10 Ways To Improve Local Gigs

band at local gig

 

I’ve played local gigs to thousands of people, hundreds of people, tens of people and, sometimes, no people.

Literally, no people in the room….

I recently wrote an article about music industry decline and what it can be like to be an independent musician in today’s potentially depressing climate.

I touched on how local shows need to improve to start becoming an attractive proposition again and I got a lot of feedback – some really good strong opinions about changes that can be made to make the whole gig-going experience more enjoyable for all concerned.

That two-way discussion has inspired me to make this list of positive changes we as musicians, venue owners, bookers and audience members could implement.

Obviously, these are mainly my personal opinion and I’d be really interested to hear all your thoughts in the comments!

1. Don’t Book A Bad Act!

There are so many people accountable for this and it is unbelievably common.

First of all, if you’re in a band and you’re wanting to gig, please make sure that you can play, and play well!

Of course, gigging experience will improve your performance, but before you even think about that, be real with yourself. Record your rehearsals, listen back to them and think “Would I want to hear that on a night out?”.

Chances are that the venue’s sound system won’t be that much of an improvement on your practice room P.A., so use that as a yardstick. If you can sound good in rehearsal, you’re probably ready.

Other culprits for booking acts of ‘questionable’ quality are the headline band themselves, whose ego-feeding desire to be the best act on the night clouds their judgement when putting together a line-up. Make sure the whole bill is quality or the punters won’t even stick around long enough to see how great you are!

In my opinion, a lot of the blame lies with the venue bookers themselves.

It’s not an easy job to fill the line-up of a live music venue night after night, and it takes a lot of dedication and organisation. But, from what I gather, most bookers don’t even listen to bands anymore! They just look at the Facebook Page of a band they’re considering; “2,300 likes, Brilliant – probably a quarter of them will come to the gig”.

Pfffft!

Bookers need to vet the quality of the bands they’re putting on the stage.

There’s too much laziness involved in the whole process; meet the quota of four bands (50% of the time the ‘headline’ act will do this for them), tell them to invite all their friends, then sit back and watch the total audience of 50 people roll in (15 of which are in the bands playing that night).

Bookers need to listen to band submissions for live shows (every artist should have a well recorded live song on their YouTube channel btw…) and then decide whether or not this band are going to add value to the evening’s entertainment.

You should be able to walk into a local gig venue on an evening and know that, if there’s live music, it’s not going to make you want to walk straight back out of the door!

Yes, it is up to bands to improve before they hit the road, but ultimately the booker has control over the whole night and should take pride in their work of consistently delivering quality entertainment.

As highlighted in this article from the ever excellent and highly recommended Tonedeaf, sites such as Bandcamp provide a great platform for searching for and listening to artists in your area.

 

local gigs search bandcamp

 

If you’re in a band and helping a booker put together the bill for a night when you’re playing – or if you’re the booker! – use this and find really great bands to play with so that the whole night is a memorable event for all concerned.

 

2. For Local Gigs, Put Bands On Earlier

A lot of people are reluctant to come out and support your band if it means they won’t get home ’til the early hours, especially on a ‘school night’.

It means a long stretch of listening to (probably) bad music, an expensive night out, a taxi home, and an unnecessary hangover the next day coupled with the thought of “I’m not doing that again”!

In my opinion, a three band line-up performing at 7pm, 8pm & 9pm is perfect.

Your audience can come straight from work without all the hanging around in between, and have the option of getting public transport home and be in bed for 10.30pm if they want.

It might not be very rock n’ roll, but it is considerate of you to cater to the people who want to support you, but really need their 8 hours!

Your fans/ friends have wised up to the fact when you say, “We’re on at 9.30”, it really means 10pm. And that most gigs run behind by half an hour, so it’s more like 10.30pm. When you say, “We’re on at 9.30”, what they hear is, “We’ll be finished about 11.30 and you’ll be home after midnight”.

So, if you go with the earlier start and finish, then for the people that want to stay and party, well, that option is still there! And the bands can have a nice wind-down and converse with their fans.

 

morning after local gig

That’s the last time I go to my mate’s headline show on a Thursday….

 

3. Make Sure the Place Looks as Good as You

People are coming not just to see your band, but to enjoy an evening of entertainment.

