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For any budding band, playing live is the heartbeat of success. It’s the pulsating energy that connects musicians with their audience, builds a fanbase, and beckons the attention of record labels. Whether you’re a group of unsigned rebels or seasoned players with a record deal, booking gigs is your gateway to the limelight. Don’t let the prospect of it overwhelm you. Let’s break down the process into simple steps, making your journey from side gigs to the main stage a reality.

First things first, lay the groundwork. Before you even think about booking a gig, arm yourself with promotional material. Think of it as your band’s resume. A demo or a website showcasing your music, accompanied by a press pack detailing your band’s essence and any media coverage, is your passport to the gigging world.

Now, timing is everything. Don’t approach venues with a vague “whenever” attitude. Have a clear window of preferred dates, align everyone in the band’s schedules, and present your availability as professionals ready for consistent work.

With your promo package and schedule in hand, it’s time to hit the phones and the local scene. Directly contacting venues is an option, where you take on the role of promoting the show. Alternatively, collaborating with a promoter shifts the promotional responsibility to them. If you’re unsure about promoters, seek advice from venues or inquire within the local musician community.

Once you’ve identified potential collaborators, make a deal. Keep in mind that, especially in the beginning, gigs may not be money-making opportunities. Treat them as promotional platforms for your band. Discuss how income will be divided and clarify details such as accommodations, riders, backline, and soundchecks. Transparency is key.

Now comes the main event—showing up and playing well. Be professional, treating promoters and venue staff with respect. Even on an off night, your professionalism can open doors for future gigs. Seize the moment to connect with the audience, promoting releases, websites, or any other band news. Encourage fans to sign up for your mailing list to keep them in the loop about future shows.

Booking gigs may seem like a daunting task, but with a well-prepared promo package, strategic networking, and a professional attitude, you’ll find yourself moving from side gigs to the mainstage. So take that deep breath, relax, and let the music guide you into the spotlight.