52% of American music fans attend a concert on a regular basis. Every music fan loves the concert experience: watching their favorite artist perform live, singing along to the songs and feeling the whole energy of the concert is actually one of the strongest and most powerful events that can properly introduce a person to the enchanting essence of the music culture.
On the other hand, every musician dreams of playing a sold-out show, signing autographs and, overall, living the rock star life. The reasons behind such preferences are not only emotional but business-oriented as well. It’s the shows that allow the artist to both feel and establish themselves as an idol, an icon, a symbol. It’s during their live performance that an artist can showcase their performing skills, their charisma, their ability to connect with the crowd and control it.
However, booking a concert isn’t a walk in the park. A lot goes into playing shows, and many musicians suffer through numerous challenges on their way to a live show, both at the beginning of their career and when they have already become an established artist.
How do you handle these hardships and ensure developing a profitable and well-operating live career as a music business participant? If you’re struggling when booking gigs and performing successful shows, here are some solutions to know that might help you improve your status.
Play excellent sets
No one is perfect, including musicians. But you should always strive to play an excellent set each time you play and not settle for less than that.
Promoters and venues don’t want to work with unprofessional performers. Fans don’t want to listen to mediocre artists. Your live show will introduce fans and industry personnel to your music, so you need to always strive to play the best set that you can.
But what if you have played a bad set?
First, identify what went wrong. Was it lack of attention to detail, not being prepared for the show or lack of focus and concentration?
Once you assess the situation properly, do what you can to improve your set.
Practice rigorously. Play live whenever you can, even if it’s an open mic or a cover gig, as every experience matters. Remember that you need to start with small gigs in front of 20 people in small bars and clubs to be able to play in front of big crowds in arenas and stadiums.
Be the best band in your niche/scene
One of the first struggles musicians experience is beating the competition in the oversaturated market that the music industry is.
Artists ideally work together and support one another, as only creating a stable, well-performing scene is the way to give yourself the ability to move forward. Consider the principle that if your scene is progressing well, this is something that all of its participants will be able to benefit from.
However, of course, there are often only certain slots open for the biggest and best shows. As a musician, you have to be the best in your scene to get those spots. On an industry scale, you’ll also have to have the biggest fan base and sell the most tickets in order to be presented with opportunities of this sort.
What’s the solution? Set yourself apart. Even if you write the best music and you’re the most talented musician, that won’t mean much if you don’t brand and promote yourself.
Build a network of promoters and venues
Being a DIY band is tough. If you had a booking agent, they have a network of promoters and venues they work with to book gigs for you. If you don’t have that representation, you have to find your gigs, which is an extremely challenging and difficult operation to handle, especially if this is not the only part of your music career that you need to work on.
If your band is struggling with finding live opportunities, take a look at your network. Do you have connections with promoters and venues in your area? If you have toured before, did you meet those who booked and worked with you? Did you establish a connection with them that has enabled you to utilize these contacts in the future?
Manage and book your career as a booking agent would – create a network of booking connections.
Set high standards
When you first started booking gigs, you likely settled for difficult and unfair booking structures such as pay-to-play. But if you advanced in your music career, there’s no reason to settle for these unfair schemes anymore.
After your career is on the path of sustainable progress, set realistic, yet high standards. Don’t feel the need to accept every gig offer you receive.
It’s also a good idea to set a guarantee. If you’re underpaid for a show, refuse to work with that promoter or book at that venue. Always require a professional approach and attitude towards yourself and the show that you have been booked for.
The professional behavior and the respect that you show to both yourself and the other professionals that you are collaborating with will always get noticed and remembered and will, likely, open many doors and opportunities for you in the future.
Take the struggle in stride
The music industry is tough. For smaller acts, attracting a crowd and landing the big gigs is a challenge. Even when your profile becomes significant, the struggles persist. Your career as a musician won’t be perfect, including the booking aspect of your activities. This is why you should accept this reality and not give up just because it’s hard.
Take the good times as a reminder of your hard work. Remember the times you met fans, the energy of the crowd and new experiences such as touring and playing festivals. Never take your progress for granted.
You’ll also want to surround yourself with positive participants and associates in the industry. Work with these people. This will make booking shows a breeze and an enjoyable process, apart of actually boosting your professional progress as well.
Always set goals. They will motivate you to move forward and focus on what’s next. After you conquer your town, conquer your state or your country. Then, look at playing internationally. Never set specific goals that would limit your potential in the long run.
There are many challenges a musician faces when booking gigs. Some of these are the result of the lack of experience, while others are due to some serious flaws in the music industry and the overall booking process.
The best way to face this is to try to come prepared when it comes to some of the most typical challenges (listed above) and have solutions that work for you. Be prepared, objectively evaluate your career and abilities, and be rational when it comes to your business decisions and time investment you allot for each part of your activities. Be sure to try and improve yourself if you are not satisfied with the results that you are generating. It’s all about the mentality that you approach your work with.
Check out our guide to booking more gigs in this blog post