Being a Professional Musician 101

Getting gigs is the lifeblood for any band or other entertainment act. Not only is it the artist’s best revenue stream, but performing in front of thousands of people is an unmatched thrill. However, playing gigs is not just showing up 20 minutes before the artist’s set. There are a lot of professional people involved, and the artist needs to act like a professional as well when taking care of the business of being a performing artist. Here are 5 simple things the artist should think about when booking gigs.

1. Planning. Most serious venues book at least 3 months in advance for even local shows. The artist needs to contact venues this far in advance in order to book a premium night (Friday, Saturday or a Holiday.)  It is also important not to send emails and make calls daily if a response is not received right away. Follow up a few days later and do not harass the venue.

2. What to send. When contacting venues, do not just send a link to your Reverb Nation page and expect the venue to look for your promotional material and music. Send the venue a simple one page press sheet that has your picture, simple biography, and a direct link to your music. In digital format this is known as an Electronic Press Kit (“EPK”).  It will always be highly beneficial to have readily available video content of live performances for one click viewing. Also, include a cover letter and discuss your draw (be honest!) and a brief planned marketing strategy (are you making flyers or the venue? Who is passing them out? How many people on your mailing list?) Additionally, also should familiarize yourself with booking channels, such as SonicBids, as some venues and events will only accept your material through them.

3. What to bring. Bring all the gear you require. This also includes power extension chords and surge protectors as you do not know where outlets are and if there is electrical grounding issues, screwdrivers and duct tape (because you never know when something is going to break), and bring a stage plot.  The venue and sound guy will love that you are organized, they do not have to worry about you, and can concentrate on other chaos in putting on a show.

4. Dealing with the venue. If load in time is 6:00pm, the artist should make it a goal to be there at 5:45pm at the latest. Getting to the venue on time will be noticed and it shows the act is taking its performance seriously. This also goes for set time. If the artist’s scheduled performance time is 10:00 pm and only 20 people on the room, do not wait until 10:30pm in hopes or a larger crowd. The venue will notice (even if they do not force you to start playing), the other bands or entertainers will be upset, and the artist’s chances of being booked again will plummet drastically. Likewise, when the set is done GET OFF STAGE and let the other bands load in. The act does not need to tear down the drum set on stage. Take it off stage and pack it in the back.

5. Thank the venue. Does the act get free drinks for the night as part of the compensation? Tip the bar tenders for every drink. Was the sound horrible? Thank the sound guy after the set. There is no sense in making enemies for something beyond the artist’s control. “Low level” bar staff can be surprisingly influential at selecting entertainment at venues. Lastly, thank the booker, promotions staff, and anyone else who helped with the night. These people might be making less money than the artist and acknowledging them, even in passing in a crowded bar, can have a lasting impact.

Many of these things may seem completely obvious, and it is amazing at how few entertainers even accomplish half of these things on a nightly basis. Acting like a professional will set the artist apart from other bands quickly, and that is only good for the artist’s career.

Bradley Legal Group, P.A. are Intellectual Property lawyers, Entertainment lawyers and Music Lawyers  servicing clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Nashville. We also affiliate with entertainment lawyers licensed in New York and Washington, D.C. © 2011 Bradley Legal Group, P.A.