and as your fanbase grows you will start playing bigger nights for which the deals will get more complicated. Make sure you have all the information about the gig before confirming it, you should have sorted all details from the money split, soundchecks, backline, accommodation if necessary and even riders. You should try and minimise the possibility of nasty surprises.
Eventually you will perhaps no longer need promoters at all. You can contact venues directly and book in your own night. The potential for making money is much greater hence the greater appeal but be careful as it will be you covering the loss should you fail to draw the crowd. If you are confident of your fanbase you should be fine but be careful and make sure you think through exactly what you’re doing and know the financial risk if things don’t all go your way. There is also a lot more work to do with things like flyer design, booking support and general promotion. As long as you have the time to dedicate, or the people to delegate to, it should all be a great success.
It’s worth being aware as an artist in the modern world that the internet has changed the way things work. Read more here.