Performing in concerts and gigs is an integral part of every band or musicians business plan. It is obviously a good way to earn money by doing what you love but it is also a useful platform to build your fan base as well as providing opportunities to sell merchandise.

If you are just starting out on the live music circuit or unsure how to approach venues Culture+ Business Developer Andrew Knutt shares the first steps to take in securing those all important gigs:

Be prepared 

Venues get emails from bands and musicians all the time and with their busy day-to-day running of the venue your email may not be a priority so you need to stand out from the crowd.

The best way to do this is:

  • Have an up-to-date and engaging an website that clearly links to your music – free sites like  SoundCloud Bandcamp or Deezer are great platforms to upload and showcase your music in one place.
  • Your website should also display good quality videos you can embed from Youtube. This allows the venue to see and hear what you sound like in a live setting.
  • Be active and engaging on social media channels where you can hear the music easily such as Facebook and Instagram. It also shows the venues how much of a fan base you have already acquired.
  • Create a press pack- this is the supporting marketing material the venue will need to promote the event. You should also offer the venue your own marketing support by sharing with your press contacts, social media, event websites, what’s on guides etc that you usually use for other gigs.

It is important to understand that venue is not the end customer – the audience is. Bands that invest in providing a comprehensive press pack can really help seal the deal.

Press pack checklist

Here are the key elements your press pack should contain:

  • A press release about your band that can be used by the venue so all they need to do is simply add in their venue details and date of the gig then distribute to their press contacts.
  • Reference past press coverage – if applicable, throw in a few compelling quotes from past press, linking back to the full articles.
  • Provide an editable PDF poster template of your band that the venue can easily add their venue address, event date and booking process. Ensure the poster template is suitable for print in sizes A5, A4 or A3. If you are able, you may even print them yourself and send to the directly to the venue. Bonus!
  • Add up to 5 good quality promotional photos (JPEGs or PNG format) of the band as a whole, profile shots of each band member as well the band playing at recent concerts or gigs.
  • Provide a short bio of the band. Be sure not to make it look like a CV – it must be have a selling element to encourage audiences to want to see you, so try your best to strike a balance between informative and entertaining.
  • Include links to your website, social media, tour dates, and where to purchase your music.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, include up-to-date contact information for your band, and contacts for booking and media enquiries if someone else handles those areas.

Checkout the venue

Now you have your press pack ready your next step is to checkout which venues you wish to perform at before making your approach. Here are some considerations when researching venues:

  • The venue set up and capacity – some venues will be small and therefore may not be suitable for loud bands or bands with many members or large equipment. Make a visit to the venue where you can easily see the layout, size of performance area, lighting and PA setup.
  • Preferred programme – some venues have a set music offer in their programme based on their existing audience so they may not support your genre of music.
  • Location – some venues might be miles away from where you are based so you need to factor in time and travel costs if you wish to perform there.
  • Current audience reach – does the venue attract a regular audience? What is their demographic? Do they have an active and engaging marketing offer? Check out their website, existing programme and past events to see their current efforts.

Read our second blog post on getting gigs at live music venues, where we look at how to approach your chosen venues and what to do when you secure the gig.