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Guide to Finding Gigs for New Bands in NYC


Finding Gigs for Your New Band

So you’ve got the band, you’ve got the sound, and you’ve got the songs. Ready to add some fans to the mix? Then it’s time to start getting your band gigs.

Finding gigs can be a stressful and confusing process, particularly for a brand-new band, that’s why we put together these tips on how to find gigs for your band in NYC. Depending on your location, you may find yourself with a myriad of potential venues to choose from — each of which can provide a completely different experience. Some will earn you more money while others will be more beneficial in getting your name out there. But, first things first. Before you begin your venue search, you’ll need to…

Make a demo and press kit

With new technological advances like Garage Band available on an iPhone, it’s much easier to create a far more polished product than the scratchy self-recorded demos of old. The purpose remains the same — to give people a small taste of your sound. These recordings don’t have to be radio-ready, but you should do your best with the many tools at your disposal.

Another easy way to take advantage of technology is to go the audio-visual route and provide a video recording. This will give potential bookers an idea of your look and stage presence in addition to your sound. Get the bandmates together and record a YouTube video of yourselves playing a few of your best songs in your practice space or garage. It’ll certainly help you stand out!

A press kit isn’t as important as a demo, but it’s definitely a good idea as well. Press kits can be as simple as a single sheet of paper with some background information about your band, or you can put together a well-designed booklet with some professionally shot photos and review quotes if your music has gotten any press.

Consult your network

Once you have your materials together, reach out to your network. Do you know someone with a more established band who would hire you guys as an opening act? Do you have any booking agent friends, or a family member who owns a venue? If so, consider yourself lucky — you’ve got a great head start. Even if they can’t directly hire you, they can give their hard-earned advice on how to get a gig in your particular area. But if you don’t have any useful connections, don’t worry.

Visit venues

If personal networking didn’t prove fruitful, you’ll just have to do the legwork yourself. To book a musician gig, you have to start by attending them. Go to as many shows in your area as you can and scope out the different venues. Make a point of seeing shows with a similar following to what you’d like for yourself, and make a list of the venues that tend to hire these acts.

Next up, get online or talk to the employees at these venues. You’ll need to find out what these places look for in the live acts that they hire. Can you deliver what they’ll expect from you? (For example, a two hour long performance, a minimum number of attendees, bringing your own PA equipment.). If you are looking for great local NYC venues, check out our list of the top small music venues in NYC.

Reach out to bookers

Once you’ve narrowed it down to where you’d like to play, start reaching out. Keep your introduction short and to the point — a long-winded, rambling letter is sure to be tossed in the trash when booking agents have a pile of other demos to go through. Be sure not to overpromise what you can deliver. Your friends will come out and support you, but be realistic about what that number will look like. Lying might get your foot in the door, but that first band gig might be the end of your live music career. Be honest, be polite, and sell yourselves well. Good luck and happy gigging!

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