Category: Get Gigs

Make More Money

5 Ways to Make More Money at Your Gigs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Every artist actively playing gigs wants to make more money for their time. In a stiff market, though, how do you increase your profits? Focus on two things: marketing your music and your merchandise.

Music Marketing – Long Term Increase

Promote gigs to your existing fan base.

Tell them when your next show is and why they shouldn’t miss it. Tell them again. If you can bring your own crowd to shows, venue owners will soon be seeking you out. Bigger crowds mean more profits for the venue and, in the long run, for you.

Get to know your fans.

Get to know your audience on a personal level: hang around before the show and after the last set, sit down and have a drink with them, ask for their names and contact information. You don’t have to go overboard and interview everyone in attendance, but make it a goal to really meet five or ten of them. If the five fans you genuinely befriend at one gig like you and your music, you can bet they’ll gush about it to their other friends… which means more fans at your next show. Also: try to remember fans you’ve met before.

Market research: learn what your fans like.

Talk music with them and listen to what they have to say. Ask which songs they liked and what they want to hear more of (even if it’s cover songs). Ask if they’ve been to the venue before, which venues they like, how often they’ll go to concerts, how they heard about the gig. If their feedback is solid, put it to use.

Your Merchandise – Short term

Bring all your merchandise with you.

Don’t leave it at home or only sell it online. Your fans—existing and new—are HERE. Bring CDs, download cards, t-shirts, hats, key chains, lighters, stickers, ringtones, posters and more. Mention on stage that items are available, and humbly ask those fans you’re meeting if they have your CD yet. Let the entire band autograph CDs sold at shows.

Focus on quality.

Does your merch fall apart in a week or look like a 12-year-old made it? If your stuff looks cheap compared to the next band’s, your sales will probably suffer. Find a good graphic artist to create eye-catching, fashionable designs, and find quality suppliers to order from.

Your music is art, yes, but there’s also an art to the music business.

Are you struggling to make enough money from your gigs? What have you found that has helped increase your profits from gigs?

See also: 3 Ways to Market Your Next Gig, 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs, Increase Your Merchandise Sales at Gigs, How Should I Price My Merchandise?

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Focus Your Time: Performing vs. Recording

Performing vs Recording: A Musician’s Focus

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Should you start recording or keep performing? This is an inevitable dilemma for any musician who wants to promote their music, but it shouldn’t be a hard one to figure out.

Thanks to the plummeting cost of recording technology, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to record and produce a demo of your music. The rise of social media platforms and online content has pressured many artists into thinking they need music available now. Before you book a studio session or rush off to craigslist to find discount microphones and a bootleg copy of ProTools, consider the following:

Why do you want to record your music?

Are you sending press kits to venues, trying to book shows? Are you sending demos to record companies? Have your fans been begging for recordings of their favorite songs after you rock a show? If you answered yes to any or all of the above, it might be time to think about recording.

Did you come up with your band name last week and finally finish writing your second song today? Don’t even think about recording—yet. It’s just not time. Your sound will inevitably change and, hopefully, improve as you continue honing your craft. Focus on developing and polishing your sound. Keep rehearsing, and take every opportunity to play in front of real people. Build your music portfolio and your fan base. When you have a cohesive, well-rehearsed set that you have played for cheering crowds, you can consider recording.

Can you make the time for recording?

Recording a song well (by yourself or in a professional studio) can take days to weeks depending on the circumstances. It’s a serious time commitment and requires patience and skill to produce something desirable. Can you take time off from work, rehearsal, gigs, and your personal life to get this done?

Who will do the work?

Whether you visit a studio or record your own music, recording can be a frustrating and creativity-killing process, especially if you’re inexperienced. Using a professional studio can reduce some of the stress, but it can also be a pricey investment. Are you willing to take on this task? If not, have you found a studio you can work with?

Keep quality in mind.

While it is important to give fans access to recorded music, do not record your songs on a whim under less-than-ideal circumstances just so you have something to put on your website, MySpace, or BandCamp page. Remember, a sloppy recording can hurt you just as much as a well-recorded demo can help you. If you can’t do it right, it’s probably better to wait until you can.

