“We used to get Y but now only get X. Pubs have gone to hell!”.
Social media watchers will be all too familiar with this sentiment, and some cover bands that rely on pub gigs for their income know that it’s all too true. Unfortunately however, this is a fact of life. Economics dictate that prices rise, prices fall, and nothing ever stays the same. So as paid musicians, we need to either adapt to an ever changing environment, or whither away while whinging for the old days. If your current gigs aren’t paying enough, then you’re in the wrong market and you need to find a new one!
Luckily, the gigs are out there. While some musicians are more than happy to play pubs for pints (and that’s their right!), other pub bands over being paid in excess of €1,000! And of course there are the wedding, private party, and corporate event scenes. They provide in excess of 40,000 gigs a year and all tend to pay significantly higher fees than pubs. The question is how to get into those types of gigs?! Here are 5 helpful tips to get you up and running:
1 - Up Your Game: If your band is not getting the type of gigs you want right now, you have to ask yourself “what are we doing wrong”? Sure, you can blame everyone and everything around you. Excuses and perceived barriers are easy to come up with. But the reality is new bands are breaking into these markets everyday, so what do you need to change to up your game and ensure you’re one of them?
2 - Invest in a Professional Video:. You wouldn’t buy an expensive car without test driving it, so you shouldn’t expect someone to book your band without knowing what they’re getting. Because going to see you live is an inconvenience for most, the next best thing is a high quality live promo video. They can be relatively expensive to produce, but if it gets you gigs on an ongoing basis and pays for itself after just 3 or 4 bookings, it’s money very well spent.
3 - Create a Professional Website: With the advent of social media, websites are not the be all and end all they used to be. However, if you’re looking for high paying, high quality gigs, you need one, and it needs to look professional! They are great way of helping to cement the deal once someone shows an interest in you, because they give credibility to your band. You can easily create one yourself. But like the promo video, it could be worth investing in a professional.
4 - You’re in Business, Act Like it: You’re being paid to play, that means you’re running a business. So treat your profession accordingly. No ones is expecting you to don a suit, buy a briefcase, and start communicating in business speak. But simple things like professional emails, a courteous phone manner, and attention to customer service, can go a long way to improving how potential bookers perceive you. If you look and act like a professional, you’ll be treated as such.
5 - What do you Offer?: Musically you may be the best band in the world, with the best musicians. But the reality is the only people who care are you and your contemporaries. Most people are not musicians, so don’t naturally hear any difference between a good band and a great band. All they are interested in is having a good time. This means hearing the songs they like, delivered in an entertaining way. If you’re cover band is struggling to get the gigs you want, you may need to take a long hard look at what you offer and ask yourselves:
- Are we honestly playing what our target audience wants to hear, or is it what we’d like them to want?
- Is the way we perform good enough and is it what our audience wants to see?
Breaking into a market may be a daunting task, but you’ve already done it once, so you can do it again. Higher paying gigs require a higher level of professionalism and a change in approach. But with the right attitude, this is easily achievable. And once you do, the gigs and the fees you want will start coming in.