Gigs and Performing

Getting Better Gigs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Let’s talk gigs.

Playing shows is key to gathering more fans. As the digital age marches on, some may argue that posting videos of your songs can replace gigging. There is absolutely a place for garnering fans through conduits such as YouTube, but I would submit that there is still a prevalent place for the live show. “Why?” you may ask. There’s something remarkable about being at a great show. You can build a rapport with your audience – they’ll see a side of you and your band that doesn’t translate or may be edited out of video performances. That’s the stuff – the “je ne sais quoi” that starts a budding fan’s devotion to you. Live performing also allows you to develop relationships with promoters and booking managers and cultivate community among the bands with whom you share the stage. Hooray! Winning. So, let’s talk about how to get some gigs.

Create a Press Kit with Demo!

This is actually a subject that needs it’s own article (and we’ll be covering it in depth soon). But, in a nutshell your press kit should look professional. If you’re looking for radio play as well as gigs, you may as well get your demo replicated, as many radio stations won’t even look at duplicated CDs. If you’re band is not quite ready to seek out radio play, go for duplication. They look great and you can order them in smaller quantities. Include – printed – on your demo song titles, and artwork (if you have it) and contact information. In fact, you’ll want to include your contact information on all the materials you submit. This is huge. Don’t give your recipients an excuse not to call you by skipping this step. From there, you’ll want to include a cover letter, as this press kit is basically your band’s resume. It would be a good idea to mention the times and days you’re willing to work. (Hint: Any day, anytime is encouraged.) Also, submit your band’s bio, lyrics to the songs on your demo, a list of artists who have a similar sound as your band, high-resolution press photos of the band and of logos, website and social media pages and, if applicable, tour dates, promotional videos, and press coverage – reviews and interviews. Also, contact information. Did I say that already? Album specific artwork or your band logo is a bonus. You can get a professional logo done for a relatively inexpensive price on freelance sites. It’s not a bad idea to have honest outside input concerning the look of your press kit. Have someone proof read all of your printed material. Then, once you’re press kit looks like the professional masterpiece you desire, it’s time to…

Do your research

Consider you genre and the audiences who tend to gravitate toward your music. If your tunes cater to the classic rock-loving over 50 crowd, you probably shouldn’t approach a tween honky-tonk. So get the names and websites of venues in a 50-mile radius (or however far you’re willing to drive for a gig) and find out if you’re a good fit for the crowds they draw. If your fans tend to be under age, consider whether the venue is 18 or 21 years and up. If you want to expand your reach, consider looking into charitable organizations in your area that hold fundraisers featuring live music. Other outside the box options might be checking into whether food truck parks or microbreweries need musical entertainment. Don’t forget open houses, private parties, and retail grand openings. Heck, some sandwich shops feature live performers, depending on your sound. Keep your eyes open. When you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s best to take your press kit to them in person. In order to communicate a respect for their time, and in an effort not to waste yours, find out who makes the booking decisions and ask to meet with them. Ideally you should set this meeting up over the phone, though it can be done through email. Keep in mind, however, emails are easier to miss or ignore. Engaging them face-to-face, even if brief, ensures your demo gets in the right hands (and isn’t lost in the mail) and puts a real-live person with the music and biographical information. It’s much harder for anyone to say “no” to a personable human with whom they’ve interacted – especially, if all the other demos were mailed in. In that way you are competing with other bands. But, on the whole other bands should be viewed as commiserators, potential collaborators, and resources. Just saying.

Take ANYTHING you can get.

Draw near. I have valuable words of wisdom to share with you. While bar managers, club owners, and venue promoters may adore music – your music, even – they do not feature live tunes for any other reason than to draw more alcohol-purchasing people and make money. They may, but probably don’t care about your aspirations. Sorry. Now, this may not be news to you. But if it is, this means if you are building your fan base, there’s a great chance that you should not expect a weekend slot on a stage at a venue – unless they’re open at five in the afternoon. Thus, if you get a call from a promoter who has listened to your demo and wants to book you, you take the Monday night opening they have for you. Or, better yet, as before hinted, express your eagerness to take Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, whatever day or time) gigs in your press kit. This allows you to build a reputation with the bar managers that says you’re willing to work. Then promote that show to all your existing fans. Use your social media, your YouTube channel, and your newsletter to let people know you need their support. Offer free swag or a free house concert or some other promo to the people who bring five or more of their fellow music lovers. Then be professional and do your very best. Be the band the Monday night regulars invite their friends to. Play to the Wednesday afternoon audience like they’re your greatest fans. You never know who is in the audience or if they’ve ever heard your music before. You could be winning over new fans or promoters looking for talent. As you play more and more in time slots like these, the further you will increase your chances of playing more desirable days and times, thus being more accessible to your fans and their friends. Again, winning. By the way, the word tends to get out about dependable bands that bring in money spenders. Once you’ve built a solid reputation with one or two promoters, other venue owners are more likely offer you gig spots when asked.

Get to Know Your Fellow Musicians

I’ve said it before (even in this very article) and I’ll say it again. Other local bands are your friends. Getting to know bands and artists who are established in the local scene can only help your chances of playing more live shows – especially bands who have a similar sound as you. Attend their shows. Get on their mailing lists. Reach out to them outside of their shows and see if they’ll meet with you. Ask them if you can pick their brains about how to break into the scene. Have a demo with you wherever you go and share it with the bands with whom you’re building relationships. These are the people you can collaborate with. Then, in time, you will be top of mind when that band needs an opening band or are asked by booking agents if they know anyone else who has a similar sound as them. This serves the purpose of both engaging in community and cultivating new leads into your sure-to-be illustrious music career.

Now go get those gigs!