If, after considering these points, you’re ready to record, congratulations and good luck! If you need more time, don’t be discouraged; you’ll get there soon enough.

Have you made the transition from performing to recording? How did you know the timing was right? What advice do you have for artists considering recording their first album?

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Find an Open Mic

Finding an Open Mic

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Are you on the prowl for new gigs? You might consider open mic nights near you. They are an excellent way to test out new music or test your sound with a new crowd at a specific venue. There are many resources you can use to find open mic events, but you should do some research before deciding which opportunity is best for you.

Know Your Act and Your Venue

It goes without saying that death-metal bands and folk bands attract different crowds. The same goes with your local music venues. Don’t show up to a comedy venue ready to perform your rendition of the new Miley Cyrus song unless your goal is to knock the crowd off their bar stools in fits of laughter.

You know your music better than anybody else. The more you can scout the possible venues in the area, the better. Which venue has the right demographics? Where would you like your band to gig in the future?

Find Open Mic Nights

Start by picking up one of those free newspaper/magazines that your city might have sitting out at restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, or music venues. Scour the listings for upcoming open mic nights. Or, visit websites like and search by your city or zip code. Contact the venues of interest to ensure the listings on this website are valid before you pack up your van.

Make a Good Impression

If you have a demo recorded, you can drop this off with the person who books the music at the venue. Do this a few days before the open mic, and let the music manager know that you will come to perform on open mic night.

Ask about the event. Clarify the types of acts the venue is looking for and who generally shows up to perform. Some open mic nights provide a drum kit or allow you to plug your guitar/bass into the overhead P.A. system. Coffee shops aren’t usually too keen on you turning your rig up to 11, but acoustic tunes are acceptable.

The night of, bring people that will help increase the drink sales at the venue while cheering and dancing (or moshing, if that’s your genre) for your band. Your friends are money in the bar manager’s pocket and is the first test to the marketability of your band at this venue.

Have you done open mic nights? How did you find out about the event? How did it go?

See also: 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs.

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Follow Your Muse

Follow Your Muse: Music Industry Success

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Following your muse may be the toughest thing for any artist to come to terms with. Why? On the one hand, you like the artists you like; you want to emulate their work as an homage. At the same time, you want to create your own distinct voice and persona.

For new artists trying to get gigs, the balancing act can be tough. You don’t want to call yourself the second coming of Mick Jagger… but if you’ve got the moves like him, why not compare, sing, and strut?

Determine Your Muse

As cutting edge and new and fresh sounding as you think your music is going to be, there’s no question that as soon as you put it out into the world, comparisons are going to be drawn. So get a head start and figure it out yourself. Determining your muse is relatively simple. Who do you like? Whose music does yours sound like? If there’s no exact match (bravo!), then draw comparisons to multiple artists, but be specific.

If you need help with this part, ask trusted others who they think your work is similar to. Then, for a more balanced opinion, tell them who you think you sound like. They’ll either agree, or they will point out why you don’t sound like that artist.

Use This to Your Advantage

If you’re really ready to promote yourself, don’t be afraid to compare. Even Adam Levine, who it’s safe to say is well-established, isn’t too big to compare his moves to his muse, Jagger.

Linking your sound to your muse’s gives venues an idea of who they are booking and the target audience. It lets other bands know if you’d fill out their tour listing well or if you’d just be the same as the other acts. Lastly, if fans of your muse artist see your names linked, they might be willing to give your work a listen, giving you access to an established audience of like-minded fans.

Whether your sound is folk or blues, metal or reggae, pop or skat, rap or instrumental you are going down a road which has been trod before. The best you can do as an artist is follow your muse, honor their inspiring force in your work, and try to carve out your own unique sound from there.

What artists have inspired and influenced your career as a musician? Have you used this to your advantage, or has it hindered you?