You want them to look back on the show and think, “Wow, what a great night!”, and have a good mental image to go with that feeling. To walk in and think, “Wow, this looks cool”, and associate that with you.

Let’s face it, some venues are absolute shithole dive bars, and that is part of their charm. You can leave them alone and enjoy the scuzz.

But, for the most part, venues are pretty soulless; back rooms of pubs or a small stage in the corner. You have the power to create your own vibe here.

One of the first gigs I ever played was a showcase put on by my then manager in a crumby upstairs room in an out of the way pub in Newcastle. The room hadn’t been changed since the ’70’s – it was rough.

But, he instructed us to meet him at the venue at 10a.m. on the morning of the show, and when we got there he had hired (or somehow sourced) 100’s of metres of red drapes. We stapled them to every wall and put them over every table. He hired lights that slowly changed colour. Good quality candles were on each table and a smoke machine billowed ominously from the corner.

When people entered the room it was unrecognisable to them – it was like being inside a genie’s lamp.

That was really inspiring – though, if I’m honest, I’ve never equalled that effort!

Just imagine if you did put that much care and attention into every show. You can make it an experience for the audience – every time.

I know bands that take a bunch of fairy lights with them wherever they play, and even just that little touch adds something to the stage. You can get smoke machines for like, what – $50?

And smoke machines make everything look amazing. It’s a fact!

You could go as far as investing in your own lights even. The possibilities stretch much further than deciding which is your coolest on-stage attire.

 

stage at local gig venue

 

4. Find Somewhere to Hide Your Gear

When you go to see a ‘real’ band at a ‘real’ venue, the front rows are not littered with the guitar cases, amps and drums of twenty people like they are all too often at smaller local gigs. It’s not a good look.

The onus here should really be on the venues to provide a room for storing gear, or at least allow you to put it in the staff room.

Like I mentioned earlier, the place has to look the part. Having gear lying around not only looks unprofessional but it also puts people off getting closer to the stage – and that’s exactly where you actually want them.

Scope out the venue before you play, contact them and ask them if there’s somewhere to store your gear. If for some reason the venue can’t accommodate this simple request, then be creative. If it means that after soundcheck you have to lug your stuff back to the car or van ’til just before your set, then do it.

Keep the moshpit/ dancefloor for fans – not flight cases.

 

5. Soundcheck Early and Get There on Time

Getting the soundchecks in early makes for an easier, more relaxed night for everyone.

The sound engineer has got your levels, and can enjoy the night getting drunk without sacrificing your sound. You can spend the time making sure you get the best audio representation, and rest assured that when you hit the stage you know exactly what band your fans are going to hear.

You can solidify your monitor mix so you’re not shouting mid-song, “more vocal in the foldback” (again not a good look). And, I think, most importantly, people will not arrive at the gig whilst someone is still soundchecking.

What random punter in their right mind would want to stick around in a bar after they walk in to the sound of a snare being hit repeatedly while the engineer gets the levels?

It happens, all the time, and it sucks.

Everything should be ready, sounding good & looking good before the doors even open.

The first impression is just as important as the last one.

 

6. Make a Tech Spec / Stage Plot

Even if the sound engineer hasn’t asked you for one.

Believe me, they’ll be glad of it.

This will make soundchecks so much easier for all parties. You can outline the gear you use and the amount of mics and DI’s you require. Show a diagram of who stands where on the stage & what levels you want their instruments at (e.g. stage left is the lead guitar so have him a little louder than the other).

Who’s the lead vocal and who’s the backing vocalist that can’t really sing but wants the mic there for effect?

You can even go as far as providing the engineer with a set-list, if different songs require different mix tweaks. The engineer is getting paid and are there to work so don’t feel bad about asking for what you want. You’ll probably find they’re glad of the help as the sound quality reflects on them too.

 

stage plot for diy band

 

This is what a basic stage plot should look like. Check out this article from the CD Baby DIY Musician blog about how to make one.

And, if you’re interested, this is the Stage Plot software that they reference.

 

7. Rehearse the Show – Not Just the Songs!

Start thinking of your shows as performances not gigs.

Having ‘kick-ass’ songs and being really good at playing your instruments does not a great live band make.

Once you’ve nailed the songs as a unit in rehearsal, start practising your set. Work on the transitions between the songs. If you know the guitarist needs to switch axes after the third number, be ready for that.