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EPK Essentials: What You Need to Create a Buzz-Worthy Press Kit

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

In Ye Olde Days of Yore (about 10 years ago), there was an almost magical contraption. A place where musicians would put actual printed photos, physical copies of press written about them, print-outs of their biography, tour schedule, and contact information, and an actual CD. All these pieces would be placed inside a folder (usually printed with the band’s information on it) and actually mailed to important people.

This contraption was called a press kit, and until recently, this was the standard way that bands reached out to booking agents, venues, and people in the press.

But then the internet came along, and changed all that. Bands began to compile all this information into a single webpage called an Electronic Press Kit–or EPK–that could easily be given to the same important people they used to mail everything to.

If you are a musician that is trying to get booked, or get featured in a publication or blog, chances are you will need an EPK.

We’ve outlined the things you must have in your EPK, as well as some common hosting options to consider.

The Basics

There are a few things that will be included in your EPK no matter what format or hosting option you choose.


Your music should be featured prominently in your EPK. Venues and talent buyers will need to hear your music to make sure it will fit with the sound they are looking for, and writers won’t be able to write about your music unless they can hear it!

It’s standard to have your music available to stream first, and then an option to download. Most people in the music industry don’t have time to wait for your file to download, and might be wary to download an attachment from a person they don’t know. So make it easy for them to stream your music, and then give them the option to download it if they really want to.

Soundcloud is a great platform for this. It’s easy (and free) to upload your tracks, and you can even make them available for download. They also have a player that is embeddable in most websites, so you can place your music on whatever hosting option you choose.


A great way to show off what  you’ve got as a musician is through video. Featuring a great live performance video or a really well done music video can make the difference between an EPK that gets passed over and one that stands out to promoters and press.


You probably already have a bio for your band. But your EPK should have at least 2 versions of that bio. A shorter version(a paragraph) that is featured prominently in your EPK, and an expanded version(4+ paragraphs) that is available by clicking through to expand the bio (or to a different page) and/or available for download.


Every EPK needs to feature some high quality, professional band photos. You should have them displayed on the site, as well as easily available for download. If you need some help on how to get really great band photos, check out THIS ARTICLE.


What would an electronic press kit be without some actual press? Pick a few quotes from any write-ups you’ve gotten. Choose quotes that have lots of descriptive language, or that come from a reputable source. If you don’t have press yet, don’t sweat it. That’s what this EPK is for!

Contact Information

You need to make sure that your EPK makes it very easy to get in touch with you. Make it very clear exactly who should be contacted for booking, press, or more general inquiries.

Hosting Options

You have several options for hosting your EPK, and it’s not a bad idea (if you have time) to have multiple versions. There are three main hosting options when creating your EPK: Your own website, a third party service, or a downloadable version.

Your Website

Hosting your EPK on your website is probably the best option. You get to control exactly what content is available, and the way that it’s presented. You can click HERE for a good example of what a website hosted EPK, that includes all the important elements, can look like.

Hosting your EPK on your website gives you flexibility with some key options, like password protecting the page or files and freedom to design and customize. It also drives traffic to your website, where you can put your best foot forward for the VIPs who will be viewing your EPK.

Third Party Service

Many promoters only accept EPK submissions from sites like SonicBids and Reverbnation, especially if you’re submitting for an opportunity they’ve made available on one of those sites. These site will want the same information that you would put in an EPK hosted on your website, but the design elements most likely will not be up to you.

While we definitely recommend creating your own custom EPK on your website, using a third party service as your primary EPK has some advantages. For example, Reverbnation will show your social media stats and demographic in their EPK.


Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is send all your information over in one fell swoop. This is where a downloadable EPK is a good idea. You can place all your information into a Dropbox or Google Drive folder, and simply send the link to the folder instead of a web link.

This format is not going to work for every place you submit your EPK to, but even if you don’t use this format very often, it’s still a great idea to have all the elements of your EPK stored in a place that you can get to from your phone or a remote computer, in case you need to send something to someone in a hurry.
EPKs are an important tool in the indie musician’s belt. An informative and simple EPK has the potential to help your music rise above the rest, and can help you get more gig and press opportunities.

Do you have any tips on creating an awesome EPK? Have you created one your really proud of? Share with us in the comments below or tweet @nationwidedisc

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10 Reasons You Should Be Involved in Your Local Music Scene

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

I am an artist, I am a performer, and I am a musician.

With that sentence comes a full range of stereotypes, preconceived notions, and some things that only other artists will understand.

I am proud to say I fit many of those stereotypes. I am a bit scattered, I sometimes stop what I’m doing to admire a fallen leaf, and I definitely cry more often than most people. I’m a little over dramatic, and I’m really loud.

Those are the things I don’t mind, the things that are most visible to other people. But when we venture into the territory that only other artists and performers understand, I get a bit more hesitant to admit to some of the negative stereotypes.

My least favorite stereotype is that all performers are competitive, that all artists compare their work to others. Unfortunately, this stereotype is often true. Sometimes I look at other musicians, and a variety of unpleasant things run through my head:

“Oh, they just got lucky and knew someone.”
“Their music is okay, but the lyrics were terrible.”
“They are only successful because their genre is more popular than mine.”

It’s human nature to compare yourself to others. But when artists live in that place of comparison and competition, we miss out on so much.”


This is a hashtag I see my photographer friends using quite often. They intentionally hang out with other photographers, talk about photography, and exchange advice and tips

Does it take guts to get lunch or coffee with a direct business competitor? Maybe.

Does it take guts to get lunch with a direct business competitor, and find out how you can help each others business? Definitely.

This kind of intentionality is especially important for musicians. Chances are, your local scene is much smaller than you think it is.

