7 avoidable mistakes that can cost you the gig

Like so many things in the music industry, closing gigs brings with it a number of challenges, and most artists are bound to make mistakes along the way. Here, we look at seven such pitfalls that can cost you the gig, and how to best avoid them.

Guest post by Heather Roonan of Gig Salad

Closing gigs isn’t always easy – it takes practice, patience, and perseverance. As with anything in life, you’re bound to make mistakes. The key is learning from them and making sure you don’t repeat them over and over again. Check out our practical tips for avoiding seven common gigging mistakes.

Mistake #1: Lackluster introduction

The first step to hooking in a client is making an awesome first impression. If your introduction is lacking, you can lose them before you’ve even had a chance to sell to them. This is something you aren’t likely to get right on the first try, so keep making adjustments and trying new approaches until you learn what works best.


  • Send a shorter intro message with a follow-up question – long messages packed full of information can be overwhelming.
  • Only include one or two links to your profile, website, or promo videos – any more may distract the client.
  • Keep your message warm and friendly from start to finish.
  • Never assume the client knows you already and has already decided to book you – sell yourself!

Read this: Nailing the First Impression

Mistake #2: Badly constructed quotes/booking agreements

Even if things are going great with a client and they’ve said they want to book you, a poorly written contract could be a costly mistake that loses you the gig. Not only do you need to get the price right, but you also want to avoid long messages in place of service descriptions and overwhelming or complicated terms of service.


  • Be accurate but fair with your price, but try to be open to negotiation, too.
  • Keep your service description detailed but brief – simply outline what you’ll be providing for the price quoted.
  • Make sure you’re protected from cancellations, but not so much that it turns off the client – we recommend non-refundable deposits, but always-refundable balances.
  • Go through your additional terms and trim the fat – only keep what’s absolutely necessary.
Contract mistakes to avoid

Read this: 6 Things Your Booking Agreement Must Have

Mistake #3: Poor communication skills

The key to building and keeping long-lasting client relationships is excellent communication. Being slow to respond, sending messages with lots of errors, or failing to answer or even anticipate your client’s questions are all seemingly small mistakes that can cost you a booking.


  • Sign up for text alerts or create saved templates so you can reply to new leads and messages instantly.
  • Always read through your messages/quotes before sending them to catch mistakes and check for clarity.
  • Take the time to read your client’s messages carefully to address any questions or concerns they have, both said and implied.

Read this: 4 Tips for Improving Your Communication

Mistake #4: No human connection

Creating a personal connection with your client is important, especially if most of your communication is happening over the internet. Avoid impersonal greetings, canned responses, and short or blunt replies. You want your client to feel like they’re talking to a friend.


  • Address your client by name and use a conversational tone – type messages just as you’d say them out loud.
  • Saved messages are helpful in saving time, but make sure to add some personalization with shortcodes or a few quick edits before sending.
  • No one likes getting an “Okay” or “Yeah” reply. Even if there’s not much to say, use your response to express thanks or show your excitement about their event and new working relationship.
  • Show compassion and understanding if your client gets flustered or doesn’t know how online booking works.
Example of conversational messages

Read this: 4 Keys to Effective Communication

Mistake #5: A bad profile/website

A solid portfolio is one of the most valuable tools in hooking new clients and proving your value. Low-quality photos, no videos, or obvious errors in your writing are easily avoidable mistakes that could mean the difference between gaining a new client or losing one.


  • Your profile photo should be high-resolution, cropped correctly, and accurately represent your service.
  • Having at least 2 or 3 promo videos and an assortment of photos that show your business in action will help clients know what you can offer.
  • Collect lots of genuine feedback and try to get verified reviews to make clients feel more confident about hiring you.
  • Just like your messages, the text within your profile should be well-written and free of errors – proofread it several times and then have a friend do it as well.

Read this: 6 Ways to Optimize Your Profile and Get More Leads

Mistake #6: No follow-through

Do you know what’s even better than simply closing a gig? Ensuring that client is so satisfied that they leave a stellar review, tell all their friends about you, and hire you again. Failing to stay in communication after you get booked and then properly following up after the gig can cost you future bookings and lasting client relationships.


  • Stay in touch with your client from when you close all the way leading up to the event so they feel confident and worry-free.
  • Be flexible and accommodating when you can – timeliness is important, but events can be unpredictable so go with the flow as much as possible.
  • There’s no such thing as too much gratitude – thank your client at the event, send a follow-up message after, and maybe even send a card a few days later.
Thank you card

Read this: Why the Work Doesn’t Stop When the Gig is Done

Mistake #7: Not learning from your mistakes

Making mistakes is part of life and you’ve probably been guilty of several we’ve mentioned. But the worst mistake you could make is never learning from them. Stop repeating what isn’t working, don’t dismiss bad reviews or feedback, and be open to opportunities for growth.


  • If what you’re doing isn’t working 100% of the time, then there’s always room for improvement – evaluate your processes constantly to see what you can do better.
  • Honest feedback is incredibly valuable, even if it strings – take the time to reflect on the less-than-stellar reviews so you don’t make those mistakes again.
  • Take the time to identify your competition and try to figure out what they might be doing to get the clients that you’re losing out on.

Read this: 10 Helpful Things Your Competitors Can Teach You

Becoming better versions of ourselves and building a successful business means constant evaluation and improvement. Once you identify the mistakes you’re making, you can make the necessary adjustments to avoid them and close more bookings!

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