Perhaps you could work in an extended intro to the fourth song, the drums and bass could take care of, or fill that time engaging the audience with a story.

If you’re not a natural at ‘off-the-cuff ‘mid-set banter, then rehearse your lines and know what you’re going to say.

Between song silence is a real atmosphere killer and you want to keep your audience engaged from the opening riff to the last chord.

 

8. Treat Support Slots Like Your Own Show

This is a really common problem with local shows these days.

The headline act is the only band that really gives a shit, and supports turn up hoping that they can play to the headliners crowd and maybe win over a few new fans. That won’t happen if the place only has 20 people in it when you’re on stage.

You’re only as good as what you’re perceived to be.

Each band on a bill needs to work together to make the whole night a really good event for everyone that attends. The gig-goers need to leave thinking, “I had a great night watching Band A, Band B and Band C – I’ll go and see them again”.

In days of yore, bands used to put MORE effort into support slots than they did their own shows because it was an opportunity to show off not only how good they were at their craft to a larger audience, but also to prove the headliners made a good choice in picking them and they’d like to work with them again.

You’ve got a fanbase and you ain’t afraid to use it!

People talk, and people don’t forget.

If you rock up to a gig without doing any promotion and are just there to fill in the numbers, you won’t be asked again.

Attendees at these gigs will remember seeing you playing a lacklustre show to a tiny crowd, so do you think they’ll have any interest in coming to see you again when it’s your own ‘headline’ show? Not likely on that evidence!

“Going to other bands’ shows is THE most important thing you can do to support your scene”

Ari Herstand

Taken from this article he wrote for Digital Music News on the 17 things musicians just don’t get about local shows.

 

9. Promote, Promote, Promote!

Seriously guys, what are you doing?

Why are there only 130 people invited to the event on Facebook when between the four bands on the bill you have a network of 20,000 people that live in the area?

Oh, you’re saving your invites for your own headline show – I see….. (see point 8).

This has to stop.

Each show should be important regardless of where you are on the bill.

At legendary club, CBGB’s, (where The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, and The Police all started), the running order of the bands was decided on the night. It didn’t matter what the times ended up as for each band because people went there to have a fun night and listen to quality bands.

Each band member should be actively promoting the gig on all social media channels.

And why not put up posters and hand out flyers? Seriously, why not?

 

local gig flyer
Lamp-posts are prime real estate for gig advertising. Do your local lamp-posts have your name plastered all over them?

 

If you really want to get people to your local gigs then word of mouth about how seriously talented you are will only get you so far, if anywhere.

Some of your biggest future fans and groupies, who would LOVE you, are out there, but they need to know you are too.

Just do everything you possibly can, for each and every gig.

If it means doing fewer, but higher quality gigs, then good!

It’s hard work, but hard work pays off.

If you put real effort into each gig, the other acts you play with will remember and they’ll want to play with you again. This is how you build your reputation and how you can start creating that scene we’re always banging on about.

“The artists trying to get off the ground, one of the biggest mistakes they make is they tend to think they are competing with just other music going on that evening, but in this day and age you’re competing with the basketball tournament, the Masters, Angry Birds, Facebook, and sitting up on Vine all night”

Jed Carlson, President of Reverb Nation.

Taken from the interview in the video below where he speaks to Steve Rennie (AKA ‘Renman’) about promoting local shows.

 

10. Play ‘Eye of the Tiger’ Through the Sound System Just Before You Go on Stage!

This should need no explanation really.

 

eye-of-the-tiger

Featured image: Lemonwood live in Berlin by Trav Munro.

 

 

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Lee Jones

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Shane Horner - March 20, 2016 Reply

Great article! I full agree with getting quality acts and promotion promotion promotion! I use an online app called Goindee.com to schedule & run my website & all of my social media promotions before my shows. I can’t stress how important this is. Since I’ve started scheduling quality posts, I now have over 100+ people hitting up my shows. I agree, artists need to support one another and create great events that people want to come actually come and see. What goes around comes around. Love the article, keep em’ coming. Cheers.

#10 is obvious 🙂

Duncan Graham - March 21, 2016 Reply

In my city (Melbourne, Australia) it would be very difficult to get punters to a show by 7pm. Even 8 is a stretch. Often I think there are too many acts on the bill, with not enough consideration for crossover times between sets. This can often be the fault of venue bookers’ expectations rather than performers.

