Gemma Dunsmore (This Space Is Ours) on How to Book Gigs Independently
It’s been tough few years for live music and those artists who rely on it. Thanks to the pandemic, it has been almost impossible for new or established acts to book shows, but finally, things are looking up all around the world, with festivals returning and venues opening back up. But, we know that booking shows can still be hard for bands in the early days – where do you even start? Thankfully, Noisehive’s Gemma Dunsmore has plenty of experience booking shows for her band This Space Is Ours, and is sharing her knowledge with this gig booking guide.
For any artist, gigging is one of the most effective and most immediate ways to hone your skills as a performer as well as to connect with both your existing and potential audience.
When you’re first starting out, scoring your first shows can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, when put into practice, it isn’t too difficult, you just need to know the right approaches and have the persistence to keep at it.
Whether you’re ready to book your first gig or you want to get more under your belt, this guide will give you some top tips on booking gigs.
Before you start the process of booking your first gig there are a few things you need to have prepared.
- 1. A set list that is well-rehearsed and fills the necessary amount of time. Usually, the average set time is about 45 minutes.
- 2. Well-branded social media accounts that you regularly update.
- 3. Have at least one good picture for promotion as well as a short bio.
- 4. Either a song demo or live footage of a song.
It is most effective to have a full EPK ready to send but it’s not completely necessary, just having the listed items ready will work well enough.
When you are first starting out, you won’t have much credibility or an audience to pull in order to interest venues and promoters. It’s best to start off by booking some opening slots and small festivals.
In order to get an opening slot, search for artists in your area that are of a similar genre to you and contact them or their management directly. Express to them that you enjoy their music and would love the opportunity to play a show with them. Don’t forget to share a way in which they can listen to your music.
Many small festivals have an application page on their website that you can fill out. These are easy as it will take you through the whole process and you can just attach everything they request. Eventually the festival management will review the applications and get back to you with an offer if you were successful.
If the festival doesn’t have a page for applications but you can find the Artistic Director’s email, don’t be afraid to contact them directly.
Once you’ve built some credibility and are able to pull in somewhat of an audience, you’ll be ready to organise a headlining show and the first thing you need to do is put together a line up. Contact artists that are of a similar genre to you and ask if they would be open to playing a show with you.
Once you have a line up of three-to-four artists, email a local venue. Keep the capacity of the venue in mind and compare it with the audience you will be able to pull in. Below is an example of the email you will send to the venue, don’t forget to attach all of your pre-prepared materials.
Hi there <bookers first name, if you know it>,
Hope you’re doing well!
My name is <your name> and I am <your artist name and genre>. <Some highlights of your music career>.
I am writing to enquire about booking a show at <venue name> on the <preferred date> if it is available. I have a line up of four artists ready to go who can all bring in an audience and I believe it will be a great night.
I’ve attached a link to my latest single, a promo picture and a short bio for your discretion.
Let me know if you need any more information and I hope to hear from you soon,
<Your contact details>
<links to artist social media pages>
Once the venue is booked, you will need to find out whether they have a sound technician and backline. Some venues will have their own but at many you and the other artists on the lineup will have to organise these.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the Noisehive Team – firstname.lastname@example.org