Live Show Etiquette

There are plenty of variations with live shows, from the equipment the venue has, to the availability of a sound engineer and the split of revenue etc. But two things always remain the same: you need to show up and you need to do a good job.


Why? Well you want people to like you as an artist, but also your live show presents your brand. Yes your brand. People are eager to be shown what to buy into – we’re easily persuaded us humans. Give your live show everything you have to engage the audience (engagement generally leads to persuasion). A good show means some will buy a t-shirt from you, others will stream your music, and a couple might follow your next few gigs WHEN they are persuaded.

You’re not being tacky, you’re a performer. Allow your performance to do the talking.


What’s expected running up to, and on the day of a live show

Promo in advance

Tag the venue and yourself in all posts relating to the upcoming performance. Add an event on Facebook and invite everyone, and get an email blast to your contacts with a flyer attached. Anything else? If there is a promoter, send them photos and video clips, a short bio, and your social links. They’re in charge of promoting the show as well so they will only make you look as good as the info you send them. Their job is to promote the show, not to discover things about you so be professional and supply everything they need in advance.

Who makes up the flyer? The promoter – and then you can share it. They have other shows to look after and it is not unusual for them to send said flyer very close to the event. The thing to do here is make your own flyer as well and distribute that online, and tag the other bands as you get close to the event – they are then more likely to tag you also.

Do as the promoter asks

Do as the promoter asks (except for the things that are not acceptable from someone – see our article on ‘how to spot a fake’)

We are presuming there is a promoter involved – if there is not, simply do as the venue asks of you. There are procedures that make a show run smoothly, and you are a major part of proceedings. Some things that will be asked of you are:

  • Turn up on time – if you get a sound check, turn up on time and be tuned up ready to sound check
  • Let the venue/promoter know your requirements ahead of the gig – they should always supply information about the equipment they hold and which equipment is free for you to use. You can then inform them about what equipment you will use of theirs, and also what equipment you will bring yourself.
  • Make sure you can hear yourself during sound check – this is as important as the crowd hearing you too – if you can’t hear yourself you are more likely to sing out of key or lose timing.
  • Promote the show on your social platforms and tag the venue and promoter – they may ask that you also ‘like’ a social page of theirs.
  • Sign a contract – when a promoter is involved, a contract is often signed stating what is expected of each party. This is a small contract, usually one page in length. It also outlines how the artist is paid. This safeguards you and the promoter. Each side have costs to cover.

Side Note – Take a moment before booking a gig, and decide if it is something you want to do. The venue and revenue split is agreeable etc. If you are not happy with any element of it, do not accept the gig. One of the most problematic things to happen is an artist or band pulling out – even if promoters behind the scene are not acting as they should, you will be the one that comes off badly here. No one likes a he said she said story. Take time before booking a gig to make sure it suits and is fair to everyone. This way, you will be less likely to find yourself in a position where you want to bail.

Sound check

Turn up for your allotted sound check on time!

If your sound check is cut short due to factors outside your control, do not complain – do the best you can and then chat with the venue after the show if the sound was extremely poor.

If there is only a line check, still turn up on time and work with the sound engineer to get a good mix. When a venue has a line check only, it’s usually a good venue with acts tightly scheduled together – and they are experienced at delivering good sound. Don’t be concerned. Think of it as a shortened sound check so get on with it. –

Let’s say you check your guitar line, give it a few strums until the sound engineer is happy with it, they will ask if you are also happy – and if you can hear it and it sounds reasonable, move onto the next instrument or vocals. A mic check can take 5 seconds, sing one line into it and if you can hear yourself and the sound is ok, go with it. The sound engineer can always make changes during your set.

After the show

After the show is when money changes hands – often times you will be given cash – and sometimes (for higher value gigs) you will invoice the venue and they will transfer money to you. Find the person in charge of paying you after the show and thank them for a great gig, and ask them to settle the bill. Most times this person is the promoter.

Remember that you don’t have to play gigs you are not ok with – and where you disagree with the reimbursement. To know what is a ‘normal’ payment from a promoter – a reasonable deal is at least 50% of the door. So, whatever you bring to the venue, you get 50%. The promoter has to bear the cost of venue hire, sound engineer, equipment hire and promotion. You have your own costs (travel, rehearsal, promo etc) so it all comes out in the wash with a 50/50 split. There are many gigs that pay lower than that, and it is up to you if you go for them – and do bear in mind why you want to go for those. Is it for practising your live set? Then cool. Other than that, go for deals that are fair. And have your show tight! A promoter won’t promote a non rehearsed band or solo act a second time.

Say thank you

Be professional and thank everyone involved with the gig (this includes your band mates). And we recommend to keep your drinks to a minimum so you can maintain your professional manner. The badly-behaved-artist routine has been done many, many times before.

Make sure to do this publicly too. Send out a couple of posts with photos and video from the gig, tag the venue and thank your supporters.

You have been tuned into live etiquette with Spinnup, our music fam. Now all you need is some tracks to rehearse and release, and we’re looking forward to hearing them.