See also: 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs

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Embrace Struggle

Embrace Struggle: Music Industry Success

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

When you first getting going down any road, there are going to be some stumbles along the way. When that road is as subjective, competitive, and lean as being a professional musician, you can count on stumbling, if not falling down completely. If the potholes and ruts in the road to music famedom have let the air out of your dreams, don’t despair. Rather than fight or flee from these challenges, embrace the struggle.

Embrace “No”

Most who hear “no” enough times will simply take that as the final word on the matter. But for musicians who are trying to break into the business, get record contract, get gigs, and find fans, “no” has to be their “modified yes.” Question the person who said it; ask why you were told “no”, find out what they found  off-putting, ask for advice or feedback, and see if you can change their mind.

Wrong Information

If you have sent your query to a music blog, artist rep, or agency ten times and you have never heard back from them, you might wonder if you have the right information. Maybe you are a hip hop group sending out your queries to a classical music reviewer, or maybe you used someone’s Hotmail address when they’ve switched to Gmail. Double check that your sources are a good fit for you and accurate.


Again, one of the biggest challenges for a new artist trying to get gigs, get representation, or get reviews is that they didn’t follow the submission guidelines. If a venue sees that its submission guidelines have not been followed, why should they look at your submissions at all? If you can’t find the submission guidelines, send along a query and ask.

Stay Humble

We all think that what we’re doing is amazing. But compare yourself to the work of one of your favorite musicians, objectively, and see what you think. How good are you, really? How much more practice do you need? Even if your performance is solid, try changing things up to see if you can be even better. That missing spark might be a missing member, or a member too many.

As you can see, this flipped-around attitude can lead to growth, to maturity as an artist, to increased opportunity, and—hopefully—to “yes”.

Have you faced rejection in your music career? Were you able to turn that “no” into a “yes”? What did you learn from rejection?

See also: 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs.

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Get Better Gigs

4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Raise your hand if you aren’t getting the gigs you want, or aren’t getting enough gigs. Raise your hand if you know a way (cliche or not) to fix it?

I do. In one word? Networking.

Still with me? Good. The right types of networking can really help you to get better gigs.

The Fine Line of Friend/Fan

There will naturally be some crossover between your friends and fans. Ideally, your friends will be supportive, coming to shows and buying your products. Make time for them outside of rehearsals and gigs. At gigs, though, focus on the fans. Fans will buy your CDs, come to all your shows, pay their own way, bring their friends, and ask for more of what you’re dishing out. Fans are the reason you’re there and your ticket to coming back, so appreciate your fans; be friendly, genuine and down-to-earth when interacting with them… and do interact with them! Get their names and email, thank them for coming, and follow up later.

Promote Like It’s Your Job

As an independent artist or band, you might feel like it’s the job of the promoter to promote or market your event. Thus, their title. Take it from someone who has been both promoter and promoted: it is true that promoters are a really important part of the process, but this isn’t their career and passion on the line. It’s yours. I always recommend bring your own crowd, and that means networking: build a fan base, connect with them, and communicate.

Be Where You Want to Be

You want fans to drive to a venue, pay for a ticket, hang out, and pay attention to you at a show? You need to do the same… but do it to genuinely meet people. Go to venues that you want to play. Don’t talk through performances. Introduce yourself to other bands; let them know you like their sound (only if you really do like it). Introduce yourself to the bartender; he might influence who the venue books. Go again, and again. And hey—being nice to everyone isn’t going to hurt your chances to get gigs, so get out there and get mingling.

Make Friends, Not Competition

If you’re performing, you will have to interact with other bands and artists. These people can be seen as your friends or your competition, but it will make things a lot easier if you are friends. Friends ask you to play shows with them; competition trashes you to venues. Friends will share gear when yours breaks and tips on upcoming opportunities; competition won’t.

Are you getting the types of gigs you want? Have you tried the above steps to get better gigs? What has helped you achieve that goal?

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Know Your Niche

Know Your Niche To Get The Right Gigs

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

We know that, as an artists, you are always trying to stand out and avoid being generalized. However, defining yourself and looking at how others perceive you—in other words, knowing your niche—is in your best interest.