We’ve listed the top 10 reasons to kill your comparative/competitive instincts and learn to love the other members of your music community.

Top Ten Reasons to Be in Your Scene:

1-You have a lot to learn.

The keyboardist who has a composition degree might be able to give you some tips on improving your melodies. And that band that has 50 people coming out to each show instead of 10 can probably teach you a thing or two.

2-It’s healthy to get out of your genre box.

When you book shows, you probably look for bands that have a similar or complementary sound to your own. So support your music community and find out why everyone is excited about that brand new psychedelic-country band that sounds nothing like yours.


I don’t know if you’ve ever had gear stolen or an amp blow out before a show, but when those things happen—and they will happen— it helps to have a network of people who know and love you AND are musicians who can help you out in a pinch.

4-You might want violin on your next record.

When you get involved with your local music community, you will meet people with different skills than you. This network of highly skilled friends comes in handy when you are looking for studio musicians for your new album.


Did you know the guitarist of that hardcore band is actually a really great mixing engineer? Or that his uncle is a GRAMMY-winning producer and lives down the street from you? No? Me either–until I started intentionally getting to know the other bands in my city.

6-Gig Referrals.

Sometime musicians have to turn down gigs. Maybe there’s a scheduling conflict or they just honestly feel like they aren’t a good fit for the show. Often when this happens, they have a friend in mind who could take the spot they couldn’t. Trust me; you want to be that friend.

7-The ability to vent to someone who understand you.

I’m not saying that your current friends are not up to the task, but sometimes it’s just nice to talk to someone who actually understands your month-long battle with writer’s block or the inability to get gigs.

8-Opening Slots.

We already talked about gig referrals, but many times the people in your music community will need to add another band to the bill next Friday. And they might want you to be that band! What’s better than getting to play a show with a bunch of your friends? Pretty much nothing; that’s what.

9-Growing your network.

Being a member of your local scene will help you get to know musicians, but it will also help you get to know promoters, graphic designers, talent bookers, venue owners, and all sorts of other interesting industry people.

10-Genuine, awesome friends.

Sure, you can gain a lot in your career from being an active member of the music scene, but you can also gain some pretty awesome friends along the way.

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Six Solutions to Your Practice Space Problem

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

I, like many other people, live in an apartment.

Unlike most other people in my apartment complex, I’m a musician.

This is unique challenge, because I am loud.

And not only am I loud, my band is loud.

Through more error than trial, I have learned that it is not a good idea for my band to rehearse in my apartment, even though this is the space most readily available to me. And I know I’m not alone. A major challenge for many bands is a lack of rehearsal space.

But the lack of rehearsal room doesn’t have to mean the end of an apartment dwelling band! With a little ingenuity, you will be making sweet tunes in no time!

Solution One: Professional Practice Space

Chances are, if you live in a big city, there are a few practice spaces that are available for rent. Typically rehearsal rooms are available to rent hourly, and some rehearsal spaces offer a monthly rental. These rooms often already have PA systems that you can use, and many offer 24 hour access.

If you are practicing a lot (which you should be) a professional rehearsal space might be a good investment for your band. The major downside is that these rooms can be expensive, and sometimes they are not the most well-kept facilities. However, if you can afford it, and there are professional rehearsal spaces in your city, I recommend renting one.

Solution Two: Demo Away!

If you’ve already got some home recording equipment, creating rehearsal demos might be the way to go for your band. Record simple versions of your songs, then give them to your band members to rehearse with.

These demos should be as close as possible to the live performance arrangement. You can even mute certain instruments so that the tracks are easier to rehearse to. For example, the vocalist might rehearse better with just an instrumental track, or the drummer might not want the distraction of pre-recorded drums in his mix.

Rehearsal demos have a few downsides. If this is your primary way of rehearsing, you have to have a lot of faith in your fellow band members to rehearse on their own time. It takes a lot of individual dedication.

You also have to find time for some full-band rehearsal as well. Though individual rehearsal with demos can drastically cut down on the time you need to spend in full rehearsal, getting the band totally locked in together is something that’s only going to happen when all the members of your band are actually together, fleshing out the music. This means that at some point, you will have to let your neighbors know you’re gonna be loud for a few hours, or you’ll need to rent a rehearsal space. Either way, using rehearsal demos can cut down on headaches, and on costs. Plus, you’ll already have good demos of all your songs!

Solution Three: Ask Your Place of Worship

Do you know what pretty much every place of worship has? A building that is mostly empty for a large part of the week, and a PA system. If you are a member of a church(or a mosque, or a temple, or a synagogue), and your music doesn’t offend any major doctrines or church staff, you might be able to practice in your church building for free, or for a small fee. This is especially true in smaller towns that might not have rehearsal spaces for rent. Even if it’s just an unused room with no PA system, a room to practice in is much better than no room to practice in.

Solution Four: Ask Your Drummer

I know it seems a little silly. And I will do my absolute best to avoid drummer stereotypes in this  short paragraph. But…

In all the bands that I’ve been a part of, and out of all the bands I’ve worked with, the drummer is not usually the person who organizes and schedules band practice. However, if your drummer keeps his kit set up in his place of residence, he probably already has A) a room big enough for a drum kit, and B) a place where loud noises are at least semi-tolerated.

If those two criteria are met, you might want to ask your drummer if you could practice at his place. It might be a little cramped, you might not be able to practice during prime-time hours, but a free rehearsal space is a free rehearsal space, no matter how you look at it.

Just make sure you ask your drummer to pick up his dirty socks before the whole band comes over.

