Booking your first gig

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[This post was written by Steve Rennie, a manager who has worked with the multi-platinum rock band Incubus for the last 17 years.]

For most artists that are just starting out, the ugly reality of booking shows is that someone in the band will need to do it. Period. Why? Because unless you already have a well connected manager or a label willing to subsidize the building of your live career, you don’t mean anything yet in the marketplace. Crying about it won’t get any dates booked. And the reality is that many of the biggest bands around at some point were in exactly the same position as you. And they figured it out.

But I’ll give you a hot tip. Nobody is going to call you, so you’ll need to be the one asking for the gig. If you don’t ask you won’t get.

Case Study: Grouplove

When you are a manager you spend a lot of time talking to other managers. One of the top young managers in the business today is a gentleman by the name of Nicky Berger who manages a great young band called Grouplove. When he first met the band he was not a manager, he was a student at the Univ of Pennsylvania who was trying to figure out how to be a manager and help his friends in Grouplove.

At the time the band had written a few songs, was starting to get a little buzz because of it and they wanted to play their first gig. And so it was Nicky’s job to find a place to play. By his own admission he no idea how to book a gig, but being a smart guy he pulled together a list of every place in LA that put on live music and sent them an email asking for a gig. The only place that got back to him was a little Mexican restaurant called El Cid. Now if Nicky had spent his time crying about how tough it was to get a gig, or Grouplove had gotten all precious about playing in a Mexican restaurant things might not have worked out for the band the way they did. The band played the show that night, which was filled with industry types and ultimately got signed to a record deal from it.

If you are looking to put together a winning strategy to build a live business you’ll find a lot more tips in my new “Renman U Insider’s Guide to Today’s Music Business.”  Click here for a FREE demo of our lesson.

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  • Christopher Hunter

    Please don’t run entries like this, there are enough entries like it in this blog and in the world. This one adds nothing of substance.

    If all you have to say is “You won’t succeed if you don’t try,” go back to the drawing board. You can do better.

  • Dan

    So, play your first gig at a mexican place and get a record deal? Seems simple enough.

  • Dan

    So, play your first gig at a mexican place and get a record deal? Seems simple enough.

  • Josh Franklin

    lol. Burn. The video was high quality tho.

    • Christopher Hunter

      Recorded well? Sure. “Get out there and make friends” is not advice.

    • Christopher Hunter

      Recorded well? Sure. “Get out there and make friends” is not advice.

  • David Maldonado

    Mexican restaurant? El Cid? LOL – so wrong ha ha ha!!! This guy…

  • So three paragraphs and an advertisement. I thought this was going to be an article. Hey, CDB, get the hook!