Look Within

What is your preferred style of music? Where do you think your sound fits in? Who would you compare yourself to? What is the best sound for your performances or live recordings?

If you’re a solo artist, this is a journey you need to take on your own. If you’re a member of a band (and want to keep things that way), uncovering your niche has got to be a group effort.

Listen to Others

Once you have an outline of who you think you are, ask those you trust for their opinion. Even if you don’t see it from the get-go, as a performer you need to be open to the ways in which others perceive you. What do others think of your music? Which musicians do others most readily identify your music as being similar to? How accurate is your own view of your musical style compared to theirs? If there is a discrepancy, what changes do you need to make?

Put it to Action

Knowing your niche is a powerful tool that can help you book gigs, market your band, and reach more fans. For marketing and building a fan base, you know now how to accurately describe yourself to record stores, record labels, and potential fans. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

In terms of gigs, evaluate which venues and audiences are best suited to your niche. Does it make sense for a club DJ to play venues better suited to an acoustic duo? Or a barbershop quartet to be drowned out at a battle of the bands? Maybe you have been playing half-empty venues when you would do better to focus on more-intimate, smaller settings. Ask yourself these questions: Where is your music most readily felt? Where is your target audience? What venues allow you to connect with your audience and appropriately showcase your talent?

If you’re rehearsing or booking gigs or wanting to record and haven’t yet figured out your niche, stop what you’re doing (we mean it) and figure this out. It will be worth it in the long run. If you’ve already done this, great job! We’d love to hear what you discovered.

Have you discovered your niche yet? Has identifying your niche helped or hindered your music career?

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Small Town Music

Thriving Outside the Big City as a Musician

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Forget the myths. You don’t need to live in New York or L.A. to become famous. It didn’t work that way for R.E.M., playing their way through the small city of Athens, Georgia. There are some great ways to get more fans without having to book a world tour.

Get out there and gig

It’s the old-fashioned way, and it’s the best. No matter the how big your online presence gets, fans will never know what you’re all about until they can see sweat dripping off your face. Just remember two rules: Start small, and start locally. That will lead you to…

Become a fixture in your home town

There is something to be said about the fact that the Beatles played sold-out performances at Liverpool clubs before anyone in America knew their name. They were Liverpool’s band first. Don’t try to conquer to world right out of the starting gate.

This “social media” business

You may have noticed this thing called social media that all the kids are raving about?

Of course you know the value of social media. But what you may not realize is that there’s an unspoken code of behavior on various platforms. Fans will expect you to adhere to it. For example:

  • Facebook should be a professional platform for news and announcements. Forget the pictures of the cat sitting in the guitar case.
  • Twitter is the place for fun stuff and mini-updates. Keep it band-related. No politics.
  • Instagram is where you get to play around a bit. Feel free to post pics from last night’s after-gig party. Put a more human face on your image.
  • Tumblr is your personal soap box. Got an opinion? Post it here. Engage your fans and solicit their comments. Don’t forget to respond to them, for…

Decrease the distance between you and your fan base as much as possible

Yes, that’s a pretty long heading, but read it carefully. Read it again. Building a fan base is like growing a plant. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in stages and only through careful cultivation and diligence. If you want to get more fans, you must remember that this is the age of interconnection. Encourage fans to share things you post. Engage them in dialogue. Hold contests. Don’t be afraid to send out a personal email every once in a while to thank a fan for his or her contribution or loyalty.

Are you a small town musician? What steps have you taken to help your band thrive?

See Also: 4 Steps to Getting Better Gigs

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Creating Your Set List

Create Your Set List

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

For a second, picture yourself as a chef. You wouldn’t stick a filet mignon on a paper plate and expect your critics to give rave reviews. Nor would you pull out the platinum-plated china for a sloppy joe. The better the product, the more time you would spend on presentation, on showcasing what you have to offer in its best possible light.

