The Gig Doctor - Dec 2007

Local Cambridgeshire Artist

Musical career not quite going the way it should? Still playing the Bird Flu Inn when you should be packing out Wembley Arena? Fear not - The Gig Doctor is in...

Each month, he'll be looking at a particular aspect of being in a band and how to make the most what you've got.

Here's his 10 point prescription on how to get a gig

1) Keep it local, at least to begin with. Partly because it's easier to work in a scene you already know and partly because your fans are more likely to turn up to a gig that's 1 mile away rather than 100.

2) Visit the local venues regularly. Make friends with the landlord or venue owner and from there build up a network of local promoters and bands you might enjoy playing with. Have some business cards with you at all times in case you bump into someone who might be able to help.

3) If possible, always carry a couple of demos around wherever you go - it's amazing how often you meet someone useful but haven't got anything to give them - and make sure that the demo comes complete with contact details.

4) If CD production is too expensive, at least get yourself a Myspace site or similar where potential promoters can hear what you're up to.

5) Some venues will give local bands a shot without having heard them, particularly if you've been hanging around and making yourself useful (by that I mean helping to shift kit, set up the stage etc; I don't mean sucking the life force out of the owner by constantly asking for a gig).

6) Always be polite. At this stage of your career, nobody owes you anything and the last thing you need is a reputation for being pushy and or bolshy.

7) Back off. Promoters will often receive hundreds of CDs every week, all of whom have come from bands claiming to be the best thing to hit the music scene since the last best thing. As a result, once you've handed over/posted your business card or demo, give the poor promoter's ears at least a couple of weeks of respite from your dulcet tones before you ring up asking whether they've had a chance to listen to your masterpiece.

And if you say you'll call at a certain time or on a certain day; make sure you do. Chances are the promoter won't remember (don't take it personally) but the one time you don't make contact when you say you will is the one time it'll cost you.

8) Make your demo stand out. That means a professional letterhead, a short précis of what you do and who you are, a band photo and of course those all-important contact details.

9) Don't rest on your laurels. Getting gigs is a constant activity of sending demos, following up, making new contacts and developing a network.

10) Be prepared to gig at short notice. At the lower levels of the industry, bands are notorious for splitting up, not turning up and generally being unreliable and promoters often have to rifle through their contact books at the last minute. If your business card or last contact is fresh in the promoter's mind, chances are it's your number they'll be calling.

Got a problem? Maybe the Gig Doctor can help. Drop us an e-mail at

Writer: Justin Coleman