Other than this, plenty of good advice above.

    Lee Jones - March 21, 2016 Reply

    I agree with you Duncan about having too many acts on, it seems the thinking is ‘more bands = more fans = more takings!’ but that is rarely the case and just leads to a real hodge-podge of a night. An acoustic opener, and two solid bands with 30 mins between them is fine. I lived in Melbourne for 4 years and was really involved in the music scene, I see what you’re saying about getting people there for 7, but I think if people were coming straight from work rather than having to think about how to waste a few hours it’d be worth it for an earlier finish. It’s almost an impossible idea to implement!

Mick Bradley - March 21, 2016 Reply

Yeah I am in an originals band and what u have pointed out is exactly should what take place before any gig also check the venue out when a band is playing

Jack jackinson - March 21, 2016 Reply

Pretentious

Ray Dylan - March 22, 2016 Reply

All valid points, but they’re sort of superficial imperfections that I think miss the heart of what cultivates a healthy music scene. There are a lot of things that go into it, but I think the cornerstone has always been and always will be the existence and cultivation of an environment that fosters and promotes non-conformist art over conformist fame and fortune. What I mean by that is, every great music genre was created from a “scene” that grew in an environment where art and expression was more important than popularity or money. Blues, Rock, Punk, Metal, Hip Hop, Rap, Jam Band, EDM, Hardcore, Folk, Grunge, etc … all came from a very honest and humble place where money, fame, popularity, etc weren’t very influential considerations. And not just on the artists’ end … that art-over-money&fame mentality was typically shared by the artists, promoters, venues, crew, some labels, and media alike. Without that shared mentality and those values, any “scene” is gonna be for shit or headed there fast, and do more harm than good overall. Nowadays, the vast majority of artists, promoters, venues, crew, media, and labels all either go into their respective fields with money and fame as the primary motivator, or quickly adopt that motivation … which is why the industry has basically crippled itself overall. Music can certainly stand on legs of money, fame, “coolness”, and conformity … it just can’t go anywhere.

    Lee Jones - March 22, 2016 Reply

    Good points Dylan, I hadn’t gone into that deep a thought of it, I was mainly trying to highlight what could be done at this moement to improve shows as they are’ but you’re completely on the money with that. Punk/ Grunge/ Hip-Hop was all very organically formed. Let’s hope the backlash to the current mainstream EDM comes soon! (not that I don’t like Electronic music- I love it! But I do feel that it has become formulaic and homogenised)

SomeDude - March 22, 2016 Reply

Great advice for teenagers in a town that exploits an excess of “original” bands. This article is about venues that have 3-4 bands a night, all playing one set and they make all the musicians split the door so everyone walks with $14.00 for their nights work. In other words, hobbyists.

The number one thing on the list should be having venues pay musicians a fair wage for performing 3-4 50 minute sets of music. In most places those no longer exist. Why? Because they can just take advantage of the glut of guitar playing people, put 3 or 4 bands on a night, charge $5-10 at the door, sell alcohol all night, and then split the door 12-15 ways with all the individual band members so everyone makes less than $20.00 each. That is the reality of it. It is a trap, it is exploitive, and it is the business model of most places that offer live music these days. Don’t fall for it.

    Lee Jones - March 22, 2016 Reply

    Do you mean one band playing 3 or four times in one night some dude? Lee

    Cal Tidey - March 23, 2016 Reply

    Not sure that’s really accurate there Dude, if you’re an unknown local band, you can’t expect to be able to sell tickets for a higher price, door is your only option. You put it at 5 or 10 bucks because otherwise you drive away people who don’t know about it.

    And the venue has other options, if you’re not pulling enough people, it’s not even worth it for them to pay the sound guy.

    Really, it’s promotions. A 3 act bill, even if they’re 5 pieces, means a 15 way cut, which means that if you want more than 10 bucks, you need more than 30 people there. Problem is that a lot of scenes are kinda dead. If you want more than that, you need cds to sell, merch to sell, be good enough that people want merch, and if you’re big enough you can think of charging more. But the bar won’t pay you a salary when you could lose them money, and they aren’t giving you a cut of the drinks. The door covers getting to see you.

