Can you overkill with playing free gigs??


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801Current
02-20-2011, 06:32 PM
Sorry if the title doesn't make sense I couldn't exactly figure out how to word it...my question is just:

Can a band over do it by playing to many free gigs?

I am in a band and we are working our way into doing some free shows, we have an oppurtunity to play at a coffee shop that has open mike nights and other nights that we could just have the whole night. I am in highschool and I have summer coming up and recently quit my job..I am just wondering if it would look bad on the band if we were over there all the time..because I think the experience would be good...its also fairly new shop so we have the oppurtunity to rule the music scene...I was just thinking of playing there a lot (almost daily...but probably everyother during the summer) would it look bad??

Other thing is me and a friend in the band...are thinking of branching out and doing a two man blues/folk/whatever we feel like thing on nights we find ourselves without the band and nothing else to do...and we are planning on getting into that shop with that..would it be okay if I was doing that like 2 to 3 times a week and band rest of the time we can get...or is it overkill...?? I think more experience the better...but my dad says no...anyone else have an opinion

and one more thing..is this shop wants us to play night..they have television and stuff during the day..how could I get them to let us play all day long...not that we have enough material to fill a day...but practice when no ones there and play when someone comes in is the idea...

Thanks...sorry for the huge intro :bonk:

tehREALcaptain
02-20-2011, 06:37 PM
no, it won't make you look bad. just keep in mind that you want people to want what you have--meaning if your oing to play somewhere 6 nights a week, you need different setlists and to keep what your doing fresh. also, don't think that if you play for free somewhere (especially a coffee shop---which in general are pretty bad as far as paying musicians) you could convince them to pay you for the same thing down the road.

801Current
02-20-2011, 06:41 PM
no, it won't make you look bad. just keep in mind that you want people to want what you have--meaning if your oing to play somewhere 6 nights a week, you need different setlists and to keep what your doing fresh. also, don't think that if you play for free somewhere (especially a coffee shop---which in general are pretty bad as far as paying musicians) you could convince them to pay you for the same thing down the road.
alright thanks for the quick reply..and we don't ever plan on being payed by the shop....the most we would ever do is maybe put out a guitar case and see if we can scrounge up a couple bucks...we really just want experience.. anyway thanks for the reply..if anyone thinks anything different please comment, I know my dad thinks it would be overexposure...so just trying to clear it up...thanks again

AlanHB
02-20-2011, 08:19 PM
I know my dad thinks it would be overexposure

I can't think of that being a bad thing in any way.

As for free gigs, it's part of being in an originals band (assuming that you are).

For a covers band, you'll have to get your set up to a length and level where people would actually stop to hear you play. At this point you can seek out some paying venues.

Natrone
02-20-2011, 08:45 PM
As an originals band, most of your shows will be free for the life of most of the bands you play in.

However I do somewhat agree with the chance of getting "overexposure." I have a friend who is in a coffeeshop acoustic duo and it seems like they play the same shop every other week. For the moment they're getting great crowds, but eventually that will end if they don't branch out.

801Current
02-20-2011, 09:50 PM
Alright thanks for the input..I can see that over time we would want to branch out..and since it was brought up in one of the replies.. what if we are both a cover and originals band?? I understand this is kind of weird, but we are starting out and haven't written a full set of songs yet and the open mic is this wednesday so we are just going to play covers..and then slowly move to originals as we play more...but why does it matter if we play covers and originals?? I never thought anything was wrong with it until I came on here and someone said you HAVE to be one or the other...I understand if you are a gigging band or a band looking for recording it would be wise to chose, but does it really matter otherwise?

dmiwshicldply
02-21-2011, 01:28 AM
I honestly think its massive overexposure. You know that song you hear on the radio and you love it the first time but after you hear it for the 100th time you hate it? Its the same concept, while you may be well received the first few times you play there will come a time that even regulars who attend this bar 4-5 times a week will eventually not wanna show because they are sick of the same band playing there every time they walk in the door. You should always keep your fans wanting more and there is simply no way to do that if your playing that much in the same place. I wouldn't play more than one night a week at a certain venue.

Now about the paying free, like alan said thats just paying your dues.

And the side project is a great thing, i do something of the sort and often open up or play in between sets of my main band. It lets me do things that i normally wouldnt be able to do in my main band and also puts a little extra cash in my pockets from time to time.

'93
02-21-2011, 12:53 PM
on a separate notes (note on the amount of free gigs) i kind of disagree with free gigs...its unfair when other bands are trying to make a living out of gigging and you offer a free gig...guess who the bars and clubs are gonna choose. at open mic night its ok i guess (since they def wont pay you) but regular gigs...