Solution Five: Be A Good Neighbor

This solution might not apply if your apartment complex has a very strict noise policy. But it never hurts to simply reach out to your neighbors and let them know the situation you’re in. Try asking them if there is a specific evening when they won’t be home when you could schedule a rehearsal, or inquire about their work schedule, and try to fit in a daytime rehearsal with your band.

Ultimately, you need to respect your neighbors, so if there isn’t a time that works well for you to rehearse, you might need to bite the bullet and pay for a rehearsal space. After all, you don’t want to get kicked out of your home for too many noise complaints.

Solution Six: Acoustic Practice

An easy fix to a noisy practice? Practice more quietly. Ask your drummer to play with brushes or hot rods (or on a cajon/djembe) and rehearse with your other instruments unplugged, or turned down waaaaay low.

Electric guitarists, I know you need to turn your amp up to get a good tone. I know quieter practices might hurt your tone sensibilities. I get it. But rehearsal is for the good of the whole band, not just your ears. So keep that volume low!

Acoustic rehearsals can also help you hear your music in new ways, and might expose a problem area or two that you need to fix. I recommend having an acoustic rehearsal at least once a month to self-evaluate.

Acoustic rehearsals can also add to your versatility as a band. If you are ready to go—plugged or unplugged—you might have the opportunity to gig more often simply because you are adaptable.

For many bands, there is no perfect rehearsal solution. Space is limited, or expensive, and neighbors complain too much. But we hope that some of these solutions will help your band be able to rehearse more effectively, more often.

What rehearsal space problems have you solved? Are there any solutions we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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A Musician’s Guide to Performing Live: 6 Things You Can’t Forget on Show Day

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

It’s the day of your show. Huzzah! You sent the venue a confirmation email (last week hopefully!), you know when you’re supposed to start soundcheck, and your onstage banter is so hilarious you could make a cat cry tears of joy.

But as you sit eating your morning bowl of Wheaties, you begin to get the feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Or that you will forget something.

Show days can be stressful, whether you are on tour or playing a big event in your hometown. We’ve created a checklist for you to make sure that your show goes off as smoothly as possible.

1 – Grab Your Gear!

This may seem like a no-brainer. You know that you need your guitar for the show. So you grab it, toss it in your trunk, and head out to the show. Everything seems fine until you get to the venue and realize you didn’t put the cable or the guitar strap in your case like you usually do. Murphy’s Law says that if something can go wrong, it will. This is especially true for your gear.

Try creating a master packing list for all your shows, and go over it right before you pack up your gear to make sure you don’t need anything extra for this particular show.

Don’t forget the little stuff that can get easily overlooked! Petty cash for your merch table, extra guitar picks, a spare cable or two, and a sharpie are all important things you need to have when you load up the van!

2 – Get There Early!

Sound check is at 4? Awesome. Shoot for being there at 3 or 3:30. Musicians are not known for their punctuality, and you have the opportunity to break a mold here and impress the venue where you’re playing! No one is going to be upset that you were early. Plus you never know when traffic is going to get crazy or when you’ll have a flat tire. Always planning to be early can alleviate some of these stressors.

3 – Know Where to Park

I recommend asking the venue in advance about parking, either in that confirmation email you sent out (last week!) or with a simple phone call the day of the show. Since many venues are downtown, parking can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to park a large vehicle like a van. Plan for enough time to find a suitable parking space and to walk back to the venue. Don’t forget that you might have to pay for parking, so plan ahead!

4 – Set Up Your Merch

Don’t leave merch setup for the last minute. This is how you are going to make the majority of money for the majority of your gigs, so it should never be an afterthought. Ask the venue if there is a designated area for merch setup, and make sure everything is set up and looking good before the doors open.

5 – You Need to Eat

I used to get so confused when people would tell me that they just “forgot to eat!” I never forgot to eat…until I started playing shows regularly. Then I realized that between loading the van, unloading the van, sound checking, setting up merch, talking to fans before the show started, and actually playing the show, I did, in fact, forget to eat.

Setting aside a few minutes for dinner before a show is really important. No one wants the band to pass out on stage because they forgot to eat. Plan ahead by looking up restaurants near the venue, or prepping an easy on-the-go meal before you leave for the show. If the venue has a restaurant, food and drinks might be included with your performance, so make sure to ask your venue contact person if food is included.

**Even more important than food is water! Be proactive in your hydration, especially if the show is outdoors!

6 – Play Your Heart Out

It’s time to actually play the show you’ve been preparing for all day. So no matter what happened earlier-the forgotten cable, the parking mishap, the traffic jam-it’s time to get onstage and play the best show of your life!
Is there anything else that’s an absolute must for show day preparation? Got any stories about a show day that went totally wrong? Let us know in the comments below!

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10 Terms You Need to Know at Your Next Gig

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Have you ever listened to two computer programmers talk to each other? How about two or three people obsessed with the same video game? Maybe it was your Grandma and Great Aunt Betty talking about knitting techniques.

Often vocations or hobbies that have a very specific niche will also have a very specific vocabulary. The music industry is no different.

For musicians who are just beginning to venture into the world of live shows, the terms that get thrown around can be confusing. Even musicians who have been playing professionally for a while will occasionally stumble upon a phrase they’ve never heard before.

We’re going to help ease your mind as you prepare for your next gig by getting you familiar with the jargon before you head out for the venue.

Load In

Load in is the time when you are expected to be at the venue to bring all your equipment inside. This time is typically the same for all musicians, unless you’ve been specifically told that your load in will be directly before your soundcheck.


This is your time before the show to get comfortable in the space on stage, make sure you can hear yourself well, and run over any last minute adjustments with the band. During soundcheck you will usually play each instrument individually, then play together so the sound guy can make sure that you sound amazing. Sound check is also when you need to let the sound engineer know if you have any special needs for your mix. If the violin needs to be cranked for the whole set, or if you have vocalists swapping microphones, they need to know about it.

