Booking Your First Gigs + A FREE Webinar With Steve Rennie
For any artist just starting out, the process of booking gigs can be both difficult and disheartening, but it's important to be proactive and stick with it. Industry veteran Steve Rennie offers 3 pro tips on how get your live music career off to a successful start and announces a free webinar.
Guest post by Steve "Renman" Rennie, a music industry vet who runs online music biz mentoring platform Renman Music & Business and course Renman U. Join him for a free webinar "5 Keys to Building a Successful Career in the Music Business." this Thursday, 1/28 at 12:00 p.m. PST. Sign up here.
For most artists that are just starting out the ugly reality of booking shows is that someone in the band will need to do it. Period.
Why? Because unless you already have a well connected manager or a label willing to subsidize the building of your live career, you don’t mean anything yet in the marketplace. Crying about it won’t get any dates booked either. Many of the biggest bands in the world were at some point in exactly the same position as you they just managed to figure it out. The reality is that nobody is going to call you for that first gig so you’ll need to ask for it yourself. And as I always say, if you don’t ask you won’t get!
Here are our Top 3 Tips from the pros on how to book your first gig:
#1 – Nobody’s Going To Do It For You
“If you’re waiting for someone to help you, go home and get a job.” – Pat Magnarella, Manager of Green Day
Bands today seem to have this romantic notion that they can go out there and do their thing and that the right people will magically find them. Generally, nothing is further from the truth. Take Green Day for example. Sure they have been an internationally successful recording and live touring band for years, but when they first started out, even they were booking all of their own shows. In fact, before Pat Magnarella took over as their manager, the band had already found a way to book over 60 shows in Germany alone. Now that’s commitment. That is a ‘Fuck the Gatekeeper’ mentality if I’ve ever seen one. And that’s what you’ll need to do as well. Don’t fight it. Own it. Take your live career into your own hands. Once you’ve gotten that first gig the next one will be that much easier.
Supplemental video: Green Day Manager Pat Magnarella Talks What Drew Him To The Band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_tQWjhb1TQ
#2 – Take What You Can Get
“I had no idea how to book a show, I just blind emailed every single place in L.A. that I knew live music existed and the only place that got back to me was a Mexican restaurant.” – Nicky Berger, Manager of Grouplove
When Nicky Berger started out managing Grouplove, he was operating out of his dorm room at Penn State and didn’t know a thing about booking a live show. At the time, the band hadn’t yet played any gigs either. But being the smart guy that he is, Nicky pulled together a list of every place in L.A. that put on live music and sent them an email asking for a show. The only place that got back to him was a little Mexican restaurant called El Cid. Now if Nicky had spent his time crying about how tough it was to get a gig or Grouplove had gotten all precious about playing in a Mexican restaurant, things might not have worked out for the band the way they did. If you’re a band, an artist, or a manager that is just getting started in this business, the lesson here is to TAKE WHATEVER YOU CAN GET! Never turn down a gig because it doesn’t fit your “vision” or “criteria” or because it doesn’t pay. What’s important is that you are out there bettering your live show and growing your audience every chance you get.
Supplemental Video: Manager Nicky Berger Talks Booking Grouplove’s First Gig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxJxXHMfPS0
#3 – Own Your Hometown
“I seem to recall playing a lot of high school dances––any kind of gig we could get. We’d play for five or ten dollars and once we sort of got a name for ourselves––even within the school system––we became a band that some comities would look forward to booking.” – Alex Lifeson, RUSH
Over the past 40 plus years, Alex Lifeson and RUSH have become one of the most successful live touring rock bands of all time. But back in 1968 when he formed the band with a couple of high school friends in his hometown of Toronto, Canada, being underage meant that live gigs were hard to come by. But despite their age, Lifeson and his buddies knew enough to work with what they had at hand and managed to secure themselves a few monthly gigs through their high school’s student council. Although the shows weren’t big or frequent, it gave them a chance to better their chops as musicians and make a name for themselves within their community. Because of that, word began to spread, other local high schools took interest in booking them, and the doors began to open for the band. The lesson here is that you’ve gotta own your hometown first. And grow your live business from the inside out. Always think global but start local, and work with what you’ve got. If you get creative with it, I think you’ll find that there are plenty of gigs to be had.
Supplemental Video: Alex Lifeson, Guitarist of RUSH, Talks Booking The Band’s Earliest Gigs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_BlM8C2b1w
Join Steve for a free webinar on Thursday, January 28th at 12:00 p.m. PST "5 Keys to Building a Successful Career in the Music Business." Sign up for free here.