801Current
02-21-2011, 01:08 PM
I honestly think its massive overexposure. You know that song you hear on the radio and you love it the first time but after you hear it for the 100th time you hate it? Its the same concept, while you may be well received the first few times you play there will come a time that even regulars who attend this bar 4-5 times a week will eventually not wanna show because they are sick of the same band playing there every time they walk in the door. You should always keep your fans wanting more and there is simply no way to do that if your playing that much in the same place. I wouldn't play more than one night a week at a certain venue.

Alright, I will keep that in mind, but just as a hypothetical question, what if we had enough material (not that we do) to cover a new set list each night, would it be alright then?

Thanks for the rest of your reply am thinking along the lines of what you said, thanks

801Current
02-21-2011, 01:15 PM
on a separate notes (note on the amount of free gigs) i kind of disagree with free gigs...its unfair when other bands are trying to make a living out of gigging and you offer a free gig...guess who the bars and clubs are gonna choose. at open mic night its ok i guess (since they def wont pay you) but regular gigs...

I understand your point, but the oppurtunity to play here came from a friend of my parents, and they have been doing shows for a few months since the opened, and they have all been free. So I'm not really going to paying venue and offeiring a free show..and it will be open mic night. but there will be other nights that we will play the whole night for free. because they haven't payed anyone yet, they don't bring in enough people...it's a brand new coffee shop. so really its not much of a gig.

another thing we might try is doing a festival that a big school holds in my area, which will be free too...because there are other bands that would do it free too.. so I understand that it's unfair, but people have already done it free so I can't really do it for money anyway. I mean we are really just trying to get a small fan base and get some experience so we can go to a paying venue and say we have played before. but we are looking to make money. and we aren't trying to beat people to it by offering free gigs it's just oppurtunities that have come up....whew..

801Current
02-21-2011, 01:19 PM
so pretty much in short if you dont wanna read ^^ that the "free gigs" really are just an opportunity to play for a crowd, and the coffee shop won't pay us...they have no money. and the festival gets too many people who want to do it and offer for free..if there was an oppurtunity to make $$ i'd go for it. and im not trying to steal paying gigs from bands :)

Punk_Ninja
02-21-2011, 04:08 PM
It may have been already said here, but if you're planning on playing the same venue for multiple days of the week, it doesn't matter if you're doing it for free, you're going to have to keep yourself fresh.

An establishment like a coffee shop will get it's core of regular customers, and if there are people who enjoy live music at the same time they will come often too to see some music.
So if you don't keep your act fun to watch and change stuff up you're gonna get people sick of seeing you!

Make sure to keep putting new stuff into these sets, keep it entertaining, maybe put some covers that people will know in there, jam a bit (in a musical way of course, nothing more dull than watching a band just play their instruments fast!) etc.

Generally you can't gig free too much, I mean there is the danger of if you get a reputation venues might think they can book you without paying, but that probably wouldn't happen.

NothingButRock
02-21-2011, 06:22 PM
on a separate notes (note on the amount of free gigs) i kind of disagree with free gigs...its unfair when other bands are trying to make a living out of gigging and you offer a free gig...guess who the bars and clubs are gonna choose. at open mic night its ok i guess (since they def wont pay you) but regular gigs...

If you're doing free gigs to establish yourself in the hopes of getting paid gigs then I don't see how that's your issue. It's competition and if other bands can't make a living from it well.. Tough luck.

TS, I agree with what other people have brought up about overexposure, unless you have a way to continuously keep your act fresh. Maybe just limit your performances there to once a week, or something along those lines?

Also, I see absolutely nothing wrong with mixing covers with originals in your set. In the music circles where I'm from most believe it to be a good way to get the audiences attention, playing something familiar that they already know and love and then later on introducing some of your originals.

AlanHB
02-21-2011, 07:18 PM
Wow there is a tonne of misinformed views in this thread. How many people here are actually on the gigging circuit?

Pubs, coffee shops and other venues don't hire bands to enjoy the great music you're making. They're a business and they was customers to buy stuff. They can be walking past and go "hey that sounds good, lets check it out and grab a drink", or hang around in the venue longer than they intended and buy more stuff while they listen to the music.

For this reason, with new bands the venue is taking a risk. If the band sounds like crap, guess what, people won't come in, and they'll leave earlier. For this reason the fist couple of gigs will be free, as you're proving to the venue that you're able to draw and keep a crowd. There is an exception if you're in a covers band playing a 2hr+ set, you're expected to be paid. However the initial pay is lower than later when you're able to demand more as you can show that you can draw and keep a crowd.