Front of House

This is the mix of your music that the audience hears. The sound guy who makes all the magic happen for the audience is called the “FOH Engineer.” Always make sure you are extra polite and gracious to the FOH Engineer (and ALL the staff at the venue!), because they control how you sound. If you are playing a new venue, or you’ve never met the FOH Engineer at a venue you play often, take a few minutes and get to know them. Sound guys are the most important member of your band, regardless of where you are playing.


Monitors are the speakers that are angled up at you onstage, and they are your best friends. Monitors allow you to hear a different mix from the audience, so that you can hear exactly what you need to perform well. This is called a monitor mix. If you are playing a small venue, they may only have one or two monitors. Bigger venues may have one for each member of the band. If possible, it’s a good idea to try and get a separate monitor mix for each member of the band. If that’s not possible, a drummer and bassist can usually share a monitor mix; guitars will probably have their own or share with keys, and vocalists will typically have their own. A keyboardist and vocalist can share a monitor mix if necessary. Some venues may also have a set up for in ear monitors, although the band usually brings that with them. Make sure you clarify what the monitor setup is going to be before the show so that there is no confusion when you get to your gig.

Green Room

This room may or may not be green, but it always refers to the room that performers can hang out in before they go onstage. In some venues, a green room may be replaced with dressing rooms, or there may be dressing rooms in addition to a green room. Sometimes only the headliner is given access to the green room, so if you aren’t headlining, you might want to clarify with the venue what their policy is.


This is a term that you will probably encounter as you are booking shows. This term is used most often by promoters and booking agents when they are talking to venues, but it’s important for musicians to understand what it means.

When a promoter (or band) asks for a “hold” they are asking that the venue not book anything else on that day. Typically holds are placed far in advance of the show date, and they happen on a first come, first served basis.

Many venues will place several holds on a date as they try to fill up their calendars. When this happens, each person with a hold is assigned a position–first, second, third etc.– based on when they contacted the venue. A first hold will have priority in booking the date. A second hold would only be able to book that date if the first hold decided they didn’t want it. For some venues, these holds can be 6 people deep as promoters compete for dates.

If you are booking yourself, and you’ve run into a “hold” on your perfect date, don’t worry. Just because there is a hold on a date doesn’t mean the date is booked. Be sure to follow up with the venue in a week or so to see if the hold is still there.


If you are getting a guarantee for your show, it means that no matter how many people show up, you are still going to get paid. This is every artist’s goal for each show they book, though a guarantee doesn’t always happen.

Door Cut

Door cut is not sawing the venue’s front doors into pieces and giving them to the band.

A door cut means that you are going to be paid a percentage of ticket sales. Your door cut might be a percentage of all ticket sales, or a percentage of the tickets sales for fans that came to see you specifically. Be sure to find out before you play, so you can tell your fans if they need to mention your name to the person selling tickets.

Set Time

This is the time you play, as opposed to when the show starts or when doors open. It can also refer to the amount of time you have to play.


Usually comps come in the form of drinks or food. A venue will usually “comp” each band member a drink or two for the evening.

Bonus! The Infamous Ceiling Point

This one really isn’t a term. It’s a gesture that you may have seen bands use during soundcheck. When it comes time to mix monitors, each musician will play individually, and then the other members of the band will either point up, down, or give a thumbs up to the engineer. This is a way of non-verbally signaling exactly what you need in your monitor. It’s much more efficient than constantly stopping to ask the monitor engineer to tweak something, especially for a band member who doesn’t have a microphone. Pretty much anytime you ask the sound engineer for a change in levels, you can use these simple signals to make sure you get your monitor levels where you want them. Just make sure you clarify what instrument you need turned up or down!

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5 Tips to Get More People to Your Shows

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Sometimes the hometown crowd is the toughest. It’s easy for fans to get burnt out, especially if you play frequently in your city. If you’ve been seeing your local show attendance and interest drop, how can you re-invigorate your home base and pull off a stellar show?

We’ve got five easy tips to make your next hometown show a home run!

1 – Stop Playing

Yes, you read that right. Have you ever spent a week eating nothing but pizza? The next week, if anyone even mentions pizza, you groan in disgust, and probably mutter something along the lines of, “I never want to eat pizza again!”

If you play too often in your home city, your local fans could be experiencing that same feeling. If you play 3 times a week in the same 50 mile radius, your fans are going to get burnt out. Try taking a break from shows for a couple weeks to write or record some new material. Try focusing some of that booking energy on getting a few gigs in the next city over, and building a fan base there.

We’re not saying you should never play your hometown. But by decreasing the frequency of your hometown shows, you will help to create demand for your shows. Then your fans can get excited about when you do play in your city.

2 – Create an Event

I’m not talking about a Facebook event, although you should probably create one of those too. I’m talking about making your concert special. Some obvious events are a CD release show, or a hometown show celebrating the end of a tour, but there are almost endless possibilities for creating events.

Depending on your band and brand, you could come up with some pretty crazy events to get people excited about your shows. Try a “Christmas in July” show, and grab a couple other bands to play some holiday tunes in the middle of summer (this is also a great time to start rehearsing and recording your new Christmas album!). You could do a birthday show for a band member, or a birthday show for your drummer’s 15 year old pug! The possibilities are endless.

If you want a less frivolous event, you could partner with a local charity and donate proceeds from the show. You could also use a concert to film a live music video. Invite all your fans to come out so they can be the stars of your video. In addition to creating buzz for the show itself, this is also a great way to get some free promo, because people are more likely to share the video if they are in it!

