Get a gig

Band playing live. Photo: James McLaren

Last updated: 05 February 2009

As with much of life, the first steps are the hardest, and getting your first gig is not as straightforward as it may seem, writes James W Roberts.

After you've honed your sound, spent hours in the rehearsal room practising and want to take your great new thing on the road how do you get a gig? Here are some tips and advice to smooth the path to stardom.

Former Boo Radley and Cardiff-based electro tunesmith Martin Carr offers some succinct, if cynical advice. "Be in a band, own a club, be a promoter." Don't worry, there are easier ways to get your band on the road.

Don't send in a CD of your rockier moments and then choose to Close quotation markplay a skiffle set on the night.

John Rostron, Plug Two

John Rostron, head of Cardiff based promotions company Plug Two, sees advanced planning as crucial if your debut live outing is to be a successful one. "Get a pair of compasses and draw a circle on a map to work out how far a field you can travel on any given day or night, then contact all the venues in that area," he advises.

The demo is crucial as a starting point in getting your first gig. The demo does not need to be as polished as if you were sending it to a prospective label - its main function is to show the promoter what you sound like and how suitable your band is to the venue.

Along with the demo recording, bands should include full contact information and a useful biography. Don't be afraid of self promotion, but try to keep things short and informative.

"Promoters will want a demo CD - three songs are ideal - with tracks that are representative of your sound. Don't send in a CD of your rockier moments and then choose to play a skiffle set on the night," says Rostron.

Wrexham based promoter Ian Shaw stages Rock Sound sponsored gigs at Central Station, as well as venues across North Wales. He underlines that getting your first gig isn't exactly rocket science.

"Sometimes it's easiest to just get in touch with a local promoter with a phone call or email. With demos it's nice to see an effort being made: a nicely presented package with a printed cover and nicely done biog makes the promoter pay more attention."

When chasing a venue, don't worry about ensuring a sold out gig. Sure, promoters will be more receptive if you can guarantee a good crowd, but Ian suggests bands should worry more about sounding great and less about pleasing the promoter.

"Some bands bring a lot of friends, which is fine, but sometimes the band ends up messing around and joking with their friends rather than playing an awesome set," he says.


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