book shows

Book shows and get paid to perform

How To Book Shows

Playing a lot of gigs can help you build a fan base  but how do you book shows as an independent artist?  Continue reading and you’ll learn how to book shows and get paid to build up your portfolio.

Starting with the basics.

First, we’ll cover how vendors and concert promoters go about booking shows. Following that, we’ll have an exact plan of how to book a gig just like a concert production company.

The business of booking shows and playing concerts is based around one thing, money.  You need to understand this to make it ahead of 96.5% of all artists.  Once you realize that they want to sell as many tickets, cover charge and bar sales as possible you can understand why you don’t play the big venues.  To understand what each part of the business is looking for, I’ve broken down each roll in the transaction.

Venues –

The venues pay for top talent.  These are the venues that get big name acts that have a following and will easily sell tickets to a show.  Many musicians do not fall into this category.  The second way venues get shows is that they rent out the space to a band.  The band will then sell tickets to cover the cost of the rental.  Sometimes venues have a bar guarantee.  This is where the bar is guaranteed a certain amount of revenue from drink sales.  Venues want two things, money is the first and most important.  Second is a terrific experience for the customers, because happy customers always spend more at the bar.  As you can see the second has a direct effect on the first.

Concert Production Company –

Many musicians cannot afford the rental fee for a venue’s space.  So what do they do?  This is where a concert production team comes into the mix.  A concert production team will put the money up front to rent the music venue.  Then, they get a bunch of bands to play a concert.  The bands are then required to promote the show to their audience.  The promoter rents the space, books five bands, and collects the money for the tickets sales.  Once the promoter makes their rental fee back, they take a percentage of the ticket sales.  The musicians only get paid if they sell all the tickets they promised to sell.  This can work well for musicians, as long as they sell the amount of tickets or more than they promised to sell.

Now onto the exact blueprint you can use to book shows.

The Gigmor Promoter Techniquehow to book shows

You can be the concert promoter.  Call up all the bands in your area and find out if they want to play a show with you.  Get five or so bands to start, then call around to the venues, find the ones that consistently have music similar to your bands and look at the reviews of the venues online.  You will want to find quality places to have a show.  Now, call the best venue and say you are a concert promoter and want to rent their space.  Find out the cost.  It could be anywhere from a bar guarantee, to a 5,000 dollar fee.  Depending on how much you have, book shows that make the most sense.  I know it may seem crazy to spend money to play a show, but really if you do your research and find the right venue you can make some good money.

Then, enlist the bands that you gathered to make sure that they will sell a specified amount of tickets.  Have them post fliers and send people to your website to purchase the tickets.  Look at that!  You are your own concert promoter!  Great.

Tips: Use your email list to promote your show.  Also, make sure that people friend you on facebook or twitter at your shows.  Ask them to when you are on stage.

The second technique:

If you have been networking with other bands, you will be able to leverage your relationships.  Find a band that you have formed a relationship with and ask if they need an opening act.  Say, you can bring your own fans to help increase ticket sales.  You will want to show that you can help them grow as a band and maybe you can show them how to promote their band online too.  This way you will been seen as a new up and coming act and will gain fans that are fans of the other band.

Gigging Like You’ve Never Gigged Before

book shows

The last piece of the puzzle is about throwing the ultimate party.  Many musical acts play music and hope that the audience likes their music. But, there is more to it than that. The goal is to throw an event. What do I mean by this? You want to have people enjoy themselves. In creating a show, the key word is “Show” so the audience feels connected to you and your music is important. Being a great musician is about throwing one awesome party. Here are some tips to throwing a terrific concert.

Connect with the audience. 

Speak to them in a direct conversation. Engaging with your audience is about talking about local talking points.  So ask around, talk about the restaurant that everyone knows or the local [fill in the blank] everybody knows.  Do some research about the area.

There are some tools you can use such as  It is a live twitter feed that you can project while you are in concert.  This will create a live conversation during your show.  Put a guest book over by the bar so people can give you their email.  This will help with your email marketing.

Be a great showman

This is an art and can take some practice.  It can take time but don’t worry about making mistakes.  The key is to make mistakes early and often.  As you learn what works continue to do those things.

Some tricks that you can use to become a better showman

  1. Bring People Up on Stage. This might make you nervous the first time you do it but trust me the person coming up onstage is more nervous.
  2. Create a part of the song that the crowd can sing. I know this may seem cheesy, but the goal is to get participation, and create a memorable evening.
  3. Sing about things that your audience finds relevant. Or bring somebody on stage ask their name, and then include that persons’ name in the song.
  4. Pretend you are, throwing a New Year’s party and have balloons drop down from the ceiling. This stuff may sound gimmicky but the real goal is about creating an experience.
  5. Does your audience read teen vampire novels? Hire a friend or actor to dress up in a vampire costume and dance around on stage.

The point is you want to get engaged with your audience.  Show them you care, and do what is relevant to your audience.  I went to a jazz club once where the singer song writer got into a conversation with a person in the front row.  It seemed like two old friends having a chat and you, “the audience” felt connected to them.  It was a great show and I had a wonderful time, plus there were only fifty people in the bar anyways.  The size of the show doesn’t matter.

Just get out there and go book shows.  Big or small it doesn’t matter.  No matter where you think you are in your gigging skill set you can only get better with practice. Also, congratulations! You just finished this article.  Leave your comments below and tell me how you are putting the techniques to work.  Take action.  You are equipped with knowledge on how to book shows and succeed in today’s music industry.  Get out there and put these techniques to work.  The only way this will work for you is if you do the work.  Don’t be scared. Roll up your sleeves and put in the work.  It will pay huge dividends down the road.  Good Luck!

Congratulations, you can run the ultimate music promotion.  Don’t just stop with reading this article.  Sign up for to get awesome newsletters and connect with other musicians.