    Not to be too whiny about it and bite the hand that feeds, but a lot of people are really into their scene, really into music, until they’re asked to come out to shows. If you’re taking door, you want as many people as possible. Part of that’s on the scene, hence why support slots are so important, you need to build a big enough following that you can help others out. Part of that is promotion, and here I have to disagree with the author.

    Gig often. Play as often as you can, even if you are bad. You’ll have bad shows, and you need to lock that shit down, but if you’re not playing live all the time, you’re promoting a job you don’t even do. Thr hobbyists, the posers, they dont gig hard, and it shows. Every show is the promotion for the next. Social media reach means very little, nobody is coming just cause facebook, put up some flyers, make some demos. And play your guts out. Don’t rely on internet promotion, don’t rely on facebook fans who didn’t like your page as the result of a gig. If they haven’t seen you live, you probably can’t rely on them. You can get hundrwds attending, and have a dead crowd. So play gigs often, just don’t wear out the same crowd.

      Lee Jones - March 23, 2016 Reply

      Hey Cal! Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with your statement “Not to be too whiny about it and bite the hand that feeds, but a lot of people are really into their scene, really into music, until they’re asked to come out to shows” it’s very true and a lot of people are guilty of it. I do disagree about going and playing often even if you’re bad. Gigging hard, yes 100% but I think if you are not ready you are doing yourself more of a disservice by gigging, you will only make a bad name for yourself. You wouldn’t take your ice-cream van down to the beach to sell cones before your product was frozen.

        Cal - April 5, 2016 Reply

        I guess there are levels of bad. If you’ve got a sets worth of materials that works pretty tight in rehearsal, then you’re probably not too far off ready.

        I’m relentlessly self-critical, and if I didn’t play when I thought I could do better, I would never play. I can always do better, and I’m always working with some compromises.

        The level of “bad” that I’m dealing with at the moment is that I’m looking for a full time bassist, and I’d like a second guitarist, but in the meantime I’m on bass, which means I compromise my vocals and I’m not a great bassist, but it is good enough to get out there and perform. So far I haven’t had any complaints about the playing, although I did have a really bad show where we didn’t have a proper sound setup, giving us no foldback, and the guy helping us “mix” did an attrocious job. I could tell that one went badly, and I’m going to remember that one for a long time.

        The “bad” that should keep you off the stage in my mind is if you’re getting lost in your song, if you’re losing time, or pace, if your material isn’t any good, or if one of you just really isn’t nailing their part. A lot of that comes down to rehearsal, you just gotta nail the rehearsal, you’ve got to be dedicated to it, otherwise it’ll never survive live.

          Lee Jones - April 5, 2016 Reply

          Yes that is true Cal. I think you know when you’re bad or good (if you’re honest!), unfortunately that doesn’t always co-incide with whether you think you’re ‘ready’ or not. Sometimes it’s easy to think “Well, what does it matter it’s a good experience” it is not a good experience for those watching you and can only harm. I think you sound like you’ve pretty much got your head screwed on though!

Mike Ellison - March 22, 2016 Reply

Not sure I’d use Eye Of The Tiger but a good point – what’s playing when the punters arrive is an important part of the gig, same as the post gig music. I still remember when Bowie took the Serious Moonlight tour to Milton Keynes Bowl. They played two great albums: Michael Jackson Thriller and Bob Marley Legend.

    Lee Jones - March 22, 2016 Reply

    Definitely I think it’s conducive to the whole atmosphere of the night. Geat little nugget about the Bowie tour. Can’t go wrong with those two records can you?!

stevie silvers - March 22, 2016 Reply

For my 10 pence worth.. rehearse rehearse rehearse.. use the best kit you can afford, and the biggest.. wear decent stage clothes and have an image…not jeans and trainers.. if you own a decent pa that you are familier with try and use it whenever you can instead of the house one (pubs n clubs).. use lighting! doesnt have to cost the earth but choose wisely!, smoke machines are often frowned on these days, but most places will accept them once you explain that you will put a rubber glove over the nearest smoke detector and remove it after!… turn up in a van.. together.. not indivual cars.. journeys to and from are bonding exercises.. most of the above are obvious.. but nearly always ignored on the small club/pub circuit.. mainly due to total lazyness.. remember your audience has made the effort to come and see you.. give them the best show possible its the least you can do.. if you dont bother why should they..