Overexposure is a bit of a non-issue. Yes you turn on the radio and hear the same song all the time. That's how they got popular in the first place, and continue to stay popular. So playing as many gigs as you can is in your best interest, as there will always be someone there who hasn't heard your music before, and the ones who have will come back if you're good.

Addressing the covers/originals, you should decide whether you're one or the other. Venues want either an originals or covers band, and they have different set times and audiences. A pub generally wants a straight cover band so that the audience can have fun dancing and drinking to music they already know. Other venues draw a crowd that want to see some good local music, so it's in your best interest to play original songs (however 1-2 covers is acceptable). Playing half/half will do nothing but alienate both audiences.

Cowless
02-21-2011, 07:28 PM
Wow there is a tonne of misinformed views in this thread. How many people here are actually on the gigging circuit?

Pubs, coffee shops and other venues don't hire bands to enjoy the great music you're making. They're a business and they was customers to buy stuff. They can be walking past and go "hey that sounds good, lets check it out and grab a drink", or hang around in the venue longer than they intended and buy more stuff while they listen to the music.

For this reason, with new bands the venue is taking a risk. If the band sounds like crap, guess what, people won't come in, and they'll leave earlier. For this reason the fist couple of gigs will be free, as you're proving to the venue that you're able to draw and keep a crowd. There is an exception if you're in a covers band playing a 2hr+ set, you're expected to be paid. However the initial pay is lower than later when you're able to demand more as you can show that you can draw and keep a crowd.

Overexposure is a bit of a non-issue. Yes you turn on the radio and hear the same song all the time. That's how they got popular in the first place, and continue to stay popular. So playing as many gigs as you can is in your best interest, as there will always be someone there who hasn't heard your music before, and the ones who have will come back if you're good.

Addressing the covers/originals, you should decide whether you're one or the other. Venues want either an originals or covers band, and they have different set times and audiences. A pub generally wants a straight cover band so that the audience can have fun dancing and drinking to music they already know. Other venues draw a crowd that want to see some good local music, so it's in your best interest to play original songs (however 1-2 covers is acceptable). Playing half/half will do nothing but alienate both audiences.

THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

LazarusOnGrave
02-22-2011, 12:07 AM
Some places here in the US that want original bands may do so because they don't have the license to allow bands to play covers. Might want to check with the club owners beforehand if you aren't sure.

As often the case, AlanHB is on the money, and you should go one way or another, but a few covers mixed in with originals is fine. 50/50 is too high a ratio though.

dmiwshicldply
02-23-2011, 06:42 PM
Wow there is a tonne of misinformed views in this thread. How many people here are actually on the gigging circuit?

Pubs, coffee shops and other venues don't hire bands to enjoy the great music you're making. They're a business and they was customers to buy stuff. They can be walking past and go "hey that sounds good, lets check it out and grab a drink", or hang around in the venue longer than they intended and buy more stuff while they listen to the music.

For this reason, with new bands the venue is taking a risk. If the band sounds like crap, guess what, people won't come in, and they'll leave earlier. For this reason the fist couple of gigs will be free, as you're proving to the venue that you're able to draw and keep a crowd. There is an exception if you're in a covers band playing a 2hr+ set, you're expected to be paid. However the initial pay is lower than later when you're able to demand more as you can show that you can draw and keep a crowd.

Overexposure is a bit of a non-issue. Yes you turn on the radio and hear the same song all the time. That's how they got popular in the first place, and continue to stay popular. So playing as many gigs as you can is in your best interest, as there will always be someone there who hasn't heard your music before, and the ones who have will come back if you're good.

Addressing the covers/originals, you should decide whether you're one or the other. Venues want either an originals or covers band, and they have different set times and audiences. A pub generally wants a straight cover band so that the audience can have fun dancing and drinking to music they already know. Other venues draw a crowd that want to see some good local music, so it's in your best interest to play original songs (however 1-2 covers is acceptable). Playing half/half will do nothing but alienate both audiences.


I agree everywhere but this. Yes they will get popular to begin with if they're good i agree, but there will come a time a month down the road. That people are just not going to want to hear them anymore, unless they are really keeping everything fresh. I just don't see how it could be a good idea to play anywhere more than twice a week. This is all a null point seeing as how i highly doubt the venue will hire a band more than twice a week to play. Hell most venues only offer live music twice a week and they are going to book different bands the vast majority of the time.

