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Tips for landing your first gig

Words by Kavina.

As we rock into the post pandemic new world, the time couldn't be more prime for all you fresh to death muso’s to jump onto the scene and land your first gig. The best time is now as the music industry starts to slowly wake from its unscheduled slumber and promoters and venues get to planning their ultimate live music comeback so we’ve dropped a little list of tips to help you get a jump on things.

It all starts with your demo, yo  

Making connections is great but all roads lead back to your demo, so make it sparkle and have it available online for quick and easy access from promoters, venue owners and other networking peeps. Whether it’s a new DJ mixtape on soundcloud, an album, or a YouTube video of you or your band performing live from your basement. Your demo is the instant showcase of your talents and essentially it’s the first thing anyone’s going to ask you for. 

It doesn’t have to be highly professional or too long if you don’t have the financials, as long as the sound quality is on point and you look killer at what you do. Have a few different formats to give you that diversity edge such as video recordings of a few covers, then any original music as a track on soundcloud.    

Get busy on your socials 

Having a solid following online isn’t essential if you’ve got talent of course but it doesn’t hurt to show your popularity, plus you never know who might stumble across your music profiles. It goes beyond Facebook these days, though it’s still a good space to promote events. Instagram has taken the lead with it’s video and photo sharing capabilities, and easy links to other networks. Get creative with how you post and promote your music by doing a ‘30 days of covers’ challenge or something clever that keeps you active and shows your best side. Maybe that’s your big hair and soulful vocals or old mate drumming with his sticks on fire. IDK. Don’t forget to make use of as many social media platforms as you can while linking them all together. The goal is to use all your resources to build an online story for your music and give people different and exciting variations of your talent. Make it all extra classy by linking back to a website as the hub for all your relevant information. 

Bands and friends and friends of bands

There’s plenty of room for everyone to share around and the best way to get out there is to lean on the scene for some support. Gigs generally require more than one band to play so no one is fighting for the spotlight, plus the world is so big and uncertain that a helping hand is generally appreciated amongst musicians. You could end up being the opening act for someone more established or join a roster for a new night that a venue is starting. Plus there’s no harm in reaching out and asking questions about how other muso’s got their start and what they recommend for reaching out.

Approach venues 

It’s as simple as that. No harm in going straight to the source and venues will appreciate the initiative. It’s hard to find fresh talent and it’s a great way to put yourself on the map by getting in there and putting your hand up. How are people going to know you exist if you don't let the world know you’re out here? Be polite, if you’re going to go in then make the effort to hang out at the venue and show your support. Send an email and see what kind of response you get to a quick intro meeting, and adhere to top human personal decorum. Chat to the bartenders, ask to speak to the manager, have a card or email ready to send them with your demo info, and make it personal and warm, instead of all business. People can read your vibe and you’re more likely to be given a chance if they get some good energy from you because that will translate to a venue audience. Oh, and be patient, especially if you’re going in during service. 

*Pro tip - don’t just approach every venue on google maps spitting distance, do your research and pick places that suit your style. That doesn’t mean it has to be just bars and clubs. Remember that Velvet Underground played their first event at a high school. I’m not saying approach schools but you catch my drift. 

Or go a step further and put on your own night

If you approach a venue with a concept in mind, especially if they don’t currently have live music they might be eager to get onboard and collaborate with you which lands you with the ball directly in your court. Venues are generally really busy with the service aspect and coming out of a quiet time, really curious to hear about how they can bring in a crowd and use their space to deliver something different and exciting to their already established customer base. Just make sure you understand what goes into putting on an event beforehand, such as sound, special requirements and how to advertise a show, because it’s an ambitious undertaking. 

Jump onto a booking platform and let the venues come to you

Probably the most genius idea because you’re letting venues see your capabilities with complete transparency and pick if you’re the right fit for them. You’ll be in good company because you’ll be showcased alongside your peers, inadvertently landing you straight amongst the scene and allowing you to check out similar artists to become new music besties with. Platforms like Muso app are a great place to start, and by checking out the kinds of venues that are interested in you it’ll help you curb your perfect gig destination and it’ll open you up to venues for gigs of all sorts, like weddings and parties, not just cocktail hour on Friday night. 

Make sure your performance element is on point. 

Look sharp, practice in front of audiences that consist of humans instead of soft-toys and doggo’s and get comfortable with how a set flow will go or when and where to switch it up if you need to deviate from your set list. There’s a lot more than just getting on stage and belting it out, including the size and space of the room and what the venues acoustics can handle. The first gig might not be perfect but you’ll learn a lot super quick, including how to handle random hiccups along the way.  Plus it’s a lot of fun!

Good luck and get out there! 

If you need anymore help with sifting through the right demos’ or understanding how to figure out how to use a booking platform then holla at us at Muso app for the downlow. We’re all about encouraging our diverse network of musicians and venues to connect freely, while we take care of the booking stuff like invoicing and payment. So Muso’s and venues can do what they do best.

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