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How to Get Gigs in 2021 | Guide for Musicians & Bands

The world is finally opening back up! So now’s the time to get out and play the shows we’ve all missed so much. But whether you’re looking to land a slot on the line-up at a festival, or a show at a local bar - you need to know HOW to get gigs in 2021.

Playing live is one of the most important ways to build your fan base and make a name for yourself. Look at someone like Ed Sheeran. Ed has said he played over 1,000 gigs before he made it big. But before you can play a thousand shows and blow up, you need to get booked.

So in this article we’ll discuss how to start getting live shows under your belt, no matter where you are in music your career.

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How to Get Gigs for Musicians in 2021

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First thing to remember, there are always promoters, bookers and venues out there looking for new live acts. You’ve just got to know where to start, how to approach them and how to present yourself.

Here’s everything you need to know to get booked for gigs.

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Build & maintain your brand

<br>Let’s start with some home truths. Before you can get booked for gigs, you need to be “bookable”.

But what does that actually mean?

It means you need to look and sound the part. The first thing a promoter or venue is going to look at is your social media accounts and Spotify profile, so make sure you’re active and you’ve got music out there.

If your music’s not on Spotify, Apple Music or any of the major music platforms, you can easily release it with Ditto Music. In fact, you can try Ditto Music for free and release unlimited music everywhere for 30 days, so go check that out.

And in terms of socials, make sure your music social media marketing is on point and your feeds are full of great content. Anything that’ll show off the music you’re making and make people want to book you.

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Get high-quality videos of your live performances and showcase them on your socials.<br>

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Create an EPK

<br>You should also think about putting together an EPK (that stands for electronic press kit) with links to your music, videos of you performing live, social media accounts, press images, all that good stuff.

If you can keep all the essential info about you and your music in one place - like in an EPK - it'll make it much easier for the people you’re reaching out to to quickly find out who you are and what you’re all about. 

Again it’s all about looking the part, being professional and making life easy for whoever you're reaching out to.<br>

<p style="padding-right: 20px; padding-left: 20px; padding-top: 20px; padding-bottom: 20px; color: #ffffff; font-size: 1.5rem; font-weight: 400; background-color: #000000; border: 3px solid #5934E8; text-align: center;">TIP: Ditto Music's <strong>Chartbreaker Package</strong> includes a Electronic Press Kit template filled with useful info for musicians and bands.</p>

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Contact venues, promoters & festivals

<br>So now you’ve got a strong online presence and all the links to your music in one place ready to go, it’s time to start contacting venues, promoters, or pretty much anyone in charge of putting on live shows.

One mistake we see too often is new artists going too big too soon and ending up disappointed when nobody replies.

If you’re just getting started, stay local. 

Search for local bars, clubs, events, shows, promoters, open mics and see if they’re looking for acts to book. 

Get all their contact emails and start making a list or spreadsheet. Then contact them all individually with a short, polite and personalised email asking if they’re looking for live acts and telling them you’re available, as well as links to your EPK, music and socials.

Make sure to do a bit of research into any venues you contact beforehand. For example, don't reach out to a jazz club if you’re a rapper. It might sound obvious I know but if your music isn’t the right fit, then it’s gonna be a waste of everyone's time.

Staying local is great if you’re just starting out, but what if you want to cast the net a bit wider?

There are loads of websites and resources out there designed to connect artists with festivals, promoters and venues. Go sign up for sites like Gigmit, Sonicbids and Gigstarter which are all great for both local and international bookings.<br>

<p style="padding-right: 50px; padding-left: 50px; padding-top: 30px; padding-bottom: 30px; color: #5934E8; font-size: 1.5rem; font-weight: 500; background-color: #FFFFFF; border: 3px solid #5934E8; text-align: center;"><u>Live Music Booking Sites</u><br><br>Gigmit<br><br>Sonicbids<br><br>Gigstarter<br><br>Bands for Hire<br><br>Indie On The Move<br><br>Live and Loud<br><br>Last Minute Musicians</p>

<br>You can usually find loads of festivals with open applications for bands and artists just by doing a google search for terms like “apply to play festivals” or “submit music for festivals”.

Festivals like The Great Escape, Reeperbahn, Green Man, Sound City and even Glastonbury are usually on the lookout for upcoming bands to showcase. All you need to do is take a chance and apply. 

Check out the Ditto Music Apply to Play Festivals Map on our blog too for a list of all the festivals accepting submissions right now.

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How to get gigs for musicians and bands

Our Music Opportunities Map is filled with festival applications worldwide.

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<br>And remember what I said earlier about looking and sounding the part? That’s what’ll set your application apart from everyone else's.

One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll probably end up playing for free initially to build your profile, but keep going. How much you should or shouldn’t charge for gigs really depends on where you’re at in your career. It’s all practice and experience until you’re ready to take on bigger stages.  

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Network & make a good impression

<br>Cold emails and festival applications can work well, but you also need to be thinking long term.

That’s why it’s so important to network and make lasting connections with the right people. Too many times people create business connections and then after that first initial contact, nothing else transpires.

Whether you are making connections with venues and promoters yourself or you are lucky enough to have someone doing it on your behalf, it will always be difficult to obtain anything useful from it unless you maintain the relationship.

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How to get gigs for musicians and bands

Music conferences & networking events are a great place to connect with the industry.

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<br>But to do that you have to become a great communicator. Developing your people skills, understanding body language and knowing how to connect with someone in a short amount of time can make the world of difference.

Remember that as a musician, you’re selling yourself as well as your music. You want people to remember you in a good way and be happy to work with you over and over again. If your music’s great, but you’re a bit of a diva, you won’t get booked again.

So show up on time, be helpful and make a good impression. 9 times out of 10 the venue owner, promoter, festival booker or whoever it is that booked you will remember and return the favour in the future.

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Connect with other musicians

<br>Of course networking with industry people is important, but getting to know other musicians, especially those in your scene, working in a similar genre or region to you is just as important.

As artists collectively, we all share vast amounts of knowledge about the industry. Some of the best advice, links and connections I’ve made came from speaking with music friends who just happened to know someone I’ve been trying to contact for years.

So don’t be afraid to share links, connections, information and support.

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Organize jam sessions, gig swaps and collaborations with other musicians to build relationships.

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<br>Collaborations and gig swaps can also help you reach another artist’s audience. And if you both make similar music, it’s a no brainer. It’s direct access to your target audience.

You could reach out to a similar-sounding band at a similar stage of their career, but who’re based in another part of the country - or even the world - and offer to support them in their hometown, in exchange for them supporting you in your hometown.

And just like that you’ve potentially doubled your fan base.

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Be unforgettable on stage

<br>All this advice is useless if you don’t remember one really important thing:

You need to put on an incredible live show every time you play. Perform like it’s your last time every time. 

This is why all those rehearsal hours are so important, and why feedback can be so effective.

Invest in your own improvement. Stay ahead of the game, keep your ear to the ground for new trends but also keep learning. Be prepared to admit your faults and allow your set to develop.

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Every time you play live is a chance to win over new fans.

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<br>After your performance, don't be afraid to follow up with the crowd. Get the audience to follow you and connect with you, use QR codes. Keep your social accounts consistent and easy to remember so people always follow the right person. 

Turn potential fans into hardcore fans by being unforgettable on stage. Ultimately, the size of your fanbase and the number of people who come to your gigs will determine the success you have booking bigger and better shows in the future. 

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Hopefully these tips will help you land bigger and better shows. Just remember to know your worth and negotiate your prices, but don’t be afraid to just turn up and play when necessary.

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