And yes i am on the regular gigging circuit around here. In a cover band and i play solo shows with mostly originals with one or two covers per show. Never more than two.

krypticguitar87
02-23-2011, 06:53 PM
I agree everywhere but this. Yes they will get popular to begin with if they're good i agree, but there will come a time a month down the road. That people are just not going to want to hear them anymore, unless they are really keeping everything fresh. I just don't see how it could be a good idea to play anywhere more than twice a week. This is all a null point seeing as how i highly doubt the venue will hire a band more than twice a week to play. Hell most venues only offer live music twice a week and they are going to book different bands the vast majority of the time.

And yes i am on the regular gigging circuit around here. In a cover band and i play solo shows with mostly originals with one or two covers per show. Never more than two.

you should probably give this advice to bands like metalica nickleback greenday buckcherry just to name a few who could use that advice... they are all way overplayed on the radio yet people still love them (no maybe you don't, and maybe most of the people on here don't like all of those band) there is a reason they are on the radio and a reason they sell so many albums. not to mention they fill arenas... the fact is if you are really good, and you know how to treat your fans (and play the music they want to hear) they will come back and they will bring their friends. in the world of a musician who can barely scrape by (or even one that never has to worry about money again), over exposure is a non-issue.

AlanHB
02-23-2011, 07:11 PM
I agree everywhere but this. Yes they will get popular to begin with if they're good i agree, but there will come a time a month down the road. That people are just not going to want to hear them anymore, unless they are really keeping everything fresh. I just don't see how it could be a good idea to play anywhere more than twice a week. This is all a null point seeing as how i highly doubt the venue will hire a band more than twice a week to play. Hell most venues only offer live music twice a week and they are going to book different bands the vast majority of the time.

And yes i am on the regular gigging circuit around here. In a cover band and i play solo shows with mostly originals with one or two covers per show. Never more than two.

Yeah the overexposure is a moot point in terms of being hired to play 3 times a week at the same place. I still don't think you can be "overexposed" though. For an extreme example, check out the entertainers who have signed life contracts with Las Vegas hotels. Same place, same show, for the rest of their lives. And both them and the hotel make a lot of money from it.

On the other side, we have the nobodies who play at the same venue 3 times a week. The only reasonable people who would hear them every night are the bar staff. The rest of the crowd would keep on changing. I once saw the same band at the same bar every week for around 4 months, and kept on coming back. This was because their music was good to get drunk to.

And also you gain popularity in a month? Plz tell me your secret! :D

dmiwshicldply
02-23-2011, 10:27 PM
Yeah the overexposure is a moot point in terms of being hired to play 3 times a week at the same place. I still don't think you can be "overexposed" though. For an extreme example, check out the entertainers who have signed life contracts with Las Vegas hotels. Same place, same show, for the rest of their lives. And both them and the hotel make a lot of money from it.

On the other side, we have the nobodies who play at the same venue 3 times a week. The only reasonable people who would hear them every night are the bar staff. The rest of the crowd would keep on changing. I once saw the same band at the same bar every week for around 4 months, and kept on coming back. This was because their music was good to get drunk to.

And also you gain popularity in a month? Plz tell me your secret! :D


I know you said an extreme example and i get where your going but to be fair a Las Vegas hotel doesn't exactly have "regulars" like a coffee shop or pub will. These are the type of place that people will get pissed and/or leave the bar if they dont like the band especially if they don't like you or get bored, which won't sit real well with the man in charge of this place. And yes playing a place once a week is one thing. I play the same bar every Monday and i have since July, but thats a little different than EVERY day.


:haha: Yes maybe a month was the wrong unit of time to use :haha:

AlanHB
02-23-2011, 10:52 PM
I know you said an extreme example and i get where your going but to be fair a Las Vegas hotel doesn't exactly have "regulars" like a coffee shop or pub will. These are the type of place that people will get pissed and/or leave the bar if they dont like the band especially if they don't like you or get bored, which won't sit real well with the man in charge of this place. And yes playing a place once a week is one thing. I play the same bar every Monday and i have since July, but thats a little different than EVERY day.


:haha: Yes maybe a month was the wrong unit of time to use :haha:

Same bar every monday? Nice little earner you have there :D

The customers of the bar or coffee shop will get pissed off if they're bored or don't like you whether you've played 100 gigs in the same place, or it's your first time. And I'm sure that you can attest, it happens the first time more than people care to think.