3 – Try an Out of the Box Venue

Everyone has seen artists play at the local downtown club. But there are lots of other places where you can perform that can drum up some additional interest. House concerts are the obvious choice for this, but there are many other places people don’t expect to see a live show. Why not contact the city to see if you could find a way to play an acoustic show while standing in a fountain? Why not be the first band to play a show in a small town museum or a fitness studio? Shows in odd places will have their own unique challenges, but the novelty of the show might be the kick in the pants your fans need to get out to a show!

4 – Create Exclusivity

Scarcity inspires excitement. If your fans will spread the word, a secret show could be a great tool. Or a show in a venue half the size of what you usually play.  You could try only offering tickets to people who subscribe to your email list, or who retweet your last music video. This concept also applies to tip number one! The less shows you play in your hometown, the more excited people are going to be about coming out to see you!

5 – Bring Your Fans In

Everyone likes to feel like they are a part of something. Bringing your fans into the process of planning and executing a show can help get them excited about attending and bringing their friends. You can get fans to give input on the set list, or the band’s wardrobe for the evening. You could conduct a poll to decide which never-before-heard-hilarious-tour-story you’re going to tell onstage. You could even go a step further and have a contest to invite a few fans out for a post-show dinner and announce the winner at the show.

Have you experienced hometown burnout? Have any great tips to get fans in your homebase excited again? Let us know in the comments below!

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Live Streaming Your Performance with Stageit, Periscope, and Google Hangouts for Musicians

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

We live in an era where new technologies pop up quickly, and disappear just as fast. Everyone is always looking for the next awesome app that’s going to make their life a little easier, and a little more fun.

Enter live streaming.

Although live streaming video has been around for a while, it is beginning to gain popularity and traction, and some new live streaming apps have appeared in the last few months. Here’s a quick run-down of our favorite apps and websites, and how you can use them to promote your music, connect with fans, and even earn some cash.

Live Streaming Concerts With Stageit:

There are lots of different services that will allow you to stream a show live. UStream, Livestream, and Stageit are platforms that can put your concert directly onto your fan’s laptops. But Livestream and UStream are expensive to use.

This is why we recommend Stageit. Stageit is a great platform that was obviously built with musicians in mind. Artists like Jason Mraz, Ingrid Michaelson, and Bon Jovi have all used the platform. Stageit is simple to setup and use, and is free for artists. It allows you to choose ticket prices(or let fans choose a price) and fans can tip you during your show. Shows are defaulted to last for 30 minutes, although you can have up to a 20 minute “encore.”

There is also live commenting enabled for fans and artists so that you can interact with viewers during the show. You will also have access to information about the fans who tip the most during your show, and Stageit encourages you to give fans that tip generously a reward, like a signed CD or poster, when the show is over.

Stageit is available on mobile platforms as well as desktops and laptops, so your fans can watch from anywhere. All you need to get started is a webcam, but you can upgrade to a more complicated set up with more cameras and different audio sources if you like.

There are two downsides to Stageit. When you use Stageit to live stream a show, nothing is recorded and archived. This is a great thing to promote the exclusivity of the Stageit show,  but it can become a problem if something great happens and you have no means to capture and keep the video.

Stageit also uses their own “currency” during shows called notes. Fans pay for show tickets and tip during the show with notes that they pre-pay for. One note is equal to 10 cents, and fans can purchase them when they sign up for the site. While this isn’t a bad system, it can be a little confusing for new users, so you may want to explain it to your fans before your show.

If you want to get into live streaming shows, Stageit can be a powerful tool to connect with fans, and put a little extra cash in your pocket.

Periscope for Musicians:

Twitter’s newest app launched in March 2015 and it’s beginning to pick up a lot of buzz. Periscope is a social app that lets your broadcast live wherever and whenever you want. You simply login with your Twitter account information, give Periscope access to your phone’s camera and photo roll, and you’re good to go. Then other users can tune in to what you’re broadcasting live.

There are a couple of features in Periscope that help it to stand a little above its main competitor Meerkat.

  • Privacy Settings: You can allow anyone to watch your Periscope broadcasts, or you can invite specific users in. This is a really cool feature if you are offering a live broadcast as a reward to fans for a crowdfunding campaign, or if you only want members of your fan club or patrons to see your broadcasts.
  • Video Archival: Periscope lets other users see your broadcasts for up to 24 hours after you post them, a feature that Meerkat doesn’t have. It also gives you the option to save all your broadcasts to your phone. This means that your Periscope broadcasts are doing double duty capturing video that you can use later for YouTube or Facebook.

Periscope can help you communicate directly to fans like never before. People who love your music can experience moments with you as they are happening, and they can interact with those moments. Periscope displays comments in real time during your broadcast so users can communicate with you directly and affect what’s happening in your broadcast by giving their suggestions or asking questions. This is a fantastic way for artists to deepen their communication with fans.

Google+ Hangouts On Air and YouTube Live:

Google+’s live streaming feature is a great choice if you want your live stream to be recorded and archived, and if you want a little more flexibility in where your users can watch from. Since Google+ and YouTube are best friends(i.e. owned by the game company!), your Google+ Hangout On Air can go directly to your YouTube channel, and will be archived there. Live streaming with Google+ is also embeddable, so you can place the video into your website. This is a great way to encourage your fans to visit your website. Google+ Hangouts On Air are simple to set up (you can find instructions here). If Google+ isn’t your cup of tea you can set up your live stream directly through YouTube  (click here for details). They function essentially the same, although on YouTube fans will only be commenting, not engaging through video. You can also earn money for ad revenue during live broadcasts through YouTube if your channel is set up for monetization.

