Landing a gig is an exciting milestone for any musician, but booking a gig is often easier said than done. After fruitless searching and constant rejections, it’s easy to lose motivation and confidence. That doesn’t mean you’ll never book a gig, though! Use this guide to help you land more music gigs and ensure your next one is a success.
How to Book a Music Gig
Whether you’re looking to get your band’s foot in the door, land more paying violin gigs, or launch your solo music career, booking gigs takes a lot of work. Below are some steps you can take to help raise your chances of getting your first or next gig.
Build an Online Presence
One of the first things you should do is make sure you have a solid online presence. Promoters, venue owners, and other musicians will look at your online accounts to check that you’re active, see what kind of music you put out, and get a better feel for your persona. Plus, a strong online presence helps you build and engage with a fanbase.
Create profiles on Instagram, TikTok, other relevant social media sites, and music publishing sites like Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and Spotify. These accounts can help you get found and will be helpful later when promoting your gig.
Network with Others in the Industry
Landing a corporate job and landing a gig have one thing in common: networking is a must. Put effort into networking and connecting with others in the music industry, including musicians, promotors, and venues. If there are local industry events or conferences, be sure to attend.
Create a Press Kit
Put together an electronic press kit that you can send to bookers. Include high-quality photos, a short bio, and samples of your music or links to your music online. This press kit will be essential for getting the attention of potential venues and promoters.
Connect with Event Professionals for Function Acts
Going for function acts like weddings, parties, and school events is a great way to land gigs, especially paying ones. Print business cards and drop them off at local bridal shops, wedding planners, caterers, schools, etc. Connect with the owners of these businesses and they may recommend you to their clients.
Start Small with Local Venues
If you’re new to playing music professionally, it’s best to start small. Reach out to local bars, breweries, coffee shops, clubs, and similar local venues to see if they’ll let you play. These small shows can help you gain experience and a following.
Love Your Craft: Touring Violinist Jessy Greene Talks Getting Gigs
Rock and roll violinist Jessy Greene discusses her professional experience, including what it was like to perform in Wembley Stadium. Greene has toured with the Foo Fighters, P!nk and more. She has recorded with Post Malone, Dessa, Atmosphere, RZA, and she also records sound healing music rooted in ambient meditation, featuring high-vibrational melodies. Her advice for getting gigs? Love your craft.
Attend Open Mics
Open mic nights are another great way to get your music out there. Sign up for open mics around your area, and try to attend the same ones regularly to catch repeat listeners. You never know who might be in attendance, and open mics can help build your fanbase.
Use Online Gig Listings
You can find tons of websites and apps dedicated to connecting musicians with promoters, venues, and festivals. Use sites like ReverbNation, Sonicbids, and GigSalad to look for function acts and gigs. That electronic press kit you put together earlier will come into play here.
Look for Support Act Opportunities
Just because you’re playing a gig doesn’t mean you have to be the main act. Another way to build a good reputation, gain experience, network, and create a following is by looking for support act opportunities. Find local or visit bands/musicians that have a similar style to you, and ask them if they’re looking for a support act. The worst they can say is no, and they may even connect you with others if they don’t currently have a need.
Promote the Gigs You Land
Gigs lead to more gigs. Once you land one, promote yourself to pack the house. Use your social media accounts, create flyers, and spread the word about your upcoming show. If you draw a crowd, you’re more likely to be asked back in the future.
How Much Should I Charge for a Music Gig?
How much you charge for a gig depends on several factors, including whether you’re in a band or a solo act and what type of venue you play. Consider these factors when setting your rate:
- Expenses: Make sure you at least cover the cost of any travel, equipment rental, etc., you may need to do.
- Experience Level: When starting out, you may need to take lower-paying gigs (or get “paid” in food and drinks in exchange for experience) but can increase your rate as you gain more popularity and a following.
- Market Rates: Research what other musicians of your same experience level and style are charging in the area. This is a great benchmark to work with.
- Type of Gig: You can usually charge more for an event like a wedding than a set at a local coffee shop.
- Popularity: If you have a bigger following and can draw a crowd, you can get venues to pay you more.
What to Wear to a Music Gig
What you wear to your gig depends on your genre, the event/venue, your stage persona, and your comfort. If you’re playing the violin at a formal wedding, you may need to wear an evening gown, but jeans and a T-shirt are fine if you’re fiddling at the local dive bar. If you play rock, you might want to go more grunge in style, but stick to something more elegant if you play classical.
Make sure your outfit fits your personality, and don’t be afraid to accessorize with jewelry, scarves, hats, and props. If you’re playing in a band or with other musicians, coordinate your gig outfits to ensure a cohesive look on stage.
How to Make a Setlist for a Gig
You need a good setlist to impress the audience and leave them wanting more. Tom Jackson’s Live Music Method offers great advice on how to create an applause-worthy setlist. While you wait for your copy to arrive, here are some tips to help:
- Manage your time. Be aware of exactly how much time you have, whether that’s 20 minutes or three hours. Select enough songs to fill that time without going over, and don’t forget to include transition times.
- Start and end strong. Your audience will mostly remember the beginning and end of your set. Make sure you come out the gates strong and end with a memorable, crowd-pleasing song.
- Consider transitions and flows. Find songs that flow well into each other and place them together in your setlist.
- Find balance. Don’t place too many songs with the same tempo or mood in a row.
- Throw in some covers. Playing original songs is great, but you should add some popular covers to engage the audience.
- Be flexible. Your setlist isn’t set in stone. Read the audience and adjust as needed to keep them interested.
What to Bring to Your Gig
The lead-up to your gig can be nerve-wracking — especially when it comes time to pack! Communicate with the venue to see what they provide, which will usually be at least a PA system. However, smaller venues may not even have that. Bring anything else you need to play your instrument for a crowd.
Aside from your instrument and its necessary equipment, consider bringing:
- Spare strings
- Spare bow
- Pen and paper for making setlist changes
- First-aid supplies
- Ear plugs/ear protection
- Sweat towel
- Business cards/promo materials
Confidently Perform Your Next Gig with a CodaBow
You’ve used this guide and managed to land a gig. Make sure you’re prepared with a bow that showcases both your personality and style. CodaBow’s Chroma selection features customizable carbon fiber violin, viola, and cello bows that will help you shine on stage. Browse our selection of performance bows online, and request an in-home trial to feel the CodaBow difference yourself.