The idea of organising your own gigs can seem like a scary undertaking at first glance. But once you think about the effort that it takes to pull off a good gig and glance through even the briefest of list of things that usually go wrong at a gig, you’ll realise that you had no idea just how scary it can be.
But like a wise man once said, “you gotta do what you gotta do.” Following are five reasons as to why you should consider organising your own gigs.
Five Reasons Why Indie Acts Should Organise Their Own Gigs
Lack of paying gigs
With so many musicians and bands coming out of the woodwork these days, the market for regular paying gigs in most cities is a fast-dwindling one. And because of this most independent musicians are often forced to play for pennies and dimes, and sometimes less, to stand a chance of getting their first few gigs. Setting out on your own to organise your shows is a solid alternative for musicians that are starting out and are willing to put in the legwork required. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll make thousands of dollars, at least from your first few shows, but it sure as hell beats playing for beers.
Learning the business
Organising a gig successfully is a huge learning process. By the time you've organised your fifth gig you’ll have learned everything you need to know about booking venues, performance licences, booking sounds, booking talent and a whole heap of other important things. And with the money machine of the music industry leaning more towards the live music scene, this knowledge can be invaluable in the long run. Once you've made your bones working the business yourself, the chances of you being duped by a shoddy promoter or a greedy venue dwindle to a bare minimum.
Making your own noise
A lot of bands and musicians make the mistake of thinking that the one thing that they should be focusing on is getting signed onto a label. But what you must not lose sight of is the fact that modern day labels aren't just looking for musicians with brutal chops and tasty licks. Labels are more interested in how much noise you've made on your own prior to being signed. If you can show a label that you've played to a hundred thousand people over a year and converted most of them into die-hard fans, you transform yourself from a talented liability to a valuable asset. Every fan that you've recruited on your own means one more person that will probably buy your band’s CD or T-shirt, and that’s what the label’s bottom line needs to sign you.
I’m sure you've heard this before, but it’s something worth mentioning a hundred times. And that is the fact that the music business is as much about networking and the hustle as it is about the music. Radio DJs, tour promoters, music journalists, A&R reps, and other important industry people often patronise live music events. And a good show and a friendly ‘hello’ along with a drink or two can go a long way in building a network of connections that can be invaluable later on in your career. In fact, I've had brand managers from major companies get in touch with me after attending one of my band’s shows after being impressed with what they saw.
Building your tribe
In his book Tribes, Seth Godin talks about the importance of tribes to humans and the immense potential of leveraging their power. According to Godin a tribe is a group of people who are connected to each other because of a mutual interest or idea. And one key characteristic of a tribe is that its members actively work on bringing more people into the tribe. So when your music becomes the mutual interest that connects a tribe of fans, you have half your marketing effort as a musician taken off your hands. And organising your own shows is a great way of establishing connecting with and building a tribe of fans.
It goes without saying that the business of organising your own shows comes with a great deal of risk. I've personally been on the end of significant financial losses caused by poorly budgeted or poorly attended gigs. But each failure is a valuable lesson, and if you've got the mettle to push beyond the tipping point, the risk is definitely worth the gain.