It’s Showtime!

Play Some Shows

Before you get too carried away with your Social Networking, you’ll want to be sure you have some shows lined up.  Notice, I talked about getting your social stuff all in order before I talked about playing shows.  Why?  If you start playing shows and someone comes up to you and says “Hey, that sounded awesome!  What’s your website so I can check out some more stuff?”  Your answer will be, “uhm, well I don’t have anything just yet.”  You just lost a potential fan.  That’s like going door to door selling vacuums and the person you’re selling to says, “sure, I’ll take one” and then you say, “well we don’t have any right now”.  Epic Fail.  Life Lesson #3 Always be prepared.  So, make sure you have your social stuff in order.

Where to Play

It’s time to start one of the hardest parts of this entire process: finding places to play.  If you are fortunate enough to live in a location that has places for local bands to come in and perform, a lot of work is done for you.  If, however, you live in a place where there aren’t such venues, you’ll have to either travel or be creative.  If you are going to travel, I suggest you check out  Possibly THEE single greatest tool for Independent and unsigned musicians.  You can check out that site to find venues that will let you play nationwide.  You can literally book an entire tour with that site.

If travelling isn’t quite in your plans just yet and there aren’t any places you can go at to play, you’re going to have to get creative.  You’ll have to start asking people if they’ll have a party so you can perform at it.  Or go to a park and just start playing.  Or play at weddings, graduations, or other family or friend events.  This is where things can get really difficult and can push you to the brink of giving up.  It will feel like the world is against you.  But you don’t give up.  Because winners never quit, and quitters never win.  You work harder to find places to play.  Each performance you get to do you play your heart out.  If you aren’t getting a lot of opportunities to show people your crazy-mad skills, you’ll have to give it all you got for each opportunity you do get.

On Stage
If you’ve never performed in front of people before, doing so your first time will be scary as all hell.  If you’re a people person, less so, but still you’ll be a little freaked and kind of nervous.  I still remember my first time on stage.  I was a statue, aside from my involuntary, nervous shaking.  I could barely even play the guitar.  Fortunately, I wasn’t the lead guitar nor was I the singer, so I could just hang back by the drummer and bob my head.  The more shows we played in, however, the easier it got.  I still wasn’t totally comfortable being in front of people like that, but it got easier.  It helps a lot if the crowd is active.  If it’s your first time, don’t be disheartened if you get done with a song or set and you get a half-assed smattering of applause.  You watch and see, with every show you play, the applause will be more and more.

When you get on stage, it’s imperative to let people know who you are, where they can find more of your music, and it doesn’t hurt to try to tap into their sympathy a bit and tell them you’re brand new and to cut you a break.  Don’t do it more than once a show, and not every show, either.  You don’t want to come across desperate.  Say it as a half-joke, like, “Hey guys we’re so-and-so and this is our first show ever, so, don’t throw any tomatoes please”.  People like funny people.  Keep your audience engaged at all times when you are on stage.

If you’re trying to retune a guitar, make sure to talk to the audience while doing so.  Long, silent pauses are mood killers.  Tell a funny SHORT story, pick out someone in the audience and ask who they are and where they’re from, and as a last resort, find the hottest person in sight and say, “holy crap, you’re hot!”  Everyone will turn their attention to the hotty and you’ll be off the hook for a minute or so.  When you’re ready to play again, have your drummer make a bunch of noise or strum your guitar really loudly and get the attention back on you.

Off Stage
If you are brand new and playing a gig, you’ll probably go on first.  They save the best and more seasoned bands for last – that’s just how it works.  After your gig is done, DO NOT LEAVE the venue.  That is a major no-no.  It’s an unwritten rule.  You stay and cheer on the other bands and artists after you.  If you leave you look like a stuck up jerk and the other bands will notice and not like you.  That is not cool, man, not cool.  Besides, that’s the best time for you to mingle with the crowd and get their feedback on how your performance was.  It’s a great time to try to sell some merchandise as well.  It’s also a great chance to talk with other bands and pick their brains and learn some stuff.

When you finally get ready to leave your show and go home,  go find whoever is in charge and thank them for letting you play.  This is a MUST.  You want to have a good relationship with the places you play at.  If they like you, you will get to play there whenever you want.  Remember, be nice – always.  You have a public image to uphold now.  When you get paid for your performance, don’t say “that’s it?!”  because yes, that’s it.  Now you understand how hard this business is.  As you get better and more popular and you can draw a bigger crowd at a bigger venue, you’ll get paid more.  You want a sure-fire way to never play a certain venue again?  Ask for more money.


You are on page 4 – It’s Showtime

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