    Lee Jones - March 23, 2016 Reply

    100% Stevie. A really good point worth remembering for all artists is that the audience have come to see you, and you owe it to them to give them the best show, Even if it’s only 20 people! They are your fans, and you want to keep it that way. You totally get out what you put in.

Tony Rankin - March 22, 2016 Reply

I spent many years trying (really just hoping and turning up) for our band to ‘make it’ in the Melbourne scene! I agree with everyone’s point of view on this but Lee, i reckon you’ve nailed a lot of critical points here that would make going out to see live music that much better. Yes some genres require that gritty stick it to the man type edge where it seems a bit rough around the edges but in general,these points are just basic work ethics and professionalism. There is nothing better than a well oiled machine and when bands are unorganized,believe me the punters know. We live in different times where upcoming bands are struggling on the priorities of everyday distractions and ANYTHING to improve a show is critical.Every point you make is super valid and i just hope a hell of a lot of people take heed in your wisdom! Well said mate and best of luck.

    Lee Jones - March 23, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Tony! Yep, definitely in this day & age especially, a band that has made the effort to be professional really stands out from the crowd. You hit the nail on the head when you said it comes down to a basic work ethic. Makes all the difference.

Hugo Fuguzev - March 23, 2016 Reply

Let’s not fool ourselves. The main reason live music venues have regressed from their heyday is because of drunk driving legislation. That only means there are fewer places a band can perform. Of course the number of local bands hasn’t changed. In fact, with today’s advance in music equipment technology the number of bands has increased. There are just more unemployed bands. Everybody wants to be a rock star, right?

Among the many other problems facing the failing local live entertainment industry is the “lock” some local talent agents have with many venues. It’s much easier for a venue to allow a talent agency to determine their entertainment schedule than it is to spend the time it takes seeking out talent themselves. After all, they aren’t paying the commission, the band is. All venues have one thing in mind – accumulating revenue. If an independent venue (one that doesn’t use a particular talent agent) perceives an act can’t bring it, they won’t book it unless it’s free, and sometimes that won’t be enough. Don’t think the local talent agents won’t block good quality acts if they aren’t exclusively signed to them either. It’s part of their job to make sure their signed acts get booked first. I’ve seen top quality full-time professional bands that make their money playing on the road at top quality venues in other regions not be able to get a local gig when they come home because of being blocked out by local talent agents. The excuse the agent makes is they don’t have a local following. Really? Let those polished groups play a gig or two and watch their followings explode into big money for the venues that book them. There’s a reason they are being booked regularly at quality venues on the road. Consumers will support good quality when they experience it. Blame the talent agent that has no interest in outside groups, and to the venues that are too stupid to understand the money making potential for allowing already refined bands develop a local following. This also raises the bar for the venue, for local bands, and allows upcoming local bands to witness the professionalism required to make a living as a musical entertainer. The gigs will still be there for the quality local groups because road groups want to be on the road. They just want to be able to come home every once in awhile. It will also show the local fans how good their top local bands really are because they’ll have something to compare them to, and will keep the music entertainment quality at a high level consistently, week after week. Every successful week a venue has means another week the business will stay in business, and another venue a local band can play a gig. It’s all good.

Venues want to make money. Your band wants to make money. Agents are the one thing not really needed, but their livelihood depends on their ability to persuade the venue their services are necessary. Agents can kill an entire local music scene. Good quality local bands exist, but they are extremely outnumbered by low quality groups competing for the same gigs. You’ve listed many common sense things in your article that if a band doesn’t already know means they are not ready to be playing professionally, and if allowed to will only hurt the reputation of all local entertainment in general. Entertainment at the local level has come down to the lowest common denominator and it’s not good for the consumer. Technology has given the individual consumer a choice of whether to immerse him/herself in their own high tech entertainment palace at home or to go out and spend money watching low level quality entertainment being performed by unprofessional acting so-called entertainer/musicians. The consumer isn’t going to put up with crap when they can just stay home, go to a dance club with a DJ, or go out for karaoke. At least they know what they’re getting with a DJ or KJ.

