What you should do when your gig is over to make sure you get booked again

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What to do AFTER the gig to make sure you get booked againIn my guide “How to Book My Band” I outline steps you can take to get gigs for your band. I also talk about how to plan and pull off a great performance.

In this article I’d like to discuss what you should do once the show is over. It’s not as simple as just packing up your stuff and heading to the party.

What to do AFTER the gig

You finally did it. You got your first gig and rocked the hell out of the crowd. Most of the songs went off without a hitch and your drummer only dropped 5 sticks (hey, he’s getting better!). You played your last song and even got an encore. What a great night.

Now what do you do?

Thank the crowd

As the last notes are ringing, your singer should be thanking the crowd. They stayed through the whole show and the least you can do is thank them. Skip the cliché crap (“we love you” — you don’t know them, how can you love them?) and be sincere.

We usually say something like “Thanks so much for coming. We had a blast playing tonight and we hope you had a blast listening to us.”

Even if you had a rough time, you should thank them anyway and not let on that the night went poorly for you. If you come across as bitter or upset, it just makes you look bad.

If you aren’t in a time crunch to get your stuff off the stage, try to go talk to the crowd one-on-one. Thank them personally for coming out. This will help you gain new fans and friends that will come to future shows.

Getting paid

If all went as planned, you are getting paid for this gig. In a perfect world you were able to set this up with the venue manager beforehand and maybe she even handed you a check before you started. This is ideal, but rare. Most clubs/bars pay after the show, usually for one of the following reasons: they want to make sure you actually play and don’t skip out or shorten the show, or (more commonly) they are paying you out of the night’s earnings and they don’t have the money before the show.

Let’s assume you are getting paid AFTER the show. Most of the time when you finish, it’s a madhouse with bartenders and servers trying to collect money from their customers. The bar manager may be in the middle of all that making sure things are going smoothly.

Before the show and before the place is busy, talk to the bar manager and arrange when and how you will get paid. She may tell you to wait until all customers are gone, or she may say “just find me after the show.” If that is the case and she says “I’m busy, come see me in a few,” be patient and go help tear down equipment or talk to people as they’re leaving and thank them, etc.

We usually designate one person to handle getting paid. If you have a member that handles the business, it should be that person.

You will typically get paid in either cash or check. Cash is always best, as you don’t have to hassle with banks, etc. But if you get paid in a check ask the bar if they will cash it for you. This is common and makes things easier on you again. Often times all it takes is for you to endorse the check and they give you cash in exchange.

Tear down

This is simple. Get your gear packed up and out of the way as quickly as you can. The soundman will need to get his stuff loaded up (provided it’s not house sound) and you are in his way. If it’s not too crowded take your gear directly to your cars/van/bus (you have a bus already?).

If there is still a big crowd preventing you from getting things out the door, move your equipment to the side and out of the way. Keep an eye on it at all times, though. It’s super easy for someone to grab a guitar case as they’re walking out the door without you knowing it.

Help the soundman

Often times you will need to bring a PA to the gig. If you don’t own your own, you’ll need to rent. Depending on where you live and the size of the venue it could be just a solo guy lugging gear in. If that’s the case, offer to help him load in before the show and load out after.

There are times when the show will be bigger and there will be a sound crew so you may not have to help. Or, the town could be union and you aren’t allowed to help according to union rules. But these aren’t always the case.

Clean your mess

Playing a great set is hot, tiring work. You probably need lots to drink. This means you will have lots of (ahem) water and soda bottles and glasses on the stage. You’ll also have setlists, tape from taping down cords and probably packages from the new batteries for your pedals and wireless.

As you’re tearing down your gear, clean up. Pick up and throw away your empty bottles and trash and take all empty glasses to the bar. Don’t make the bar staff do it. They have enough to deal with throughout the night.

Take care of the staff

The bartenders and servers will be taking care of you as you need drinks throughout the night. When you get there find out if there is one specific server that handles the bands and learn his/her name.

At the end of the night tip them just like you would (or even better) if you were a normal customer. They will often put your needs ahead of their other customers so show some appreciation.

All of this means you should be as professional as possible. Take care of your stuff and the people that help you put on a great show. Then they will keep taking care of you.

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Author bio: Rus Anderson started playing in clubs over 25 years ago, learning how bands work, and more importantly, how bands get hired. He’s played small clubs, big clubs, weddings, corporate gigs, private gigs, 2,000 seat venues, college campuses, arenas and together with his band(s) has opened for national acts, played for free and booked gigs paying thousands. You can read more tips in his guide, How to Book My Band. Go check it out!

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[Photo of guy at bar from Shutterstock.]

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  • The ideal payment is 1/2 with the contract, and the balance 1 week before the gig. I just got that last week. Chuck Berry gets paid the balance in cash upon arrival at the airport. You can’t trust a club’s check to clear. And you cannot trust that the manager on duty the night you are to be paid knows how much you are supposed to be paid or has access to the checkbook. These are things I learned the hard way. If you can’t get the balance before the gig at a minimum get it upon arrival at the gig. According to Fito De La Parra, drummer for Canned Heat, several of the bands at Woodstock who failed to get paid in advance didn’t get paid at all. Once you’ve played, your leverage is gone. You can’t take the performance back like you can a house or a car.

    • Rus

      Hey Chuck,

      It’s definitely best to get a contract with deposit and payoff arrangements, but most of the clubs I’ve worked with don’t want to mess with contracts. Most contracts I’ve dealt with are special events like festivals, corporate and other one-off gigs.

      I do my best to get to know the club’s rep before I book. Just a couple months ago we ran into this very situation where a new club that we had booked was writing bad checks to bands. Luckily the musician circuit is close here and word got out fast. We just cancelled as soon as we could.

      You should have payment terms worked out as you are booking the gig. Find out how they pay and be weary of a place that doesn’t pay that night unless they have a solid rep of paying.

  • John Cornelius

    I STOPPED playing bars 25 years ago, and this is still excellent advice. Two other small tid-bits that I recall from that era are, if possible, have a waitress bring…water…up to the stage, giving an opportunity to, “thank her and the wait-staff…and don’t forget to tip generously!” This may sound creepy, but many times the bar manager and staff are who suggests which bands get asked back.
    And…I know its a different age…but I still hackle when I hear ‘Blue’ language from the stage. To me its not professional. I have seen many excellent acts destroy my perception of their marketable-ness by blasting out filthy language.

    • Rus

      The staff can have a huge impact on you getting asked back. You gotta be nice to the folks that are helping you out.

      I’ve been in bands that have a strict policy against swearing and I was recently in a band that was raunchy as hell in language and show. It really depends on where you are and IF you can pull it off.

      I worked with a guy who could say and do anything on stage and people laughed and loved it. When one of the other guys tried to do it it just came off as creepy.

      Knowing where to land is something that comes with experience, for sure.

  • Hi John,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I personally don’t mind if someone swears (like once or twice), but if anything beyond that definitely starts to seem trashy to me. And yes, hydrate!

    @ChrisRobley

  • Oh yeah. I’m familiar with that frustrating bit of tax fun-times. Every year I have to calculate what portion of those 1099s I paid out to other people from gigs and such. I’m never on-the-ball enough to take detailed notes the night of the gig, so it goes in the giant receipt/check-stub drawer until next February-ish.

    @ChrisRobley