In 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.
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.
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.
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.]