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10 To Do’s Before, During, and After Every Gig

by Ryan Sweeney on December 16, 2010 · 39 comments

Even when you're Perry Farrell at Coachella, you make time to talk with fans.

Every time a band has a gig, there are certain guidelines they should follow.  This checklist of 10 items will help bands ensure each show runs smoothly and is as successful as possible.

Advance The Show
There is a lot of information that trades hands when setting up a show, and sometimes that information gets jumbled and isn’t communicated correctly.  Make sure you are on the same page with the venue by advancing the show 1 to 2 weeks before your date.  That way, no one gets surprised when the band asks for its $200 guarantee and the venue thinks they only owe $125.  Print out those advancing emails and bring them to the gig, just as back up.

Show Your Promotion Efforts
As one might expect, venues love bands that promote hard, so make sure your hard work gets noticed!  If you get a plug about your show on a blog, send it over to the venue.  Use all of your social networks to link up with the venue online so both of you can cross promote.  It is okay to toot your own horn in this situation.

Research Your Partners
By the time you are on your way to your gig, you should have good knowledge of the venue and all the other bands on the bill.  How many records have the bands released?  Where are they from?  Have they been touring? What other bands have recently played at the venue?  These are conversation starters, and will help you to connect with people who can help your career.

Be Early
There is this understanding that artist types always run late, and shows never begin on time.  Ignore that belief.  Get to the venue 20 minutes before you are supposed to.  It will show the venue you are serious, and also it gives you a chance to get friendly with the sound guy, who should be your best friend that evening.

Be Flexible
Maybe the band that was supposed to play first had their van break down and needs to switch their spot in the lineup.  Whatever the situation, be flexible and friendly.  It isn’t always ideal, but when you help out someone else who is in a tough situation, they will remember that.

Learn Staff Names
This rule goes for everyone at the venue, from your sound guy, to the bartenders, to the door guy.  Nothing is worse then when a band member needs more vocals in the monitor, and says “Hey sound guy, can you….”  Knowing names shows you are paying attention and that you care about the people who are working with your band.  Each one of these people is a part of your show.  Make them feel like it.

Listen to the Other Bands
You appreciate when people listen to your band, so should take the time to do the same. The more time you spend in the green room, the worse off you are.  Take time and listen to the other bands on the bill and network.  By the time they are done, you should be able to say “My favorite song was….” or, “That was great when you jumped down into the crowd and started dancing with that guy.”

Hang by the Merch Table
Fans like to talk to musicians.  So when they approach you, it helps to be standing by the merch table. That way, you can show them your record, t-shirts, and maybe have them sign onto your email list.  Also, with other bands likely be hanging around that space, you have a great opportunity to get to know them.  There should never be any point during the night when at least one member of a band isn’t by the merchandise.

Have “Hand Out” CDs
Nicely pressed CD’s can be expensive, and every band has only so many to spare.  CD-Rs, however, remain dirt-cheap. At every gig, you should have several “hand out” CDs to give out for free to certain people.  These can be burned copies of your record, or even less exensive pressed CDs.  Maybe you give one to the sound person, the door guy, or a cool fan who is just really broke at the moment.  You do still want people to purchase your record, but some circumstances are appropriate.

Thank People

Being polite and courteous can go a long way.  It is great when bands thank the venue, other bands, promoters, and so on while on stage.  Even off stage, be thankful for everyone who is a part of your evening.  Don’t think you are more important than any other band or person in the venue that night.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

T Perry December 22, 2010 at 2:05 pm

These are great points and are many times the job of a manager, but for a small self managed band they should not be overlooked. Sounding good on stage is not the only important part of a good show. This article reminds me of the old saying, “most people will never remember what you said [or in this case what your sang], but they will remember how you made them feel.”

Chris Yowell January 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Thanks Advice Guy! I really like : (Don’t think you are more important than any other band or person in the venue that night.)

Chris Yowell January 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I meant Thanks Ryan Sweeney for this post!!!

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