Where are we going with this? Designing a good set list is key to presenting your band’s talents in a way that is attractive, inviting, palatable, and easily digested. When done right, it results in better reviews and more business. Here are a few tips on designing a good set list:

The first song is all about first impressions

Think of this like a first date or a first interview. The audience is getting to know you, looking at how you present yourself, how you interact with each other and them, what your sound is like. Choose a strong, energetic first impression. You want to catch their interest so that, as your set plays on, you can showcase the full range of your talent to an engaged audience.

Alternate covers with originals.

No matter how good the original songs might be, bombarding a new audience with stuff they’ve never heard can cause them to tune out. Keep things fresh by bringing the audience back to their safe zones with a few cover songs.

Change up keys, tempos, and moods.

Your average concert-goer couldn’t identify a key to save their life. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t feel the effect of a bunch of songs in D Minor, the saddest of all keys. Varying the key, tempo, and mood can achieve a powerful effect on an unsuspecting audience. Which brings us to…

Play it out like a drama.

Think of the best concept albums out there—Dark Side of the Moon, Sgt. Pepper, etc. Think of how they start, how they progress, just where they climax, and how they end. Like an album or movie, a good set list should have a rise and a fall, with your biggest, all-out extravaganza happening toward the end.

Leave ’em wanting more.

It’s the rare band that can get away with the thirty-minute jams and have the audience clamoring for thirty minutes more. Punch them up, get them revved, and give them a proper ending that leaves them satisfied but still a little bit hungry. Sorry, we just can’t stay away from the food metaphors.

Anyway, bon appetit!

How did you determine your set list? Does it change for every gig, or is it pretty set in stone?

See also: Know Your Niche To Get The Right Gigs, Don’t Fake It To Succeed as a Musician, 5 Important Tips to Help You Get Gigs

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Get Gigs Online

Get Gigs: The Best of Online Booking

By NationWide Source Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Need help finding your next show? Do you want a bar? A festival? A house party? Don’t know where to start?

Online booking sites can be a great resource for your band, but finding the right site and knowing what to look for can make a huge difference. Below, we highlight several sites for you to consider.


Sonicbids is a streamlined way for your band to apply for opportunities including music festivals, magazines, and gigs. The registration fee is $12.99 for a monthly subscription or $9.99 a month with an annual subscription. When you sign up, you will create an electronic press kit (EPK) that includes photos, streaming music, and video. When you find an opportunity that interests you and your bandmates, you simply pay the application fee, which ranges from a couple bucks up to $50 for larger festivals.


GigMasters has the most positive online reviews and best reputation for showing you how to book gigs. Paying the membership fee of $79 for three months does not mean you won’t have to do some work. This requires a professional EPK or resume that showcases why your band is worth the money you are asking for. Including a live music video is a must to demonstrate to promoters that you can play in front of a crowd. Edited music clips are not a good sales tool for live gigging.


ReverbNation allows fans, bands, venues, and record labels to create profiles. The basic artist profile, which includes their gig finder service, is advertised as free. However, ReverbNation requires that you have a Reverb Press Kit to submit booking requests, and it charges $5.95 per month for this service (not considering a free trial period). They also offer three different subscription levels (free, $19.95, and $41.67 a month), with a good handful of other services a la carte.

Gig Salad

For good results with Gig Salad, you’ll probably want at least the semi-pro membership, which costs $9.99 a month but provides access to gigs within a 120-mile radius. Adding music or video to your profile will require upgrading to the pro membership for $19.99 a month, but this also includes an unlimited radius. Gig Salad is also geared toward magicians and other entertainers, but it can be useful for musicians, too. Booking one gig from the site will pay for six months of membership.

Overall, be wary of postings that are vague about the requirements and details or, worse yet, don’t have any listed. Also, be sure that you’re going after gigs that you are ready for. Maybe save that Carnegie Hall gig for when you have a few more shows under your belt…

Want more tips on getting the gigs you want? Here’s 5 Important Tips to Help You Get Gigs.

Have you used an online booking site? How did it work out for you? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back from trying one?

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