For new artists taking the independent route, there’s no right or wrong way to win gigs. Some go full attack mode, creating detailed promotional material and sending it out to hundreds of venues within an eight-mile radius. Others opt for a slower and more informal approach, performing at friends’ house parties or charity events, seizing opportunities as and when they arise, perhaps even dabbling in a bit of busking.
At Kore Studios, we’ve dealt with a plethora of independent artists in our time. Needless to say, we’ve learnt a few tips along the way. If you’re struggling to pick up gigs and you’re beginning to feel disheartened, this blog will give you the boost you need to get your music out there. The rise in free marketing platforms are a godsend for talented artists dreaming about their big break. But they’re a double edged sword in so much as they help your competitors just as much as they help you out! So, here are some tricks of the trade…
There are two main factors that help to land gigs: knowing the right people and, most importantly, making a good impression. While the first is more difficult to control, you have full control over the impression you make on booking agents, venue managers and even passers-by in the street. So your first step is to create a stand-out demo tape and a small promotional pack. If your material seems unfinished or unprofessional, the people receiving them will treat you as such.
Don’t make the mistake of sending promoters every single recording you’ve ever made and regaling them with stories of your musical development. Keep it snappy. 2 or 3 (or even just one) of your best or most popular tracks, a paragraph about your project and links to your social media pages. Those considering your material can then look further into your music if they remain interested, so don’t force all the information you have in a single email.
Make yourself available
This last point can’t be overstated: make your music readily available. Having your tracks available for streaming, whether on Soundcloud, BandCamp, or even YouTube, will allow your music to speak for itself. Hint: having your music on Spotify will seem more professional, so make sure to read our latest blog post and learn how to get your material on there. Finally, learn to love your craft – if you don’t take pride in the sound you’re creating, go back to the drawing board, take a few months to hone your abilities, and come back with a new approach.
Behind many of the world’s most successful people have strong people skills and hardcore networking abilities. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how much of a social butterfly you are), as with most industries, getting your big break isn’t just about what you know or what you do. It’s about who you know. You may not have the opportunities or venues that you want yet, but someone you know might. Connect with influential people who may have the free slots or gaps in programmes that they need filling.
Work with fellow artists as opposed to against them. Gigs that you arrange yourself are more affordable when you split the cost with other artists. Forming partnerships with other bands also equips you for and exposes you to a wider audience and clientele. Limited time and resources for this is no longer an excuse. Whether it’s writing comments on social media, getting shares from devoted fans or sliding into your idols’ DMs, making connections is easier than ever. Technophobes, we know its hard, but its time to embrace the limitless promotional potential afforded by the world wide web.
Getting in touch
There are a few things to do in order to minimise the chances of rejection or wasting the time of music venues or promoters. For one, do your research and make sure the venue, audience and requirements are in line with your work. Check their preferred means of contact, the process for arranging a gig with them before you contact them. As we’ve already established, the first thing you’ll need to do is submit your music to public platforms – if you don’t have content on SoundCloud and/or Bandcamp, get some on there. And again, we can’t stress this enough, being able to produce a press kit when asked will also increase your chances of getting gigs.
Pro bono work
This might be an unpopular option among working musicians who know the value of paid work, but when you’re just getting started, offering up your services for free at charity and community events can be incredibly useful. Performing at events like these, you’re guaranteed an audience and, well, who knows who could be in that audience! Combining promo work with charity events is not only good for the cause they’re fundraising for. It’s also good general PR for your name. Just remember to make the switch from pro bono gigs to paid gigs when you have built up more of a name for yourself – after all, we’ve all got to pay the bills.
Ensure high-quality recordings
Quality not quantity. As with your demo tapes, you’re better off investing in fewer, better quality recordings than you are spending the same amount recording more material but compromising on the quality of your sound. Don’t do yourself an injustice! Speaking from a personal viewpoint, if stuck with an iPod with limited selection of tracks, I’d sooner choose to listen to quality recordings of the best ones on a loop than a wider selection of tinny, poor-quality recordings.
As a musician, your owe it to your listeners to present your songs in the best way possible. Failing to do so is like serving up great food that’s piled/slopped onto a plate as opposed to carefully presented. Or putting your painting in a slippery fish wallet rather than mounting it on a clean canvas or in a frame. Sound is the basis of conveying emotions and telling stories, and you don’t want to muddy your message with low-quality recordings. From a practical standpoint, you will find it harder to get professional gigs if your music doesn’t sound professional.
While we are proud to have worked with big names, Kore Studios continues to nurture close ties with independent musicians. Much of our equipment won’t surprise you, but we’ve also collected some rare and unique gadgets over the years which might intrigue you as well as help to produce the unique quality sound you’re after. As music junkies ourselves, we’re also selfishly keen to be the first to hear and shout about new talent. So you may even get some free promo and marketing out of us whilst you’re here! And if it’s your first time with us, our friendly team and the relaxed environment that the studio design provides will instantly put you at ease.
With a range of vintage and modern gear and the expertise of veteran producer, George Apsion, our team ensure that sessions always brings out the best in every client. If you like what you hear, please get in touch to book in some studio time with Kore.