Key Guidelines to Pick Your Gigs Carefully

As a performing band, you often get asked to perform a variety of gigs. Some of these performances take you forward, and others do more damage than good.

In this article, I’d like to summarise key guidelines for choosing the correct gigs for your band in alignment with the phase or experience level you find yourself in.

We’ll also look at potential goals to set yourself to add extra vision.

Before we start, you’d definitely be interested in my recently published article Steps to Reach your First Paid Gig – From Zero to Hero which will guide you through the process step-by-step.

Performances Beginner Bands Should Look For

You are in this phase when you:

  • are searching for general performance opportunities.
  • are in the first 3-6 months of practising with your band.
  • are looking to experiment with your genre.
  • have no real fans yet.
  • have less than 5 songs ready for performance.

Types of Performance Possibilities

In this case, you need to take on as many opportunities as possible:

  1. Open mic nights
  2. Battle of the Bands (or other music competitions where you get valued feedback)
  3. Birthday parties
  4. Performances for friends and family
  5. Music school concerts

Try to perform at least once per week.

Tips and Mindset

The key here is to collect feedback, and then implement and apply the feedback during your band practices. People feel connected to your music when they have a part in seeing you grow. This is also another way of establishing your fan base.

Make sure you take video footage of each performance so that you can rewatch and improve on each performance. I still have my first performance videos with uncountable cringe moments, but rewatching them afterwards made me more professional each time I set foot on stage.

Remember, we’re not in it for the money at this stage. You should focus on finding your feet, gaining valuable experience and establishing the basis of your musical dream.

Your Potential Goals

When we talk about goals, we recommend bands in the beginner phase to practice twice per week in order to have enough time to:

  • work on feedback.
  • gel as a musical unit.
  • build chemistry between the band members.
  • build their song repertoire.

I have more related articles for you to accomplish these goals:

Performances Intermediate Bands Should Look For

You are in this phase when you:

  • have a small group of followers.
  • are already together for 4-18 months.
  • have performed about 30 times.
  • have made connections to other bands and musicians.
  • can perform for 60 minutes.
  • have a song repertoire of about 20 songs.

Types of Performance Possibilities

In this case, you need to look for these types of gigs:

  1. Benefit Concerts
  2. Small Festivals
  3. Supporting gigs
  4. Opening for more successful bands
  5. Band nights
  6. Battle of the Bands

There are still plenty of value to get from music compitition participation. You can read all about it in my article Music Competition Participation: The Pros and Cons.

We recommend that you still perform 2-4 times per month.

Tips and Mindset

Our main focus point at this stage is to get the balance right between which gigs brings you any value and which will be a waste of time:

  • You still need to be aware of your musical development, that’s why I still recommend music competition participation.
  • When an opportunity arises, you need to measure the advantages it holds for you in terms of income and exposure:
    • When it’s low paid, but massive exposure, green light.
    • When it’s low paid and low exposure, red light.
    • When the gig is high paid but low exposure, green light.
    • When it’s high paid and high exposure, red light.

The only red light at this stage is no financial income and no exposure.

Other factors to consider are:

  • Travle distance
  • Networking oppertunities

I would also consider attending gigs night at potential venues to see if it will be worth it for the future before you make an inaccurate decision.

A band preparing for their practice (Photo credit: Canva)

A few minimum requirements and suggested goals in general for intermediate bands:

Your Potential Goals

  • Practicing once a week.
  • Performing at least once per two weeks.
  • Adjustable set lists
  • Smooth stage presence
  • Performing accurately on click (metronome)
  • Being able to set accurate band goals
  • Record & release an EP or a few singles.
  • Establish your social media to interact and communicate with fans.

Here’s more related articles to make these goals possible:

Performances Experienced Bands Should Look For

You are in this phase when you:

  • have an established fan base.
  • have released a singles.
  • have performed at least 50 times.
  • have been together for 12+ months.
  • only perform for cash.
  • can perform for 90 minutes
  • and have at least one music video.

Types of Performance Possibilities

In this case, you’re searching for these types of gigs:

  1. Music Festivals
  2. Private paid bookings
  3. Band nights
  4. Benefit concerts
  5. Charity events

You are still getting value from band nights by promoting yourself and taking a bigger cut of the door fees.

I am also a fan of giving back to the industry when you have achieved many of your goals, therefore playing for free for a good cause is always a great idea to be part of something bigger than yourself.

We recommend performing at least 2 big shows per week, where you get paid your valued price.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from on 15.10.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

A band performing at an open air festival (Photo credit: Canva)

Tips and Mindset

You are entering the possiblity of making music for a living so you should become more exclusive to the venues and festivals that can really afford you.

Depending on your popularity, you should set your price accordingly.

  • Ask a band similar to your popularity size how much they quote per performance.
  • It might be useful to negotiate your performance payment by including an opening act to your performance.
    • This adds another 10% of the venue being filled.

Your Potential Goals

  • Carry on writing the next big hit
  • Recording music and shooting their music videos
  • Perform with other experienced bands
  • Finding your price, that increases with your popularity.
  • Apply and perform at the biggest festivals.

Last Thoughts

The balance between your popularity and getting paid correct takes time and experience.

  • Don’t play for free even if you bring in 10 people.
  • Negotiate your rate per gig.
  • Even if you get paid 20$ as an inexperienced artist, take it and move on.
    • From now on, you will never play for less than 20$, unless you negotiate your price to 50%.
  • Focus on your goals to become better, bigger and more popular.
  • Make venues aware of your minimum asking price.

Here are a few more related articles that can add value to your cause:

I hope you found what you’re looking for! If you have any thoughts or extra tips, please add them to the comments below.

Until next time, Rock On!

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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