What to Do After Your First Show: A 10-Point Checklist for Success

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You read our advice on how to book your band’s first show. You booked the gig. You practiced. You played the show and rocked it! But now what?

It’s important to capitalize on the momentum and exhilaration of that first glorious performance while the memories are fresh.

Here’s a checklist of next-steps for new bands (to take over the following week):

1. “Post-game” the gig

Talk to your fellow bandmates and audience members while you’re still at the venue about your performance’s highlights and lulls. What worked? What didn’t? Then…

2. Watch the replay

You had someone shoot video of the gig, right? Watch it and take notes. Compare these notes to the impression you had of the show when you were “post-gaming.” You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your bandmates from concert footage—not all of it flattering. The camera doesn’t lie. That giant rock leap you took at the end of the last song? Yeah, well it was actually more of an awkward bunny-hop. But be positive and constructive in giving feedback. Be kind to yourself, too. It was your first show, after all!

3. Talk to the club owner or booker

If the show went well and if you enjoyed the venue, make sure to talk to the booker/promoter/owner before going home for the night (you’re sticking around to get paid anyway, right?). Ask if you can play there again and try to get that gig on the books ASAP! It’ll save you tons of booking headaches and dozens of emails if you just work something out the same night as your show.

4. Thank the staff, sound engineer, and other bands

This one might sound like common sense, but it’s easy to forget when you’re worried about talking to fans, selling merch, breaking down gear, etc. But be sure to thank everyone personally. You’ll build up a little good will—and over time, that adds up to something big.

5. Follow up by email

Thank the club and other bands via email sometime during the following week. If you’d like to explore more gig options with either, best to do it while you’re fresh in their memory.

6. Don’t neglect your email signup sheet

Tons of bands forget about their fan signup sheet until they bust it out for the next gig. Don’t do that! The next day—or maybe even later the same night—enter the email contacts you collected into your email management system. Write those specific people a thanks for attending the show and include a few anecdotes from the evening. Then offer them a free MP3 download to keep them excited about your music, and be sure to ask them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter.

7. Post pictures and videos of the show

If you captured some good pics and video from the show, put them on YouTube, embed them on your blog, and share them to your social networks. You might even want to do this BEFORE contacting the new fans on your email list. Mention them in your first email to those folks, and hopefully they’ll be happy to share that content with friends—since they were at the show!

8. Start planning for your next gig

Another obvious one: get back into the rehearsal space and work on your next show being better than the last.

9. Network with other bands in your scene

Now that you’ve got some notches on your belt, you can go out and meet other bands in your town with confidence. Find your “tribe” and see if you can open for those artists.

10. Contact other clubs

You’ve got something to brag about now; you played a successful show and brought out a crowd. Make sure to write other venues in town and see if they’ll book your band. Be realistic and honest about your “draw.” If you don’t have an army of fans yet, don’t worry. You can work with a booker to construct a bill that will help you build a following.

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I’m sure I’m leaving another dozen things off this list. What are they? What do you do after your shows to make the most of the energy of the evening? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • These are all really great! #6 is a really nice touch (Write those specific people a thanks for attending the show and include a few anecdotes from the evening. Then offer them a free MP3 download to keep them excited about your music, and be sure to ask them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter.), which I think bands don’t do and fans would appreciate a thank you.

    We do that for Sofar Sounds gigs to promote the bands that played the night, and thank the audience.

  • Cool. Do you send out links to the other bands that performed? How do you promote them in the email?

  • Excellent article thanks!

  • The comment about getting paid is funny !
    If you got paid on the first gig you ever played, I would advise you to change absolutely nothing (:

  • This is great advice. I like #2 and #5 the best.

  • Aaron Lightstone

    I like #6 but at our CD release concert last week I got 200 sign ups so “next day—or maybe even later the same night—”
    There is some serious time commitment there. When I am going to do it. I might have to pay my kids babysitter to do some data entry.

  • PSC502

    What no make fun of the other bands you just played with? Isn’t that the biggest tradition in music?

  • Well, that is an excellent problem to have! Way to go. (Oh, and give yourself a week to enter those names!)

  • Good point. Ok, add that as #11, but only in private.

  • ChristianBandHelp.co

    #2 Watch the Replay is so important to improving your stage show. I know there have been times that I thought what I did on stage must have been so cool and was sadly disappointed in how awful it looked on video. The video saved me from repeatly looking stupid on stage!

    • Yes. Totally. Well, I'm not sure the video ever saved me from looking stupid, but at least I more aware and could catch myself mid-stupid.

  • Guest

    The writer of this article sure knows how to learn more and then present as even more knowledgeable. Start a thread and then ask for input, suggestions, ideas and the experience of others.

    Brilliant ! At least you are a listener, unlike so many these days who will “Not be told anything” full stop.

  • All of these points are common sense and should go without saying. On the same note, with points # 4 and #5, it is our management’s policy to e-mail the promoter/venue within 24 hours after our shows. The response back is less than 10% and an invitation to play again happens less than 5%. We have yet to find out why…

    And we agree with the comment about getting paid for your first show, even though we did.

  • Roni Dorsey

    What kind of "email management system" do you use? Just a pen and paper? or is there a good app out there?

    • Well, what I meant was — transfer the names/emails you collected at the gig into your email management system. ListBaby is a good one! ; )

      As for how you collect names at the show, yes — pen and paper, or you could set up a form on an iPad or something at your merch booth.

      @ChrisRobley