And as you said before, here comes circular reasoning, and the bar owner would not hire you again if the customers leave. So then you wouldn't be gigging every night in the same place, or any night at that place in fact :haha:

As for getting popular in a month, give me $100 and I'll tell you the secret (hint: strippers).

dmiwshicldply
02-24-2011, 04:45 PM
Same bar every monday? Nice little earner you have there :D

The customers of the bar or coffee shop will get pissed off if they're bored or don't like you whether you've played 100 gigs in the same place, or it's your first time. And I'm sure that you can attest, it happens the first time more than people care to think.

And as you said before, here comes circular reasoning, and the bar owner would not hire you again if the customers leave. So then you wouldn't be gigging every night in the same place, or any night at that place in fact :haha:

As for getting popular in a month, give me $100 and I'll tell you the secret (hint: strippers).


Yea its a nice little gig, I really really enjoy it.

And we have finally come to an agreement. Although i think we may have been saying the same things this whole time just in different ways.

And as far as your little $100 dollar scam goes (and yes i meant scam :haha:) if you would've given me that offer 2 years ago i would have jumped at it, but alas through my blood sweat and tears i have learned the hard way what the secret to getting popular is, and not surprisingly its a pretty simple answer...... WORK. Work your nuts off everyday doing everything you can to get your name out there and the rest falls into place soon enough.

'93
02-27-2011, 02:47 PM
so pretty much in short if you dont wanna read ^^ that the "free gigs" really are just an opportunity to play for a crowd, and the coffee shop won't pay us...they have no money. and the festival gets too many people who want to do it and offer for free..if there was an oppurtunity to make $$ i'd go for it. and im not trying to steal paying gigs from bands :)

yeah its ok then...

its just that in my area there was a legal issue about this as there were a few band who were doing gigs for fun (the 40 year old well pain side time musicians) and unfortunatly its got in the way of bands who needed the cash

801Current
02-28-2011, 03:31 PM
Read most of the newer replies, thanks it's hel[ping a lot, I can see there are a lot of good points and views AlanHB, thanks a lot I read the everything it makes a lot more sense.

801Current
02-28-2011, 03:34 PM
is it unheard of to do both covers and originals...lets say we make two set lists, and you tell the venue you can do either or...is that weird or...I mean we want to be an originals, but im sure by the end we could possibly have enough covers to do a full cover set

Matt Chavie
02-28-2011, 04:13 PM
You want people to want more. I do believe in overexposure, I'd at most do 2-3 times a month, you want it to be special. If your favorite band came through town everyday, you wouldn't be as eager to go, or at least I wouldn't.

Just my opinion though.

AlanHB
02-28-2011, 09:30 PM
yeah its ok then...

its just that in my area there was a legal issue about this as there were a few band who were doing gigs for fun (the 40 year old well pain side time musicians) and unfortunatly its got in the way of bands who needed the cash

Oh really. Let me guess. The paying bands failed. Sounds like a legal urban legend to me.

For those playing at home, a legal urban legend is a false law case that everyone believes to be true. A common one is the one about the burglarer who broke into a house then slipped on a rollerskate, then proceeded to sue the owners of the home successfully for a wad of cash. This is untrue, simply put the owners were not under a duty of care to the burgalar because he was not invited onto the property (he was trespassing). In any other case, I can't find any evidence to suggest this actually occured.

is it unheard of to do both covers and originals...lets say we make two set lists, and you tell the venue you can do either or...is that weird or...I mean we want to be an originals, but im sure by the end we could possibly have enough covers to do a full cover set

It's not unheard of for a band to be both a covers and an originals band. However, these bands usually perform under different names for each. As you've thought, this gets the band more gigs as you can play both and offer both.

You should note the setlist demands for each of them. An originals band will have generally 1 set of 45minutes - 1hr30mins, whilst a covers band will have a 2-4 sets of 2-4hrs. As noted above, the originals band can pass with 1-2 covers in their set, and the covers band can pass with 0 originals.

'93
03-05-2011, 02:17 PM
[QUOTE=AlanHB]Oh really. Let me guess. The paying bands failed. Sounds like a legal urban legend to me.

For those playing at home, a legal urban legend is a false law case that everyone believes to be true. A common one is the one about the burglarer who broke into a house then slipped on a rollerskate, then proceeded to sue the owners of the home successfully for a wad of cash. This is untrue, simply put the owners were not under a duty of care to the burgalar because he was not invited onto the property (he was trespassing). In any other case, I can't find any evidence to suggest this actually occured.

no i think they had won so...i dont know how it works where youre from but there are quite a few laws in my country concerning music that might be a bit out of the ordinary. i think another one is if a foreign musician plays there must be a local act or at last some of the member local