Closing The Gap

Having a dedicated set of fans is the number one key to having a  successful career in music. Giving your fans custom experiences through live streaming can help you strengthen bonds with existing fans, and open doors to creating new ones. And when fans are engaged with you and your music, you are one step closer to a sustainable music career.
Have you used live streaming before? How did fans react? Will you use it again? Let us know in the comments below!

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Keep Your Audience Listening: How To Add Interest to Your Live Show

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Last week I told you about a show I went to. I liked the artist’s music, but found it difficult to focus on his performance. I went home and began to ask myself why I wasn’t engaged with this artist’s show.

I realized one of the main reasons I was having trouble paying attention was because his whole show looked exactly the same.

Most live shows have three key elements. The music, the script— the order you play the music in, and what you say between the music— and the visuals.

People come to see a show, not hear it.

Let me clarify: If your music is bad, it doesn’t matter how great your visuals are. Well rehearsed, well written music is absolutely essential. But your audience isn’t paying to hear an exact copy of your album. They bought a ticket because they want an experience. And the visual aspect of your show is crucial in keeping people engaged with what’s happening onstage, and giving a night they’ll remember.

The Essentials: Onstage Movement

Having a road map of changing visuals for each of your songs is a great idea. When you have a general idea of what everyone is doing for each song, you can make sure that you have lots of visual interest and diversity in your show. This will help keep your audience focused on you throughout your entire show.

During your rehearsals, try setting your self up as close as possible to how you will be set up for a gig. Then run through your set exactly like you would at a show. Play your music in the right order, and run through your transition exactly how you would if you were playing in front of an audience. As you’re rehearsing, find places you can add something visual to. Here are three starting points:

  • Try to figure out where you can interact with other members of your band. If you’re the singer, turn around and jam with your drummer. Or if your guitarist should walk over to the bassist. If your guitarist has a solo, or is being featured for a section, have the lead singer look at him, or even walk over to him. This action helps the audience know where to look, and signals them that something new and exciting is happening.
  • Visually highlight dynamic changes. Are you going from an upbeat and exciting part of your set to a quieter, more intimate section? Bring out a stool, have your drummer take a break, and show your audience visually that you’re about to take them to someplace completely new.
  • Make eye contact. In any kind of ensemble, a little eye contact goes a long way. When your band is a tight knit unit, and looks like one, the audience can feel that camaraderie, and you can invite them to participate in it. When they feel connected to— like they are a part of something— that’s when you’ve gained a fan.

Riding Solo

Now, not all of these suggestions are going to work for everyone. What if you play by yourself, or with one other person?

If you are in a smaller ensemble, and chained to an instrument and your mic stand, don’t despair! There are things that you can do to add visual interest to your show.

The first thing to do is look at your facial expressions. You might want to try rehearsing into a mirror, or a webcam. If you make the same face the whole time, work on matching your facial expressions to your lyrics. Maybe all you need to do is practice smiling. Looking like you’re enjoying yourself onstage goes a long way in getting the audience to enjoy your performance.

If you play an instrument, learn to move with that instrument. Bend over your guitar a little. Nod your head in time with your keys.Engage with it! After all, it’s part of  your band too.

Game Film

A great tool to help you plan these movements is to film your rehearsal. Perform just like you would in front of an audience, and then watch the footage. Take note of when two songs that are back to back look very similar. Try to pinpoint places that you can add contrast and focal points.

You can also imagine your show as a series of photographs. Where can you move that is going to create a great “picture” for your audience to remember?

The Extras

Your movement plays a huge part in making your live show interesting to watch. But you can also add some extras to enhance the way your show looks.

Lights are a great way to add visual contrast to your show. Though a light show is not a necessity, if you have the capabilities to add interest to your performance with a light show, use it! A full scale LED light show is awesome, but can get expensive. But lights don’t have to cost you a million dollars. In many smaller venues, a complete light show would distract from your performance instead of enhancing it.  Some small light boxes with your band’s name on them are simple to make, or you could create a distinct mood onstage by adding a few antique lamps. A backdrop or banner behind you can also help identify you and grab the audience’s attention. Even simple solutions can add lots of visual interest to your stage.  Lights and banners won’t be appropriate for every performance or venue, but done right, they can be a relatively inexpensive way for you to stand out from the crowd.

Stage Presence

Planning movement and adding in other visuals are important steps in creating an engaging live performance. But not every show can be perfectly planned. Sometimes movements that have been mapped out can’t happen because of space constraints. Your lights might malfunction, or your banner may fall.

Things will go wrong. But that doesn’t mean that your whole show has just lost its effectiveness. Learning to deal with the curve balls that get thrown while your onstage is an important skill to develop.

Sometimes, the plan changing might not be a mistake. Maybe you aren’t getting the reaction you want from the crowd, so you decide to change things up a little.  As a performer,  you have to learn to grab the audience’s attention, and keep it. This looks different for every performer, and there’s something intangible about it. When a musician can do this, we say they have a great stage presence.

Want to know a secret?

Stage presence isn’t a mystical quality bestowed on a lucky few by a magician with a magic music wand.

Stage presence is 40% confidence, and 60% experience. And that 40% confidence? It comes from experience. It comes from hours of hard work in rehearsal, and from knowing your music backwards and forwards. It comes from successful attempts, and failed attempts. It comes from being comfortable onstage.

Want to know another secret?

The best way to feel comfortable onstage is to get onstage. Over and over and over again.

The best way to master any skill it is to practice it. Performing live is no different. So get out there and perform! Give your heart, soul, and time to the music you create, and the audience will recognize it.

Have any other tips for performing live? Let us know in the comments below!

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Improving Your Live Show: What Should You Do In Between Songs?

