I remember what it felt like to be a musician in a band and constantly ask myself, “how do I get better gigs?” It seemed like no matter what I did, I couldn’t get an opening slot for a big national tour. Or, every weekend at the best venues in town were booked for the rest of the year. Even worse, club talent buyers would not even respond to my voicemails or emails – they seemed to busy with the “bigger” artists and tours to even consider booking my local band.
So, like every musician, we took whatever gigs we could get. Some months we’d get lucky and get booked 4 times. Sometimes, we’d go months without any gig offers.
We’ve all been there at some point, that hopeless feeling of “how do I get to that next level?”
I did what every musician instinctually does in this situation; I figured nobody was booking my band because our songs weren’t good enough. So I poured every spare hour into practicing and writing more songs, hoping that I’d write that 1 hit song that would finally grab the attention of the venues and booking agents.
It took me many years to figure it out. But here’s the secret to getting more, and better, gigs:
Build your fanbase, hone your marketing skills, and become the band or rapper that literally draws 50-100 fans every time you are booked for a show.
That’s it. No venue or promoter will ignore you if you draw a good crowd out. If your next email to a promoter says: “My band has sold over 50 tickets to the last 4 shows we played, if you book us we guarantee we will have 50 people there to see us.” Your odds of getting booked (instead of your email being deleted) just went up by about 1,000%.
Of course your music is important, you need great songs. But I’ve seen firsthand, that bands and rappers with amazing songs and no fan base continually get overlooked – while the bands and rappers with decent songs that can draw 50-100 fans per show get all of the best gigs.
My advice is to focus as much on your marketing, promotion, and on building your fan base as you do on creating great music. So many unsigned musicians miss out on the best gigs because they can’t draw out any fans.
Here’s the good news: Once you figure this out, once it “clicks,” you find out you can easily get the gigs you want and that you are in control of your own destiny.
You don’t need to beg people for shows, or hope you get a lucky break, if you’ve built a large fanbase. If you can sell 100 tickets to every show you play, word will spread. Every national tour will want you to open for them. Hell, even if you can consistently sell 20-50 tickets every show, you’re going to start seeing more and more gig offers roll in.
What venues, promoters, and national tours want is people in the room. Which makes sense. There are literally thousands or hundreds of thousands of artists out there with music as good (or better) than yours. For instance, if a national tour wanted an amazing band that draws 0 fans – they have a plethora of small signed touring bands to add to their tour package. So why would they even want to consider a local or regional independent act?
As a local artist, you have a huge advantage because you can build a strong following in your home region very easily. If you promote effectively and learn how to draw a lot of fans, you soon become a higher drawing band in your city than 50% or more of the signed bands that are picked up as tour support for national tours. You may not realize it, but the vast majority of signed touring bands draw very few fans. The headliner is drawing almost everyone in the room, and the tour package (albeit is packed with amazing music) is drawing 0 to 20 fans each in most cases.
So good news: You now have a way to access all of the best gigs. Bad news? You’re going to have to work at it. Building a fanbase isn’t easy, but it’s definitely not impossible. The artists that Afton Shows books use our promo tips and strategies to draw more fans out then they ever thought possible. It just takes the right strategies, a good work ethic, and passion.
If you’re passionate about your music, and you believe in it, then you have all the motivation you need to start taking your career into your own hands – and learn how to market, build a fan base, and sell as many tickets as you can for every show you play.
Music Industry How To is such a great resource for independent musicians and can teach you how to be a better self-promoting machine. At MyAfton, we not only book artists on our shows and provide our MyAfton LiveStream platform, but we also focus on teaching our rappers and bands how to promote better and how to build the fanbase they deserve. There so many resources online for independent musicians, and social media has now made it possible for us to expand our fanbases easier than ever before.
Remember, every major artist started out as a local artist. If they can do it, I believe you can too.
Ryan Kintz started Afton in 2004. Built for musicians, by musicians; the MyAfton booking and MyAfton LiveStream platforms focus on empowering independent rappers, bands, and musicians while providing risk-free booking opportunities. The Afton Tickets LiveStream platform will focus on major artists, promoters, and event organizers. Ryan Kintz is a musician, event organizer, promoter, and die-hard music fan. Afton has booked over 15,000 shows in 70+ cities in the U.S. and Canada.