    Lee Jones - March 24, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the comment Hugo and some great insights here. Didn’t even think about the drink driving thing, I’m sure that must have had a huge impact, especially with regional out of town shows. You pretty much summed up the whole article when you said “If allowed to (play) will only hurt the reputation of all local entertainment in general” That’s exactly it, the reputation of all local entertainment in general. It’s a big picture thing. The standard needs to be raised by every band and every venue, because ultimately it’s their careers, it’s on their heads and in their hands!

bob cartlidge - March 24, 2016 Reply

my pet hate is lack of information about the gig (this could be the venues fault but if you want people to see you then some of this is down to you).Many times on the posters it will say xxx is playing at joes bar at 9pm.Ok local people know where joes bar is others don’t.Put on the poster joes bar street name even next to Tesco or 200yds from town hall.The more people know where you are the more people may turn up.Also if it says on at 9pm go on at 9pm not fiddle about or chat to your mates.Ok so the bar sells more drinks but it doesn’t do anything for your bands reputation.Above all if you want to get anywhere be professional at all times when at the gig

    Lee Jones - March 24, 2016 Reply

    Well said there Bob. There is absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t include all the details and make it easier for people to get to you! I guess design wise it’s nice to keep it simple but that is not to say you cant have the address or such information small on the poster/ flyer. If people are interested they will read the small print!

Dave Snow - March 24, 2016 Reply

Very valid points. I’ve seen the good the bad and the ugly over 20 years behind the sound desk and 30+ behind a Mic. I think the one additional point I would make to any artist wanting to make it in the industry would be, on top of what you have said, have fun doing it. I agree with a lot of the other respondents too, its work, be professional, network, sort your venue out. Make people want to watch live music. Theres no substiute.

    Lee Jones - March 24, 2016 Reply

    There is no substitute bang on. And yes, you’re totally right, you gotta have fun, sometimes all the bullshit that goes along with it does distract you from the whole reason you got into it in the first place!

Killer Steve - March 30, 2016 Reply

I’ll go see a great band, but if each show (no matter how good) is essentially the same ( same songs etc), then I’m not going to see them more than a few times per year. In bigger cities, I think a band can play around town to build up followers, but then at some point you will saturate your scene. I read somewhere about spacing gigs 4-6 weeks apart, but even so, switch up the set lists if you are just staying in one area and keep things interesting.

    Lee Jones - April 3, 2016 Reply

    Totally good advice Steve. Keeping it fresh is important, otherwise it’s like going to the cinema every month to watch the same film! p.s. apologies it’s taken so long to approve this comment, there was a little gremlin in my word press account! Lee

JJ Henman - April 15, 2016 Reply

Love the article and hope to use some of this advice in the future. One inaccuracy that I found was that the Police and Iggy Pop didn’t really “start out” in CBGBs, Iggy had been around for a long time before he played the club and The Police being from Britain played it as their first US show (they had been a band for two years before that).

The point about CBGBs was that it was the only place in New York that Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Richard Hell, Patti Smith, Television, Heartbreakers and the Dead Boys could play regularly and they knew that they would always get a crowd in because the other bands would be watching them.

I went to a small gig in Cardiff this week and they headliner watched all of the support acts but the support acts only watched each other’s shows, I found it a bit disrespectful as the support bands were outside the venue as I left and the headliner had travel from London to be there,

    Lee Jones - April 23, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the additional GBGBs info JJ.

    I agree that it’s a small thing for all the acts on a bill to show each other support – I certainly try to whenever I play.

James - July 12, 2016 Reply

Hey Lee,

Loving your blog page, lots of good stuff here. Even though I’m not doing gigs anymore.. it got soul-destroying and it was always just me putting the effort in. I’ve been banging on about point #2 for ages, going on at 10 or later on a Tuesday, well none of my mates were ever going to come. Venues are just chasing the drinkers who don’t need to get up in the morning, haha. Anyway, I’m guessing that my band fell into category #1, I think a few people came to see us, but not many (see #2).

#5 and #6 assume the sound man (its ALWAYS a man, haha) gives a f***. I’ve done entire gigs where the sound man was not even behind the board. And made it plain that he hated bands in a general, jaded sense. Being nice and appreciative makes them hate you even more!

Anyway, always LOVED the Solicitors. Hope it’s going well.

JP (Signal X)

    Lee Jones - July 12, 2016 Reply

    Thanks James! Yes completely agree with you. I have also had many a gig where the sound person is pretty disinterested. Sure it’s not an easy job but some I have encountered have just been straight up rude! I reackon they have to deal with some pretty shitty bands too though!

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