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

I curled up in the coffee shop’s armchair, took a sip from the mug in my hand, and looked around. The coffee shop was busy. In all honesty, it’s as much a venue as it is coffee shop; it has live music daily, a permanent stage and nice sound system, and a loyal group of customers who frequent the establishment to get their fix—both of caffeine and music.

On this particular evening, I was one of those customers. I was there to spend my evening with a few good friends and discover some (hopefully) good music. While I was there for the music, I did not know who would be playing.

As the artist took the stage and began to play his first song, I was pleasantly surprised. It was clear that he was talented and knew what he was doing, and you could tell he had spent countless hours writing and rehearsing the song. He quickly had my full attention.

The first song ended, and he launched into his second song. It was still good—all the key musical elements from the first song were in place—but my thoughts began to wander. By the third song I was occasionally whispering to my friends, and, by the fourth, I was ready for something new.

My fleeting interest had nothing to do with his musical ability. His songs were interesting, and he knew them well. I truly enjoyed the music. But, his performance didn’t catch and hold my interest. This bothered me. As someone who wants independent musicians to succeed, and as someone who is willing to support them in their efforts, I was disheartened.  What went wrong?

I realized that sometimes music alone isn’t enough to grab and keep a potential fan’s attention.  Sometimes, you have to entertain them.

Not Just the Music

As a general rule, all musicians—even the most reclusive artists—must perform in front of people, at least occasionally.  Live performances (and their accompanying merch sales) account for a huge percentage of income for today’s independent artists, and they are the best opportunity to make new fans and cement ties to old fans.

Many new or inexperienced musicians think that playing a successful show means getting in front of people and simply playing their music with minimal mistakes. They might tell a few stories, say a few song names, and introduce the band… or they might not. There is no “rest of the set” to plan, since they count on the music to carry their performance. To them, the music is all that matters.

And they aren’t wrong… Your music needs to be awesome. You need to spend hours rehearsing, getting to know each note so well that you could play your whole set in your sleep. That is a vital piece of the puzzle. It is huge piece of the puzzle.

But… it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Yes, great music can reel a person in. Yes, beautiful art can keep them engaged for your entire performance. But just because it can, doesn’t mean it will. Chances are, the majority of people you’re going to be playing in front of need more.

In today’s economy of short attention spans, 140 character updates, viral videos, and entire worlds on devices in every person’s hand or pocket, musicians face more performance challenges than ever before.  There are going to be other things happening during your performance, even in the best listening rooms.  So, how do you compete with the hundreds of distractions waiting to steal the focus off of your performance? You give them a great show.

Putting Together a Great Show

If you’ve ever been in a musical, you know that there is an order to the procedure.

  1. Make sure the music is great—each note should be perfect.
  2. When the music is nearly perfect, everyone starts learning the script. This includes the performers who don’t have lines; they still need to know exactly what’s going on.
  3. Once the music and lines are learned, the group comes together to work on blocking (the movement of and transitions between) each scene.

Without the music, there isn’t a musical. Without the lines and proper sequence, there’s no story. It’s nothing more than a collection of songs. Without the blocking, it’s disjointed and bumpy at best. At worst, it fails to capture the audience’s attention.

Why am I telling you this? Because your live show is not much different than a musical.

Creating A Pseudo Script

In a musical, the script dictates everything that goes on onstage. As an independent musician, though, you get to write your own script. You get to decide what goes on in your live shows. Your script includes what you say (and choose not to say) between songs, but it is more than that.

Your script starts with a set list. The right song order is incredibly important, whether you’re playing 30 songs or two songs. If you’re not sure where to start with creating a set list, you can read the article we recently wrote about it here.

The second part of your script is what you say in between songs. If you have original songs with particularly interesting stories behind them, you might tell those stories before starting the songs. You can introduce yourself and the band, talk about your latest release, or share funny stories from the road or past performances. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. After all, this is your script and your show.

Put It Into Practice

A good show starts in rehearsal. You should be used to rehearsing your music, but it’s also important to rehearse your script. You should practice your songs in the order you want to play them at the show and practice the stories you will tell to take your audience from one song to the next. This will help your whole set be cohesive.

As you begin to rehearse and use your script, you will probably find that some ideas work better than others. Some stories make your audience sit up and listen to your song, while others make them turn to their friends to have a conversation. Discovering the right stories, the right balance between talking and music, the right balance between types of transitions, and the right way of talking to your audience are all things that take time and practice to figure out.

If you play with a band, they will probably be able to help you filter some of what will and won’t work. Ask for their honest opinions, and use your bandmates as a sounding board for other ideas you may have.

You can also try filming your rehearsal, script and all, and watching it back. Does your speaking voice sound natural? Do the songs make sense in the order you’re playing them in? Are you stumbling over parts of a story? Does the show have musical variety? You are usually your harshest critic; watching yourself can help you pinpoint the areas you need to work on.

After you’ve done some internal editing, ask your friends and family if you can play a house show for them. Ask them to give you honest feedback when the show is over. This can be a great tool to practice interacting with your audience with people who are excited to see you succeed. It will let you know where a punch line falls flat or where you may need to add or take away parts of what you will say. Trial and error is the best way to get your script exactly where it needs to be. Don’t worry if you don’t hit the ball out of the park on your first time up at bat.

Although it is necessary to know what you will say, and to practice incorporating your script into your set, don’t be afraid to change it on the fly. Every show is different, and every audience needs something in your show to make it personal for them. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It might not help… or it might take your show to new heights!

Live performance is an art unto itself, and the script is only half of what makes a live show great. Check back soon to learn how to capture your audience’s attention by creating a visually interesting live show.

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